The Evening Blues - 6-27-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Delta blues singer and guitarist Tommy McClennan. Enjoy!
Tommy McClennan - Deep Blue Sea Blues
"`China is a strange, backwards nation ruled by tyrants,' said the nation founded by Puritans who used to execute women for witchcraft and just killed reproductive rights protections because they think Jesus told them to.
The world is dominated culturally, economically and militarily by a regime that just killed women’s rights protections because they make Jesus mad."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Some idiot congressworms think that we can have a "nice, little nuclear war" with our old buddies Russia and China. Sheesh!
Lawmakers are betting $45 million that a nuclear war does not automatically mean the end of the world.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) recently added an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would provide $45 million for the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, even though President Joe Biden’s administration has indicated it wants to stop the program.
Defense officials have not said publicly how powerful the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile is, but Pentagon spokesman Oscar Seára described it as a “low-yield weapon.”
The missile would give the U.S. military a relatively small nuclear weapon that is meant to deter Russia and China from using their own low-yield nuclear weapons because they assume the United States would not respond with far more powerful strategic weapons.
“Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression,” according to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. “It will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely.”
When the supreme court decided on Friday to overturn Roe v Wade, several senators who recently approved justices responsible for this decision said they felt deceived. These politicians pointed to prior statements from Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch; both male judges had claimed they would not overturn Roe. “I feel misled,” the Maine senator Susan Collins told the New York Times. In a lengthy meeting on 21 August 2018, the Republican reportedly grilled Kavanaugh to explain why he could be trusted not to overturn Roe.
“Start with my record, my respect for precedent, my belief that it is rooted in the constitution, and my commitment and its importance to the rule of law,” Kavanaugh responded, per notes taken by “multiple” staffers at the meeting, the Times said. “I understand precedent and I understand the importance of overturning it.”
“Roe is 45 years old, it has been reaffirmed many times, lots of people care about it a great deal, and I’ve tried to demonstrate I understand real-world consequences,” Kavanaugh elaborated, according to these notes, and also claimed, “I am a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of judge. I believe in stability and in the Team of Nine.”
“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting longstanding precedents that the country has relied upon,” Collins said in a statement. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the lone Democrat to back Kavanaugh, voiced similar sentiments.
[Perhaps Kavanaugh and Gorsuch could sing, "How could you believe anything I told you when you know I've been a lawyer all my life? -js]
Protests over a US supreme court decision that overturned abortion rights continued across the country this weekend. In New York, thousands marched to voice their anger at the ruling that came at the end of a dizzying week around not just reproductive rights but also gun carry laws and the US Capitol attack. “Not your uterus, not your choice,” many shouted as the demonstrations progressed in Washington DC., New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta and Austin.
In Providence, Rhode Island, tempers flared so much that an off-duty police officer was accused of punching a woman at an abortion protest. Jennifer Rourke, a state senate candidate, told the Providence Journal she was punched in the face by Jeann Lugo, who had been running for the GOP nomination for a Rhode Island state senate seat but dropped out the race. Lugo said he was “not going to deny” the punching allegation but added that “everything happened very fast”. For the most part, protests across the US have been peaceful.
According to a CBS poll published Sunday, most disapprove of overturning the nationwide abortion rights established by the landmark Roe v Wade case, including two-thirds of women. By more than a 20-point margin, Americans call it a step backward for the US.
An unidentified male motorist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa intentionally rammed into several women on Friday night as abortion rights defenders peacefully protested the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The driver of a Ford truck maneuvered around multiple cars at a red light and drove through the tail end of a group of demonstrators who were crossing a street downtown, running over one woman's ankle and sending her to the hospital, witnesses told HuffPost.
"He tried to murder them," said Lyz Lenz, a local journalist and witness to the attack. "These women see him coming and a bunch of people put their hands out to stop him. And he just keeps going."
Video footage recorded by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker shows several women standing in front of the truck with outstretched arms, trying to persuade the driver to stop. But the motorist keeps plowing forward, knocking down and injuring several of them.
Alexis Russell, who can be seen reaching into the driver's side window in an attempt to steer him away from other protestors, told HuffPost that he "grabbed my sign and ripped it, and I fell, and he proceeded to run over one of the girls."
Although the Cedar Rapids police reportedly interviewed the driver Friday night, no arrests were made.
Iowa is one of three states that have enacted laws shielding motorists who run over protestors from liability under certain circumstances.
Many US corporate giants have moved swiftly to provide support and financial assistance to employees seeking abortions in states that outlawed the procedure following the US supreme court’s decision on Friday to overturn its landmark Roe v Wade ruling. With potentially millions of women soon looking to cross state lines for the procedure, many employers have added “critical healthcare” packages to employees benefit packages.
The measures reflect, in some cases, elevated responsibility that businesses now feel to respond to pressure from investors, customers and employees at a time when corporate values do not conform with the legislatures of states in which they or their employees are based. ...
Texas, for instance, has been aggressively selling itself as a tax- and regulation-lite home to giants such as Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and Tesla. Facebook, Amazon and Apple all have all grown their presence there. But the commitment of Texas, like Missouri, to a near-total ban on abortion could now clash with those companies’ stated values and harm the state’s ability to attract new business, employees and investment.
Earlier this year, Texas state representative Briscoe Cain sent a cease-and-desist letter to Citigroup, saying he would propose legislation barring localities in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions. The St Louis mayor, Tishaura Jones, said in a post to Twitter that she believes abortion bans at the state level are going to make it harder to attract businesses. Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas said one business has already backed out of setting up in the city.
Well, it finally happened. The fact that we all expected it, that we have spent the last few weeks waiting for this to happen, didn’t blunt the shock of it. On Friday the supreme court issued a decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v Wade. Six unelected supreme court justices stripped bodily autonomy away from tens of millions of women and ended nearly 50 years of legal abortion rights in the US.
It’s wrong to say that the US is going backwards. It’s wrong to say that the US is being transported back to the 70s, to a pre-Roe era. No. We are moving forward into something far more sinister. The pre-Roe era didn’t have the widespread surveillance mechanisms that exist today. Regressive laws can now be enforced with the help of modern technology: if you even so much as Google “abortion pill”, there is a chance your online search history could be used against you. If you leave your state to try to get a safe and legal abortion in a state where it is still permitted, your location data could be used against you. For the past decade we have been sleepwalking into a new era of digital authoritarianism. Now we are in the middle of a nightmare. ...
There is a war on women going on in America. There is a war on trans people. There is a war on gay people. There is a war on people of colour. There is a war on democracy. And guess what? Only one side of the government is really fighting. Roe v Wade wasn’t overturned just like that: it was the result of the Republicans spending decades consolidating power and working towards advancing their vision of America. Democrats need to stop their milquetoast simpering about “civility”, their obsession with taskforces and polite bipartisan agreements, and start properly fighting back.
President Joe Biden was rebuked Saturday for doubling down on his opposition to expanding the U.S. Supreme Court even after its deeply unpopular right-wing majority spent the past week ending the constitutional right to abortion care, weakening gun restrictions, undermining the separation of church and state, and eroding hard-won civil rights, with more attacks on equality and federal regulatory power expected.
"That is something that the president does not agree with," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters when asked about the possibility of court expansion. "That is not something that he wants to do."
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan called the president's lack of urgency "ridiculous," "infuriating," and "inexplicable."
"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Hasan asked on social media. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"
Hasan and other outraged commentators were responding to a viral tweet suggesting that Biden is opposed not only to court expansion but also to filibuster reform.
While ABC News confirmed that Biden doesn't support expanding the high court, CNN reporter Mike Valerio deleted his tweet because, as journalist Judd Legum explained, it misrepresented Jean-Pierre's comments about the president's position on the filibuster. Although Biden has typically defended the Senate's 60-vote threshold for advancing most legislation, he has called for carve-outs on voting rights. He may or may not do the same for reproductive freedom, but Jean-Pierre dodged the question.
"I don't care what President Biden thinks about the filibuster," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). "He is no longer in Congress."
"This is the messaging and the actual facts," Lieu continued. "If we elect two more Democratic U.S. Senators and Democrats hold the House, we can pass the bill that codifies Roe v. Wade into law."
The House passed the Women's Health Protection Act last year, but it has stalled in the Senate because right-wing Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have repeatedly refused to back abolishing or suspending the filibuster, thus giving the GOP minority veto power over most legislation.
While Lieu argued that the Senate Democratic Caucus needs just two more members to be able to repeal the filibuster and codify Roe, others made the case that Biden and other party leaders need to do much more, including expanding the Supreme Court, to prevent the Republican Party from continuing to impose a reactionary agenda opposed by the vast majority of Americans.
"Any Democrat not calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court," journalist Jordan Zakarian said Friday on social media, "is now in favor of the end of abortion rights and the coming attacks on same-sex marriage, contraception, and every other right we have."
The New York Times reports that Ukraine is crawling with special forces and spies from the US and its allies, which would seem to contradict earlier reports that the US intelligence cartel is having trouble getting intel about what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine.
This would also, obviously, put the final nail in the coffin of the claim that this is not a US proxy war.
In an article titled “Commando Network Coordinates Flow of Weapons in Ukraine, Officials Say,” anonymous western officials inform us of the following through their stenographers at The New York Times:
As Russian troops press ahead with a grinding campaign to seize eastern Ukraine, the nation’s ability to resist the onslaught depends more than ever on help from the United States and its allies — including a stealthy network of commandos and spies rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training, according to U.S. and European officials.
Much of this work happens outside Ukraine, at bases in Germany, France and Britain, for example. But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the massive amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials.
At the same time, a few dozen commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine.
The revelation that the CIA and US special forces are conducting military operations in Ukraine does indeed make a lie of the Biden administration’s insistence at the start of the war that there would be no American boots on the ground in Ukraine, and the admission that NATO powers are so involved in operations against a nuclear superpower means we are closer to seeing a nuclear exchange than anyone should be comfortable with.
This news should surprise no one who knows anything about the usual behavior of the US intelligence cartel, but interestingly it contradicts something we were told by the same New York Times not three weeks ago.
“American intelligence agencies have less information than they would like about Ukraine’s operations and possess a far better picture of Russia’s military, its planned operations and its successes and failures,” NYT told us earlier this month. “U.S. officials said the Ukrainian government gave them few classified briefings or details about their operational plans, and Ukrainian officials acknowledged that they did not tell the Americans everything.”
It seems a bit unlikely that US intelligence agencies would have a hard time getting information about what’s happening in a country where they themselves are physically located. Moon of Alabama theorized at the time that this ridiculous “We don’t know what’s happening in our own proxy war” line was being pushed to give the US plausible deniability about Ukraine’s failures on the battlefield, which have only gotten worse since then.
So why are they telling us all this now? Well, it could be that we’re being paced into accepting an increasingly direct role of the US and its allies in Ukraine.
Hawks in April: Don't call it a proxy war!
Hawks in May: Of course it's a proxy war!
Hawks in June: It's not their war, it's our war!
— Daniel Larison (@DanielLarison) June 20, 2022
The other day Antiwar’s Daniel Larison tweeted, “Hawks in April: Don’t call it a proxy war! Hawks in May: Of course it’s a proxy war! Hawks in June: It’s not their war, it’s our war!”
This is indeed exactly how it happened. Back in April President Biden told the press the idea that this is a proxy war between the US and Russia was “not true” and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “It’s not, this is clearly Ukraine’s fight” when asked if this is a proxy war. The mainstream media were still framing this claim as merely an “accusation” by the Russian government, and empire spinmeisters were regularly admonishing anyone who used that term on the grounds that it deprives Ukrainians of their “agency”.
Then May rolled around and all of a sudden we had The New Yorker unequivocally telling us that the US is in “a full proxy war with Russia” and hawks like US congressman Seth Moulton saying things like, “We’re not just at war to support the Ukrainians. We’re fundamentally at war, although somewhat through a proxy, with Russia, and it’s important that we win.”
And now here in June we’ve got war hawks like Max Boot coming right out and saying that this is actually America’s war, and it is therefore important for the US to drastically escalate the war in order to hand the Russians “devastating losses”.
So the previously unthinkable idea that the US is at war with Russia has been gradually normalized, with the heat turned up so slowly that the frog doesn’t notice it’s being boiled alive. If that idea can be sufficiently normalized, public consent for greater escalations will likely be forthcoming, even if those escalations are extremely psychotic.
Back in March when I said the only “agency” Ukraine has in this conflict is the Central Intelligence kind, empire loyalists jumped down my throat. They couldn’t believe I was saying something so evil and wrong. Now they’ve been told that the Central Intelligence Agency is indeed conducting operations and directing intelligence on the ground in Ukraine, but I somehow doubt that this will stir any self-reflection on their part.
Kyiv was hit by four Russian missile strikes early on Sunday morning for the first time in three weeks, during which life had been slowly returning to the Ukrainian capital in the relative calm.
Columns of smoke rose over the central Shevchenkivskyi district, home to a cluster of universities, restaurants and art galleries, at 6.22am as G7 leaders prepared for three days of meetings in Germany with Russia’s war in Ukraine at the top of the agenda. Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said two residential buildings had been hit in what he called an attempt to “intimidate Ukrainians” before the G7 meeting and a Nato summit in Madrid beginning on Tuesday.
Around 11am, there were at least several unconfirmed reports of two more explosions in Kyiv, but according to local officials the blasts heard were the sound of air defence destroying other incoming strikes. ...
The strikes came as Russian forces in eastern Ukraine were trying to cut off Lysychansk, having reduced its twin city Sievierodonetsk to rubble. If Lysychansk falls, the entire region of Luhansk, which along with Donetsk make up the eastern Donbas region, could fall under Russian control, marking another strategic breakthrough for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, since the beginning of the invasion. ...
The Russian defence ministry said that the strike on Kyiv had hit the Artyom weapons factory in Shevchenkivskyi district, dismissing as “fake” reports that it had struck a residential area of the Ukrainian capital. “Russian forces attacked civilian targets in Kyiv = fake,” the ministry said in a statement, citing that the damage to a nearby residential building had been caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile.
An excellent piece worth a full read. Here's a snippet:
Ukraine is requesting 1,000 artillery pieces and 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, more than the entire active-duty inventory of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps combined. Ukraine is also requesting 500 main battle tanks — more than the combined inventories of Germany and the United Kingdom.
In short, to keep Ukraine competitive on the battlefield, NATO is being asked to strip its own defenses down to literally zero.
More telling, however, is what the numbers say about NATO’s combat strength versus Russia. If NATO is being asked to empty its armory to keep Ukraine in the game, one must consider the losses suffered by Ukraine up to that point and that Russia appears able to sustain its current level of combat activity indefinitely. That’s right — Russia just destroyed the equivalent of NATO’s main active-duty combat power and hasn’t blinked.
One can only imagine the calculations underway in Brussels as NATO military strategists ponder the fact that their alliance is incapable of defeating Russia in a large-scale European conventional land war.
But there is another conclusion that these numbers reveal — that no matter what the U.S. and NATO do in terms of serving as Ukraine’s arsenal, Russia is going to win the war. The question now is how much time the West can buy Ukraine, and at what cost, in a futile effort to discover Russia’s pain threshold in order to bring the conflict to an end in a manner that reflects anything but the current path toward unconditional surrender.
A price cap on Russian oil, deferral of climate change commitments, a potential famine in Africa and the further supply of weapons to Ukraine are to crowd into a meeting of G7 world leaders over the next three days held against the backdrop of the biggest geopolitical crisis since 1945.
The agenda reveals how the world has been turned upside down since leaders of the industrialised states last met in Cornwall a year ago in a summit chaired by Britain, largely to focus on the threat posed by China.
Before the summit in Germany, Boris Johnson issued a warning for the west not to show war fatigue, a point that will be echoed when the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, addresses the meeting by video link. He is expected to emphasise the difficulties his troops are facing in eastern Ukraine as well as the need for heavier long-range weapons.
Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskiy’s office, said the G7 should respond to the latest air strikes on Kyiv, which killed one person on Sunday, with a full gas embargo.
The overall message from the three-day G7 meeting will be that sanctions are slowly working in degrading the Russian war machine, and will be stepped up if damage to the wider world economy can be contained.
The United Nations (UN) has concluded that Israeli forces fired the fatal bullet that killed the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank last month, its findings showed on Friday.
UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that the organisation found that the shots that killed Abu Akleh came from Israeli forces.
“It is deeply disturbing that the Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation," she said.
"We at the UN Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident.
"All information we have gathered - including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney-general - is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities."
An Afghan prisoner who was held in US custody for nearly 15 years without charge was released from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre on Friday and returned to his home country of Afghanistan.
Assadullah Haroon Gul, held at Guantanamo under the name Haroon al-Afghani, departed the prison and flew on a US Air Force plane to Qatar, which for years has served as an interlocutor between the Taliban and the US.
Qatari officials then handed him over to Taliban government representatives in Doha, a senior US official told The New York Times. ...
Gul was sent to Guantanamo in 2007, after the US accused him of being a member of Hezb-e-Islami (HIA), a militia that fought against the allied invasion of Afghanistan. HIA entered into a peace agreement with the then-US-backed Afghan government in 2016.
Following a decision to clear him for transfer out of the prison, a federal court ruled last October that his continued detention at Guantanamo was unlawful, the first time a Guantanamo detainee's imprisonment has been ruled as such in a decade. The US on Friday complied with the court order, allowing his release.
A diplomatic row has broken out between the UK and the US over efforts to conserve a deepwater species of fish near Antarctica, as Russia obstructs attempts to set catch limits.
Last year, amid tensions with the west over Ukraine, Russia rejected catch limits for Patagonia toothfish – also known as Chilean seabass – set by a 26-member fishing regulatory body, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
This spring, the UK responded by issuing licences to four British flagged vessels to fish for the species off the coast of South Georgia, a remote uninhabited island controlled by the UK, almost 1,000 miles (1,600km) east of the Falkland Islands.
US officials say the UK’s actions breach the commission’s rules, rendering the catch illegal. The feud has also sparked fears it could threaten wider international cooperation over the fishery and risks reviving Britain’s tensions with Argentina, which invaded South Georgia in 1982 as part of its war with the UK over the Falklands.
It is the first time in the 40 years since CCAMLR was set up to protect Antarctic marine life that deepsea fishing of Patagonia toothfish, one of the world’s highest-priced wild-caught fish, is going ahead without any catch limits from the commission.
California’s two largest reservoirs are at critically low levels, signaling that the state, like much of the US west, can expect a searing, dry summer ahead. This week, officials confirmed that Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir, was at just 55% of its total capacity when it reached its highest level for the year last month. Meanwhile, Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir, was at 40% capacity last month – after the state endured its driest start to a year since the late 19th century.
It’s a dire sign for a state already struggling to manage water during the most severe megadrought in 1,200 years. The glittering turquoise water in both lakes have receded to expose dry, brown lake bed. Dramatic visuals compiled by the department of water resources contrast images of an abundant Oroville in 2019 with this year – when officials say the lake saw a “show a shocking drop in water levels”.
This year, millions in the state are already subject to unprecedented water restrictions and many in rural areas are expecting their wells to run dry within months, if not weeks. ...
The Oroville and Shasta reservoirs back up the two largest dams in the state. Oroville is central to the State Water Project system, which can service up to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. And Shasta is the key reservoir in the federal Central Valley Project, which serves areas as far north as Redding – all the way south into Bakersfield. ...
Officials at the State Water Project announced earlier this year that it would only be able to provide 5% of requested water supplies to its contractors. The federal project, meanwhile, announced it wouldn’t be providing any water to the state’s agricultural belt, and that cities would be allocated only 25% of their historical water use. The low water allocations will force farmers to either fallow their fields, or rely more on diminishing groundwater reserves, said Heather Cooley, research director at the non-profit Pacific Institute.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Tommy McClennan - Drop Down Mama
Tommy McClennan - Roll Me, Baby
Tommy McClennan - New 'Shake 'Em On Down'
Tommy McClennan - I Love My Baby
Tommy McClennan - It's Hard To Be Lonesome
Tommy McClennan - Shake It Up And Go
Tommy McClennan - New Highway No 51
Tommy McClennan - Cross Cut Saw Blues
Tommy McClennan - Des'e My Blues
Tommy McClennan - Bluebird Blues