The Evening Blues - 6-21-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and early rock n roll pianist Cecil Gant. Enjoy!
Cecil Gant - Nashville Jumps
“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”
-- Arnold Toynbee
News and Opinion
It is hard to be sanguine about the future. The breakdown of the ecosystem is well documented. So is the refusal of the global ruling elite to pursue measures that might mitigate the devastation. We accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels, wallow in profligate consumption, including our consumption of livestock, and make new wars as if we are gripped by a Freudian death wish. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Conquest, War, Famine and Death – gallop into the 21rst century. Those who rule, servants of corporations and the global billionaire class, accompany the suicidal folly by cementing into place corporate tyranny. The plan is not to reform. It is to perpetuate the corporate pillage. This pillage, more and more onerous for the global population, necessitates a new totalitarianism, one where the billionaire class lives in opulence, workers are serfs, rights such as privacy and due process are abolished, Big Brother watches us all the time, war is the chief business of the state, dissent is criminalized and those displaced by conflicts and climate breakdown are barred entry into the climate fortresses in the global north. Portions of the human species, the most privileged, will, in theory, hold out a little longer before they succumb to the great die off.
The persecuted and the abandoned, now in the tens of millions, know the future. For them, the future has already arrived. Julian Assange, the most important publisher of our generation, whose extradition to the US was approved on Friday by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel, is an example of what will befall all publishers and journalists that expose the inner workings of power. His imprisonment for revealing the war crimes, mendacity, cynicism, and corruption of the ruling class, including the Democratic Party, heralds a new era. Investigations into the centers of power, the life blood of journalism, will be a criminal offense. ...
Workers, whether in the vast sweatshops in China or the decayed ruins of the rust belt, struggle on subsistence wages without job protection or unions. They are cursed by trade deals, deindustrialization, austerity, rising interest rates and rising prices. They, too, know the future. The decision to raise interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, with new rate hikes on the way, will further depress wages, which have stagnated for decades, increase unemployment and personal debt and make food and other basic necessities more expensive. Raising interest rates usually induces a recession. But the oligarchs are more than willing to extract blood from the working class. Inflation reduces investment returns. It disrupts leveraged financial strategies. ...
The US, struggling with societal breakdown and an ailing economy, sees its military as the only mechanism left to destroy global competitors, especially Russia and China. Russia, hemmed in by an expanding NATO in Central and Eastern Europe, and China harassed by a succession of carrier groups in the South China Sea, which Washington has called a “national interest,” have been united as US adversaries. China sees the waterways of Asia and the Pacific as part of its sphere of influence, as Russia sees Ukraine and other neighboring states. The aggressive military posturing of the US on the borders of China and Russia has provoked an unnecessary cold war, one many Washington policy makers nonchalantly expect may evolve into a hot war amongst nuclear armed nations that would potentially obliterate life on the planet. ...
The billionaire class, or at least many of them, would prefer to loot and pillage under the cover of the old political decorum and rhetoric. They like the fiction of paying homage to an emasculated democracy. It gives them the veneer of respectability. But this is not to be. The rage of the betrayed is articulated by imbecilic demagogues vomited up from the social and political swamp. Corporations and the billionaire class will continue to exploit, but under a cruder and crueler authoritarianism. The social, political, economic, and environmental breakdown will accelerate. Reality, increasingly unpalatable, will cease to exist in public discourse. It will be replaced by Millenarian cults, such as the Christian fascists, and bizarre conspiracy theories, a retreat into magical thinking where evil is embodied in demonized individuals and groups that must be eradicated. Truth and lies will be indistinguishable. The vulnerable will be cast aside, blamed for their own misery, as well as ours. Those who resist will be criminals. Mass death will sweep across the planet. This is the world our children will inherit unless those who control us are wrenched from power.
Russian officials have said Ukraine launched missile strikes against three gas rigs in the Black Sea south of Odesa, in an apparent escalation of Kyiv’s attempts to weaken Russia’s maritime dominance. ...
The three offshore platforms, the Boyko towers, had previously been seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv believes they are used for military reconnaissance and to help assert control of a larger portion of the Black Sea.
There was no immediate official confirmation from Ukraine about the attack, although one Ukrainian MP from the Odesa region, Oleksiy Goncharenko, said in the early morning that missiles had been fired at the rigs.
An attack on the platforms would represent a further attempt by Ukraine to reach into the Black Sea, coming three days after it said it had destroyed a Russian tugboat near Snake Island using western Harpoon missiles.
Last month it emerged that Denmark would supply a Harpoon coastal defence system to Ukraine, with rockets that have a range of 77 miles (124km). It operates alongside Ukraine’s Neptune missiles, which sank the Russian warship Moskva in April.
The United States is preparing to further intensify its involvement in the war against Russia, doubling the number of long-range missile launchers sent to Ukraine. In recent weeks, the US has already vastly expanded its involvement in the war, sending a range of top-tier modern weapons systems to Ukraine and directly training thousands of Ukrainian troops on how to operate them. ...
With each new arms shipment, it is becoming increasingly impossible to deny the reality that the war being waged in Ukraine is a direct conflict between NATO and Russia, pitting the world’s two most powerful nuclear arsenals in a standoff that is rapidly spiraling out of control. ...
The head of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Ukrainian “Servant of the People” party, David Arakhamiya, admitted last week that up to 1,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces are being killed or wounded every day in the battle in East Ukraine, with between 200 and 500 dying each day on average. Military casualties on the Russian side are also estimated to be in the thousands.
The response of the imperialist powers to this developing bloodbath is to double down on their war against Russia in Ukraine. Writing Saturday in the Times of London, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared, “We must ensure that Ukraine receives weapons, equipment, ammunition and training more rapidly than the invader.” ...
In an internal message to military service members and seen by the BBC, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the new head of the British Army, effectively stated that the UK had to prepare for an imminent third world war against Russia. He wrote, “There is now a burning imperative to forge an Army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle.” Chillingly, Sanders concluded, “We are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again.” ...
In the midst of a deepening economic crisis and escalating military debacle in the US-provoked war against Russia, all factions of the US political establishment are recklessly driving ahead with accelerating the war in Europe while simultaneously working to provoke a war with China.
Russia has provoked concern in Brussels after threatening to retaliate over Lithuania’s ban on the transit of some goods across its territory to Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad. The move by the government in Vilnius was described as “unprecedented” in Moscow, where the Russian foreign office said they reserved the right to respond to protect their national interest.
The comments set off alarm bells in Brussels, where the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Lithuania was simply enforcing the bloc’s sanctions regime. He added, however, that he was concerned by the risk of retaliation and that he would check that all the rules were being followed, while accusing the Kremlin of peddling propaganda.
“I am always worried about Russian retaliation,” he said. “There is no blockade. The land transit between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia has not been banned. Second, transit of people and goods that are not sanctioned continues. Third, Lithuania has not taken any unilateral national restrictions.
“We are in a precautionary mood. We will double-check the legal aspects in order to verify that we are completely aligned with any kind of rule. ...
There was panic buying in Kaliningrad over the weekend after authorities in the region claimed that Lithuania was preparing to close off rail and gas pipe links to Russia. ... Russia’s foreign ministry said Vilnius must reverse the “openly hostile” move. “If cargo transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation via Lithuania is not fully restored in the near future, then Russia reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests,” it said.
Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday voted through two laws which will place severe restrictions on Russian books and music as Kyiv seeks to break many remaining cultural ties between the two countries following Moscow’s invasion. One law will forbid the printing of books by Russian citizens, unless they renounce their Russian passport and take Ukrainian citizenship. The ban will only apply to those who held Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of Soviet rule. ...
Another law will prohibit the playing of music by post-1991 Russian citizens on media and on public transport, while also increasing quotas on Ukrainian-language speech and music content in TV and radio broadcasts. ...
Ukraine says this process, previously referred to as "decommunisation" but now more often called "derussification," is necessary to undo centuries of policies aimed at crushing Ukrainian identity. Moscow disagrees, saying Kyiv's policies to entrench the Ukrainian language in day-to-day life oppress Ukraine's large number of Russian speakers, whose rights it claims to be upholding in what it calls its "special military operation."
Israel’s weakened coalition government has announced that it intends to dissolve the Knesset, setting the stage for the country’s fifth election in three years and a potential return to office for longtime prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A statement released by the office of the prime minister, Naftali Bennett, on Monday night said that “attempts to stabilise the coalition had been exhausted” and his fractious government, made up of eight ideologically disparate parties, will submit a bill next week to dissolve parliament.
If approved as expected, the legislation will force new elections and mean the foreign minister Yair Lapid takes over as caretaker leader as per an existing agreement. ...
Factions from Israel’s left, right, and for the first time, an independent Arab party, banded together a year ago as part of an ambitious coalition experiment in order to oust Netanyahu from power. The government has struggled to function, however, since losing its slim majority in April. ...
Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday night that the coalition’s imminent collapse was “great news for millions of Israeli citizens” and that his conservative Likud party would seek to form a “wide, national government”. Elections are expected in late October or November.
Great article, worth a click and a full read:
To Wall Street and its backers, the solution to any price inflation is to reduce wages and public social spending. The orthodox way to do this is to push the economy into recession in order to reduce hiring. Rising unemployment will oblige labor to compete for jobs that pay less and less as the economy slows.
This class-war doctrine is the prime directive of neoliberal economics. It is the tunnel vision of corporate managers and the One Percent. The Federal Reserve and IMF are its most prestigious lobbyists. Along with Janet Yellen at the Treasury, public discussion of today’s inflation is framed in a way that avoids blaming the 8.2 percent rise in consumer prices on the Biden Administration’s New Cold War sanctions on Russian oil, gas and agriculture, or on oil companies and other sectors using these sanctions as an excuse to charge monopoly prices as if America has not continued to buy Russian diesel oil, as if fracking has picked up and corn is not being turned into biofuel. There has been no disruption in supply. We are simply dealing with monopoly rent by the oil companies using the anti-Russian sanctions as an excuse that an oil shortage will soon develop for the United States and indeed for the entire world economy.
Covid’s shutdown of the U.S. and foreign economies and foreign trade also is not acknowledged as disrupting supply lines and raising shipping costs and hence import prices. The entire blame for inflation is placed on wage earners, and the response is to make them the victims of the coming austerity, as if their wages are responsible for bidding up oil prices, food prices and other prices resulting from the crisis. The reality is that they are too debt-strapped to be spendthrifts. ...
The most immediate effect of the Federal Reserve’s credit tightening will be to reduce America’s home-ownership rate. This rate has been falling since 2008, from nearly 68 percent to just 61 percent today. The decline got underway with President Obama’s eviction of nearly ten million victims of junk mortgages, mainly black and Hispanic debtors. That was the Democratic Party’s alternative to writing down fraudulent mortgage loans to realistic market prices, and reducing their carrying charges to bring them in line with market rental values. The indebted victims of this massive bank fraud were made to suffer, so that Obama’s Wall Street sponsors could keep their predatory gains and indeed, receive massive bailouts. The costs of their fraud fell on bank customers, not on the banks and their stockholders and bondholders. ...
Real estate is being transferred from “poor” hands to those of wealthy landlord corporations. Private capital companies – the funds of the One Percent – are going to pick up the pieces to turn homes into rental properties. Higher interest rates will not affect their cost of buying this housing, because they buy for all cash to make profits (actually, real estate rents) as landlords. In another decade the nation’s home ownership rate may fall toward 50 percent, turning the United States into a landlord economy instead of the promised middle-class home ownership economy. ...
The working population is not considered to be too big to fail. Its political weight is small by comparison to that of Wall Street banks.
Aw, isn't that cute. The christofascists are trying to pretend that they care about women and their children after they are born.
A number of Republican-led states that are moving to ban abortion are, at the same time, extending health insurance benefits to new mothers, professing to support “women in crisis”.
As the US supreme court prepares to rule on national abortion rights, many Republican states are seeking severe abortion bans that would force many women to carry pregnancies to term, likely worsening the US maternal mortality crisis.
Some of those same lawmakers are now passing bills that extend Medicaid benefits to low-income mothers, typically for one year after they give birth rather than the current two months. Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas have all extended health benefits for low-income mothers in recent months, and Alabama and Georgia have both moved to implement such extensions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. All have also sought to impose severe abortion restrictions or bans.
Although expanding pregnancy-related health coverage is “a win in many ways”, it does not counteract the fact that abortion bans “would certainly lead to higher risks for maternal morbidity or mortality,” said Sarah Blake, an associate professor of health policy at Emory University in Georgia.
Hundreds of people have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands of acres have been burned through by wildfires across Spain, with global climate experts warning that nearly the entire country is at risk of facing the flames.
"Nearly all the country faces extreme fire risk Friday as a result of the heatwave and drought" Spain and much of Europe is experiencing, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported Friday, noting that a Saharan dust cloud that's drifted north toward the continent may also have an impact on public health.
Roughly 61,000 acres of land in the northwestern province of Zamora had been destroyed by the wildfires as of Sunday and several Spanish cities reported temperatures topping 104°F in recent days.
At least 18 villages have been evacuated in Zamora, where a lightning storm reportedly started the wildfires last Wednesday.
Experts say extreme heat and drought, which have both been linked to the human-caused climate crisis, are causing the fires to spread rapidly. The country's drought has stretched on for several months, with officials saying in March that Spain's reservoirs were at just over 44% capacity—the lowest level since 1995.
Just as climate experts last week warned that the current heatwave in the United States—affecting about a third of the nation's population—was indicative of a "new normal," European observers said the extreme weather facing Spain and other European countries are the consequences of continued fossil fuel extraction and will continue unless global policymakers ensure carbon emissions are rapidly drawn down.
"As a result of climate change, heatwaves are starting earlier,” Clare Nullis, a spokesperson for the WMO in Geneva, told The Independent.
France has also been struck by extreme heat, with temperatures more than 10°F higher than usual at this time of year. In recent days French officials have recorded temperatures as high as 102.2°F in the country's southwest.
The long-lasting heatwave is a "marker of climate change," climatologist Matthieu Sorel told NPR.
In northern Italy, The Po—the country's longest river—was 10 feet below its normal level as of Monday, with officials blaming the drought.
As The Times reported Monday, fruit and vegetable production could be reduced by up to 40% after three months of drought, because the River Po irrigates the region where nearly half of the country's food is produced.
"Emergency decarbonization now," said international climate action movement Extinction Rebellion in response to the reports out of Italy.
While Spanish emergency workers were battling the continent's most widespread wildfires Monday, a similar crisis was reportedly worsening in Germany, where three villages near Berlin were evacuated Sunday due to an approaching fire.
Temperatures in cities including Dresden and Cottbus on Sunday surpassed 102°F, and the evacuations outside Berlin affected about 600 people who were ordered to stay in a community center until the fires were brought under control.
Emma Jackson, an organizer with 350 Canada, said the wildfires taking place in drought-ridden regions must not be treated as natural disasters, but as crimes perpetrated by "arsonists"—fossil fuel companies and the politicians who enable them.
"Only an internationalist working-class movement can stop them," Jackson said.
A US-trained former Honduran army intelligence officer who was the president of an internationally financed energy company has been sentenced to 22 years and six months for the assassination of the Indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres.
Cáceres, winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was shot dead by hired hitmen on 2 March 2016, two days before her 45th birthday, after years of threats linked to her opposition of the 22-megawatt Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River.
On Monday, Roberto David Castillo – the former head of the hydroelectric dam company Desarrollos Energéticos, or Desa – was sentenced for his role in ordering and planning the murder.
The sentence was handed down almost a year after Castillo was found guilty, and falls short of the 25-year maximum – a decision condemned by Cáceres’s supporters outside the high court in Tegucigalpa. Castillo will be required to carry out public works coordinated by the prison service as part of his sentence and is responsible for any future civil claims brought by the victims, the court ruled.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Cecil Gant - Cecil, Boogie
Cecil Gant - Hit That Jive Jack
Cecil Gant - I Wonder
Cecil Gant - Rock Little Baby
Cecil Gant - I'm Tired
Cecil Gant - Midnight on Central Avenue
Cecil Gant - Cecil Boogie No.2
Cecil Gant Trio - Train Time Blues
Cecil Gant - Loose As A Goose
Cecil Gant - We're Gonna Rock