The Evening Blues - 8-11-22
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This evening's music features soul singer Ann Peebles. Enjoy!
Ann Peebles - Trouble Heartaches & Sadness
"All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values."
-- Marshall McLuhan
News and Opinion
Following objections from the Ukrainian government, CBS News has removed a short documentary which had reported concerns from numerous sources that a large amount of the supplies being sent to Ukraine aren’t making it to the front lines.
The Ukrainian government has listed its objections to the report on a government website, naming Ukrainian officials who objected to it and explaining why each of the CBS news sources it dislikes should be discounted. After the report was taken down and the Twitter post about it removed, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said this was a good start but still not enough.
“Welcome first step, but it is not enough,” Kuleba tweeted. “You have misled a huge audience by sharing unsubstantiated claims and damaging trust in supplies of vital military aid to a nation resisting aggression and genocide. There should be an internal investigation into who enabled this and why.”
The CBS News article about the documentary was renamed, from “Why military aid to Ukraine doesn’t always get to the front lines: ‘Like 30% of it reaches its final destination’” to the far milder “Why military aid in Ukraine may not always get to the front lines.” An editor’s note on the new version of the article explicitly admits to taking advisement on its changes from the Ukrainian government, reading as follows:
“This article has been updated to reflect changes since the CBS Reports documentary ‘Arming Ukraine’ was filmed, and the documentary is also being updated. Jonas Ohman says the delivery has significantly improved since filming with CBS in late April. The government of Ukraine notes that U.S. defense attaché Brigadier General Garrick M. Harmon arrived in Kyiv in August 2022 for arms control and monitoring.”
CBS News does not say why it has taken so long for this report to come out, why it didn’t check to see if anything had changed in the last few months during a rapidly unfolding war before releasing its report, or why it felt its claims were good enough to air before Kyiv raised its objections but not after.
Someone uploaded the old version of the documentary on YouTube here, or you can watch it on Bitchute here if that one gets taken down. It was supportive of Ukraine and very oppositional to Russia, and simply featured a number of sources saying they had reason to believe a lot of the military supplies being sent to Ukraine aren’t getting where they’re supposed to go.
The original article quotes the aforementioned Jonas Ohman as follows:
“All of this stuff goes across the border, and then something happens, kind of like 30% of it reaches its final destination,” said Jonas Ohman, founder and CEO of Blue-Yellow, a Lithuania-based organization that has been meeting with and supplying frontline units with military aid in Ukraine since the start of the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in 2014.
“30-40%, that’s my estimation,” he said in April of this year.
“The US has sent tens of thousands of anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, artillery rounds, hundreds of artillery systems, Switchblade armored drones, and tens of millions of rounds of small arms ammunition,” CBS’s Adam Yamaguchi tells us at 14:15 of the documentary. “But in a conflict where frontlines are scattered and conditions change without warning, not all of those supplies reach their destination. Some also reported weapons are being hoarded, or worse fear that they are disappearing into the black market, an industry that has thrived under corruption in post-Soviet Ukraine.”
“I can tell you unarguably that on the frontline units these things are not getting there,” the Mozart Group‘s Andy Milburn tells Yamaguchi at 17:40. “Drones, Switchblades, IFAKs. They’re not, alright. Body armor, helmets, you name it.”
“Is it safe to characterize this as a little bit of a black hole?” Yamaguchi asked him, perhaps in reference to an April report from CNN whose source said the equipment that’s being sent “drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time.”
“I suppose if you don’t have visibility of where this stuff is going, and if you’re asking that question, then it would appear that it’s a black hole, yeah,” Milburn replied.
“We don’t know,” Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera tells Yamaguchi at 18:45 when asked if it’s known where the weapons being sent to Ukraine are going.
“There is really no information as to where they’re going at all,” Rovera says. “What is more worrying is that at least some of the countries that are sending weapons do not seem to think that it is their responsibility to put in place a very robust oversight mechanism to ensure that they know how they’re being used today, but also how they might and will be used tomorrow.”
A news outlet pulling a report because their own government didn’t like it would be a scandalous breach of journalistic ethics. A news outlet pulling a report because a foreign government didn’t like it is even more so.
We’ve already seen that the western media will uncritically report literally any claim made by the government of Ukraine in bizarre instances like the recent report that Russia was firing rockets at a nuclear power plant it had already captured, or its regurgitation of claims that Russians are raping babies to death from a Ukrainian official who ended up getting fired for promoting unevidenced claims about rape. Now not only will western media outlets uncritically report any claim the Ukrainian government makes, they will also retract claims of their own when the Ukrainian government tells them to.
It’s not just commentators like me who see the western press as propagandists: that’s how they see themselves. If you think it’s your job to always report information that helps one side of a war and always omit any information which might hinder it, then you have given yourself the role of propagandist. You might not call yourself that, but that’s what you are by any reasonable definition of that word.
And a great many western Zelenskyites honestly see this as the media’s role as well. They’ll angrily condemn anyone who inserts skepticism of the US empire’s narratives about Ukraine into mainstream consciousness, but then they’ll also yell at you if you say we’re not being told the truth about Ukraine. They demand to be lied to, and call you a liar if you say that means we’re being lied to.
You can’t have it both ways. Either you want the mass media to serve as war propagandists or you want them to tell the truth. You cannot hold both of those positions simultaneously. They are mutually exclusive. And many actually want the former.
This can’t lead anywhere good.
Zelensky Calls on West to Ban Russian Travelers, Says ‘Whole Population’ of Russia Is Responsible for the War
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said the “whole population” of Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine and called on Western nations to ban all Russian travelers as a punishment.
“Whichever kind of Russian … make them go to Russia,” Zelensky told The Washington Post. “They’ll understand then. They’ll say, ‘This [war] has nothing to do with us. The whole population can’t be held responsible, can it?’ It can. The population picked this government and they’re not fighting it, not arguing with it, not shouting at it.” ...
Zelensky said the current sanctions regime was “weak” compared with banning all Russians from traveling and a total embargo on Russian energy, which would send global oil prices skyrocketing. Russian airlines have already been banned from flying over most of Europe and North America, but a blanket ban on Russian travel hasn’t been implemented.
Beijing has announced an end to its military drills surrounding Taiwan but said further “training and war preparation” would continue.
It made the announcement shortly after reaffirming its commitment, in a major policy paper, to use force against Taiwan if it could not take control “by peaceful means”.
A spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command said on Wednesday afternoon the exercises had been successfully completed, and “effectively tested the integrated joint combat capabilities of the troops”, according to state media.
The statement pledged to continue monitoring the Taiwan strait, regularly patrol the area and remain ready for combat.
Amid the military standoff in the Taiwan Strait triggered by the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last week, the US is planning to send warships through the Taiwan Strait “in the coming days,” the publication of the United States Naval Institute reported Tuesday.
On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed earlier statements by the White House that the US was planning another so-called “freedom of navigation exercise,” with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl stating, “We will continue to do Taiwan Strait transits, as we have in the past, in the coming weeks… We will continue to do freedom of navigation operations elsewhere in the region.”
The United States has stationed a carrier strike group, led by the USS Ronald Reagan, in the waters near the island, flanked by the amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli. The USS America Expeditionary Strike Group is currently in port nearby in Sasebo, Japan.
In recent years the United States has increased the tempo of its provocative operations near Chinese waters, on the other side of the world from the American mainland.
But none of these operations, which routinely involve American and Chinese warships shadowing each other and issuing radio warnings, have ever taken place in such a tense military and political climate. ... Following Pelosi’s trip, the Chinese government and Chinese military forces have cut off communications with their US counterparts, giving the looming standoff between US and Chinese forces an even greater element of danger and unpredictability.
The US has charged an Iranian man it says is a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with attempting to hire a hitman for $300,000 to kill John Bolton, the former national security adviser in the Trump administration.
The Department of Justice said Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, offered the money in November 2021 to an unidentified person in the US to “eliminate” Bolton, apparently to avenge the drone killing of the IRGC commander Qassem Suleimani, in January 2020.
Poursafi is alleged to have said that after Bolton was killed, there would be another job, for which the hitman would be paid $1m.
The person offered the money became an FBI confidential informant, and continued to exchange texts on an encrypted communications app with Poursafi, who is believed to have tried to orchestrate the plot from Tehran. According to US authorities, Poursafi has never visited the US. ...
Iran rejected the allegations late on Wednesday, with foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani saying: “Iran strongly warns against any action against Iranian citizens under the pretext of these ridiculous and baseless accusations.”
The pace of price rises dipped in the US in July as gas prices eased, bringing down the annual rate of inflation to 8.5%, still close to a multi-decade high but lower than the four-decade peak it hit in June.
July’s figure, while still high, represents a significant fall from the annual rate of 9.1% recorded in June and will raise hopes that inflation has finally peaked in the US. It follows other indicators that have suggested price rises are moderating.
But the report showed once again how broadly inflation has spread through the economy. After stripping out food and energy costs – which are highly volatile – prices climbed by 5.9% in the year to the end of July, matching last month’s reading.
Gas prices have dropped sharply in the US after hitting a national average of $5 a gallon in mid-June. They now average just over $4 a gallon, up about $1 from the same time last year, according to AAA. Prices for other commodities including copper, wheat and corn have also dipped in recent weeks after rising sharply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The labor department reported that the gasoline index fell 7.7% in July, offsetting increases in the food and shelter indexes. The food index increased 10.9% over the last year, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1979.
Federal investigators searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday bearing a warrant that broadly sought presidential and classified records that the justice department believed the former president unlawfully retained, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The criminal nature of the search warrant executed by FBI agents, as described by the sources, suggested the investigation surrounding Trump is firmly a criminal probe that comes with potentially far-reaching political and legal ramifications for the former president.
And the extraordinary search, the sources said, came after the justice department grew concerned – as a result of discussions with Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks – that presidential and classified materials were being unlawfully and improperly kept at the Mar-a-Lago resort. ...
The statute governing the wilful and unlawful removal or destruction of presidential records, though rarely enforced, carries significant penalties including: fines, imprisonment and, most notably, disqualification from holding current or future office.
But the justice department may take no further action now that it has secured what sources said were around 10 boxes’ worth of documents in addition to 15 boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year – but what it does next was not immediately clear.
Forests from the Arctic to the Amazon are transforming at a “shocking” rate due to the climate crisis, with trees advancing into previously barren tundra in the north while dying off from escalating heat farther south, scientists have found. Global heating, along with changes in soils, wind and available nutrients, is rapidly changing the composition of forests, making them far less resilient and prone to diseases, according to a series of studies that have analyzed the health of trees in north and South America.
Many areas of forest are now becoming more susceptible to ferocious wildfires, causing the release of further greenhouse gases from these vast carbon stores that heat the planet even more. “It’s like humans have lit a match and we are now seeing the result of that,” said Roman Dial, a biologist at Alaska Pacific University.
Dial and his colleagues have discovered that a patch of white spruce trees in north-west Alaska have “hopped” north into an area of the Arctic tundra that hasn’t had such trees in millennia. The scientists’ new research paper, published in Nature, estimates the spruce are advancing north at a rate of around 4km a decade, aided by warming temperatures and changes to snow and wind patterns influenced by the shrinkage of sea ice in the region.
“It was shocking to see trees there. No one knew about them but they were young and growing fast,” said Dial, who first spotted the shadows of the trees on satellite imagery and then took a single-engine plane journey, followed by a five-day hike, to find and study the advancing forest. “The trees basically hopped over the mountains into the tundra. Going by climate models, this wasn’t supposed to happen for a hundred years or more. And yet it’s happening now.” ...
Farther south, separate research has found a transformation is under way at the boundary between the boreal and temperate forests, with species of spruce and fir increasingly unable to cope with the hotter conditions. Scientists estimate that even small amounts of further heating, caused by human activity, could cause up to a 50% die-off of traditional boreal forest trees in certain places, with many other trees becoming stunted in their growth.
The fate of the world’s biggest ice sheet rests in the hands of humanity, a new analysis has shown. If global heating is limited to 2C, the vast East Antarctic ice sheet should remain stable, but if the climate crisis drives temperatures higher, melting could drive up sea level by many metres. The East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) holds the vast majority of Earth’s glacier ice. Sea levels would rise by 52 metres if it all melted. It was thought to be stable, but is now showing signs of vulnerability, the scientists said.
The EAIS is far larger than the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS), which hosts the so-called “doomsday” Thwaites glacier, which has lost significant stability. Total loss of the WAIS would cause 5 metres of sea level rise.
Sea level is rising faster today than for at least 3,000 years, as mountain glaciers and the Greenland ice cap melt, and ocean waters expand as they heat. Even a few metres of sea level rise will redraw the map of the world, with profound consequences for millions of people in coastal cities from New York City to Shanghai. ...
The analysis shows that keeping below 2C of global heating, the upper limit agreed by the world’s nations in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, would result in EAIS contributing less than 0.5m of sea level rise by 2300. But continued high emissions and a temperature rise well above 2C would result in a rise of 1.5 metres to 3 metres by 2300 and up to 5 metres by 2500.
“The fate of the EAIS remains very much in our hands,” said Prof Chris Stokes, at Durham University in the UK, who led the study. “This ice sheet is by far the largest on the planet and it’s really important that we do not awaken this sleeping giant. We used to think ice sheets in East Antarctica were much less vulnerable to climate change, compared to West Antarctica or Greenland, but we now know there are some areas already showing signs of ice loss.”
Recent severe rains in Death Valley that flushed debris across roadways, damaged infrastructure and carried away cars are being described by meteorologists and park officials as a once-in 1,000-year event. The arid valley was pelted with roughly an inch and a half of rain on Friday, near the park’s rainfall record for a single day.
The storm poured an amount of water equal to roughly 75% of the average annual total in just three hours, according to experts at Nasa’s Earth observatory. Hundreds visiting and working in Death Valley national park were marooned and all roads continue to be impassable, according to park officials. ...
Daniel Berc, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Las Vegas, described the deluge as a historic “1,000-year event”, with a 0.1% likelihood during a given year.
But events like this one, once thought to be exceedingly rare, are on the rise. Scientists are finding that weather extremes, fueled by the climate crisis, are becoming more likely in the American west, which continues to be mired in drought. Periods of dryness are expected to be broken with strong, destructive storms as the world continues to warm.
Described as “a land of extremes”, the desert basin is the driest place in North America and is known for temperatures that have climbed higher than any other place on Earth.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Ann Peebles - I Can't Stand the Rain
Ann Peebles - It's Your Thing
Ann Peebles - Run Run Run
Ann Peebles - I Feel Like Breaking up Somebody's Home Tonight
Ann Peebles - What You Laid on Me
Ann Peebles - I Needed Somebody
Ann Peebles - I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
Ann Peebles - Old Man With Young Ideas
Ann Peebles - Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love