The Evening Blues - 1-20-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite. Enjoy!
Charlie Musselwhite - Just A Feeling
“Liars make the best promises.”
-- Pierce Brown
News and Opinion
President Biden and the Democrats were highly critical of President Trump's foreign policy, so it was reasonable to expect that Biden would quickly remedy its worst impacts. As a senior member of the Obama administration, Biden surely needed no schooling on Obama's diplomatic agreements with Cuba and Iran, both of which began to resolve long-standing foreign policy problems and provided models for the renewed emphasis on diplomacy that Biden was promising.
Tragically for America and the world, Biden has failed to restore Obama's progressive initiatives, and has instead doubled down on many of Trump's most dangerous and destabilizing policies. It is especially ironic and sad that a president who ran so stridently on being different from Trump has been so reluctant to reverse his regressive policies. Now the Democrats' failure to deliver on their promises with respect to both domestic and foreign policy is undermining their prospects in November's midterm election.
Here is our assessment of Biden's handling of ten critical foreign policy issues:
1. Prolonging the agony of the people of Afghanistan. It is perhaps symptomatic of Biden's foreign policy problems that the signal achievement of his first year in office was an initiative launched by Trump, to withdraw the United States from its 20-year war in Afghanistan. But Biden's implementation of this policy was tainted by the same failure to understand Afghanistan that doomed and dogged at least three prior administrations and the U.S.'s hostile military occupation for 20 years, leading to the speedy restoration of the Taliban government and the televised chaos of the U.S. withdrawal.
Now, instead of helping the Afghan people recover from two decades of U.S.-inflicted destruction, Biden has seized $9.4 billion in Afghan foreign currency reserves, while the people of Afghanistan suffer through a desperate humanitarian crisis. It is hard to imagine how even Donald Trump could be more cruel or vindictive.
2. Provoking a crisis with Russia over Ukraine. Biden's first year in office is ending with a dangerous escalation of tensions at the Russia/Ukraine border, a situation that threatens to devolve into a military conflict between the world's two most heavily armed nuclear states–the United States and Russia. The United States bears much responsibility for this crisis by supporting the violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine in 2014, backing NATO expansion right up to Russia's border, and arming and training Ukrainian forces.
Biden's failure to acknowledge Russia's legitimate security concerns has led to the present impasse, and Cold Warriors within his administration are threatening Russia instead of proposing concrete measures to de-escalate the situation.
3. Escalating Cold War tensions and a dangerous arms race with China. President Trump launched a tariff war with China that economically damaged both countries, and reignited a dangerous Cold War and arms race with China and Russia to justify an ever-increasing U.S. military budget.
After a decade of unprecedented U.S. military spending and aggressive military expansion under Bush II and Obama, the U.S. "pivot to Asia" militarily encircled China, forcing it to invest in more robust defense forces and advanced weapons. Trump, in turn, used China's strengthened defenses as a pretext for further increases in U.S. military spending, launching a new arms race that has raised the existential risk of nuclear war to a new level.
Biden has only exacerbated these dangerous international tensions. Alongside the risk of war, his aggressive policies toward China have led to an ominous rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and created obstacles to much-needed cooperation with China to address climate change, the pandemic and other global problems.
4. Abandoning Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran. After President Obama's sanctions against Iran utterly failed to force it to halt its civilian nuclear program, he finally took a progressive, diplomatic approach, which led to the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2015. Iran scrupulously met all its obligations under the treaty, but Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in 2018. Trump's withdrawal was vigorously condemned by Democrats, including candidate Biden, and Senator Sanders promised to rejoin the JCPOA on his first day in office if he became president.
Instead of immediately rejoining an agreement that worked for all parties, the Biden administration thought it could pressure Iran to negotiate a "better deal." Exasperated Iranians instead elected a more conservative government and Iran moved forward on enhancing its nuclear program.
A year later, and after eight rounds of shuttle diplomacy in Vienna, Biden has still not rejoined the agreement. Ending his first year in the White House with the threat of another Middle East war is enough to give Biden an "F" in diplomacy.
5. Backing Big Pharma over a People's Vaccine. Biden took office as the first Covid vaccines were being approved and rolled out across the United States and the world. Severe inequities in global vaccine distribution between rich and poor countries were immediately apparent and became known as "vaccine apartheid."
Instead of manufacturing and distributing vaccines on a non-profit basis to tackle the pandemic as the global public health crisis that it is, the United States and other Western countries chose to maintain the neoliberal regime of patents and corporate monopolies on vaccine manufacture and distribution. The failure to open up the manufacture and distribution of vaccines to poorer countries gave the Covid virus free rein to spread and mutate, leading to new global waves of infection and death from the Delta and Omicron variants.
Biden belatedly agreed to support a patent waiver for Covid vaccines under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, but with no real plan for a "People's Vaccine," Biden's concession has made no impact on millions of preventable deaths.
6. Ensuring catastrophic global warming at COP26 in Glasgow. After Trump stubbornly ignored the climate crisis for four years, environmentalists were encouraged when Biden used his first days in office to rejoin the Paris climate accord and cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline.
But by the time Biden got to Glasgow, he had let the centerpiece of his own climate plan, the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP), be stripped out of the Build Back Better bill in Congress at the behest of fossil-fuel industry sock-puppet Joe Manchin, turning the U.S. pledge of a 50% cut from 2005 emissions by 2030 into an empty promise.
Biden's speech in Glasgow highlighted China and Russia's failures, neglecting to mention that the United States has higher emissions per capita than either of them. Even as COP26 was taking place, the Biden administration infuriated activists by putting oil and gas leases up for auction for 730,000 acres of the American West and 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. At the one-year mark, Biden has talked the talk, but when it comes to confronting Big Oil, he is not walking the walk, and the whole world is paying the price.
7. Political prosecutions of Julian Assange, Daniel Hale and Guantanamo torture victims. Under President Biden, the United States remains a country where the systematic killing of civilians and other war crimes go unpunished, while whistleblowers who muster the courage to expose these horrific crimes to the public are prosecuted and jailed as political prisoners.
In July 2021, former drone pilot Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison for exposing the killing of civilians in America's drone wars. WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange still languishes in Belmarsh Prison in England, after 11 years fighting extradition to the United States for exposing U.S. war crimes.
Twenty years after it set up an illegal concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to imprison 779 mostly innocent people kidnapped around the world, 39 prisoners remain there in illegal, extrajudicial detention. Despite promises to close this sordid chapter of U.S. history, the prison is still functioning and Biden is allowing the Pentagon to actually build a new, closed courtroom at Guantanamo to more easily keep the workings of this gulag hidden from public scrutiny.
8. Economic siege warfare against the people of Cuba, Venezuela and other countries. Trump unilaterally rolled back Obama's reforms on Cuba and recognized unelected Juan Guaidó as the "president" of Venezuela, as the United States tightened the screws on its economy with "maximum pressure" sanctions.
Biden has continued Trump's failed economic siege warfare against countries that resist U.S. imperial dictates, inflicting endless pain on their people without seriously imperiling, let alone bringing down, their governments. Brutal U.S. sanctions and efforts at regime change have universally failed for decades, serving mainly to undermine the United States's own democratic and human rights credentials.
Juan Guaidó is now the least popular opposition figure in Venezuela, and genuine grassroots movements opposed to U.S. intervention are bringing popular democratic and socialist governments to power across Latin America, in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Honduras - and maybe Brazil in 2022.
9. Still supporting Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen and its repressive ruler. Under Trump, Democrats and a minority of Republicans in Congress gradually built a bipartisan majority that voted to withdraw from the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen and stop sending arms to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed their efforts, but the Democratic election victory in 2020 should have led to an end to the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Instead, Biden only issued an order to stop selling "offensive" weapons to Saudi Arabia, without clearly defining that term, and went on to okay a $650 billion weapons sale. The United States still supports the Saudi war, even as the resulting humanitarian crisis kills thousands of Yemeni children. And despite Biden's pledge to treat the Saudis' cruel leader, MBS, as a pariah, Biden refused to even sanction MBS for his barbaric murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
10. Still complicit in illegal Israeli occupation, settlements and war crimes. The United States is Israel's largest arms supplier, and Israel is the world's largest recipient of U.S. military aid (approximately $4 billion annually), despite its illegal occupation of Palestine, widely condemned war crimes in Gaza and illegal settlement building. U.S. military aid and arms sales to Israel clearly violate the U.S. Leahy Laws and Arms Export Control Act.
Donald Trump was flagrant in his disdain for Palestinian rights, including tranferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to a property in Jerusalem that is only partly within Israel's internationally recognized border, a move that infuriated Palestinians and drew international condemnation.
But nothing has changed under Biden. The U.S. position on Israel and Palestine is as illegitimate and contradictory as ever, and the U.S. Embassy to Israel remains on illegally occupied land. In May, Biden supported the latest Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians, half of them civilians, including 66 children.
Each part of this foreign policy fiasco costs human lives and creates regional–even global–instability. In every case, progressive alternative policies are readily available. The only thing lacking is political will and independence from corrupt vested interests.
The United States has squandered unprecedented wealth, global goodwill, and a historic position of international leadership to pursue unattainable imperial ambitions, using military force and other forms of violence and coercion in flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law.
Candidate Biden promised to restore America's position of global leadership, but has instead doubled down on the policies through which the United States lost that position in the first place, under a succession of Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump was only the latest iteration in America's race to the bottom.
Biden has wasted a vital year doubling down on Trump's failed policies. In the coming year, we hope that the public will remind Biden of its deep-seated aversion to war and that he will respond—albeit reluctantly—by adopting more dovish and rational ways.
Joe Biden has said he thinks Russia will attack Ukraine, warning that Moscow would face a “stiff price”, but he admitted Nato was divided on how to respond if there is only a “minor incursion”. The White House was forced to issue a hasty clarification to that last point, saying that any movement of Russian forces over the border would be treated as invasion.
But Biden, in his most extensive remarks on the Ukraine crisis to date, given at an extended press conference on Wednesday, alarmed the government in Kyiv and strayed from the show of determined unity that Nato has sought to project.
Asked about Vladimir Putin’s intentions, the US president said: “I’m not so sure he is certain what he’s going to do. My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”
Biden said a full-scale invasion would be “the most consequential thing that’s happened in the world in terms of war and peace since World War Two”, with the risk of spilling outside Ukraine’s borders, and “could get out of hand”.
He said that Russia would prevail militarily in an invasion but would suffer heavy casualties.
Canadian special forces operators have been deployed to Ukraine amid rising tensions between the NATO military alliance and Russia, Global News has learned.
The deployment of a small contingent from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment comes as diplomatic talks aimed at staving off an armed conflict in Ukraine have faltered, and an estimated 100,000 Russian troops remain camped on Ukraine’s border.
Sources told Global News that the Canadian special operations presence is part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government.
The unit has also been tasked with helping to develop evacuation plans for Canadian diplomatic personnel in the event of a full-scale invasion, sources said.
What color is the sky in Joe Biden's world?
Joe Biden on Wednesday conceded that the unshakable threat of the Covid-19 pandemic had left many Americans demoralized, but insisted that his administration had “outperformed” expectations despite the myriad crises facing the nation during his first year in office. Speaking to reporters in the East Room of the White House for his first news conference in months, the US president said he was confident Democrats could pass “big chunks” of his sprawling domestic policy bill currently stalled in the Senate before the 2022 midterm elections.
“It’s been a year of challenges but it’s also been a year of enormous progress,” Biden said, outlining the administration’s early successes: passing coronavirus relief aid that slashed child poverty rates and a bipartisan infrastructure law that will shower funding for major public works projects on every state in the nation.
Grading his efforts to combat the pandemic, Biden insisted the US was better positioned now than when he took office, while acknowledging mistakes, such as not ordering more tests earlier. He vowed the US would not go back to the earliest days of the pandemic when lockdowns and school closures were widespread. “I didn’t overpromise,” he said. “I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.” ...
In a revealing split screen, Biden’s press conference took place as Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat and key holdout on much of Biden’s agenda, took to the floor of the Senate to denounce his party’s efforts to amend the filibuster rule to pass voting rights protections. Biden defended his pursuit of what appeared to be a hopeless effort to pass the bills, which are all but certain to fail without full Democratic support in the evenly-divided Senate. ...
In the coming months, Biden said he would travel to states and districts across the country to promote his agenda and sell his administration’s accomplishments, trying to correct what he described as a communication failure on his part.
As Joe Biden took questions from reporters at his press conference, Joe Manchin delivered a Senate floor speech on voting rights and filibuster reform.
Manchin dug in on his support for the filibuster, making it clear he would not vote to change the procedure to support voting rights reform.
Getting rid of the rule, Manchin said, would be “perilous” for the Senate and the US.
Sen. Joe Manchin criticizes fellow Democrats for wanting to use the “nuclear option to override a rule that we have used ourselves but now seem to find unacceptable.” https://t.co/LGjIxl41LW pic.twitter.com/IEpAbqV3sf
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 19, 2022
Worth a full read:
As Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) defend the filibuster and block voting rights legislation, corporate media keeps repeating the lie that the two are doing so because they care deeply about Senate rules and tradition. By doing so, news outlets are refusing to admit the obvious: Sinema and Manchin are just the latest of the Senate’s many corrupt puppets who want to help corporate lobbyists preserve their legislative kill switch. Amid the high-concept discourse about voting rights, historical precedent, and The Greatest Deliberative Body In The World™, big business has been telegraphing what the filibuster actually is. It is not about democracy or minority rights or any other maudlin subplot from a West Wing episode — it is about something much more raw and ugly. It is about giving capital veto power over the economy, as the most powerful corporate lobby group in Washington effectively admits.
Indeed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has publicly opposed filibuster reform for this very reason. Last year, the organization gloated to its members that the rule would prevent Democrats from passing a minimum wage hike or legislation to make it easier for workers to form a union. “Because of the filibuster, neither can become law as currently written,” the Chamber effused. In a letter to lawmakers, the Chamber expressed concern that without the filibuster, voters could have the power to (gasp!) elect new lawmakers who could actually change public policy. “Imagine if major portions of federal policy constantly changed on a purely partisan basis every time one or the other party finds itself in unified control of the government,” the group lamented in March 2021 in talking points that have been echoed by Manchin.
And yet, even as Manchin and Sinema parrot Chamber spin — and even as they selectively vote to waive the filibuster when it doesn’t offend corporate power — the two are routinely portrayed as mavericky iconoclasts operating on principle, rather than hucksters lip-synching lyrics from their business boosters. That is the real story here — and yet it is verboten. Corporate media refuses to tell the story of the money behind the filibuster — even though it is out in the open for everyone to see.
Democratic leaders could spotlight this grift, but instead they are showing their real loyalties when they continue refusing to force Manchin and Sinema to actually vote on the party’s health care, climate, and anti-poverty legislation that their corporate donors oppose.
The U.S. midterm elections are some 10 months away, but President Joe Biden's administration and allies already foresee a possible scenario in which Republicans take the House of Representatives, the Senate, or both, and launch a series of investigations and attempts to impeach the president.
Lawmakers, congressional staffers and strategists predict a slew of investigations targeting the Biden administration, particularly if Republicans loyal to former President Donald Trump gain important committee seats in Congress.
Those seeking to pursue investigations include House Republicans Matt Gaetz, who pledged in a podcast to target the Department of Justice until "sphincters tighten," Bob Gibbs, who has been pushing to impeach Biden since September over the Afghanistan pullout, and James Comer, a hopeful to become head of the House Oversight Committee.
Comer's targets include the president's son Hunter Biden, the administration's handling of supply chain issues and vaccine mandates, and its removal of Trump military academy appointees, his office said. ...
The Biden White House may hire new researchers, lawyers and communications officials to focus on the probes, strategists said. Ben LaBolt, a former Obama spokesman, said the Clinton and Obama White Houses assembled teams of roughly the same size and expertise as congressional committees pursuing investigations. “You need to have a parallel structure at the White House that's capable of anticipating those attacks, responding to those attacks,” he said.
A group of more than 100 millionaires and billionaires on Wednesday presented fellow members of the global economic elite with a stark choice: "It's taxes or pitchforks."
In an open letter published amid the corporate-dominated virtual Davos summit, 102 rich individuals—including such prominent figures as Disney heiress Abigail Disney and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer—warned that "history paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like."
"For all our well-being—rich and poor alike—it's time to confront inequality and choose to tax the rich," the letter reads. "Show the people of the world that you deserve their trust."
The letter was released hours after an analysis conducted by the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires showed that a modest annual wealth tax targeting the world's millionaires and billionaires would raise $2.52 trillion dollars a year, enough to lift billions of people out of poverty and vaccinate the world against Covid-19.
But signatories to the new letter note that such a solution is unlikely to win broad support among attendees of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the yearly gathering of global elites that's typically held in Davos, Switzerland. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's WEF is taking place virtually.
"If you're participating in the World Economic Forum's 'online Davos' this January, you're going to be joining an exclusive group of people looking for an answer to the question behind this year's theme, 'How do we work together and restore trust?'" the letter reads. "You're not going to find the answer in a private forum, surrounded by other millionaires and billionaires and the world's most powerful people. If you're paying attention, you'll find that you're part of the problem."
The letter—signed by rich individuals from Denmark, Germany, Austria, and other nations—continues:
Trust—in politics, in society, in one another—is not built in tiny side rooms only accessible by the very richest and most powerful. It's not built by billionaire space travelers who make a fortune out of a pandemic but pay almost nothing in taxes and provide poor wages for their workers. Trust is built through accountability, through well-oiled, fair, and open democracies that provide good services and support all their citizens.
And the bedrock of a strong democracy is a fair tax system. A fair tax system.
As millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair. Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic—yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes.
This injustice baked into the foundation of the international tax system has created a colossal lack of trust between the people of the world and the elites who are the architects of this system...
To put it simply, restoring trust requires taxing the rich. The world—every country in it—must demand the rich pay their fair share. Tax us, the rich, and tax us now.
Made significantly worse by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, skyrocketing income and wealth inequality has been at the heart of recent mass protest movements in South America, the Middle East, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere—grassroots uprisings that have frequently been met with brutal police repression.
But little of substance has been done in recent years to reverse the decades-long trend of staggering wealth accumulation at the very top and declining standards of living for large swaths of the global population.
According to an Oxfam analysis published earlier this week, the 10 richest men in the world have seen their combined fortunes grow by more than $1.2 billion per day since the coronavirus pandemic hit two years ago while tens of millions worldwide have been pushed into poverty.
Progressive advocates and lawmakers have long argued that raising taxes on the rich—while far from a panacea for deep-seated societal ills—would help rein in soaring inequities and raise revenue for governments to spend on alleviating poverty, providing universal healthcare, and meeting other basic needs.
Gemma McGough, a British entrepreneur and a founding member of Patriotic Millionaires U.K., reiterated that case in a statement Wednesday.
"A common value most people share is that if something's not fair then it's not right. But tax systems the world over have unfairness built-in, so why should people trust them?" said McGough, one of the new letter's signatories. "They are asked to shoulder our shared economic burden again and again, while the richest people watch their wealth, and their comfort, continue to rise."
"It's time we right the wrongs of an unequal world," McGough added. "It's time we tax the rich."
The US supreme court has rejected a request by Donald Trump to block the release of White House records to the congressional committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol, dealing a blow to the former president.
The order, which casts aside Trump’s request to stop the House select committee from obtaining the records while the case makes its way through the courts, means more than 700 documents that could shed light on the attack can be transferred to Congress.
The only member of the high court who signaled he would have granted Trump’s request for an injunction was justice Clarence Thomas. The order did not provide a reasoning for turning down the application, which is not uncommon for requests for emergency stays.
Trump’s defeat in court allows the select committee to obtain from the National Archives some of the most sensitive White House records from his administration, including call logs, daily presidential diaries, handwritten notes and memos from his top aides.
The documents, which Trump tried to shield behind claims of executive privilege, also included materials in the files of his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy counsel Pat Philbin and advisor Stephen Miller.
The New York attorney general’s office has told a court that its investigators have uncovered evidence that Donald Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” asset valuations to get loans and tax benefits.
The court filing late on Tuesday said state authorities had not yet decided whether to bring a civil lawsuit in connection with the allegations, but that investigators needed to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of their inquiries.
The former US president and his lawyers say the investigation is politically motivated.
In the court documents, the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, gave its most detailed accounting yet of its investigation into allegations that Trump’s company repeatedly misstated the value of assets to get favourable loan terms or reduce its tax burden.
Using personal financial statements from 2004 to 2020 that were filed by Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, the attorney general’s office said the Trump Organization overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on paperwork submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions.
In an effort to protect South Dakota's ballot measure process from a Republican-led assault, state residents on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against a proposed amendment they argue is a "classic example of logrolling" that violates the state constitution and imperils direct democracy.
At issue is Amendment C, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would require a three-fifths supermajority to approve ballot measures—whether introduced through citizen initiative or by state lawmakers—that increase taxes or appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years of implementation.
"This proposed amendment is exhibit A in the effort to undermine the ballot measures process by legislatures all over the country," Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which started the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign to defend direct democracy in the U.S., said in a statement Tuesday. "Special interests and extremist politicians understand that if voters can bypass legislatures intent on blocking worker-friendly change, they lose."
"In South Dakota and elsewhere," Hall added, "they're trying to change the rules in the middle of the game by raising thresholds for changing policy at the ballot box, to give themselves the power to simply ignore the will of the people."
Skye Perryman, president and CEO of Democracy Forward, said in a statement that his advocacy group is "proud to support these efforts by voters to stand up and protect South Dakota's long history of direct democracy, and uphold the will of the people."
"Constitutional Amendment C," said Perryman, "is the latest example of the orchestrated and ongoing attack from bad actors across the country on our democratic institutions."
The South Dakota Legislature's move to impose a 60% threshold is anti-democratic on its face, say opponents, especially given the state's decades-long history of enabling voters to make change directly at the ballot box through majority rule.
In addition to restricting the ability of citizens to initiate change, plaintiffs David Owen of Sioux Falls and Jim Holbeck of Renner argue that Amendment C shouldn't be allowed to appear on the ballot because it forces voters to decide on more than one change at the same time—an attempt at vote aggregation and a violation of the state constitution's single subject and separate vote requirements.
According to the suit, Amendment C contains two different subjects—a "taxation supermajority requirement" and a "spending supermajority requirement"—and therefore undermines voters' constitutional right to consider each issue separately. Some voters, for example, may support a 60% win threshold for ballot measures to raise taxes, but oppose a 60% win threshold for ballot measures to appropriate money.
Given that not all new appropriations require increasing taxes, the two topics are not necessarily linked, argue the plaintiffs, and it is illegal to force voters to either support or oppose both provisions simultaneously.
South Dakotans have "a long, proud, bipartisan history of making their voices heard through our initiative process," Owen and Holbeck said in a joint statement. "Since our state's founding, voters have passed and amended laws by majority rule, guided by the idea of voting on one issue at a time."
"Unfortunately, Amendment C silences our voice and fundamentally undermines the one issue, one vote principle of our ballot measure process," they continued. "It forces us to vote on the two distinct subjects contained in this single measure at the same time. We have a constitutional right to vote on them separately."
"In 2018, the people of South Dakota reiterated our approval of the single subject principle by explicitly adding it to our constitution," added Owen and Holbeck. "Overwhelmingly, South Dakotans said they did not want to be forced to vote for multiple policies in one measure, but that's exactly what Amendment C does. We hope the courts will agree."
Their lawsuit follows the South Dakota Supreme Court's recent decision on Amendment A. That measure to legalize hemp and recreational marijuana use was approved by voters in 2020 but nullified a year later when the high court upheld a lower court's ruling that the amendment's inclusion of multiple subjects ran afoul of the state constitution.
Owen and Holbeck, who are seeking immediate relief in the form of a permanent injunction barring Amendment C from being placed on the June primary ballot, have asked judges to apply the same logic in this case.
Worth a full read, here's a snippet:
A few times a day, off the Faroe Islands’ coast, the crew of the Jákup Sverri marine survey ship test the water, measuring its salinity, temperature and oxygen at different sea depths. But they also look for something else. Durita Sørensen, a laboratory technician, holds up the contents of a special net to demonstrate. If the water is greenish, it contains a lot of phytoplankton, the plants at the base of the oceanic food chain. But if it is red or brown, as in Sørensen’s net, the haul is one rung higher up the ladder: zooplankton. “This is calanus, or Calanus finmarchicus,” she says, indicating the tiny red creatures. “This is what they are interested in making fish oil [from] as a food supplement for humans.”
Zooplankton is a crucial part of the Atlantic Ocean ecosystem. And calanus – known as Reyðæti in Faroese or “red plankton” – is one of the most important and populous varieties. In 2020, the Faroese fisheries ministry gave five companies the right to fish for up to 25,000 tonnes of it each. There is no factory yet on the Faroe Islands for processing the tiny red creatures into fish oil, but entrepreneurs are hoping it will soon become big business, supplying not only the apparently insatiable demand for omega-3 health supplements across the western world, but potentially for use in the even vaster fish-farming industry.
Zooplankton fishing is already happening in Norway, where a company called Zooca, which has been harvesting red plankton for some years, received a commercial quota in 2020. The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research says the harvest is well within sustainable limits. But many in the fishing industry are unhappy about the idea of sucking up zooplankton. Red plankton is the main food of many hugely valuable fish stocks – including mackerel and herring – and is vital for the juvenile growth of a species that is a mainstay of the Norwegian and Faroese industrial fleets: cod.
Some scientists, meanwhile, warn that we have no idea what removing zooplankton from the oceanic food chain will do. “It’s a drop in the bucket right now,” says Peter Wiebe, scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, of the current zooplankton harvest. “But what they have in mind is not a drop in the bucket.”
Peru has demanded compensation from the Spanish oil giant Repsol after freak waves from a volcanic eruption near Tonga caused an oil spill described as the worst ecological disaster to hit the South American country in recent history. Peru’s prime minister, Mirtha Vásquez, told journalists on Wednesday that the Pampilla refinery, run by Repsol, “apparently” did not have a contingency plan for an oil spill.
The country’s foreign ministry called on the company to “immediately compensate” for the damage caused by the spill on Saturday which had inflicted “serious harm to hundreds of fishermen’s families” and had “put in danger the flora and fauna” in two protected natural areas.
Authorities cordoned off three beaches on Monday after 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled during the offloading of a tanker at La Pampilla refinery off the coast near Lima, just north of the capital Lima. Images on social media and TV showed blackened beaches and dozens of dead seabirds drenched in oil, among them the rare Humboldt penguin, in an area considered a marine biodiversity hotspot.
Officials at the refinery, managed by Repsol, initially described the spill as “limited” and said it was working with authorities to clean up the beaches. However, there has been public indignation at what has been perceived as the company’s tardy response.
The heavy rains that soaked California late last year were welcomed by farmers, urban planners – and endangered coho salmon. “We’ve seen fish in places that they haven’t been for almost 25 years,” said Preston Brown, the director of watershed conservation for the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (Spawn). ...
The abundance of rain and snow arrived in time for the November-to-January spawning season in the resource-rich Tomales Bay watershed north of San Francisco, enabling some fish to reach tributaries to the Lagunitas Creek, at least 13 miles inland in Marin County.
The rain could easily be a mere pause in the state’s epic, 20-year drought, which has complicated efforts by water officials to keep fish, farms and growing cities supplied. Experts say the state needs several wet years in a row to replenish reservoirs. In the meantime, the fish are benefiting, laying eggs in nests where babies will hatch and spend most of their juvenile life. They will then swim out to the ocean as adults, later returning to the same area to spawn.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite - Help Me
Charlie Musselwhite - Finger Lickin' Good
Charlie Musselwhite - Stranger In A Strange Land
Charlie Musselwhite - Blues
Charlie Musselwhite & Elvin Bishop - She Still Looks Good to Me
Charlie Musselwhite's Southside Band - 39th and Indiana
Charlie Musselwhite - Rambler's Blues
Charlie Musselwhite Band - River Hip Mama
Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite - I'm In I'm Out And I'm Gone