The Evening Blues - 11-21-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul singer Spencer Wiggins. Enjoy!
Spencer Wiggins - Double Lovin'
"I have very vivid dreams and nightmares, and my biggest fear is of some kind of dystopian future where we're advanced in every way except in our humanity."
-- Bryce Dallas Howard
News and Opinion
Canada: We’re euthanizing people now.
Conservatives: EVIL! SATAN!
Canada: *Poor people.
Conservatives: We’re listening…
Canada: A St. Catharines man says he will choose medically assisted death over homelessness. CityNews explores the ethics of MAiD amid concerns some feel they have no other choice.
Source: CityNews (Youtube) pic.twitter.com/GhQuOTRQA2
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2023) November 12, 2022
Euthanizing the poor is just capitalism finally being honest about itself. After all these years of falsely pretending to have real solutions to the problems it creates, it finally presents a solution entirely in alignment with its values that actually works.
Capitalism’s answer to “What about the poor?” has always been “They should work harder,” and its answer to “What about those who can’t work?” has always been “They should die quickly.” But until now it’s always been spoken wordlessly in the policies enacted and the societal structures put in place. Now it’s just right there, completely undisguised. It’s refreshingly honest.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s reaction to the missile that hit Poland and killed two people led the Biden administration to warn his government to “tread carefully,” sources told CNN.
The US, NATO, and Poland have concluded that it was most likely a Ukrainian air defense missile that landed in Polish territory, but when the news first broke, Zelensky and his senior advisors framed the incident as a deliberate Russian attack and called for action. They also had help from a US intelligence official who told The Associated Press that the missile was Russian, a story quietly corrected by AP.
“Hitting NATO territory with missiles. … This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky said during his nightly address on Tuesday.
Sources told CNN that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan “quickly called Zelensky’s office after those remarks, and urged officials to tread more carefully with how they were speaking about the incident.” The sources said that President Biden did not speak with Zelensky on Tuesday night or Wednesday despite requests from the Ukrainian leader for a call.
House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution on Thursday to audit the funds allocated by Congress.
The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers. House and Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle supportive of continued U.S. assistance to Ukraine say these colleagues are part of a minority fringe.
But the resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed. ...
Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.
If the bill is not brought up in the committee within that time frame, Greene has the option of forcing a House floor vote on the bill without it being referred to by a committee.
The UN nuclear energy watchdog has said the forces behind the shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant are “playing with fire”, after a series of explosions shook the facility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts based at Zaporizhzhia, reported on Sunday that powerful explosions had shaken the area on Saturday night and Sunday. It said its on-site experts saw some of the explosions from their windows.
It reported more than a dozen blasts from apparent shelling, with damage to some buildings, systems and equipment, but “none so far critical for nuclear safety”.
The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said the news was extremely disturbing and he called the explosions completely unacceptable. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire,” he said.
North Korea has launched another suspected ICBM toward the Sea of Japan, according to regional military officials, with Tokyo noting the munition landed within its exclusive economic zone. The show of force comes amid a record number of weapons tests by the DPRK this year – many in retaliation to joint military drills between the United States, South Korea and Japan.
The South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced the launch early on Friday morning, saying it detected an ICBM fired from the Sunan region near North Korea’s capital around 10:15am local time. The projectile traveled just over 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) and reached a top speed of Mach 22, according to the JCS. ...
The Japanese Defense Ministry also commented on Friday’s launch, largely corroborating details shared by the South Korean JCS while noting the Hwasong-17 has sufficient range to reach the United States mainland. Officials said the missile landed in waters about 124 miles (200km) west of Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido prefecture, inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
US congressman Andre Carson introduced on Monday the Justice for Shireen Act, requiring an investigation into the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.
A press release published on the congressman’s official website on Wednesday said the Justice for Shireen Act seeks answers to many unanswered questions, including what happened before, during and after the killing.
“This bill would also identify any US defense materials or services involved in Abu Akleh’s death,” it added.
Since 2018, state legislatures have been helping the richest Americans evade billions of dollars of taxes every year in flagrant violation of federal law — and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden has rubber-stamped the scheme.
Now, amid a leadership shakeup at the IRS, Biden has an opportunity to finally end the tax loophole: Just last week, he announced he’s replacing a Trump holdover as head of the IRS with his own appointee, who could end the tax giveaway with the stroke of a pen.
The loophole in question was created by new state laws, and allows people to use pass-through entities such as private equity firms, hedge funds, law firms, and medical practices to bypass a $10,000 limit on state and local tax write-offs. That limit, created by Trump’s 2017 tax bill, had the effect of raising taxes on the wealthy, especially in high-tax states. The state-created laws in response to this cap, experts say, are clearly illegal under the 2017 federal tax law.
According to New York University Law professor Daniel Hemel, this so-called “pass-through entity tax scandal” will deliver an estimated $50 billion in tax breaks mostly to Amerians who make more than $1 million per year by 2025. Hemel’s research represents the first comprehensive estimate of the size of the loophole.
“In effect, the IRS has created a special tax preference — unauthorized by Congress — for hedge fund managers, law firm partners, and other pass-through entity owners,” Hemel wrote in a recent law review article on the topic. “And the Biden administration, notwithstanding its professed commitment to tax fairness, has acquiesced in this massive giveaway to the rich.”
Ticketbastard finally getting some scrutiny from the feds? Amazing!
A coalition of anti-monopoly advocates cheered Friday after reporting confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster.
"We are thrilled to see the Department of Justice Antitrust Division investigate Live Nation-Ticketmaster's ongoing monopoly abuse of fans, artists, venues, and live events professionals," the Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition said in a statement.
The probe predates the debacle that began this week when Ticketmaster's website malfunctioned as millions of people attempted to purchase tickets for pop star Taylor Swift's upcoming concert tour, according to The New York Times, which reported:
Members of the Antitrust Division's staff at the Justice Department have in recent months contacted music venues and players in the ticket market, asking about Live Nation's practices and the wider dynamics of the industry, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is sensitive. The inquiry appears to be broad, looking at whether the company maintains a monopoly over the industry, one of the people said.
Nevertheless, the bungled presale of Swift tickets drew fresh attention to the negative consequences of Live Nation's 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster, a merger greenlighted by the Obama administration. ...
As the Times reported:
When the Justice Department approved the merger—over significant opposition from the music industry—it required the company to sell some parts of its business. It also reached a legal settlement with the company that forbade Live Nation to threaten concert venues with losing access to its tours if those venues decided to use ticketing providers other than Ticketmaster. Those terms were set to last for 10 years, until 2020.
In late 2019, after an investigation, the Justice Department found that Live Nation had repeatedly violated this provision of its decree. It extended the terms of the settlement by five years, to 2025, and adjusted some of the agreement's language to clarify what the company was allowed to do when negotiating ticketing deals with venues.
Members of the Justice Department staff have asked whether Live Nation is complying with the agreement as part of their new inquiry, said one of the people with knowledge of the matter. Officials at the agency have grown increasingly wary of such settlements, believing the best way to settle antitrust concerns is through changes to a company's structure.
The Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition is made up of a wide range of groups, including the American Economic Liberties Project, Artist Rights Alliance, Demand Progress, Fight Corporate Monopolies, More Perfect Union, Music Workers Alliance, Sports Fans Coalition, and the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers.
The campaign "is bringing together a diverse array of sports and music fans, artists, unions, and independent venue owners for one common goal: restore competition to the live events marketplace," said the coalition. "This is an amazing moment and a crucial first step to achieving that goal."
A civil rights group issued a call Saturday for US supreme court justice Samuel Alito to be investigated over allegations that the judge leaked a 2014 landmark ruling involving contraception and religious rights at a private dinner with wealthy political donors. The claim was contained in a New York Times article in which minister Rob Schenck, an anti-abortion activist, said he was told of the decision weeks before it was announced and had used the information to prepare a public relations push.
Schenck also claimed he tipped off Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain owned by Christian evangelicals that brought and won the case allowing privately-held, for-profit businesses to be exempt from regulations to which its owners religiously object, in this case requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees.
“The Senate judiciary committee should immediately move to investigate the apparent leak by Justice Alito,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice. “This bombshell report is the latest proof that the Republican justices on the court are little more than politicians in robes. It’s no wonder trust in the court has hit a record low. Structural reform of the court, including strict new ethics rules, is needed now more than ever.”
Fallon added that Schenck “should be called to testify about both the leak and the years-long lobbying effort he once led to cultivate Alito and other Republican justices”.
Claims of the judicial leak, potentially for political purposes, comes six months after a draft opinion of the Dobbs decision overturning the nationwide abortion rights established by the 1972 case Roe v Wade was leaked ahead of its June publication.
Elon Musk has reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account after users on the social media platform voted by a slim majority to lift a ban on the former US president. ... The account appeared to be live on Sunday, although the former president had yet to post to the more than 80 million users following him. His last tweet was on 8 January 2021, in which he declared he would not attend Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the US.
Trump did not appear keen to return to Twitter when discussing the issue on Saturday. “I don’t see any reason for it,” the former president said via video when asked about it by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting.
He said he would stick with his new platform Truth Social, developed by his Trump Media and Technology Group startup.
Hakeem Jeffries of New York was on course on Friday to be the first Black party leader in Congress, declaring his candidacy for House minority leader after securing key endorsements to succeed Nancy Pelosi, the current speaker who announced her withdrawal from leadership on Thursday. ...
Jeffries announced his candidacy after Democrats moved swiftly to head off internal battles and let a new, younger generation take the controls.
Jeffries was reportedly set to be joined in House Democratic leadership by Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, as minority whip, and Pete Aguilar of California, a member of the January 6 committee who will run for caucus chair.
Joe Neguse of Colorado, another rising Black Democrat who was a House manager in the second Trump impeachment, was also seeking a leadership slot but faced being blocked by Clyburn.
Pramila Jayapal of Washington state, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was reported to be backing off a bid for a leadership role, in the aftermath of an embarrassing strategic error over a letter from progressives to Biden about US aid to Ukraine.
The world still stands “on the brink of climate catastrophe” after the deal reached at the Cop27 UN climate summit on Sunday, and the biggest economies must make fresh commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, climate experts and campaigners have warned.
The agreement reached in Sharm el-Sheikh early on Sunday morning, after a marathon final negotiating session that ran 40 hours beyond its deadline, was hailed for providing poor countries for the first time with financial assistance known as loss and damage. A fund will be set up by rich governments for the rescue and rebuilding of vulnerable areas stricken by climate disaster, a key demand of developing nations for the last 30 years of climate talks.
But the outcome was widely judged a failure on efforts to cut carbon dioxide, after oil-producing countries and high emitters weakened and removed key commitments on greenhouse gases and phasing out fossil fuels. ...
Oil-producing countries had thwarted attempts to strengthen the deal, said Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, now chief executive of the European Climate Foundation. “The influence of the fossil fuel industry was found across the board,” she said. “This Cop has weakened requirements around countries making new and more ambitious commitments [on cutting emissions]. The text [of the deal] makes no mention of phasing out fossil fuels, and scant reference to the 1.5C target.”
She blamed the host country, Egypt, for allowing its regional alliances to sway the final decision, a claim hotly denied by the hosts. Next year’s conference of the parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop) will take place in Dubai, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.
U.N. Climate Summit Agrees to Historic Loss and Damage Fund, Rejects Calls to Phase Out Fossil Fuels
While the economy and abortion rights drove momentum behind the midterm election this year, voters in cities and states across the US also turned out to pass a number of climate ballot initiatives .
Among the measures passed were a historic multibillion-dollar investment into environmental improvement projects in New York state, including up to $1.5bn in funding for climate change mitigation. This election also saw a $50m green bond act pass in Rhode Island, and in Colorado, the city of Boulder approved a climate tax as well as a ballot measure that will allow the city to borrow against that tax to fund climate projects.
“Climate voters were the silent surprise of election night,” said Nathaniel Stinnett, the founder of the Environmental Voter Project. “We weren’t loud, and nobody saw us coming, but we showed up to vote in huge numbers.”
More than 110 scientists and regulators worldwide are raising a public alarm over what they label “weak” PFAS drinking water limits proposed by the World Health Organization, which they charge used shoddy science and “arbitrarily” dismissed hundreds of studies linking the “forever chemicals” to serious health problems.
Some further alleged the process of developing the guidelines was corrupted by industry-aligned consultants aiming to undercut strict new PFAS limits proposed in the US, and weaken standards in the developing world. The chemicals have been called “forever chemicals” due to their longevity in the environment.
The limits would allow far more PFAS in drinking water than what is allowed or proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, most US states, and some agencies within the EU. WHO’s guidelines and justification are “inexcusable”, said Linda Birnbaum, a former head of the US National Toxicology Program and EPA scientist.
“WHO ignored the last 20 years of science, whether it’s epidemiological data, animal data, or experimental data, and they said ‘there’s so much uncertainty that we can’t do anything’,” she told the Guardian.
Countries at the world’s biggest wildlife summit have voted for the first time to regulate the trade that kills millions of sharks every year to feed the vast appetite for shark fin soup.
In what marine conservationists have hailed as a landmark decision, parties at the 186-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or Cites, voted to limit or regulate the commercial trade in 54 shark species of the requiem family, including tiger, bull and blue sharks which are the most targeted for the fin trade. Six small hammerhead shark species were also listed for protection along with 37 types of guitarfish, which are shark-like rays.
Collectively, the three proposals would place nearly all shark species traded internationally for their fins under CITES oversight and controls, up from only 25% prior to the CITES CoP19. ...
Studies indicate 37% of shark and ray species face extinction and ocean-going, or pelagic, sharks have declined by more than 70% in just 50 years. Scientists say these declines are a direct result of overfishing and unregulated international trade, stemming from a shortfall in national and international management.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Spencer Wiggins - Let's Talk It Over
Spencer Wiggings - The Power Of A Woman
Spencer Wiggins - Old Friend (You Asked Me If I Miss Her)
Spencer Wiggins - I'm A Poor Man's Son
Spencer Wiggins - That's How Much I Love You
Spencer Wiggins - I'll Be True to You
Spencer Wiggins - He's too old
Spencer Wiggins ?– Anything You Do Is All Right
Spencer Wiggins - Soul City U.S.A.