The Evening Blues - 1-11-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz trumpeter and singer Hot Lips Page. Enjoy!
Hot Lips Page Trio - Evil Man’s Blues
“One nation's common sense is another nation's high blood pressure.”
-- E.B. White
News and Opinion
US and Russian diplomats have emerged from a day of negotiations in Geneva over the fate of Ukraine, describing the talks as “useful” and “very professional” – but also stressing they had not made progress towards resolving fundamental disagreements.
The two sides largely spent the eight hours of talks presenting their points of view on the situation in Ukraine, currently hemmed in by some 100,000 Russian troops, and on European security in general, and deferred further debate on them to a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday between Russia and all Nato members.
“We had useful discussions and exchanges today that will help inform our way forward,” Wendy Sherman, the deputy US secretary of state and leader of the delegation in Geneva, told reporters after the day of talks.
Her Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, said: “The conversation was difficult, long, very professional, deep, concrete, without attempts to embellish or smooth over sharp corners. “We have been left with the impression that the American side approached the Russian proposals very seriously, studied them in depth,” Ryabkov said. ...
Ryabkov said the two sides had continued to clash over what the agenda of future talks should be. While the US has sought to focus on technical arms control issues, Ryabkov described those as a secondary concern compared with the far thornier demand to limit Nato’s presence in central and eastern Europe. He also noted that elements of Russia’s demands, such as an effective veto on future Nato enlargement, appear to be non-starters for the US and its allies. Analysts have said that the aggressive demands made by Russia mean that the negotiations are headed for a dead-end.
Vladimir Putin has claimed the unrest in Kazakhstan last week that killed at least 164 people was the result of foreign meddling, and said a Russian-led military bloc should take steps to ensure that future attempts to interfere in the region failed.
“The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside,” said the Russian president, who was speaking at a video conference of leaders of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance that deployed about 2,500 troops to Kazakhstan this week at the request of Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The CSTO, which also includes Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, has never before deployed troops, and many in Kazakhstan expressed extreme unease at having Russian troops on the ground.
“The measures taken by the CSTO made it clear that we would not let anyone destabilise the situation at our home and implement so-called ‘colour revolution’ scenarios,” said Putin. The Russian president believes former Soviet nations should fall into Moscow’s sphere of influence, and has frequently dismissed popular uprisings as “colour revolutions” organised and financed from abroad. Putin also said the events in Kazakhstan showed the dangers of social media and unrestricted internet use.
The Pentagon has finally published its first Airpower Summary since President Biden took office nearly a year ago. These monthly reports have been published since 2007 to document the number of bombs and missiles dropped by U.S.-led air forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria since 2004. But President Trump stopped publishing them after February 2020, shrouding continued U.S. bombing in secrecy.
Over the past 20 years, as documented in the table below [click article link to see table - js], U.S. and allied air forces have dropped over 337,000 bombs and missiles on other countries. That is an average of 46 strikes per day for 20 years. This endless bombardment has not only been deadly and devastating for its victims but is broadly recognized as seriously undermining international peace and security and diminishing America’s standing in the world.
The U.S. government and political establishment have been remarkably successful at keeping the American public in the dark about the horrific consequences of these long-term campaigns of mass destruction, allowing them to maintain the illusion of U.S. militarism as a force for good in the world in their domestic political rhetoric.
Now, even in the face of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, they are doubling down on their success at selling this counterfactual narrative to the American public to reignite their old Cold War with Russia and China, dramatically and predictably increasing the risk of nuclear war.
The new Airpower Summary data reveal that the United States has dropped another 3,246 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (2,068 under Trump and 1,178 under Biden) since February 2020.
The good news is that U.S. bombing of those 3 countries has significantly decreased from the over 12,000 bombs and missiles it dropped on them in 2019. In fact, since the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from Afghanistan in August, the U.S. military has officially conducted no air strikes there, and only dropped 13 bombs or missiles on Iraq and Syria - although this does not preclude additional unreported strikes by forces under CIA command or control.
Presidents Trump and Biden both deserve credit for recognizing that endless bombing and occupation could not deliver victory in Afghanistan. The speed with which the U.S.-installed government fell to the Taliban once the U.S. withdrawal was under way confirmed how 20 years of hostile military occupation, aerial bombardment and support for corrupt governments ultimately served only to drive the war-weary people of Afghanistan back to Taliban rule.
Biden’s callous decision to follow 20 years of colonial occupation and aerial bombardment in Afghanistan with the same kind of brutal economic siege warfare the United States has inflicted on Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela can only further discredit America in the eyes of the world.
There has been no accountability for these 20 years of senseless destruction. Even with the publication of Airpower Summaries, the ugly reality of U.S. bombing wars and the mass casualties they inflict remain largely hidden from the American people.
How many of the 3,246 attacks documented in the Airpower Summary since February 2020 were you aware of before reading this article? You probably heard about the drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians in Kabul in August 2021. But what about the other 3,245 bombs and missiles? Whom did they kill or maim, and whose homes did they destroy?
The December 2021 New York Times exposé of the consequences of U.S. airstrikes, the result of a five-year investigation, was stunning not only for the high civilian casualties and military lies it exposed, but also because it revealed just how little investigative reporting the U.S. media have done on these two decades of war.
In America’s industrialized, remote-control air wars, even the U.S. military personnel most directly and intimately involved are shielded from human contact with the people whose lives they are destroying, while for most of the American public, it is as if these hundreds of thousands of deadly explosions never even happened.
The lack of public awareness of U.S. airstrikes is not the result of a lack of concern for the mass destruction our government commits in our names. In the rare cases we find out about, like the murderous drone strike in Kabul in August, the public wants to know what happened and strongly supports U.S. accountability for civilian deaths.
So public ignorance of 99% of U.S. air strikes and their consequences is not the result of public apathy, but of deliberate decisions by the U.S. military, politicians of both parties and corporate media to keep the public in the dark. The largely unremarked 21-month-long suppression of monthly Airpower Summaries is only the latest example of this. ...
The failure of the U.S. government, politicians and corporate media to honestly inform and educate the American public about the systematic mass destruction wreaked by our country’s armed forces has allowed this carnage to continue largely unremarked and unchecked for 20 years.
It has also left us precariously vulnerable to the revival of an anachronistic, Manichean Cold War narrative that risks even greater catastrophe. In this topsy-turvy, “through the looking glass” narrative, the country actually bombing cities to rubble and waging wars that kill millions of people, presents itself as a well-intentioned force for good in the world. Then it paints countries like China, Russia and Iran, which have understandably strengthened their defenses to deter the United States from attacking them, as threats to the American people and to world peace.
The high-level talks beginning on January 10th in Geneva between the United States and Russia are a critical opportunity, maybe even a last chance, to rein in the escalation of the current Cold War before this breakdown in East-West relations becomes irreversible or devolves into a military conflict.
If we are to emerge from this morass of militarism and avoid the risk of an apocalyptic war with Russia or China, the U.S. public must challenge the counterfactual Cold War narrative that U.S. military and civilian leaders are peddling to justify their ever-increasing investments in nuclear weapons and the U.S. war machine.
Iran on Saturday imposed sanctions on dozens more Americans, many of them from the U.S. military, over the 2020 killing of General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said the 51 Americans had been targeted for what it called "terrorism" and human rights violations. The step lets Iranian authorities seize any assets they hold in Iran, but the apparent absence of such assets means it will likely be symbolic.
The ministry said in a statement carried by local media that the 51 had been targeted for "their role in the terrorist crime by the United States against the martyred General Qassem Soleimani and his companions and the promotion of terrorism and violations of fundamental human rights".
Lithuania has paid more than $110,000 to Abu Zubaydah, the Guantánamo detainee known as the “forever prisoner”, in compensation for having allowed the CIA to hold him at a secret site outside Vilnius where he was subjected to forms of torture.
The €100,000 ($113,500) payment comes more than three years after the European court of human rights ordered the Lithuanian government to pay compensation for violating European laws banning the use of torture.
It marks a significant shift in the treatment of Zubaydah, who has been detained by the US without charge for more than 20 years.
Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan six months after 9/11. The CIA and lawyers for the Bush administration attempted to justify his torture by claiming he was a very senior figure in al-Qaida. It emerged that he was not a member of the organisation and he has never been charged with involvement in 9/11. For much of the time since his arrest, Zubaydah has been held incommunicado, at the insistence of the CIA as part of its efforts to prevent details of his torture from becoming public.
Lawyers for Zubaydah believe it is highly unlikely that Lithuania would have made the compensation payment without approval from Washington.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday he plans to remove Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from their respective committees if Republicans retake the House majority.
McCarthy's comments offer a preview of the scorched-earth tactics Republicans may adopt if they win back control of Congress in 2022.
McCarthy has long said the removals of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees set a new standard that his party will not hesitate to use against Democrats.
As the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium for 2022, healthcare reform advocates stressed the need for Congress to pass a Build Back Better bill with a provision allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that he was instructing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) "to reassess the recommendation for the 2022 Medicare Part B premium"—a hike that progressive critics said was largely the result of the pharmaceutical industry's outrageous profiteering.
Alex Lawson, executive director of the advocacy group Social Security Works, called Becerra's announcement "good news for seniors."
"Older Americans should not have to pay $22 more for Medicare every month to cover the outrageous prices of prescription drugs," he said in a statement.
Last November, CMS announced that monthly Medicare Part B premiums would increase nearly 15% from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 for 2022.
The Rev Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy on Monday for Valentina Orellana-Peralta, the 14-year-old girl killed by a Los Angeles police officer, denouncing LAPD’s longstanding abuses, as her family remembered a bright young girl who excelled in school and had big dreams for her life in the US.
“There is nothing normal about shooting so recklessly that a young teenage girl looking to live the American dream, shopping with her dear mother … for a Christmas dress, ends up being dressed for her funeral,” Sharpton said in his eulogy, recounting his marches in LA and fight for justice 31 years ago when LAPD beat Rodney King. “I led marches and joined in all kinds of efforts to call on the prosecution of those police, and calling on the Los Angeles police department to reform how they do policing … Through those 31 years, we keep seeing LAPD get it wrong. Here we are again. How long will it take for you to get it right?” ...
The killing of a young bystander has prompted widespread scrutiny of the LAPD, which shot a total of six people in a nine-day period last month, contributing to a sharp increase in officer shootings and killings in 2021.
LA’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, has said the LAPD will review its tactics, training and policies in the wake of the killing. But the case has renewed calls for the defunding of the department, with critics arguing that ongoing reform efforts have failed to prevent police violence, and that officers must face accountability for misconduct and unjust killings.
His Bernieness has an interview with the Guardian. If you are amused by Bernie's sad attempts to talk the party into action, you'll love the inteview.
Senator Bernie Sanders has called on Democrats to make “a major course correction” that focuses on fighting for America’s working class and standing up to “powerful corporate interests” because the Democrats’ legislative agenda is stalled and their party faces tough prospects in this November’s elections.
The White House is likely to see his comments as a shot across the bow by the left wing of a party increasingly frustrated at how centrist Democrats have managed to scupper or delay huge chunks of Biden’s domestic policy plans.
In an interview with the Guardian, Sanders called on Joe Biden and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to push to hold votes on individual bills that would be a boon to working families, citing extending the child tax credit, cutting prescription drug prices and raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $15.
Such votes would be good policy and good politics, the Vermont senator insisted, saying they would show the Democrats battling for the working class while highlighting Republican opposition to hugely popular policies.
“It is no great secret that the Republican party is winning more and more support from working people,” Sanders said. “It’s not because the Republican party has anything to say to them. It’s because in too many ways the Democratic party has turned its back on the working class.”
President Joe Biden is set to visit Atlanta on Tuesday to deliver a major speech on the state of voting rights in the U.S., but his planned visit has gotten a chilly reception from Georgia advocates who say they're sick of lofty rhetoric and no action from Democratic leaders.
In a joint statement ahead of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' trip, a coalition of advocacy groups including the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Georgia NAACP, and the Asian American Advocacy Fund said the president must bring with him "an announcement of a finalized voting rights plan that will pass both chambers, not be stopped by the filibuster, and be signed into law."
"Anything less is insufficient and unwelcome," the groups said. "We reject any political visit that does not also come with policy progress—with signs of clear work done, of something accomplished. We reject any visit that fails to begin with the question, 'How does this serve the people of Georgia?' It is time for final action on voting rights, and Georgians are waiting." ...
In their statement, the coalition of Georgia-based advocacy groups noted that "in the past year alone, voters and advocates have fought an onslaught of devastating anti-voter proposals" in the state "and have organized in the aftermath of the passage of SB 202."
"Right now, advocates and local leaders are fighting to stop the closure of seven out of eight polling places in Lincoln County—where over one-third of voters are Black," the groups said. "Just next week, the state legislature will convene, with Republican leaders already proudly touting their plans to attack voting access, push to ban drop boxes, and erect new hurdles in the path of voters. And the voters and advocates in Georgia remain, ready to do the work to try and slow them down and stop them from taking away their freedom to vote."
"So as President Biden and Vice President Harris plan their visit to Georgia, our message is simple," they continued. "We have voted, we have advocated, and we have organized. We have done the work. Now, it is time for you to deliver, and for you to do the work. We need President Biden and Vice President Harris to demand we restore the Senate and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act NOW."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are stepping up a personal campaign to persuade Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to run for the Senate and help the party’s chances of regaining control of the chamber.
The recruitment effort has included McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who held Cabinet positions in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations. Moderate Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine, have also been in direct contact with Hogan to note that his centrist brand of politics would be welcome in a chamber riven with partisanship. Several other Washington officials have made financial pledges or shared internal polling to try to convince Hogan that he has a path to victory.
President Joe Biden carried Maryland by 32 percentage points in 2020 and a Republican hasn’t won a statewide federal office in more than 30 years. Hogan, who is prevented by term limits from running for reelection, has long resisted the idea of challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Chris Van Hollen. One of the GOP’s most prominent critics of former President Donald Trump, Hogan has toyed with mounting a presidential campaign in 2024.
Still, his willingness to recently engage with high-profile recruiters suggests Hogan has not ruled out a Senate run. If he were to enter the Senate race instead, it would force Democrats to devote money and other resources in a longtime blue state at a time when they’re already bracing for a difficult campaign season across the country.
The Ohio Republican Jim Jordan is the second sitting congressman to refuse a request for cooperation from the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.
In a Sunday night letter to the committee chair, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Trump ally accused the panel of “an outrageous abuse” of its authority.
He also claimed “an unprecedented and inappropriate demand to examine the basis for a colleague’s decision on a particular matter pending before the House of Representatives”.
“This request is far outside the bounds of any legitimate inquiry,” he said, “violates core constitutional principles and would serve to further erode legislative norms.”
The last seven years were the world’s hottest on record, with the first analysis of global temperature in 2021 showing it was 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.
The assessment of the year, by the European climate agency Copernicus, also found carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached record levels and that the potent greenhouse gas methane surged “very substantially”, also to a new record.
The rise in greenhouse gas concentration means more heat is being trapped than ever before but 2021 ranked as the fifth hottest year on record. This is because a natural and cyclic climate phenomenon called La Niña exerted a cooling influence by bringing cold Pacific waters to the surface.
The climate crisis continued unabated with extreme weather striking across the world. Europe suffered its hottest summer on record and broke its maximum temperature record in Sicily with 48.8C, while intense wildfires raged in Italy, Greece and Turkey. Severe floods made up to nine times more likely by global heating also wreaked havoc in Germany and Belgium
Extreme heat also caused the “mother of all heatwaves” in the west of the US and Canada. Temperature records were smashed by 5C and scientists calculated the event was made at least 150 times more likely by global heating. In California, the Dixie wildfire was the second largest in history.
Rising temperatures due to the climate crisis will lead to a rise in people suffering from kidney stones – a painful medical condition exacerbated by heat and dehydration, according to a new study. Researchers used two climate scenarios to estimate the burden of heat and humidity related kidney stone disease by the end of the century in South Carolina – a state in the south-east US, a region which currently has a higher than average incidence rate. ...
According to researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Chop), the number of cases will increase between 2.2% and 3.9% depending on whether greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate or are cut to an intermediate level, leading to a huge rise in health costs either way. ...
The incidence of the condition has escalated over the past two decades, particularly among people of color, women and adolescents.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Hot Lips Page - Last Call For Alcohol
Hot Lips Page & His Band - Lafayette
Artie Shaw (Hot Lips Page, vocal) - Blues In The Night
Hot Lips Page - The Monkey (The Jungle King)
Hot Lips Page - There Ain't No Flies On Me
Hot Lips Page - Uncle Sam's Blues
Hot Lips Page - I Won't Be Here Long
Hot Lips Page - The Cadillac Song
Hot Lips Page - Harlem Rumbain' the Blues