The Evening Blues - 8-17-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues musician Jimmy Lee Robinson. Enjoy!
Jimmie Lee Robinson - All My Life
"The nation no longer stands for the enlightenment tradition, but rather for military-political hegemony and the total commodification of life."
-- Morris Berman
News and Opinion
Hat tip to moon of alabama for linking to this, which I found interesting. Here are some excerpts:
(Vladimir Putin's) Address to participants and guests of the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security
... The situation in the world is changing dynamically and the outlines of a multipolar world order are taking shape. An increasing number of countries and peoples are choosing a path of free and sovereign development based on their own distinct identity, traditions and values.
These objective processes are being opposed by the Western globalist elites, who provoke chaos, fanning long-standing and new conflicts and pursuing the so-called containment policy, which in fact amounts to the subversion of any alternative, sovereign development options. Thus, they are doing all they can to keep hold onto the hegemony and power that are slipping from their hands; they are attempting to retain countries and peoples in the grip of what is essentially a neocolonial order. Their hegemony means stagnation for the rest of the world and for the entire civilisation; it means obscurantism, cancellation of culture, and neoliberal totalitarianism.
They are using all expedients. The United States and its vassals grossly interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states by staging provocations, organising coups, or inciting civil wars. By threats, blackmail, and pressure, they are trying to force independent states to submit to their will and follow rules that are alien to them. This is being done with just one aim in view, which is to preserve their domination, the centuries-old model that enables them to sponge on everything in the world. But a model of this sort can only be retained by force.
This is why the collective West – the so-called collective West – is deliberately undermining the European security system and knocking together ever new military alliances. NATO is crawling east and building up its military infrastructure. Among other things, it is deploying missile defence systems and enhancing the strike capabilities of its offensive forces. This is hypocritically attributed to the need to strengthen security in Europe, but in fact quite the opposite is taking place. Moreover, the proposals on mutual security measures, which Russia put forward last December, were once again disregarded.
They need conflicts to retain their hegemony. It is for this reason that they have destined the Ukrainian people to being used as cannon fodder. They have implemented the anti-Russia project and connived at the dissemination of the neo-Nazi ideology. They looked the other way when residents of Donbass were killed in their thousands and continued to pour weapons, including heavy weapons, for use by the Kiev regime, something that they persist in doing now. ...
The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is attempting to draw out this conflict. It acts in the same way elsewhere, fomenting the conflict potential in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. As is common knowledge, the US has recently made another deliberate attempt to fuel the flames and stir up trouble in the Asia-Pacific. The US escapade towards Taiwan is not just a voyage by an irresponsible politician, but part of the purpose-oriented and deliberate US strategy designed to destabilise the situation and sow chaos in the region and the world. It is a brazen demonstration of disrespect for other countries and their own international commitments. We regard this as a thoroughly planned provocation.
It is clear that by taking these actions the Western globalist elites are attempting, among other things, to divert the attention of their own citizens from pressing socioeconomic problems, such as plummeting living standards, unemployment, poverty, and deindustrialisation. They want to shift the blame for their own failures to other countries, namely Russia and China, which are defending their point of view and designing a sovereign development policy without submitting to the diktat of the supranational elites. ...
I reiterate that the era of the unipolar world is becoming a thing of the past. No matter how strongly the beneficiaries of the current globalist model cling to the familiar state of affairs, it is doomed. The historic geopolitical changes are going in a totally different direction.
A Moscow-installed official in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian Oblast of Zaporizhzhia on Monday accused Ukraine of shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and areas around the plant, the Russian news agency Tass reported.
The official said that Ukraine launched 25 strikes using US-provided M777 howitzers that and that some hit the ZNPP and Energodar, the city where the facility is located. The claim hasn’t been confirmed, but the ZNPP has been the site of frequent shelling over the past few weeks.
Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling the ZNPP, but the plant and the territory around it have been controlled by Russian forces since March, giving Moscow little reason to attack the facility. The ZNPP is located on the southern shore of the Dnieper river, and Ukraine controls territory on the other side of the river. Russia insists Ukraine has been doing the shelling and has been calling for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the ZNPP.
Russia Confirms Crimea Sabotage, Putin Security Meeting; Economists Warn Inflation Crisis in Ukraine
Russia’s defence ministry has warned Britain against a planned spy plane flight over Russian territory, saying its air force has been given orders to prevent an intrusion.
The ministry said on Tuesday that the UK had sent a notice informing about a planned flight of an RC-135 reconnaissance plane along a route that partly passes over Russian territory.
“We regard this action as a deliberate provocation,” the ministry said, adding that the Russian air force had been “given the task to prevent the violation of the Russian border”.
It said: “All possible consequences of this deliberate provocation will lie entirely with the British side.”
A Chinese navy vessel has arrived at a southern Sri Lankan port that Beijing leases from the government, prompting renewed security fears from India.
On Tuesday morning, the Yuan Wang 5 sailed into the Hambantota port, which was built by Beijing, and was welcomed by senior Sri Lankan and Chinese officials in a traditional ceremony that involved red carpet and a massive banner that read: “Hello Sri Lanka, Long Live Sri Lanka-China Friendship.”
Although the ship will only stay for a few days, the development has already sounded the alarm in India, which has viewed China’s rising influence in the Indian Ocean with suspicion. Analysts say the Yuan Wang’s moves will also be closely monitored by the US and western allies as they have long criticised Beijing’s dealings with Sri Lanka.
Officially, Sri Lanka has referred to the Yuan Wang 5 as a “scientific research ship”. “But the suspicion here in India is that despite Chinese commentators’ insistence it is civilian, it may actually have military functions,” said Prof Srikanth Kondapalli, dean of the school of international studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. ...
The China ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, dismissed such concerns. “The marine scientific research conducted by the research ship Yuan Wang 5 conforms to international law and international common practice, and will not affect the security and economic interests of any country,” he told a news briefing on Tuesday.
Campaigning in Brazil’s most important election for years formally gets under way this week amid fears of political violence on the campaign trail and possible turmoil before and after the October ballots. Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is trailing in the polls and has hinted he will not give up power if defeated by the leftist frontrunner and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
A former army captain, Bolsonaro has sharpened his rhetoric in recent weeks, telling foreign diplomats that Brazil’s electronic voting system is not reliable and ordering army officers to monitor the source code used in more than half a million ballot boxes.
His supporters have attacked two Lula rallies in recent weeks, throwing faeces, urine and a crude explosive device at Lula backers, as well as shooting dead one prominent Workers’ party official in the western city of Foz de Iguaçu. Politicians and poll watchers fear that political violence will only escalate ahead of the 2 October elections for president, congress and 27 state governors. ...
On the national stage, Lula’s security details have requested more manpower to deal with the threats and the 76-year-old now wears a bulletproof vest at public events. His campaign kicks off this week with rallies in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
After months of working in what they say are unsafe weather conditions for wages that leave them struggling to afford basic necessities, more than 150 workers at Amazon's air freight hub in Southern California walked out mid-shift on Monday to demand fair treatment by the trillion-dollar company.
As The Washington Post reported, the walkout at the San Bernardino facility, KSBD, was the first-ever work stoppage in Amazon's crucial air freight division, which keeps millions of packages moving throughout the U.S. each day. Managers at the warehouse were forced to slow down operations Monday in anticipation of the action.
The employees are demanding a $5-per-hour raise, which would bring their starting wage to $22 per hour and make it easier for them to pay for housing in an area where the average rent is $1,650 per month.
They also want the company to establish effective heat safety measures, as workers have complained of heat-induced nosebleeds while working and air conditioning that doesn't work throughout KSBD.
"We are the people sustaining our nation's supply chain and we deserve safe working conditions, livable wages, and protection from retaliation," said Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, an independent labor rights group established by workers at the hub earlier this year.
About 10% of KSBD workers took part in the action, and the Athena Coalition, a grassroots coalition that fights for workers' rights at Amazon, estimated that the "vast majority" of people working during the shift walked out.
The walkout came less than two weeks after a meeting that managers held in response to a petition signed by more than 800 employees, listing their demands. At the meeting, managers offered raises of up to $2 per hour for certain shifts and suggested workers take public transit and carpool to save money.
"Amazon refused" to meet the workers' demands, the independent labor group tweeted Monday, "so today we walked out."
Reproductive rights advocates were outraged by a Florida appellate court's Monday decision upholding a trial judge's move to block a "parentless" 16-year-old from getting an abortion.
Escambia County Circuit Judge Jennifer J. Frydrychowicz recently rejected the unidentified teen's request for permission to bypass the parental notice and consent requirements under Florida law. A three-judge panel from the state's 1st District Court of Appeal upheld that decision, which critics called "barbaric," "flabbergasting," "outrageous," and "unconscionable."
Judges Harvey Jay and Rachel Nordby—joined in part by Judge Scott Makar—affirmed the decision of the trial court, which they said found that the teen "had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy."
Florida law, the judges' opinion notes, "allows for a remand to the trial court with instructions for a further ruling, but no such remand is warranted here." On that point, Makar disagreed.
Makak concurred with affirming Frydrychowicz's decision and praised the judge for displaying "concern for the minor's predicament," asking "difficult questions of the minor on sensitive personal matters in a compassionate manner," and producing "a thoughtful written order in a rapid fashion."
However, he also said that "given the open-ended nature of the order reflecting the trial judge's willingness to hear from the minor again—and the time pressures presented—I would remand the case to the trial court."
As Makar detailed:
The minor is almost 17 years old and parentless. She lives with a relative but has an appointed guardian. She is pursuing a GED with involvement in a program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives by providing educational support and counseling. The minor experienced renewed trauma (the death of a friend) shortly before she decided to seek termination of her pregnancy.
Her petition—a standard form that she completed by hand—stated two potential bases for a waiver under the statute. First, the minor states that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision, saying she "is not ready to have a baby," she doesn't have a job, she is "still in school," and the father is unable to assist her... Second, the minor states that her "guardian is fine with what [she] wants to do," which would be a sufficient basis for a waiver of notice if other statutory requisites are met.
Civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill said Makar's opinion "highlights the particular outrage of the majority decision," adding that "it's clear the trial court judge expected that the minor would be able to return to her court to supplement her presentation" and "there is no basis for the appeals [court] to refuse the remand."
"I'm having a hard time with the trial court judge's decision as described in Judge Makar's concurrence/dissent," Ifill continued. "The minor seems to have more than met the standard. A 'close case' [should] err on granting the teen's clearly thought-out request."
Critics highlighted as ridiculous the courts' conclusion that the teen is not mature enough to choose an abortion and thus should be forced to continue a pregnancy that will likely result in the birth of child.
"A Florida court is blocking a 16-year-old from having an abortion because it says she's not 'mature' enough to make that decision. But she's mature enough to raise a child instead?" tweeted Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) "This is outrageous. And it's why we must stop this extreme GOP agenda immediately!"
Writer and Northwestern University professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor similarly said: "Not mature enough to decide to terminate a pregnancy, but mature enough to be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy. Hell state America."
Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-32) argued that it is "unconscionable" for the state to sentence the girl "to continue an unwanted pregnancy after she stated she was not ready to have a baby, was pursuing her education, didn’t have a job, and the father was unable to assist her."
Just "shy of her 18th birthday and from legally being able to make this decision free from radical Republican overreach," Book added, "I truly cannot fathom the court's justification for finding this brave young woman 'not sufficiently mature' to choose what is best for herself, her body, and her future aside from pure political will or inability to separate church and state."
Last week, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in Illinois asked judges to overturn eight murder convictions, in what their attorneys believe to be one of the first mass exonerations in the United States. They were victims of Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara, who has been under investigation for torture, submitting false confessions and manufacturing evidence. Scores of murder convictions involving Guevara, dating from 1989 to 1994, have now been overturned.
Of those who had their sentences vacated, all but one has reportedly been released from prison. These eight follow 24 other exonerations involving Guevara and three more are expected in the coming weeks, according to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, for a total of 35 convictions thrown out related to the detective.
In a formal statement, Foxx said her office “no longer believes in the validity of these convictions or the credibility of the evidence. We can no longer stand by these convictions.” Foxx said that her office has not actively pursued charges against Guevara yet, and noted that Guevara had repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, “and then when asked questions, was not truthful.” ...
On their release, some of the exonerated spoke not only to Guevara’s criminal role as an individual, but to the role of the corruption and violence of the Chicago Police Department as a whole and, by implication, the State’s Attorney’s office. “I’m asking Kim Foxx to press charges, to pursue the prosecution of not only of Guevara, but the CPD agents that helped him,” said Nelson Gonzalez, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years, according to CBS Chicago. “They created chaos within many families. We aren’t going to stop. We’re going to keep pushing.” ...
The city of Chicago has paid about $37 million in settlements related to Guevara’s misconduct, according to CBS. Guevara, who retired in 2005, is collecting two public pensions and living in Texas, and, to date, no charges have been filed against him. According to Foxx’s office, the city of Chicago has spent $500 million on police misconduct settlements in recent years.
After western US states failed to reach agreements to reduce water use from the beleaguered Colorado River, the federal government stepped in on Tuesday, issuing cuts that will affect two states and Mexico. Officials with the Bureau of Reclamation declared a “tier 2” shortage in the river basin as the drought continues to pummel the American west, pushing its largest reservoirs to new lows. The waning water levels, which have left dramatic bathtub rings in reservoirs and unearthed buried bodies and other artifacts, continue to threaten hydroelectric power production, drinking water, and agricultural production.
“The system is approaching a tipping point,” the Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, M Camille Calimlim Touton, said during a news conference on Tuesday, adding that urgent action was required. “Protecting the system means protecting the people of the American West.”
The new cuts will reduce Arizona’s water share by 21%, Nevada’s by 8% and Mexico’s by 7%, but officials are concerned more reductions will be needed. The cuts will place officials in those states under extraordinary pressure to plan for a hotter, drier future and a growing population. ...
The rights to these waters have been debated for decades after agreements carved out a century ago failed to accurately account for the water in the system and created a maze of junior and senior water rights that left out Indigenous nations. But the most contentious period is likely to lie ahead. The climate crisis is expected to continue to intensify conditions, prompting the need for deeper cuts and conservation.
Cities and farms across the region are already anxiously awaiting official hydrology projections – estimates of future water levels in the river – that will determine the extent and scope of cuts to their water supply. Hundreds of thousands of acres of US farmland is expected to be left fallow across the country’s breadbasket, putting a crunch on food produced domestically. “The states collectively have not identified and adopted specific actions of sufficient magnitude that would stabilize the system,” Touton said.
Ants can be more effective than pesticides at helping farmers produce food, according to new research. They are better at killing pests, reducing plant damage and increasing crop yields, according to the first systematic review of ants’ contributions to crop production. Ants are generalist predators and hunt pests that damage fruits, seeds and leaves, leading to a drop in crop yields. A greater diversity of ants generally provides more protection against a wider range of pests, the study found.
The analysis looked at 17 crops, including citrus, mango, apple and soya bean in countries including the US, Australia, the UK and Brazil. “In general, with proper management, ants can be useful pest controls and increase crop yield over time. Some ant species have similar or higher efficacy than pesticides, at lower costs,” researchers wrote in the paper published in Proceedings of Royal Society B.
The Brazilian team looked at 26 species, most of them tree ants, which nest on plants or the ground but often climb plants. They found ants do best in diversified farming systems such as agroforestry (where trees and crops are grown on the same land) and shade-grown crops because there are more nesting sites and food resources for them. Lead researcher Dr Diego Anjos, from the Federal University of Uberlândia, said: “Our study encourages farmers to use more sustainable practices such as biological control provided by ants and practices of shaded crops as a way to naturally promote ants in crop systems.”
The role of ants in agriculture is not yet completely clear because they can also be a problem. Pests such as mealybugs, aphids and whiteflies, which produce a sugary water called honeydew, are generally more common when ants are around. This is because the ants feed on honeydew, and so essentially “farm” aphids like livestock, protecting them from predators in return. Researchers say nature-friendly management practices such as providing an alternative source of sugars (on the ground, near a tree’s trunk or on its branches) can interrupt this relationship. The ants are distracted and can continue to reduce the number of other pests such as caterpillars and beetles, which do not produce honeydew.
America needs some politicians with longer legs if this is the biggest step forward that they can take.
Joe Biden signed Democrats’ healthcare, climate and tax package on Tuesday, putting the final seal of approval on a landmark bill that party leaders hope will boost their prospects in the midterm elections this November. During a bill-signing ceremony at the White House, the US president celebrated the bill as a historic piece of legislation that would reduce healthcare costs for millions of Americans and help address the climate crisis.
“With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” Biden said. “Today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright and the promise of America is real and just beginning.”
The signing came four days after the House passed the bill, formally known as the Inflation Reduction Act, in a party-line vote of 220 to 207. The bill had previously passed the Senate in a party-line vote of 51 to 50, with Vice-President Kamala Harris breaking the tie in the evenly divided chamber. ...
The law directs $369bn toward investing in renewable energy and reducing America’s planet-heating emissions, marking the country’s most significant effort yet to combat the climate crisis. Experts have estimated the bill could reduce US emissions by about 40% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, close to Biden’s goal of cutting emissions in half by the end of the decade.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.