The Evening Blues - 10-6-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul singer Curtis Mayfield. Enjoy!
Curtis Mayfield - We Got to Have Peace
"Peace cannot be achieved except after the cessation of military escalation and the economic and financial siege."
-- Yasser Arafat
News and Opinion
Vladimir Putin has signed documents finalizing the Russian annexation of four regions in eastern Ukraine, meaning there’s now a western-backed Ukrainian counteroffensive underway to recapture what Russia officially considers parts of its homeland.
Moscow has made it clear that it will use all weapons systems at its disposal to defend against attacks on territories it claims as its own, which could include nuclear weapons. Depending on if and how that happens and what kind of day all the relevant decision makers are having when it does, there is a distinct possibility that a chain of events could follow which leads to the end of the world.
This happens as Ukraine’s President Zelensky signs a decree officially ruling out the possibility of any peace talks with Putin, who recently publicly requested such talks. The US empire, which has been driving this proxy war from the beginning, is also not currently engaged in peace talks with Moscow. Things are accelerating faster and faster toward the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen, and as far as we know nobody’s got a foot anywhere near the brake pedal.
Meanwhile, everyone has gone insane. The propaganda blanket has been laid on so thick since this war started that it has become the mainstream position that only continual escalation is acceptable. Public calls for de-escalation and detente are met with accusations of Kremlin loyalty, as we just saw with the vitriolic responses to Elon Musk’s online proposal of possible terms to end the war.
There’s a popular post going around Twitter right now by a pro-Kyiv pundit named Thomas Theiner which sums up the delusional sentiments we’ve been seeing on this front.
“I grew up during the Cold War. I studied the Cold War,” Theiner writes. “When the russians/Soviets say: ‘We will use nuclear weapons!’, the only answer must be: ‘Try and die.’ All else is seen as weakness by the kremlin and will lead to the russians using nukes.”
Theiner is wrong, and has made no serious study of the cold war (or to be more precise the last cold war, since we’re in another one now). The only reason we survived the most dangerous part of that era was because of compromise and a sincere commitment to de-escalation, not because anyone was yelling “Try and die” at Moscow.
Back in 2013 The Atlantic published a solid article titled “The Real Cuban Missile Crisis,” subtitled “Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong.” Its author Benjamin Schwartz details how the crisis was peacefully resolved not because JFK was on the phone yelling “Try and die” at Nikita Khrushchev, but because he secretly cut a deal to remove the Jupiter missiles the US had stationed in Italy and Turkey which provoked the 1962 incident in the first place.
Moscow perceived that the only reason why that type of midrange weapon would be placed in such a way would be if the US was planning a nuclear first strike to disarm Russia, and Schwartz writes that that suspicion was entirely well-founded: the Kennedy administration had indeed strongly contemplated such a strike during the Berlin crisis of 1961. In response to this threat, as well as the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, Khrushchev moved ballistic missiles to Cuba, whose discovery led to the tense standoff which brought us far closer to nuclear annihilation than most of us care to contemplate. A secret deal was struck whose nature wouldn’t become public knowledge until decades later, resulting in both sides removing their offending missile placements.
You and I are alive today because Kennedy backed down from the brink and struck a compromise (as well as our sheer dumb luck at having one cool-headed Soviet officer on a nuclear-armed submarine refuse to deploy the weapon while being bombarded by the US navy during the standoff between JFK and Khrushchev). Kennedy conditioned his acquiescence to Moscow’s demands on assurances that his doing so would be kept secret, because then, as now, there were tremendous political pressures not to be seen as “backing down” and “looking weak” before the enemy.
But as history tells us, it’s not caveman chest-thumping that has allowed us to remain alive on a planet full of stockpiled armageddon weapons. It’s the sensibility to know when to compromise and relent rather than pushing continuously toward the edge.
Detente used to be a household term. It was a routine subject of mainstream political discourse; mainstream politicians were expected to have a clear and articulate position on the diplomatic easing of tensions with the USSR. Now people don’t even know detente is a thing. I say that word to people and it’s clearly the first time they’ve ever encountered it, and the concept itself is completely alien to them. People I talk to tend to believe the only options on the table are either (A) continuing to escalate this insane game of nuclear chicken with Russia, or (B) giving Putin everything he wants. They’re completely unaware that a third option of negotiation, compromise and de-escalation exists, much less that it has historically been viable and successful.
This is entirely by design. People don’t know that detente is an option because the political/media class virtually never mentions it anymore. The news media are supposedly responsible for helping to create an informed populace, but because their real job is propaganda they generally end up doing the exact opposite. If the public were permitted to become widely aware that these games of nuclear brinkmanship are not a necessity but a choice that is being made on their behalf, and that their leaders are rolling the dice on their lives and the lives of everyone they know and love for no other reason than to work toward securing unipolar planetary hegemony, they would no longer consent to this madness.
If people really understood how much is being risked here, and how little it benefits them, Washington DC would be on fire right now. That’s why their understanding is continually manipulated and obscured by the managers of empire.
Poland says it has asked to have US nuclear weapons based on its territory, amid growing fears that Vladimir Putin could resort to using nuclear arms in Ukraine to stave off a rout of his invading army.
The request from the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, is widely seen as symbolic, as moving nuclear warheads closer to Russia would make them more vulnerable and less militarily useful, according to experts. Furthermore, the White House has said it had not received such a request.
“We’re not aware of this issue being raised and would refer you to the government of Poland,” a US official said. ...
“We have spoken with American leaders about whether the United States is considering such a possibility. The issue is open,” Duda told Gazeta Polska.
United States intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack near Moscow in August that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, an element of a covert campaign that U.S. officials fear could widen the conflict.
The United States took no part in the attack, either by providing intelligence or other assistance, officials said. American officials also said they were not aware of the operation ahead of time and would have opposed the killing had they been consulted. Afterward, American officials admonished Ukrainian officials over the assassination, they said.
The closely held assessment of Ukrainian complicity, which has not been previously reported, was shared within the U.S. government last week. Ukraine denied involvement in the killing immediately after the attack, and senior officials repeated those denials when asked about the American intelligence assessment. ...
The American officials who spoke about the intelligence did not disclose which elements of the Ukrainian government were believed to have authorized the mission, who carried out the attack, or whether President Volodymyr Zelensky had signed off on the mission. United States officials briefed on the Ukrainian action and the American response spoke on the condition of anonymity, in order to discuss secret information and matters of sensitive diplomacy.
Hosam Salem, a Palestinian freelance journalist and photographer, said Wednesday that The New York Times terminated his contract over social media posts in which he "expressed support for the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation."
"After years of covering the Gaza Strip as a freelance photojournalist for The New York Times, I was informed via an abrupt phone call from the U.S. outlet that they will no longer work with me in the future," Salem wrote on Twitter. "I began working with the newspaper in 2018, covering critical events in Gaza such as the weekly protests at the border fence with Israel, the investigation into the Israeli killing of field nurse Razan al-Najjar, and more recently, the May 2021 Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip."
Salem explained that he was eventually informed that "the decision was made based on a report prepared by a Dutch editor—who obtained Israeli citizenship two years ago—for a website called Honest Reporting."
According to Salem:
The article, [on] which The New York Times had based its decision for dismissing me, gives examples of posts I wrote on my social media accounts, namely Facebook, where I had expressed support for the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
My aforementioned posts also spoke of the resilience of my people and those who were killed by the Israeli army—my cousin included—which Honest Reporting described as "Palestinian terrorists."
The editor later wrote an article stating that he had succeeded in sacking three Palestinian journalists working for The New York Times in the Gaza Strip, on the basis of us being "anti-Semitic."
"Not only has Honest Reporting succeeded in terminating my contract with The New York Times," said Salem. "It has also actively discouraged other international news agencies from collaborating with me and my two colleagues."
"What is taking place," he added, "is a systematic effort to distort the image of Palestinian journalists as being incapable of trustworthiness and integrity, simply because we cover the human rights violations that the Palestinian people undergo on a daily basis at hands of the Israeli army."
As Philip Weiss noted Wednesday in Mondoweiss, Salem's case "stands in stark contrast to the three Jewish reporters, Ethan Bronner, Isabel Kershner, and David Brooks, who carried on writing about the issue for The New York Times even when their children were enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces."
"The Times executive editor in 2010 overruled the public editor's recommendation that Bronner be removed from the post of Jerusalem bureau chief," Weiss pointed out, "saying that those who questioned his bias should not 'be allowed to deny the rest of our audience the highest quality of reporting.'"
"This is an important case because it shows the impossibility of even representing the Palestinian voice in the Western media," Weiss continued. "There is widespread support for armed resistance to Israeli occupation among Palestinians. Sorting out journalists who have not expressed such views at some time is something like looking for Palestinian reporters who support Zionism."
News of Salem's termination comes just days after progressive commentator Katie Halper was dismissed by The Hill for defending U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (D-Mich.) characterization of Israel as an apartheid regime—a label that numerous human rights organizations have used to describe the government's violent oppression of Palestinians.
Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taken to hospital after feeling unwell during the Jewish fasting day of Yom Kippur.
Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, said Netanyahu, 72, was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital after feeling chest pains while attending synagogue services. Local media quoted the hospital as saying he underwent a series of tests that came out normal, but was being kept under observation overnight.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missile toward its east coast in the direction of Japan, after joint South Korean and US missile drills and the return of a US aircraft carrier to the region in response to the North’s recent missile tests.
The missile launch was the sixth in 12 days and the first since North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday. The launch was reported by South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff and the Japanese government.
“This is the sixth time in the short period just counting the ones from the end of September,” Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. “This absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
The launch came about an hour after North Korea condemned the United States for talking to the UN security council about Pyongyang’s “just counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army on South Korea-US joint drills.” In a statement released by the reclusive nation’s foreign ministry, North Korea also condemned Washington for repositioning a US aircraft carrier in the waters off the Korean peninsula, saying it posed a serious threat to the stability of the situation.
Five decades after the death of General Franco, and three years after the Spanish dictator’s remains were finally removed from his hulking mausoleum outside Madrid, the country’s senate has approved legislation intended to bring “justice, reparation and dignity” to the victims of the civil war and subsequent dictatorship.
On Wednesday afternoon, the upper house of Spain’s parliament passed the socialist-led government’s Democratic Memory law, with 128 votes in favour, 113 against, and 18 abstentions. The legislation, which was approved by Spain’s congress in July, contains dozens of measures intended to help “settle Spanish democracy’s debt to its past”.
Among them are the creation of a census and a national DNA bank to help locate and identify the remains of the tens of thousands of people who still lie in unmarked graves, a ban on groups that glorify the Franco regime, and a “redefinition” of the Valley of the Fallen, the giant basilica and memorial where Franco lay for 44 years until his exhumation in 2019.
According to the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the legislation will help “encourage a shared discussion based on the defence of peace, on pluralism and on broadening human rights and constitutional freedoms”. .. The PP, which is now led by Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, has said it will repeal the law if it wins next year’s general election.
The Opec oil cartel and its allies have agreed to a bigger than expected cut in oil production targets despite significant pressure from the US. The Opec+ group of oil-producing nations signed up to a cut in output of 2m barrels a day, surpassing predictions earlier in the week of cuts of 1m to 1.5m barrels, squeezing supplies in a tight market.
The decision, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, sent the price of Brent crude up 2% at $93.80, its highest since 15 September. ...
A statement from the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, said the president was “disappointed by the shortsighted decision … while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine”. ... In response, they said, Biden had ordered a further 10m barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be put on the market next month, following earlier releases in March, and he said he could order a further increase in supply. ...
Democratic pundits suggested that the production cut represented an “October surprise” by Crown Prince Mohammed and his close ally, Donald Trump.
U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to cut off sales of weaponry and crucial plane parts to Saudi Arabia as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries—a cartel led by the Saudis—agreed to slash oil production in a bid to prop up falling prices, a move that could inflict more pain on American consumers.
"President Biden should make it clear that we will stop supplying the Saudis with weapons and air parts if they fleece the American people and strengthen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by making drastic production cuts," Khanna (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post in an interview as OPEC members met in Vienna.
"They need us far more than we need them," Khanna added.
The Biden White House launched a pressure campaign earlier this week in a last-ditch bid to stop OPEC from cutting supply, characterizing such a move as a "hostile act."
But the administration's efforts failed. On Wednesday, OPEC members agreed to slash their combined production by two million barrels a day, the largest supply cut since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The Biden administration and Congress faced new pressure Wednesday to reinstate a ban on U.S. gasoline exports after the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to slash oil production by two million barrels a day to boost prices, a move that drew outrage from the White House and some congressional Democrats.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said in a statement that President Joe Biden is "disappointed" by OPEC's decision and will consider "tools and authorities to reduce OPEC's control over energy prices."
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that "White House officials have asked the U.S. Energy Department to analyze the possible impacts of a ban on exports of gasoline, diesel, and other refined petroleum products, an indication that the controversial idea is gaining traction in some parts of the Biden administration" as gas prices begin to tick back up after months of steady declines.
Mitch Jones, managing director of policy at Food & Water Watch, argued in a statement Wednesday that the Biden administration and Congress should push ahead with an export ban as oil giants that are profiting off global energy market chaos launch a fresh lobbying campaign against the proposal.
"It is no surprise that the international oil cartel is seeking to maintain high prices," Jones said of OPEC. "Political leaders here at home must understand that the solution is not to increase drilling. Corporations are exporting record quantities of gasoline, and making record-setting profits as a result. Their greed hurts working families still grappling with high inflation and rising utility bills."
"It's time to take real action to rein in this outrageous corporate profiteering," Jones added. "That should start with Congress passing a ban on gasoline exports."
The U.S. had a crude oil export ban in place for 40 years before congressional Republicans and then-President Barack Obama lifted the ban in 2015. ...
Public Citizen observed earlier this year that the 2015 law that lifted the U.S. export ban contains a provision allowing the president to unilaterally "impose export licensing requirements or other restrictions on the export of crude oil from the United States for a period of not more than one year, if the president declares a national emergency."
"Record oil and natural gas exports have realigned the U.S. fossil fuel industry to prioritize maximizing profit for international markets, turning them away from serving the American consumer or providing energy independence," Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program, said in a June statement.
"They cannot be relied upon to deliver affordable energy," Slocum added, "as their calls to expand production will only fuel exports and drive domestic prices higher."
The Biden administration is preparing to ease sanctions on Venezuela to allow Chevron to pump oil in the country under a potential deal with the Venezuelan government, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. ...
Under the potential deal, the US would give Venezuela significant sanctions relief and Maduro’s government would resume talks with the opposition on the 2024 presidential election. Guaido has virtually no support left in Venezuela after his failed coup attempt and repeated calls for foreign intervention, but there are other opposition figures.
The deal could also unlock hundreds of millions in frozen Venezuelan government funds held by US banks that would be used to pay for imports of food, medicine, and equipment needed to repair the country’s power and water infrastructure. The report said that the terms of the deal are expected to be shored up later this month.
The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, must testify in court in an abortion lawsuit after a federal judge reversed his decision to quash a subpoena filed by pro-choice interests.
Reproductive rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit against Paxton’s office in August in an attempt to stop possible prosecution of abortion funds that help women seek the procedure outside Texas, which has banned almost all abortion.
US district judge Robert Pitman granted a motion from lawyers representing abortion rights non-profits, which asked the judge to require Paxton to testify. Pitman had previously ruled to quash the subpoena upon Paxton’s request on the basis that he could not be compelled to testify in a hearing as a high-ranking government official. Emails from the lawyers for the abortion funds show they tried repeatedly to serve Paxton through his attorneys before the hearing. ...
Pitman’s reversal on Tuesday came after he learned Paxton failed to disclose repeated emails from the plaintiffs. “The court will not sanction a scheme where Paxton repeatedly labels his threats of prosecution as real for the purposes of deterrence and as hypothetical for the purposes of judicial review,” Pitman wrote.
The climate crisis made the record drought across the northern hemisphere this summer at least 20 times more likely, scientists have calculated. Without human-caused global heating, the event would have been expected only once every four centuries. The drought hit crop production and power supplies, exacerbating the food and energy crises already sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Droughts will become even more severe and more frequent unless the burning of fossil fuels is phased out, the researchers warned.
The dry conditions, assessed using data on soil moisture, largely resulted from the heatwaves that struck across North America, Europe and Asia, with lower rainfall relatively less important. The scientists said a summer as hot as that of 2022 would have been “virtually impossible” without global heating and in Europe alone there were 24,000 heat-related fatalities.
The analysis examined conditions across the northern hemisphere, excluding the tropics, and in western and central Europe, where the drought was particularly severe and significantly reduced crop yields. The European summer was the driest in records that stretch back to 1950, while the northern hemisphere drought was the second driest on record, after 2012.
The dry conditions caused widespread water shortages and wildfires, with a record number of blazes in Europe, the first national drought alert in China and more than half of the US being declared in drought. In the UK, temperatures hit 40C for the first time on record, shocking scientists, and hosepipe bans are still in place across much of the country.
“The 2022 summer has shown how human-induced climate change is increasing the risks of droughts in densely populated and cultivated regions,” said Prof Sonia Seneviratne, at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and part of the analysis team. “We need to phaseout the burning of fossil fuels if we want to [prevent] more frequent and more intense droughts.”
Tens of thousands of dead wild salmon scattered along a creek bed are the latest casualty of a drought that has gripped the province of British Columbia for more than a month and left communities bracing for more devastation.
In a video clip posted to social media, the carcasses of pink and chum salmon are seen piled near the community of Bella Bella.
This is Neekas, Heiltsuk Territory. All of these salmon went into the creek, the creek dried up b/c of no rain so far this fall, and just died, and this is just one reach! Global warming is killing everything. This is such a sad scene. Video credit, Sarah Mund pic.twitter.com/vYhEKwD5mN
— William Housty (@WilliamHousty) October 4, 2022
“It’s just devastating to see this happen. River levels [are] low everywhere right now – not just in Heiltsuk territory. This drought is coast-wide right now,” William Housty, conservation manager with the Heiltsuk Nation, told the Guardian. “We see pre-spawn mortality on [an] annual basis. But never to this degree.”
The video was taken last week by German researcher Sarah Mund, who joined a crew on a stream walk to gauge the health and size of salmon populations returning to spawn.
Wild salmon typically wait for rains as their signal to journey up creeks and rivers – an indicator that water levels will rise and provide easier passage to natal streams. Housty says a brief afternoon rain 10 days ago, coupled with a high tide, gave the salmon a false signal to start. No more rain came and the creek dried up, leaving the fish stranded.
A new peer-reviewed Danish study finds that a mother’s exposure to toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” during early pregnancy can lead to lower sperm count and quality later in her child’s life. PFAS – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – are known to disrupt hormones and fetal development, and future “reproductive capacity” is largely defined as testicles develop in utero during the first trimester of a pregnancy, said study co-author Sandra Søgaard Tøttenborg of the Copenhagen University hospital. ...
Those mothers with higher levels of exposure more frequently raised adult men with lower sperm counts, as well as elevated immotile sperm levels, meaning their sperm did not swim. This exposure also increased the amount of non-progressive sperm – sperm that do not swim straight or swim in circles. Both issues can lead to infertility.
The ubiquitous chemicals are estimated to be in 98% of Americans’ blood, and they can cross the placental barrier and accumulate in the growing fetus. ... Infertility rates are on the rise worldwide, often for unclear reasons, Søgaard Tøttenborg said.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Impressions - Its All Right
The Impressions - Keep On Pushing
Curtis Mayfield - Blue Monday People
Curtis Mayfield - Kung Fu
Curtis Mayfield - We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue / Give Me Your Love
Curtis Mayfield - Freddie's Dead
Curtis Mayfield - New World Order
Curtis Mayfield - Superfly
Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions - We're A Winner