The Evening Blues - 12-7-21



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Allen Toussaint

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features New Orleans songwriter, producer and pianist Allen Toussaint. Enjoy!

Allen Toussaint - Yes We Can Can on Austin City Limits

“It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting high technology from weaponry to livingry.”

-- Buckminster Fuller


News and Opinion

How Congress Loots the Treasury for the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Despite a disagreement over some amendments in the Senate, the United States Congress is poised to pass a $778 billion military budget bill for 2022. As they have been doing year after year, our elected officials are preparing to hand the lion’s share—over 65%—of federal discretionary spending to the U.S. war machine, even as they wring their hands over spending a mere quarter of that amount on the Build Back Better Act.

The U.S. military’s incredible record of systematic failure—most recently its final trouncing by the Taliban after twenty years of death, destruction and lies in Afghanistan—cries out for a top-to-bottom review of its dominant role in U.S. foreign policy and a radical reassessment of its proper place in Congress’s budget priorities.

Instead, year after year, members of Congress hand over the largest share of our nation’s resources to this corrupt institution, with minimal scrutiny and no apparent fear of accountability when it comes to their own reelection. Members of Congress still see it as a “safe” political call to carelessly whip out their rubber-stamps and vote for however many hundreds of billions in funding Pentagon and arms industry lobbyists have persuaded the Armed Services Committees they should cough up.

Let’s make no mistake about this: Congress’s choice to keep investing in a massive, ineffective and absurdly expensive war machine has nothing to do with “national security” as most people understand it, or “defense” as the dictionary defines it.

U.S. society does face critical threats to our security, including the climate crisis, systemic racism, erosion of voting rights, gun violence, grave inequalities and the corporate hijacking of political power. But one problem we fortunately do not have is the threat of attack or invasion by a rampant global aggressor or, in fact, by any other country at all.

Maintaining a war machine that outspends the 12 or 13 next largest militaries in the world combined actually makes us less safe, as each new administration inherits the delusion that the United States’ overwhelmingly destructive military power can, and therefore should, be used to confront any perceived challenge to U.S. interests anywhere in the world—even when there is clearly no military solution and when many of the underlying problems were caused by past misapplications of U.S. military power in the first place.

While the international challenges we face in this century require a genuine commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, Congress allocates only $58 billion, less than 10 percent of the Pentagon budget, to the diplomatic corps of our government: the State Department. Even worse, both Democratic and Republican administrations keep filling top diplomatic posts with officials indoctrinated and steeped in policies of war and coercion, with scant experience and meager skills in the peaceful diplomacy we so desperately need.

This only perpetuates a failed foreign policy based on false choices between economic sanctions that UN officials have compared to medieval sieges, coups that destabilize countries and regions for decades, and wars and bombing campaigns that kill millions of people and leave cities in rubble, like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

The end of the Cold War was a golden opportunity for the United States to reduce its forces and military budget to match its legitimate defense needs. The American public naturally expected and hoped for a “Peace Dividend,” and even veteran Pentagon officials told the Senate Budget Committee in 1991 that military spending could safely be cut by 50% over the next ten years.

But no such cut happened. U.S. officials instead set out to exploit the post-Cold War “Power Dividend,” a huge military imbalance in favor of the United States, by developing rationales for using military force more freely and widely around the world. During the transition to the new Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright famously asked Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

In 1999, as Secretary of State under President Clinton, Albright got her wish, running roughshod over the UN Charter with an illegal war to carve out an independent Kosovo from the ruins of Yugoslavia.

The UN Charter clearly prohibits the threat or use of military force except in cases of self-defense or when the UN Security Council takes military action “to maintain or restore international peace and security.” This was neither. When U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Albright his government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over NATO’s illegal war plan, Albright crassly told him to “get new lawyers.”

Twenty-two years later, Kosovo is the third-poorest country in Europe (after Moldova and post-coup Ukraine) and its independence is still not recognized by 96 countries. Hashim Thaçi, Albright’s hand-picked main ally in Kosovo and later its president, is awaiting trial in an international court at the Hague, charged with murdering at least 300 civilians under cover of NATO bombing in 1999 to extract and sell their internal organs on the international transplant market.

Clinton and Albright’s gruesome and illegal war set the precedent for more illegal U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, with equally devastating and horrific results. But America’s failed wars have not led Congress or successive administrations to seriously rethink the U.S. decision to rely on illegal threats and uses of military force to project U.S. power all over the world, nor have they reined in the trillions of dollars invested in these imperial ambitions.

Instead, in the upside-down world of institutionally corrupt U.S. politics, a generation of failed and pointlessly destructive wars have had the perverse effect of normalizing even more expensive military budgets than during the Cold War, and reducing congressional debate to questions of how many more of each useless weapons system they should force U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for.

It seems that no amount of killing, torture, mass destruction or lives ruined in the real world can shake the militaristic delusions of America’s political class, as long as the “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex” (President Eisenhower’s original wording) is reaping the benefits.

Today, most political and media references to the Military-Industrial Complex refer only to the arms industry as a self-serving corporate interest group on a par with Wall Street, Big Pharma or the fossil fuel industry. But in his Farewell Address, Eisenhower explicitly pointed to, not just the arms industry, but the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.”

Eisenhower was just as worried about the anti-democratic impact of the military as the arms industry. Weeks before his Farewell Address, he told his senior advisors, “God help this country when somebody sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.” His fears have been realized in every subsequent presidency.

According to Milton Eisenhower, the president’s brother, who helped him draft his Farewell Address, Ike also wanted to talk about the “revolving door.” Early drafts of his speech referred to “a permanent, war-based industry,” with “flag and general officers retiring at an early age to take positions in the war-based industrial complex, shaping its decisions and guiding the direction of its tremendous thrust.” He wanted to warn that steps must be taken to “insure that the ‘merchants of death’ do not come to dictate national policy.”

As Eisenhower feared, the careers of figures like Generals Austin and Mattis now span all branches of the corrupt MIC conglomerate: commanding invasion and occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; then donning suits and ties to sell weapons to new generals who served under them as majors and colonels; and finally re-emerging from the same revolving door as cabinet members at the apex of American politics and government.

So why does the Pentagon brass get a free pass, even as Americans feel increasingly conflicted about the arms industry? After all, it is the military that actually uses all these weapons to kill people and wreak havoc in other countries.

Even as it loses war after war overseas, the U.S. military has waged a far more successful one to burnish its image in the hearts and minds of Americans and win every budget battle in Washington.

The complicity of Congress, the third leg of the stool in Eisenhower’s original formulation, turns the annual battle of the budget into the “cakewalk” that the war in Iraq was supposed to be, with no accountability for lost wars, war crimes, civilian massacres, cost overruns or the dysfunctional military leadership that presides over it all.

There is no congressional debate over the economic impact on America or the geopolitical consequences for the world of uncritically rubber-stamping huge investments in powerful weapons that will sooner or later be used to kill our neighbors and smash their countries, as they have for the past 22 years and far too often throughout our history.

If the public is ever to have any impact on this dysfunctional and deadly money-go-round, we must learn to see through the fog of propaganda that masks self-serving corruption behind red, white and blue bunting, and allows the military brass to cynically exploit the public’s natural respect for brave young men and women who are ready to risk their lives to defend our country. In the Crimean War, the Russians called British troops “lions led by donkeys.” That is an accurate description of today’s U.S. military.

Sixty years after Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, exactly as he predicted, the “weight of this combination” of corrupt generals and admirals, the profitable “merchants of death” whose goods they peddle, and the Senators and Representatives who blindly entrust them with trillions of dollars of the public’s money, constitute the full flowering of President Eisenhower’s greatest fears for our country.

Eisenhower concluded, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals.” That clarion call echoes through the decades and should unite Americans in every form of democratic organizing and movement building, from elections to education and advocacy to mass protests, to finally reject and dispel the “unwarranted influence” of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.

NEOCONS Beat War Drum As Biden Talks Ukraine With Putin

US says it will send troops to eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

The US has said it would send reinforcements to Nato’s eastern flank in the wake of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as imposing severe new economic measures, in a warning to Moscow on the eve of talks between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. Biden will also make clear to Putin that the US will not rule out future Ukrainian membership of Nato, as the Russian leader has demanded, a senior US official said. ...

The official pointed out in a briefing to reporters before the Biden-Putin video summit that the first Russian military intervention in Ukraine led to more US troops and equipment to be deployed in eastern Europe, and that there would be similar response this time.

“It would certainly be the case that if Putin moved in, there would be an increasing request from eastern flank allies, and a positive response from the United States, for additional forces and capabilities and exercises to take place there to ensure the safety and security of our eastern flank allies in the face of that kind of aggression in Ukraine,” the official said, but made clear that Biden would not be threatening a direct US military response. ...

Fyodor Lukyanov, a prominent Russian foreign policy analyst, said he did not believe Russia was imminently preparing to launch an offensive. But Moscow had shown that it was ready to use force if it could not negotiate a change to the post-cold war security arrangement in Europe, he said. “There is a real red line,” he said. “Right or wrong. But Russia perceives any kind of military alignment between Ukraine and the west, not necessarily Nato membership … That is seen here as absolutely unacceptable.”

Biden warns Putin against Ukraine invasion in virtual summit

The US Wants South Korea to Help Take on the Chinese Military

The US and South Korea are preparing to update their plans for a potential war with North Korea to reflect what Washington says is an advance in Pyongyang’s military capabilities. But now that the US is so focused on China, the new war plans will also address countering the Chinese military in the region.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with his South Korean counterpart, Suh Wook, in Seoul on Thursday. In a joint statement, the two military leaders noted “the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” marking the first time Taiwan was mentioned in a joint release from the defense chiefs of the US and South Korea.

In May, President Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also mentioned Taiwan together for the first time. This reflects how the US has shifted its position towards Taiwan. Washington no longer views the island as an issue between US-China relations and now views it as an opportunity to counter Beijing.

Honduran “leftist” president-elect bows to Washington over Taiwan

One week after her landslide victory at the polls, Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro, universally described by both the corporate media and the pseudo-left as a “leftist” and “socialist,” has passed a litmus test imposed by Yankee imperialism with flying colors. Top officials in her incoming government, including vice president-elect Salvador Nasralla, have declared that the new administration has no intention of delivering on Castro’s campaign pledge to cut Tegucigalpa’s ties to Taiwan and “immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations” with the Chinese government in Beijing.

The Biden administration, which has publicly embraced Castro’s election, brought strong pressure to bear upon her and her Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) Party to halt any move to join the vast majority of the governments of the world in acknowledging the obvious: that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which rules over 1.4 billion people, and not the regime on Taiwan, an island with the population of 23.5 million, is the government of China.

Brian Nichols, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, made a peculiarly timed visit to Tegucigalpa on the eve of the election with the twin aims of dissuading Washington’s longtime client, the corrupt, right-wing narco regime of President Juan Orlando Hernández, from stealing the election, and convincing Castro to drop her China policy.

Beijing charged Washington with “bullying” Honduras over the issue, accusing Washington of continuing its long history of “hegemonic behavior” in the region.

An interesting article, here's a snippet:

Top Israeli military officials say Trump’s Iran deal exit was a ‘mistake,’ bad for Israel

Earlier this week, an interview in the Israeli press appeared with Danny Cintrinowicz, who headed the Iran branch of the Israeli Military Intelligence’s Research and Analysis Division from 2013 to 2016. This was the period during which the moderate Hassan Rouhani took over the Iranian presidency from the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and spearheaded Iran’s effort to engage the West.

Cintrinowicz called Israel’s policy on Iran a “failure,” explaining that “[Israel] pushed the US side to leave the agreement when there are no other options.” Cintrinowicz speaks from years of studying Iranian politics and policymaking regarding its military and security affairs. His view of Iran is far more nuanced and informed than most of what we hear from Israeli officials — or American and European ones for that matter. ...

Cintrinowicz laid out the reason the current impasse is so tricky. “Everything started going haywire when Trump left the agreement. Initially, Rouhani tried not to violate the deal. He took only very limited steps. But when he became so weakened and understood that nothing would change, he decided to break every restriction that had been placed on the regime.”

Cintrinowicz was not alone in bemoaning Trump’s arbitrary and dangerous decision to abandon the JCPOA. Other Israeli leaders, and prominent pro-Israel Americans, also voiced their consternation. The same day Cintrinowicz’s interview appeared, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared that “President Donald Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 …was one of the dumbest, most poorly thought out and counterproductive U.S. national security decisions of the post-Cold War era.” ... Friedman’s newfound clarity is made in Israel. He makes no secret of that, citing at the very beginning of his piece the former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s and former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot’s despair at Trump’s disastrous decision. ...

[A]n anonymous Israeli military source told Israel’s Channel 12 News that the assassination last year of leading Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, “…did not brake Iran’s progress as was hoped. The current situation is the most advanced that Iran has ever reached.” As a result, the Israeli official said, “There is a huge global Israeli effort — both publicly and behind the scenes — to push for an upgraded agreement as well as simultaneously building a large and significant attack plan.” The assassination was another failure in a long line of bad decisions, all to undo a deal with Iran that no one disputes was working.

Western Media: Venezuelan Elections Must Be Undemocratic, Because Chavismo Won

Corporate media’s coverage of Venezuela has been constantly biased over the past 20 years, but especially when reporting on elections (FAIR.org, 11/27/08, 5/23/18, 1/27/21).

The latest flurry of dishonesty and faithful stenography came as Venezuelans voted for new regional and local authorities on November 21. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won resoundingly, securing 19 of 23 governorships and 212 of 335 mayoralties. Pundits who are happy to equate “democracy” with elections are not so keen on people voting when Washington’s enemies are poised to win (Washington Post, 11/22/21).

The hardline Venezuelan opposition made life easy for the media establishment in recent years by boycotting elections altogether. Outlets could then just echo the ever baseless “fraud” allegations from US officials and move on (NPR, 5/21/18; BBC, 5/21/18; Reuters, 5/20/18; Bloomberg, 5/7/18; New York Times, 5/17/18).

However, this time around, these right-wing actors returned to the ballot. Corporate journalists, having paid little attention to Venezuela in recent months as US-backed regime change efforts floundered, had to scramble to explain and discredit the events. Unable to reheat the “fraudulent” label, there was a return of classics such as “rigged” (CNN, 11/24/21) or “flawed” (New York Times, 11/23/21), which happened to be the State Department’s choice too.

There was already a sense that the US-favored parties would not do so well on their return to the electoral path. Reports talked of a “skeptical” opposition (Al Jazeera, 11/19/21; AFP, 11/19/21) to dampen expectations, after building the myth that anti-government parties had overwhelming support in the country.

Beyond managing expectations, there were less-than-convincing efforts to explain the change of course. Reuters (11/22/21) claimed that, in justifying boycotts, the opposition argued “a fair ballot was impossible because of interference from President Nicolas Maduro’s government and violent gangs loyal to him.” But then the same piece ends up undermining the thesis that the boycott was all about “fair” conditions. In saying that the return to the ballot happened “amid frustration over the failure of US sanctions to dislodge Maduro,” there’s an unwilling confession that opposition forces hoped US intervention would rid them of Venezuela’s democratically elected government.

It was not the first time that Reuters ran the “interference and gangs” line (11/17/21). But then to explain how “cautiously optimistic” opposition politicians were able to campaign free from intimidation, the explanation was that the hillside barrios of Caracas no longer “belong to Chavismo.” Journalists Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas could not hide their disdain for the poor and working class who identify with the Bolivarian Process, referring to popular neighborhoods as “fiefdoms of former president Hugo Chavez and…Maduro.” For what it is worth, Chavista candidate Carmen Meléndez secured the Caracas mayoralty with 59% of the vote, performing even better in those very barrios.

The opposition’s electoral defeat prompted some outlets to publish sobering headlines, suggesting that the opposition needed to “regroup” (NPR, 11/25/21), “rebuild” (Reuters, 11/22/21) or “lick wounds” (Financial Times, 11/25/21). But others doubled down on propaganda.

The New York Times (11/23/21) led the way, as Isayen Herrera and Anatoly Kurmanaev argued that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had found a “way to retain power”: winning elections. In a hyperbolically dramatic tone, the Times charged Maduro with “subverting the vestiges of democratic institutions” and “perfect[ing] a political system” that ensures success.

The paper of record flagrantly distorted the conclusions of the European Union’s electoral observation mission. The article’s teaser says “European observers said the elections were neither free nor fair.” But that was not the case. Rather, the mission’s chief, Isabel Santos, when repeatedly asked the question, declined to answer, which other reports made clear (Reuters, 11/23/21). To assume this means the mission declared the elections not to be free or fair is disingenuous, to say the least.

Most corporate outlets clung to EU conclusions that pro-government candidates allegedly spent state resources in campaigning, or were favored in public outlets (Washington Post, 11/23/21; Financial Times, 11/25/21; Bloomberg, 11/23/21). Of course, opposition forces getting foreign resources (Financial Times, 7/18/19) or being favored in private media (FAIR.org, 5/20/19) has never been a concern.

Corporate journalists conveniently downplayed the mission’s endorsement of the reliability of Venezuela’s voting system, seriously undermining past and future “fraud” claims. Indeed, Washington, the Post (11/8/21) admits,  was “not amused” by its European partners actually wanting to witness the process. US officials even wanted to impose the report’s findings ahead of time.

The coverage likewise suggests the European presence by itself meant improved conditions and a previously absent level of international scrutiny, when in fact the EU had been repeatedly invited to send electoral delegations. Not just that, all Venezuelan elections have had numerous international monitoring missions, only not from close US allies (Venezuelanalysis, 5/31/18, 12/9/20).

[More at the link. - js]

Biden Restarts & Expands Trump-Era “Remain in Mexico” Policy Despite Widespread Abuse, Kidnappings

Dems Mark Anniversary of 13th Amendment With Calls to 'Close the Slavery Loophole'

Congressional Democrats on Monday marked the 156th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by calling on federal lawmakers to end a form of slavery that has been allowed to persist in the United States.

Passed by Congress in January 1865 and ratified by the requisite number of states in the wake of the U.S. Civil War, the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

Leading up to Juneteenth earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) reintroduced the Abolition Amendment—which, as they put it, would "close the slavery loophole" by overriding that clause in the 13th Amendment.

Since the amendment was ratified in December 1865, "that sinister loophole has driven discriminatory policing and mass incarceration," Merkley noted Monday. "Abolishing slavery can't come with a loophole."

Williams similarly pointed out that "prisons disproportionately exploit the labor of Black and Brown folks for profit, while stripping them of their individuality and liberty."

"Prison labor is slave labor. Pass the #AbolitionAmendment," she tweeted, urging fellow lawmakers to #EndTheException.

Teamsters Embrace MILITANCY, Prepare for WAR with AMAZON

The ‘stench’ of politicization

About 11 minutes into this week’s hearing on abortion rights at the US supreme court, the floor was taken by Sonia Sotomayor, one of the three beleaguered liberal-leaning justices left on the court after its sharp rightward shift under Donald Trump. ... She addressed the danger posed by the court’s sudden and apparently politically motivated change of heart not just to abortion rights but to the rule of law itself.

If the nation’s highest court, with its newly constituted Trumpian majority, were to go along with the ploy set for it by Mississippi and throw out half a century of settled law affirming a woman’s right to choose, then what would happen to the court’s legitimacy as a place in American democracy that rises above the cut and thrust of grubby partisanship? “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she said. “I don’t see how it is possible.”

Stench. The word ricocheted off the august walls of the courtroom like a bullet. “It was a shocking moment,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “An unadorned recognition of the legitimacy issues that are clearly preoccupying a number of the justices.”

For Stephen Vladeck, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas at Austin, the takeaway of this week’s hearing was not how many justices were preoccupied with the reputational damage facing an increasingly politicised court, but how few. “To me, the single most distressing feature of Justice Sotomayor’s arguments was how little anyone else seemed to care,” he told the Guardian. ...

Vladeck fears that the vast and growing disconnect between what the conservative justices say they are doing – impartially and faithfully upholding the law of the land, and what they are actually doing – playing along with the machinations of politicians in states like Mississippi, bodes very ill for the legitimacy of the court. In the long run it could also harm America’s future as a country of laws.

“Public perception matters,” he said. “The more the court appears to be guided by contemporary partisan preferences as opposed to permanent legal principles, the harder it will be for millions of Americans on the wrong side of these cases to understand why they should be bound by them.”



the horse race



DoJ sues Texas, saying electoral map plans violate Voting Rights Act

The US Department of Justice is suing Texas over its new electoral maps, saying the plans violate the Voting Rights Act by making it more difficult for Black and Latino voters to elect their preferred candidates.

Minority voters accounted for 95% of population growth in Texas over the last decade but there are no new majority-minority districts in the new plans. Texas gained two new seats in Congress because of its high population growth over the last decade.

Republicans who control the redistricting process drew the lines to shore up their advantage across Texas, blunting the surge in the state’s non-white population. The new maps give Republicans a hold on 25 of Texas’s 38 congressional seats and help them maintain their majorities in the state legislature, where they’ve pushed a sweeping number of conservative policies, including anti-abortion measures and easing gun regulations.

The DoJ suit says Texas violated section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race. ...

Vanita Gupta, the No 3 official at the justice department, said some of the districts were drawn with “discriminatory intent”. She also noted that Texas is a repeat offender when it comes to voting discrimination, highlighting that courts have repeatedly found that the state has discriminated against minority voters over the last several decades.

‘Time is running out’: can Congress pass a voting rights bill after months of failure?

For years, Helen Butler has been on a mission to increase voter turnout, especially among Black voters, in Georgia and across the south. ... Last year, she listened as Joe Biden promised he would protect the right to vote if he was elected president. ... Months later, Butler and other organizers had a breakthrough that had been years in the making. After years of investing in voter mobilization, turnout among Black voters surged in the November election, helping Joe Biden win a state long seen as a Republican stronghold. In January, Black voters came out again and helped Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win two upset Senate bids, giving Democrats control of the US Senate.

On the night he was elected president, Biden called out the Black voters who helped him capture the presidency, saying: “When this campaign was at its lowest – the African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” And so, after Biden was inaugurated, Butler and many others expected that voting rights would be one of the first things the president and Democrats addressed.

Instead, during the president’s first year in office, Butler has watched with dismay as Biden and Democrats have failed to pass any voting rights legislation. Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia passed sweeping new voting restrictions, one of several places across the country that made it harder to vote. “It is disheartening, I can tell you, out of all the work we’ve put in to have fair elections, to get people engaged, and to have the Senate that will not act to protect the most sacred right, the right to vote, is unheard of,” Butler said.

“[It] makes voters say ‘Did I vote for the right people? … you haven’t fought for me. Why should I fight to keep you in office in 2022?’” ...

Distress is surging as Republicans in several states, including Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio, have passed distorted electoral maps that will lock in Republican advantages in Congress for the next decade. ... Even if Democrats somehow find a way to pass a voting rights bill, they would face an uphill battle in trying to block already-enacted maps – as primary elections for those congressional seats up for grabs in next year’s midterms.



the evening greens


Exclusive: oil companies’ profits soared to $174bn this year as US gas prices rose

The largest oil and gas companies made a combined $174bn in profits in the first nine months of the year as gasoline prices climbed in the US, according to a new report.

The bumper profit totals, provided exclusively to the Guardian, show that in the third quarter of 2021 alone, 24 top oil and gas companies made more than $74bn in net income. From January to September, the net income of the group, which includes Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP, was $174bn.

Exxon alone posted a net income of $6.75bn in the third quarter, its highest profit since 2017, and has seen its revenue jump by 60% on the same period last year. The company credited the rising cost of oil for bolstering these profits, as did BP, which made $3.3bn in third-quarter profit. “Rising commodity prices certainly helped,” Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP, told investors at the latest earnings report.

Gasoline prices have hit a seven-year high in the US due to the rising cost of oil, with Americans now paying about $3.40 for a gallon of fuel compared with around $2.10 a year ago. ...

But oil and gas companies have shown little willingness so far to ramp up production to help reduce costs and the new report, by the government watchdog group Accountable.US, accuses them of “taking advantage of bloated prices, fleecing American families along the way” amid ongoing fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rare earth elements: Global battle under way for precious minerals

SEC investigating Tesla over claims it hid solar panel fire risks

The US securities regulator has opened an investigation into Tesla over a whistleblower complaint that the company failed to properly notify its shareholders and the public of fire risks associated with solar panel system defects over several years, according to a letter from the agency. The inquiry raises regulatory pressure on the world’s most valuable automaker, which already faces a federal safety investigation into accidents involving its driver assistant systems. Concerns about fires from Tesla solar systems have been published previously, but this is the first report of investigation by the securities regulator.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosed the Tesla review in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Steven Henkes, a former Tesla field quality manager, who filed a whistleblower complaint on the solar systems in 2019 and asked the agency for information about the report. ...

Henkes, a former Toyota Motor quality division manager, was fired from Tesla in August 2020 and he sued Tesla, claiming the dismissal was in retaliation for raising safety concerns. Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ emailed questions, and the SEC declined to comment.

In the SEC complaint, Henkes said Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose its “liability and exposure to property damage, risk of injury of users, fire etc to shareholders” before and after the acquisition. Tesla also failed to notify its customers that defective electrical connectors could lead to fires, according to the complaint.

Tesla told consumers that it needed to conduct maintenance on the solar panel system to avoid a failure that could shut down the system. It did not warn of fire risks, offer temporary shutdown to mitigate risk, or report the problems to regulators, Henkes said.


Also of Interest

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

Chris Hedges: American Satyricon

Our Rulers Are Not Rational Creatures: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Nuclear Talks - Israel Makes Funny Demands

US Navy Jet Fuel Tanks Contaminating Pearl Harbor

Six Things They’re Not Telling You About Inflation

Krystal Ball: Huma WHITEWASHES Clintons Revealing Neoliberal Rot

Ryan Grim: Reality Winner On Brutality Of Confinement, Motivation For Whistleblowing


A Little Night Music

Allen Toussaint - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

Allen Toussaint - It's A New Orleans Thing

Allen Toussaint - On Your Way Down

Allen Toussaint - Cast Your Fate To The Wind

Etta James, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint - Groove Me

Allen Toussaint - Soul Sister

Allen Toussaint - Get Out Of My Life, Woman

Allen Toussaint - Tipitina & me

The Funky Meters with Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint - Full Set - Blues & BBQ Festival (2015)


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QMS's picture

high technology from weaponry to livingry. Buckey had it right.
Yes we can. Many thanks for Mr. Toussaint as well.

Cheers!

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joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

heh, it seems like the talents of the brainy science/engineering minds throughout history have been channeled towards war technologies. even archemedes got drafted for the home team.

it would be great if we could have a drive for more productive uses of science and technology.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

To paraphrase Jodie Foster: Human is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

stone was over at breaking points the other morning going over roughly the same points. i'm glad that he's getting some traction.

it would be great to finally force the cia to cough up the evidence.

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7 users have voted.

It sums up the situation quite well and is worth the read.

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9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

yep, medea benjamin has been doing great work for a long time. i hope that one day we might have the sort country that would award her lifetime of work and advocacy.

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7 users have voted.
mimi's picture

and ask myself if I should do this to myself. As always I scan the offered articles' headlines but seldom read more than a couple of them.

This evening I got hung up with Chris Hedges 'American Satyricon'. I couldn't read it in full. I felt it was too much to bear.

Any healthy feeling person would just want to kill himself, reading through what Hedges said there, as much a it might be all true.

So tomorrow I will think twice before I click on the 'Read More' button

I wonder how Berner-Lee can still think so positive about him having invented the www.

In November 2019 at the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin Berners-Lee and the WWWF launched Contract for the Web, a campaign initiative to persuade governments, companies and citizens to commit to nine principles to stop "misuse", with the warning that "if we don't act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering [its potential for good]".[67]

They have long ago squandered the www's potential for good, imo.

Ok, you work on and probably I will read on, but there is nothing in there that would make me happy.

Many thanks for your work. Though I don't have to like what I read, I still can respect it.

Have a good evening, all of you. I hope you are not poor and all have a shelter and loved ones around you.

Good Night from Germany.

PS I love of coures the music and the flowers. Smile

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7 users have voted.

mimi

joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

fear not, if you hang around long enough, the evening blues will become a music-only post as sooner or later i will retire from news collecting. i just don't know when, but i think about it from time to time. Smile

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3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Supreme Court now? Seriously? After saying that corporations are people and citizens United and their other boneheaded decisions that have come out of it? Weird how its idea is to rule on the constitution, but bends over backwards to make up rights for their rich friends or to take them away from we the people instead. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t seem possible when they give cops the power to kill us when they seem to want to which seems to go against those things. Or let the government spy on us which goes against the 4th amendment and too many other issues that they have decided that don’t uphold those 3 things. I do not. Abortion was settled on 3 rights wasn’t it? Did they just evaporate so now it can be overturned?

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5 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

scrotus has been illegitimate since at least 1886 and i would argue at least since 1823.

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4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Kellogg to permanently replace striking employees as workers reject new contract

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Kellogg said on Tuesday a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers have voted against a new five-year contract, forcing it to hire permanent replacements as employees extend a strike that started more than two months ago.

Temporary replacements have already been working at the company's cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee where 1,400 union members went on strike on Oct. 5 as their contracts expired and talks over payment and benefits stalled.

"Interest in the (permanent replacement) roles has been strong at all four plants, as expected. We expect some of the new hires to start with the company very soon," Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said.

The company said "unrealistic expectations" created by the union meant none of its six offers, including the latest one that was put to vote, which proposed wage increases and allowed all transitional employees with four or more years of service to move to legacy positions, came to fruition.

How much did the CEO make last year? Sadly the comments are more anti union then pro.

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7 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

@snoopydawg https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/02/joe-biden-unions

Biden stakes claim to being America’s most pro-union president ever

Just over 100 days into his presidency Joe Biden is showing that he is one of the most pro-union presidents in American history, declaring the “unions built the middle class” in his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/09/08/rem...

Remarks by President Biden in Honor of Labor Unions

And I want to welcome everyone to the White House. And I really mean that. This is your house. It’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact. This is your house. I wouldn’t be here without you. That’s, again, not hyperbole.

In my White House, you’ll always be welcome. You’ll always be welcome. Labor will always be welcome. You know, you’ve heard me say many times: I intend to be the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history.

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6 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

@humphrey

Crash Test Dummy lies more easily than he breathes, and every word out of his mouth can definitely be taken as a lie, including "a", "an", 'it", the", etc.

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6 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

it will be interesting to see what the democrats do (and i include bernie and brandon in that). my guess is probably nothing.

a consumer boycott of kellogg's sounds like a great idea, though. i wonder if bernie would organize such a thing, i would guess that brandon would not.

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5 users have voted.

@joe shikspack https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/ourfoods.html

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Lookout's picture

You featured Krystal and Sagaar's conversion with him yesterday. I thought Anya's from last week was good too.

Wonder how the Biden-Putin conversation actually played out?

Well interesting times. Thanks for the news and especially the music!

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6 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture

@Lookout

from what i've read so far (which are mostly mainstream sources at this point) it appears that brandon and russia are at an impasse.

brandon can't afford to appear to back down and lose face and putin will not back down at this point because he knows that he is dealing with a pack of liars and cheats. backing down will only lead to further accommodations of the empire down the road, so it is best to dig in his heels now.

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5 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

That's what I say.
Big Disney special. Who cares ?
Sorry Boomers, the Beatles were just a pop band, a corporate pop band, on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Imagine all the Boomers ...
Please people, John Lennon was a singer and songwriter, not a revolutionary or a political philosopher.

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6 users have voted.

We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, yeah i've noticed that the hype for this thing is all over the internet. i'm not sure if i will ever see it, since i don't have cable. i'm not sure that i'd want to dedicate 6 hours to it, either.

that said, the beatles were talented musicians, though i agree they were not political philosophers or revolutionaries. they did occasionally stand up as citizens and advocate for things that i agreed with, however. most notably lennon's stance against war was something that i appreciated.

have a great evening!

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6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
But I've always thought that the Beatles were a little bit bubble-gummy.
They never really had no soul, rubber or otherwise.
Could Mr. Guitar Genius George Harrison play the Telecaster like this ?
Not bloody likely.

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5 users have voted.

We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

janis b's picture

@Azazello

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt similarly about the Beatles music.

Recently though, I watched online the full episode of Steven Colbert’s interview with Peter Jackson, who just released a Trilogy about the Beatles based on live recordings of conversations and music from 50 years ago that were only released a few years ago. The interview was interesting in the sense that it gives insight in to the creative process of the film making of the creative process of the Beatles.

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@janis b I appreciate some of their work more now than I ever did back then. It's been a guilty secret of mine.

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3 users have voted.

NYCVG

janis b's picture

@NYCVG

I've always wondered what the 'VG' part stands for, and appreciate your comments.

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4 users have voted.

the military there.

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joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

the military craps up any land that it occupies and leaves a toxic mess. they are a terrible neighbor.

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CB's picture

to get a free Triple Whopper With Cheese. I would have let him finish. The police could have used a claw hammer to remove him from the pavement.

Attempt to nail genitals to Red Square fails
8 Dec, 2021

A half-naked man was apprehended by police for attempting to nail his genitals to the pavement on Moscow’s iconic Red Square, Russian media outlets have reported, in what appears to be a repeat of a notorious 2013 display.

Emergency services were called to the scene late on Monday night, law enforcement told RIA Novosti. Officers detained the 24-year-old and he has since reportedly been referred for a psychological assessment.

According to the source, when police approached him, they saw that he was armed with a hammer and screws.

The suspect had allegedly traveled some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from his town of Dolgoprudny, got undressed, and intended to nail his reproductive organs to the paving stones. However, fortunately, authorities intervened before he was able to finish the act.
...
The bizarre attempt, however, is surprisingly not unique. In 2013, Petr Pavlensky, an artist hailing from St. Petersburg, nailed his scrotum to Red Square, just meters away from the marble tomb of Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

Photo: Artist who nailed scrotum to Red Square gets ‘tribute’ menu at Burger King

Pavlensky, a highly controversial figure in Russia, has staged several ballsy stunts, including wrapping his half-naked body in barbed wire and sewing his lips shut in protest against government policies. The artist was also detained after setting fire to a door of the country’s security service headquarters.

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1 user has voted.