The Evening Blues - 5-23-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans piano player and songwriter Larry Williams
Larry Williams - Heeby Jeebies
"I want to live in this idyllic fantasy world where the US pours weapons into foreign nations because it cares deeply about their freedom and orchestrates the military encirclement of Russia and China because it wants to protect the world from tyranny.
The mainstream news media is empire fanfic for slow kids."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Another significant indicator of American priorities. It appears that the only "life" that matters to the U.S. government is fetuses and military contractors, not necessarily in that order.
A new analysis out Friday confirms that the number of U.S. households with kids that report not having enough food to eat has surged in the months since corporate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined Senate Republicans in refusing to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit benefit beyond mid-December.
Data from the Household Pulse Survey (HPS), a nationally representative internet survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that from April 27 to May 9, 15% of households with children reported food insufficiency—defined as sometimes or often not having enough food to eat in the past week. In early August, the percentage of families with kids that reported struggling with hunger was roughly 9.5%.
Food has become more expensive in recent months as a handful of corporate grocery giants and meat, egg, and dairy conglomerates have raised prices while cutting frontline worker pay and raking in record profits amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But Manchin and the GOP's decision to allow the enhanced CTC benefit to expire at the end of last year is making it even harder for millions of families to make ends meet.
Right-wing lawmakers let the enlarged CTC lapse despite ample evidence that the popular measure improved the lives of children nationwide. In January, the first month since July 2021 that eligible families didn't receive a monthly payment of up to $300 per child, 3.7 million kids were thrown into poverty.
In a guest blog post published Friday by the Economic Policy Insitute, Julia Raifman, assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, and Allison Bovell-Ammon, director of policy strategy for Children's HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center, wrote:
In prior work using HPS data, we found that the advance CTC was associated with a 26% decrease in food insufficiency in households with children relative to households without children. Our findings were consistent with those of other researchers, who found that the advance CTC was associated with a 25% decline in poverty and improved dietary quality for children.
In a new pre-print using HPS data, we find expiration of the advance CTC was associated with a 12% increase in food insufficiency in households with children relative to households without children by February—and rates of food insufficiency continued to climb since February.
"While HPS data are not directly comparable to data collected prior to the pandemic," Raifman and Bovell-Ammon noted, "rates of food insufficiency in March–April 2022 were about three to four times pre-pandemic levels."
"Food insufficiency among families with children poses a short- and long-term moral and economic threat to the United States," they wrote. "Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences."
The pair continued: "Not having enough to eat often disrupts children's cognitive and emotional development and education. This was the case for a child who disclosed that the reason she was fidgeting and not paying attention in class was that she did not have enough food to eat. There may be lifelong ramifications of not having enough to eat in childhood, including increased likelihood of poor health outcomes and avoidable medical expenditures across the lifespan."
Mitt Romney presents his bona fides to the U.S. Death Cult:
Russia has offered to relax its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, but only in exchange for sanctions relief from the West, amid fears that the war raging in Eastern Europe is driving a major international food crisis. The Russian Foreign Ministry made the proposal on Thursday, after United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Moscow was to blame for global food shortages, insisting it “must permit the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko later responded, arguing his country is not solely responsible for the burgeoning food emergency while pointing to Western sanctions blocking the export of grain and fertilizers. ...
Moscow’s call for sanctions relief has yet to receive a public response from Washington or Brussels, but it coincided with reports that the White House is now looking to provide advanced anti-ship missiles to the Ukrainian military to break the blockade by force.
U.S.U.K. (pronounced "you suck") still not ready for peace in Ukraine ...
Ukraine has said it will not agree to any ceasefire deal that would involve handing over territory to Russia, as Moscow intensified its attack in the eastern Donbas region on Sunday. “The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” said Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, in a Twitter post.
The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, offered Warsaw’s backing, telling politicians in Kyiv that the international community had to demand Russia’s complete withdrawal and that sacrificing any of Ukraine’s territory would be a “huge blow” to the west. “Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands,” Duda said, in the first in-person address to the Ukrainian parliament by a foreign leader since Russia’s invasion on 24 February. “Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future,” he said.
On Saturday Ukraine’s lead negotiator in the stalled peace talks, Mykhailo Podolyak, said: “Any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty nor territories and Ukrainians living on them.”
A few hours before, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, had suggested that his government was willing to resume talks with Russia as long as Moscow did not kill Ukrainian troops who had been defending the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
U.S.U.K. makes it explicit:
The US and UK are eyeing the complete defeat of Russia in Ukraine. Breaking with other NATO members that prefer a negotiated settlement, an American official stated the war ends with the "defeat" of Russia and a high-level British official said Russian President Vladimir Putin "must lose."
Speaking to an Italian outlet, UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss said Russia must be defeated in Ukraine, and there were no exit ramps for Putin. "Putin must lose in Ukraine, and we must see its sovereignty and territorial integrity restored." She added, "working with all of Europe to help the Ukrainians prevail.
The comments by Truss were in response to French President Emmanual Macron suggesting the West could end the war by making compromises with Moscow.
This is a transcription of a Twitter thread:
The New York Times editorial titled “The War in Ukraine is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready” indicates serious divisions within and between the White House and intelligence agencies over the course of NATO’s war against Russia. The Times expresses concerns about the war’s “extraordinary costs and serious dangers,” and states “there are many questions that President Biden has yet to answer for the American public with regard to the continued involvement of the United States in this conflict.”
For the last three months the newspaper has incited pro-war and anti-Russia hysteria. But it now writes that it is not “in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions.” The Times’ message to the Ukrainian regime is a gloomy one: “If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.”
The editorial continues: “Mr. Biden should also make it clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money, and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain.” Finally, in what is clearly a call for Biden to reconsider his immediate objectives, the Times writes: “The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission.”
What has led to this evident shift? There are several factors at work. First, it would appear that the defeat in Mariupol is of far greater military significance than the Biden administration has acknowledged, and it has thrown cold water on hopes of a Ukrainian victory. Second, the disastrous international and domestic economic consequences of the war are becoming increasingly evident. Inflation is spiraling out of control, the financial markets are being hard hit and a major recession appears to be unavoidable. Third, and most important, the social and economic crisis, accelerated by the war, is fueling the growth of class struggle. The Times acknowledges this, writing that “popular support for a war far from US shores will not continue indefinitely.”
But despite the internal divisions in the ruling class that find expression in the Times’ editorial, the Biden administration will not be able to simply reverse course and extricate itself from the political crisis that it set in motion by provoking the Russian invasion. The decision to provoke a military conflict was not simply a mistake. It arose from US imperialism’s 30-year pursuit of global hegemony.
In a prank call George W. Bush admits the US broke its promise to Russia not to expand NATO eastwards because “times have changed” and the US was “adjusting to the times”. Important for all nations to know that US agreements have an undisclosed expiry date pic.twitter.com/0iAPLgpAU0
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2022
The Ukrainian government is quickly learning that it can say anything, literally anything at all, about what’s happening on the ground there and get it uncritically reported as an actual news story by the mainstream western press.
The latest story making the rounds is a completely unevidenced claim made by a Ukrainian government official that Russians are going around raping Ukrainian babies to death. Business Insider, The Daily Beast, The Daily Mail and Yahoo News have all run this story despite no actual evidence existing for it beyond the empty assertions of a government who would have every incentive to lie.
“A one-year-old boy died after being raped by two Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday,” reads a report by Business Insider which was subsequently picked up by Yahoo News. “The accusation is one of the most horrific from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but is not unique.”
At the end of the fourth paragraph we get to the disclaimer that every critical thinker should look for when reading such stories in the mainstream press:
“Insider could find no independent evidence for the claim.”
In its trademark style, The Daily Beast ran the same story in a much more flamboyant and click-friendly fashion.
“The dead boy is among dozens of alleged child rape victims which include two 10-year-old boys, triplets aged 9, a 2-year-old girl raped by two Russian soldiers, and a 9-month-old baby who was penetrated with a candlestick in front of its mother, according to Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights,” The Daily Beast writes.
The one and only source for this latest spate of “the Russians are raping babies to death” stories is a statement on a Ukrainian government website by Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova. The brief statement contains no evidence of any kind, and its English translation concludes as follows:
I appeal to the UN Commission for Investigation Human Rights Violations during the Russian military invasion of Ukraine to take into account these facts of genocide of the Ukrainian people.
I call on our partners around the world to increase sanctions pressure on russia, to provide Ukraine with offensive weapons, to join the investigation of rashist crimes in our country!
The enemy must be stopped and all those involved in the atrocities in Ukraine must be brought to justice!
This is what passes for journalism in the western world today. Reporting completely unfounded allegations against US enemies based solely on assertions by a government official demanding more weapons and sanctions against those enemies and making claims that sound like they came from an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia bit.
We cannot say definitively that these rapes never happened. We also cannot say definitively that the Australian government isn’t warehousing extraterrestrial aircraft in an underground bunker in Canberra, but we don’t treat that like it’s an established fact and publish mainstream news reports about it just because we can’t prove it’s false. That’s not how the burden of proof works.
Obviously the rape of children is a very real and very serious matter, and obviously rape is one of the many horrors which can be inflicted upon people in the lawless environment of war. But to turn strategically convenient government assertions about such matters into a news story based on no evidence whatsoever is not just journalistic malpractice but actual atrocity propaganda.
As we discussed previously, the US and its proxies have an established history of using atrocity propaganda, as in the infamous “taking babies from incubators” narrative that was circulated in the infamous 1990 Nayirah testimony which helped manufacture consent for the Gulf War.
Atrocity propaganda has been in use for a very long time due to how effective it can be at getting populations mobilized against targeted enemies, from the Middle Ages when Jews were accused of kidnapping Christian children to kill them and drink their blood, to 17th century claims that the Irish were killing English children and throwing them into the sea, to World War I claims that Germans were mutilating and eating Belgian babies.
Atrocity propaganda frequently involves children, because children cannot be construed as combatants or non-innocents, and generally involves the most horrific allegations the propagandists can possibly get away with at that point in history. It creates a useful appeal to emotion which bypasses people’s logical faculties and gets them accepting the propaganda based not on facts and evidence but on how it makes them feel.
And the atrocity propaganda is functioning exactly as it’s meant to. Do a search on social media for this bogus story that’s been forcibly injected into public discourse and you’ll find countless individuals expressing their outrage at the evil baby-raping Russians. Democratic Party operative Andrea Chalupa, known for her controversial collusion with the Ukrainian government to undermine the 2016 Trump campaign, can be seen citing the aforementioned Daily Beast article on Twitter to angrily admonish the New York Times editorial board for expressing a rare word of caution about US involvement in the war.
“Before writing this, the members of the New York Times Editorial Board should have asked themselves who among them wanted to have their children, including babies and infants, raped by Russian soldiers, because that is what’s happening in Ukraine,” Chalupa tweeted.
See that? How a completely unevidenced government assertion was turned into an official-looking news story, and how that official-looking news story was then cited as though it’s an objective fact that Russian soldiers are running around raping babies to death in Ukraine? And how it’s done to help manufacture consent for a geostrategically crucial proxy war, and to bludgeon those who express any amount of caution about these world-threatening escalations?
That’s atrocity propaganda doing exactly what it is meant to do.
Now on top of all the other reasons we’re being given why the US and its allies need to send Ukraine more and more war machinery of higher and higher destructive capability, they also need to do so because the Russians are just raping babies to death willy nilly over there. Which just so happens to work out nicely for the US-centralized empire’s goals of unipolar domination, for the Ukrainian regime, and for the military-industrial complex.
"Newsweek has not independently verified the claim." https://t.co/LdnZ8rLdRz
— Scott Horton (@scotthortonshow) May 21, 2022
And that wasn’t even the extent of obscene mass media atrocity propaganda conducted on behalf of Ukrainian officials for the day. Newsweek has a new article out titled “Russians Targeting Kids’ Beds, Rooms With Explosives: Ukrainian Bomb Team,” which informs us that “The leader of a Ukrainian bomb squad has said that Russian forces are targeting children by placing explosive devices inside their rooms and under their beds.”
Then at the end of the second paragraph we again find that magical phrase:
“Newsweek has not independently verified the claim.”
The Newsweek report is based on part of an embarrassing ABC News Australia puff piece about a Ukrainian team which is allegedly responsible for removing landmines in areas that were previously occupied by Russian forces. The puff piece refers to the team as a “unit of brave de-miners” while calling Russian forces “barbaric”.
ABC uncritically reports all the nefarious ways the evil Russians have been planting explosives with the goal of killing Ukrainian civilians, including setting mines in children’s beds and teddy bears and placing them under fallen Ukrainian soldiers. Way down toward the bottom of the article we see the magical phrase again:
“The ABC has not been able to independently verify these reports, but they back up allegations made by Ukraine’s President.”
Ahh, so what you’re being told by Ukrainian forces “backs up” what you’ve been told by the president of Ukraine. Doesn’t get any more rock solid than that, does it? Great journalism there, fellas.
The Ukrainian government stands everything to gain and nothing to lose by just saying whatever it needs to say in order to obtain more weapons, more funding and increasingly direct assistance from western powers, so if it knows the western media will uncritically report every claim it makes, why not lie? Why not tell whatever lie you need to tell in order to advance your own interests and agendas? It would be pretty silly of them not to take advantage of the opening they’re being given.
This is something the western press know is happening. They know full well that Ukraine is waging a very sophisticated propaganda campaign against Russia and seeding disinformation to facilitate that infowar. It’s not a secret. They are participating in that campaign knowingly.
The mass media have been cranking out atrocity propaganda about what’s happening in Ukraine since before the invasion even started, like when they reported in February that Russia has a list of dissidents, journalists and “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons” who it plans on rounding up and torturing when it invades. Funny how we just completely stopped hearing about that one.
And this is all happening at the same time the western political/media class continues to shriek about the dangers of “disinformation” and the urgent need to strictly regulate its circulation on the internet, even after US officials came right out and admitted that they’ve been circulating disinformation about Russia and Ukraine. I guarantee you none of these completely evidence-free claims will be subject to censorship by the “fact checkers” of social media platforms.
The fact that both Silicon Valley and the mainstream news media have accepted it as a given that it is their job to manipulate public thought about this war tells you everything you need to know about how free and truth-based the so-called liberal democracies of the western world really are. We are being deceived and confused into consenting to agendas that could very easily lead to nuclear armageddon, and if we ever raise our voices in objection to this we are branded Putin propagandists and disinformation agents.
It’s getting very, very bad. Turn around, people. Wrong way.
YouTube has taken down more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels related to the war in Ukraine for violating content guidelines, including removal of videos that referred to the invasion as a “liberation mission”.
The platform is hugely popular in Russia, where, unlike some of its US peers, it has not been shut down despite hosting content from opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny. YouTube has also been able to operate in Russia despite cracking down on pro-Kremlin content that has broken guidelines including its major violent events policy, which prohibits denying or trivialising the invasion.
Since the conflict began in February, YouTube has taken down channels including that of the pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov. Channels associated with Russia’s Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs have also been temporarily suspended from uploading videos in recent months for describing the war as a “liberation mission”.
YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, said: “We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like denial of major violent events: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook. And of course, what’s happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we’ve used that policy to take unprecedented action.” ...
YouTube has also placed a worldwide ban on channels associated with Russian state media, including Russia Today and Sputnik. Facebook and Instagram are banned in Russia and access to Twitter has been restricted, in response to the platforms’ own bans on Russian state-owned media.
The only important part of this is the video of Biden committing the US to war. The right wingnut war theorist segment is amusing at best, irritating at worst.
People ask why I write about the US government instead of my own government. It's because the US is my own government. I just skip the irrelevant middle man. https://t.co/qx0K0dPbMr
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) May 22, 2022
Below the dusty plateau, home to Khribet al-Fakhiet village, on the southern edge of the occupied West Bank, sheep, goats and camels belonging to Palestinian Bedouin roam the hills. The Israeli town of Arad glitters in the distance and, across the valley to the east, the mountains of neighbouring Jordan rise up to meet the sky. Much closer to home, the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Yair looms from the next ridge.
Bone-shattering unpaved roads crisscross this poverty-stricken, hilly semi-desert, part of the 60% of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. Palestinians call it Masafer Yatta, a collection of villages with a population of about 1,000. To the Israeli state, however, this is Firing Zone 918, a military training area in which civilians are prohibited. The fight for control of this 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) is one of the fiercest battles of the Israeli occupation.
Earlier this month, Israel’s supreme court finally ruled in a two-decade-old legal case over the area’s fate: the land can be repurposed for military use, upholding the Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) argument that Palestinians living here could not prove they were resident before the firing zone was established in 1981. The decision – one of the most significant on expulsions since the occupation began in 1967 – paved the way for the eviction of everyone living here.
The long-feared demolitions, which UN experts have said may amount to war crimes, have already started. Last week, 11 homes and workshops in Fakhiet were demolished. Another nine structures in nearby al-Majaz were torn down with bulldozers by an Israeli company, to whom the state contracts out the demolition work. IDF soldiers and police, tasked with securing the perimeter, looked on.
Immigrant rights advocates on Friday denounced a federal judge's injunction blocking the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden from lifting Title 42, a Trump-era public health order that both presidents have invoked to deport around two million asylum-seekers under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Judge Robert Summerhays of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana—an appointee of then-President Donald Trump—concurred with 24 Republican-controlled states' assertion that the Biden administration's decision to terminate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rule "violates the Administrative Procedures Act" because it "failed to consider the effects of a Title 42 termination on immigration enforcement and the states."
Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at the immigrant legal aid group RAICES, called the judge's decision "both infuriating and unlawful."
"President Biden could have ended Title 42 and all of Trump's inhumane and immoral policies as soon as he took office in January 2021 with the flick of a pen," she continued, "but instead, he surrounded himself with centrist advisers who coddled his fears on immigration reform and embraced deterrence as their central priority on immigration."
"Now, the anti-immigrant right-wing agenda continues to fly forward unchecked and immigrants seeking safety and asserting their legal right to asylum will continue to pay the price," Goodlette added.
The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling, citing the CDC's "expert opinion that continued reliance" on Title 42 "is no longer warranted."
First implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 at the pandemic's onset, Title 42—a provision of the Public Health Safety Act allowing the government to prohibit entry into the U.S. of people who could pose health risks—was continued by Biden.
More Title 42 removals have occurred during Biden's tenure than Trump's, although rights groups welcomed a March announcement that the White House would end the policy on May 23.
Opponents of the move responded last month by advancing a bill by Sen. James Lankford (D-Okla.)—and co-sponsored by right-wing Democrats including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)—to codify Title 42.
"If Congress locks Title 42 into law, what we're really talking about is creating an asylum system that selectively doles out protection for certain groups, while keeping out Black and Brown people," Helena Olea, associate director of programs at Alianza Americas, said in a statement.
The Roman Catholic archbishop in Nancy Pelosi’s home town of San Francisco has banned her from receiving communion there over her staunch support of abortion rights, which she has strengthened as supreme court justices weigh finalizing a draft ruling outlawing the termination of pregnancies in more than half the county.
In a letter addressed to the US House speaker and posted on his Twitter account, ultra conservative Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone argued that Pelosi’s “position on abortion has become only more extreme over the years, especially in the last few months,” and he had decided to block her from communion after she had ignored his requests to explain her stance to him.
Cordileone – San Francisco’s archbishop since 2012 – accused Pelosi of failing to “understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking”. He said he would need to stop her from receiving communion until she “publicly repudiates her support for abortion”.
“Please know that I find no pleasure whatsoever in fulfilling my pastoral duty here,” Cordileone added in his letter, which he said served as a public notice of his decision to Bay Area Catholics.
The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, has admitted that an anti-abortion trigger law that he signed on to the books would lead to “heartbreaking circumstances” if Roe v Wade is overturned, in which girls as young as 11 who became pregnant through rape or incest would be forced to give birth. ... The governor told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that in 2019 he had signed the Arkansas trigger law, Senate Bill 6, which would ban almost all abortions the instant Roe were reversed, even though he disagreed with its lack of exceptions for incest and rape.
Asked why he had put his signature on the law, despite the fact that it would prohibit all abortions other than in cases where a pregnant woman’s life were in imminent danger, he said: “I support the exceptions of rape and incest … I believe that should have been added; it did not have the support of the assembly.”
Under intense questioning from the CNN host Dana Bash, the governor was asked why an “11- or 12-year-old girl who is impregnated by her father, or uncle or another family member be forced to carry that child to term?” He replied: “I agree with you. I’ve had to deal with that particular circumstance even as governor. While it’s still life in the womb, life of the unborn, the conception was in criminal circumstances – either incest or rape – and so those are two exceptions I think are very appropriate.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders doubled down on his criticism of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its newly created super PAC on Friday, telling The New York Times that the powerful anti-Palestinian rights lobbying group's foray into Democratic primary politics is threatening the future of the party and of U.S. democracy.
As Common Dreams reported this week, AIPAC's super PAC, United Democracy Project (UDP), is spending heavily in several Democratic primary races to defeat progressives who support Palestinian rights and are critical of the billions of dollars in U.S. funding that goes to the Israeli military annually.
AIPAC's spending in key races in North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and other states is in service of the group's goal "to create a two-party system, Democrats and Republicans, in which both parties are responsive to the needs of corporate America and the billionaire class," Sanders told the Times.
"This is a war for the future of the Democratic Party," the Vermont independent senator added. "They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country."
UDP has focused much of its spending this primary season on the race between progressive Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee and former Republican attorney Steve Irwin—pouring $2.3 million into ad campaigns including one which accused Lee of being disloyal to the Democratic Party, only to have Lee narrowly defeat her opponent.
That attack ad garnered outrage from progressives including Sanders, who pointed out that the group has also donated to dozens of Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election results.
"Why would an organization go around criticizing someone like Summer Lee for not being a strong enough Democrat when they themselves have endorsed extreme right-wing Republicans?" Sanders said to the Times.
UDP also spent $2 million helping North Carolina state Sen. Valerie Foushee defeat Nida Allam, a former organizer for Sanders, and is currently spending $1.8 million to help right-wing Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar keep his seat in Texas' 28th District.
Cuellar is the only Democrat in the House who supports forcing Americans to continue unwanted pregnancies and is a staunch opponent of the Green New Deal, while his challenger, immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, supports abortion rights, climate action, and Palestinian rights.
At The Nation on Friday, Sunrise Movement organizer Ezra Oliff-Lieberman wrote that as UDP works to defeat progressive Democrats, "the damage to our democracy that they are willing to accept along the way is shameful—and revealing."
"This isn't just about Israel—everything is at stake in these elections," wrote Oliff-Lieberman. "The future of our democracy, abortion rights, and our ability to avert climate catastrophe are all on the line this year."
AIPAC and its allies are playing an "extremely dangerous game," added historian Jacob Remes, by "using Republican money to buy Democratic primaries for candidates who oppose reproductive freedom, clean energy, and universal healthcare, all to 'support Israel.'"
Remes added that critics like Sanders, who is Jewish, threaten AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups because they "actually represent the majority of U.S. Jews (especially U.S. Jewish Democrats), so they expose AIPAC as actually representing Republicans and Christian zionists."
Democracy defenders expressed anger and consternation Friday after The Washington Post revealed that Ginni Thomas—the right-wing activist and wife of Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—pushed Arizona state lawmakers to invoke a dubious legal theory advocated by her husband in order to help then-President Donald Trump reverse his 2020 presidential election loss.
"Ginni Thomas' involvement in the seditious conspiracy to overturn the will of the American people poses a conflict of interest that Congress can no longer ignore," said Sean Eldrige, founder and president of the pro-democracy advocacy group Stand Up America.
"Justice Thomas violated his oath to 'faithfully and impartially' administer justice by failing to recuse himself in cases related to the 2020 presidential election," he added. "No one should be above the law—not even Supreme Court justices. "It's time to demand accountability from the highest court in the land. Congress should act immediately to pass a code of ethics for the Supreme Court."
Emails obtained by the Post show that Ginni Thomas emailed Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-25) and state Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-20)—who advocates empowering legislators to void the will of voters—urging them to disregard President Joe Biden's victory and replace the state's electors with a "clean slate."
Echoing the "Big Lie" that Democrats rigged the 2020 contest, Thomas—who also sent numerous emails to Mark Meadows, Trump's chief of staff, urging him to push to overturn the election—implored the lawmakers to "do your constitutional duty" by using their "power to fight back against fraud."
A later audit of Arizona's election that Trump supporters said would prove it was "stolen" concluded there was no fraud—and that Biden actually won the state by more votes than the official count.
Thomas told the Arizona lawmakers that the power to choose electors was "yours and yours alone," an apparent reference to "independent state legislature theory" (ISLT). The Brennan Center for Justice describes ISLT as a "baseless" concept "making the rounds in conservative legal circles" that posits congressional elections can only be regulated by a state's lawmakers, not its judiciary—or even its constitution.
"While Clarence was applying the 'independent state legislature doctrine' from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election," wrote Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern. "Just breathtaking corruption."
"The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater," he added.
Thomas has embraced ISLT in cases of vital importance to the future of U.S. democracy, including two in which a majority of justices affirmed the right of courts to intervene when state legislatures engage in partisan rigging of congressional district maps.
In one of the cases, Moore v. North Carolina, Thomas joined right-wing Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch in a dissent arguing that the state's Supreme Court may have violated the Constitution by overruling state lawmakers.
Progressive politicians and advocates have been calling for Thomas' resignation or impeachment over his failure to recuse himself from cases involving the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of Trump's "Big Lie."
Thomas was the lone dissenter in January as the justices rejected Trump's bid to block the release of presidential records to the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. ...
This isn't the first time the Thomases have been accused of an election-related conflict of interest.
As the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Bush v. Gore, a case that would decide the results of the inconclusive 2000 presidential election, Ginni Thomas admitted to soliciting résumés from prospective officials in what would be the George W. Bush administration after her husband and four other justices—three of them also accused of conflicts of interest—ruled in the Republican nominee's favor.
Expanding drought conditions, coupled with hot and dry weather, extreme wind and unstable atmospheric conditions, have led to explosive fire behavior in the south-western US, federal officials warned on Friday. The warning came as a huge wildfire, currently the largest in the US, continued to burn across New Mexico on Friday, as fire crews also battled blazes in Texas and Colorado.
Randy Moore, the US Forest Service chief, cited the extreme conditions on Friday in announcing a pause on prescribed fire operations on all national forest lands while his agency conducts a 90-day review of protocols, decision-making tools and practices ahead of planned operations this fall.
Weather forecasters have issues red flag warnings, the highest alert level for wildfire danger, due intense weather conditions and the elevated risk of blazes sparking. “Our primary goal in engaging prescribed fires and wildfires is to ensure the safety of the communities involved. Our employees who are engaging in prescribed fire operations are part of these communities across the nation,” Moore said in a statement. “The communities we serve, and our employees deserve the very best tools and science supporting them as we continue to navigate toward reducing the risk of severe wildfires in the future.”
The US Forest Service has been facing much criticism for the prescribed fire in New Mexico that escaped its containment lines in April and joined with another blaze to form what is now the largest fire in the state’s history.
Greenslide: Climate Crisis Spurs Green-Labor Win in Australian Election Over Pro-Coal, Right-Wing PM
When Scott Morrison won Australia’s federal election in 2019, it seemed like the country would never emerge from the climate wars that had begun a decade earlier. Morrison had taken the prime ministership late in 2018 after conservatives in the ruling Liberal-National Coalition deposed Malcolm Turnbull, in part, for his attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia’s energy sector.
After taking the top job, Morrison went on to weaponise climate action , falsely branding a modest policy by the Labor opposition to impose new vehicle emissions standards as a “war on the weekend”. While electric vehicles are largely uncontroversial in Britain and other countries, Morrison’s stylised “war” was potent hyper-partisan politicking in a sprawling continent where electric vehicles are viewed through a prism of range anxiety.
When he won in 2019, Morrison, a pentecostal Christian, characterised his victory as a “miracle”. But the victory ultimately triggered a fundamental realignment in the Australian electorate. The harbinger of that realignment was Tony Abbott – the arch-conservative who once compared reducing carbon emissions to primitive people killing goats to appease the volcano gods – losing his blue-ribbon northern Sydney seat in the 2019 contest.
The Coalition had perfected a formula of weaponising climate action effectively in the regions and outer suburbs of Australia. But while Labor was routed in that territory, centre-right progressive voters in capital cities were becoming frustrated with Morrison and the Coalition’s failure to get serious about the existential problem of global heating. ...
Morrison – a master of soundbite politics – had hoped to neutralise the growing city-based disaffection with slogans. The Coalition would make the transition to low emissions with technology, not taxes. But his failure to repent for past reckless behaviour infuriated many voters. Those voters parted ways with Morrison’s government in Saturday’s election, voting for a swathe of climate-focused independents in Liberal held seats. ...
During this year’s contest, Morrison pursued Labor seats in the outer suburbs and regions, hoping gains would offset a loss of six seats. But the strategy backfired. The government lost the six seats, and several city electorates besides – and Labor will return to power in Australia for the first time in nearly a decade with a comprehensive electoral mandate to end the climate wars.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
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Larry Williams - Jelly Belly Nellie
Larry Williams - The Dummy
Larry Williams - Just Because
Larry Williams - Bad Boy
Larry Williams - She Said Yeah
Larry Williams & Art Neville - Rockin' Pneumonia & Boogie Woogie Flu
Larry Williams - Oh Baby
Larry Williams - Dizzy Miss Lizzy