The Evening Blues - 12-5-22


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Martha Reeves

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features motown singer Martha Reeves. Enjoy!

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - Dancing In The Street

"Make war on machines. And in particular the sterile machines of corporate death and the robots that guard them."

-- Abbie Hoffman

News and Opinion

The Incremental Normalization Of Police Murderbots Probably Needs More Attention

One of the most under-discussed topics in the world right now is how governments have been incrementally pacing the public toward accepting the use of police robots that kill people.

The city of San Francisco has voted to legalize the use of killbots in specific emergency situations like active shooters and suicide bombers, with high-ranking officers making the call as to whether their use is warranted.

“Police in San Francisco will be allowed to deploy potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots in emergency situations,” The Guardian reports. “The controversial policy was approved after weeks of scrutiny and a heated debate among the city’s board of supervisors during their meeting on Tuesday.”

“The proposed policy does not lay out specifics for how the weapons can and cannot be equipped, leaving open the option to arm them,” The Guardian reports, adding that the current plan is to equip them with “explosive charges” rather than firearms.

We are seeing more and more expansions in the normalization of militarized police robots, to the point where there are now significant escalations from year to year. Last year I wrote a piece on the way police departments in the US and Canada have been normalizing the use of quadrupedal robots (disingenuously labeled “dogs” for PR purposes) for tasks like surveilling hostage situations and enforcing Covid restrictions. A few months later I had to write another one on this trend because arms manufacturers had begun designing firearms specifically to be mounted on those same quadruped bots. The year before during the 2020 George Floyd protests it was revealed that police had been using drones to surveil demonstrations in US cities, including the Predator drone normally used overseas by the US military.

Now the Oakland Police Department is pushing for the use of robots armed with shotguns. Police have already used a robot armed with a bomb to kill a suspect in Texas. Every year we’re seeing more steps toward the normalized ubiquitousness of unmanned weapons systems for domestic use in western civilization.

It makes sense that the US, whose police force is more heavily funded than almost any other nation’s military force, is leading this charge. As John and Nisha Whitehead explain for The Rutherford Institute, this ongoing expansion of police robot militarization tracks alongside the steadily increasing militarization of police forces in the US more generally; SWAT teams first appeared in California the 1960s, by 1980 the US was seeing 3,000 SWAT team-style raids per year, and by 2014 that number had soared to 80,000. It’s probably a lot higher now.

“These robots, often acquired by local police departments through federal grants and military surplus programs, signal a tipping point in the final shift from a Mayberry style of community policing to a technologically-driven version of law enforcement dominated by artificial intelligence, surveillance, and militarization,” write Whitehead and Whitehead, adding, “It’s only a matter of time before these killer robots intended for use as a last resort become as common as SWAT teams.”

Like all escalations in police powers and police militarization, the increasingly widespread use of police killbots will be justified in the name of saving lives and protecting law enforcement officers, but will certainly see a rise in abuses of that new power. More importantly (at least in the long term), once armed robots are being used to police civilian populations, the powerful will have made the possibility of a people’s revolution against them far more remote.

Flesh-and-blood armed goons will hesitate to fire upon their countrymen in a domestic uprising. They can be persuaded to side with the people and oust the sitting government. They have beating hearts and aren’t covered in armor. We are still a ways off from AI-guided weaponized robots enforcing the rule of law on our streets, but that does appear to be where we’re headed, and once we’re there it’s entirely possible that the door to revolution will have been bolted shut for good.

If that’s the case, then it’s no exaggeration to say that humanity is in a race between (A) a revolution against the status quo power structures which are oppressing and exploiting us while driving us toward disaster and (B) the ubiquitousness of armed police units. Our rulers keep incrementally pacing us into accepting this in the same way they pace us into accepting internet censorship, whistleblower persecution, and the war on journalism.

So it’s probably important that we do not accept it, and keep shining a bright public spotlight on this freakish trend to keep it from becoming normalized.

Julian Assange Appeals to European Court Over U.S. Extradition

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who is battling extradition from Britain to the United States where he is wanted on criminal charges, has submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the court confirmed on Friday. ...

His legal team have also launched a case against Britain at the ECHR, which could potentially order the extradition to be blocked. ...

Stella Assange, his wife, said she hoped the ECHR would not be needed to consider the case and that it could be resolved in Britain. If the case was taken to the ECHR, she said it "would be a sad day and a major disappointment".

Assange's brother Gabriel Shipton told Reuters earlier this week he believed the U.S. authorities would want to avoid the case going before the ECHR, as the European media and public were more sympathetic to his cause than those in Britain or the United States.

"I would imagine the U.S. wants to avoid that... trying to extradite a publisher from Europe for publishing U.S. war revelations when the U.S. is asking Europe to make all sort of sacrifices for the war in Ukraine," Shipton said.

Russia Launches Big Missile Strike, Ukraine Bakhmut Losses Grow, Scholz Macron Talk Peace

Fresh off of The Guardian's propaganda catapult:

Vladimir Putin better informed now about Ukraine war, says US

The head of US intelligence has said Vladimir Putin has “become better informed” about the difficulties facing his invading forces in Ukraine, as the Kremlin suggested the Russian president could visit the occupied Donbas region at a future unspecified date.

Speaking at a defence forum late on Saturday, Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, indicated Putin was no longer as insulated from bad news about the conditions facing his invasion of Ukraine as he was earlier in the campaign.

Alluding to past assessments that Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news, Haines said he was “becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces”.

“But it’s still not clear to us that he has a full picture of at this stage of just how challenged they are,” she said, addressing an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

US DNI Haines No Moscow Regime Change

Zelensky Looks To Ban Christian Denomination With Ties to Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he is seeking to ban all religions with ties to Russia. He claims the move is needed to "guarantee spiritual independence to Ukraine."

This law will target millions of Ukrainians who identify as Russian Orthodox. ...

The Ukrainian leader said it was necessary to purge the church to preserve the country’s spiritual independence. Adding, "We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul." Zelensky denounced Ukrainians continuing to attend the parishes as failing to overcome "the temptation of evil."

America, meet the warmongering neocons' new toy that you'll be paying dearly for:

Pentagon unveils first strategic bomber in over 30 years to counter China

The Pentagon unveiled its first new strategic bomber in more than 30 years on Friday, a nuclear-capable bat-wing plane that will become a central component of the US effort to counter China’s military build-up when it enters service around 2027. Almost every aspect of the B-21 Raider is classified, but in a tightly-controlled unveiling at the Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, currently home of Lockheed-Martin’s legendary Skunk Works, the new strategic plane was briefly shown to the public.

“This isn’t just another airplane,” Lloyd Austin, the defence secretary, said. “Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft. Even the most sophisticated air defence systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky.” ...

The B-21, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, looks much like B-2, acknowledged the contractor’s CEO Kathy Warden. “The way it operates internally is extremely advanced compared to the B-2, because the technology has evolved so much in terms of the computing capability that we can now embed in the software of the B-21,” Warden said.

Included in information offered to the public was the plane’s estimated cost ($700m), engine manufacturer (Pratt & Whitney) and payload (conventional and nuclear). Top speed, ceiling, range were all listed as classified, though the Pentagon allowed that it will be “optionally crewed” and it wants 100 of them.

The B-21 is the first part of the US nuclear deterrent’s $1tn overhaul – an upgrade that will include new nuclear submarines and land-based missiles – and represents a rapid shift from aircraft and cruise missiles needed for counterterrorism campaigns in Afghanistan and elsewhere to weapons that can meet China’s military modernisation.

Dutch wrestle with national apology for 250 years of slavery

The Netherlands is expected to formally apologise for its role in 250 years of slavery but the planned move is threatening to cause a split in the country, with some critics calling it “complete nonsense”.

The prime minister, Mark Rutte, will deliver a public message on 19 December that will aim to “do justice to the meaning and experience of past slavery”, according to a parliamentary briefing. It is widely anticipated that this will be an apology for the 250 years in which the Dutch funded an economic and cultural “Golden Age” by exploiting more than 600,000 people from Africa and Asia – about 5% of the 12 million enslaved by Europeans from the 17th to the 19th century. According to broadcaster NOS, plans include €200m for awareness projects and €27m for a slavery museum.

However, groups including the Nationale Reparatie Commissie in Suriname, which was colonised by the Dutch, have already protested that the Netherlands is proceeding in a “hasty and tarnished” way, with a lack of consultation that some believe has echoes of colonialism.

Yet pressure has been growing for national government action. In October, a parliamentary majority supported making an official apology after a working group reported on a research trip to Suriname, Curaçao and Bonaire. In the past 18 months, the mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, as well as the management of De Nederlandsche Bank, have apologised for their institutions’ role in, and enrichment from, slavery.

Don Ceder, an MP for the ChristenUnie party who was on the trip, is a leading advocate for action. “An apology is important for the Netherlands as a society in our attempts to combat division and polarisation within a multicultural society,” he said. “It’s hard to believe for some, but my recent visit showed me that the slave trade and the economy that was built in the former colonies still affects these countries till this day.”

Is this the corollary of parents tying a steak around a kids neck to get the dog to play with him?

Biden attempts to restore America’s global standing with state dinner pageantry

It was the night food porn returned to the White House. In a heated tent on the south lawn, political leaders, business titans and Hollywood stars feasted on butter poached Maine lobster, American Osetra caviar, calotte of beef with shallot marmalade, triple cooked butter potatoes and artisanal cheeses.

Joe Biden, a teetotaller reportedly drinking ginger ale, and French president Emmanuel Macron, wielding a flute of California brut rosé, wore tuxedos and offered toasts to their friendship. “Et laisse-moi dire, vive les États-Unis d’Amérique, vive la France, et vive l’amitié entre nos deux pays,” Macron said.

At Washington’s first state dinner since September 2019, the projection of unity – and restoration of normality – was unmistakeable. Congressman James Clyburn, who was among more than 338 guests under the chandeliers, said: “To see Macron reach in his pocket and pull out the US constitution and wave it, saying ‘We the people’, I thought was a tremendous gesture.”

The handshakes and embraces between America’s oldest president and France’s youngest were a vivid illustration of Biden’s efforts to restore the US’s standing in the world and heal relations with old allies shaken to the core by former president Donald Trump’s “America first” substance and chaotic style.

Pete HUMILIATED LIVE Over Paid Leave Hypocrisy

Betrayal of Railway Workers Ignites Working-Class Fury Toward Biden and Democrats

U.S. rail workers and working-class allies are angry at President Joe Biden—the self-proclaimed "most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history"—and Democratic congressional leaders for betraying them this week. ...

The president, who is now under pressure to require paid sick leave via executive order, called on Congress to pass such a resolution late Monday. While progressives tried to add seven sick days to the deal, 42 Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blocked it—a move some critics say outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) should have anticipated and refused to allow, either by focusing on a single resolution with paid leave or not voting at all.

Instead, as Jacobin's Luke Savage put it: "Democratic leaders are, in effect, declaring their solidarity with the American working class while actively siding with the very business interests they say are exploiting it. It's a clear violation of fundamental labor rights and a concession to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has issued predictable pleas for Congress to intervene and prevent a strike ahead of the holiday season."

Workers, organizers, and labor reporters warn that growing criticism of how Biden and Democratic lawmakers chose to handle the rail industry dispute could have long-term consequences for the president, who is expected to run again in 2024, and his party.

"This is a grave mistake and I hope the craven fools behind it reap every rotten morsel of what they have sown next time they want unions or working-class voters to lift a finger for them," labor journalist Kim Kelly said of Biden's directive to Congress, which she called "cowardly and shameful."

"The actions speak for themselves," Ross Grooters, a railroad engineer from Des Moines, Iowa, who co-chairs the advocacy group Railroad Workers United (RWU), told USA Today earlier this week. "Don't tell me what you are. Show me what you are."

"He's not stepping up for workers in the way that he should be," Grooters said of Biden—whom others have blasted this week for effectively "saying that these essential workers have to suffer to preserve the profits of the railroad industry and its billionaire owners."

Freight railroad conductor Gabe Christenson worked to get Biden elected in 2020—when the Democratic former vice president successfully ousted then-President Donald Trump, who infamously refused to accept his loss and recently announced his 2024 campaign.

"I have shirts from me campaigning—blue-collar Biden shirts," Christenson told The New York Times earlier this week. "I knocked on doors for him for weeks and weeks."

Since Biden's move against rail workers on Monday, Christenson "has been besieged by texts from furious co-workers whom he had encouraged to support the president," the Times reported. The conductor said of his angry colleagues, "I'm trying to calm them down."

Christenson isn't alone, according to the newspaper:

Several union members and local officials said they had urged co-workers who had previously supported Donald Trump to back Mr. Biden, arguing that he would be friendlier to labor. They said that these co-workers had reached out to complain about what they saw as Mr. Biden's about-face since Monday, though it was unclear how many of these union members had voted for the current president.

"Many Trump voters calling me out for endorsing Biden," Matthew A. Weaver, a carpenter with rail maintenance employees union, said by text Tuesday night. Mr. Weaver previously worked as an official for his union in Ohio.

Meanwhile, RWU leaders on Friday took aim at Capitol Hill, with the group's general secretary, Jason Doering, declaring that "this one-two punch from the two political parties is despicable."

"Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic, the essential nature of our work, the difficult and dangerous and demanding conditions of our jobs," Doering added. "Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class 1 rail carriers every time."

RWU organizer Ron Kaminkow similarly said that "we have been played for well over a century by politicians and union officials alike. The fiasco of recent months will show that perhaps the time has come for railroad workers to push for a unified and powerful labor organization of all crafts, together with a political party that will better serve the interest of not just railroad workers but all working-class people."

Willie Adams, head of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, pointed out that "Congress talks about 'saving democracy' at the ballot box, but they just totally undermined workplace democracy by imposing a contract that workers voted to reject."

"It is wrong to impose a rejected contract, period. Congress had the option to allow more time for the railroad workers to negotiate better benefits with their highly profitable employers, and they had the option to add paid sick days," Adams added. "There's no excuse for taking away workers' collective bargaining rights. Congress failed America's workers today."

RWU Steering Committee Member Paul Lindsey, called out the carriers—whose trade group, the Association of American Railroads, opposed the effort to add seven paid sick days while supporting the resolution to impose the agreement on workers.

"The rail carriers are too powerful and are a scourge to the national economy," Lindsey charged. "They need to be taken into public ownership and run in the interest of workers, shippers, passengers, and the nation, not a handful of wealthy stockholders."

The Lever noted that "while opposing a plan that would have required them to spend $321 million to give workers seven paid sick days, the main railroad companies raked in more than $7 billion in profits and paid out over $1.8 billion in dividends, in a year where they and their lobbying groups have spent more than $13 million lobbying Congress—after railroad CEOs pocketed more than $200 million in compensation."

Tony Cardwell, president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), one of the unions that rejected the agreement, told Politico that "what's frustrating is that the railroads know that their backstop is federal government intervening in a strike."

"The railroads would have come running to the bargaining table if they knew that we would have been able to go on strike. But they were reliant on the Congress stopping our strike, and therefore they bargained in bad faith," said Cardwell, one of the union leaders who spent this week on Capitol Hill, trying to convince lawmakers to vote in favor of seven sick days.

In a letter to lawmakers after the votes on Thursday, Cardwell thanked those who backed sick leave while sharing that the Senate's rejection of the seven-day proposal "leaves me baffled, exasperated, and deeply saddened."

Cardwell continued:

The federal government inserted itself into the dispute between the railroads and the railroad workers under the premise that it must protect the American economy. Yet, when the federal government makes that decision, its representatives have a moral responsibility to also protect the interests of the citizens that make this nation's economy work—American railroaders. That is, members of Congress were obligated to vote to pass paid sick leave for all railroad workers. The representatives were not obligated to protect the exceeding profits of the corporations. A number of members of Congress chose—yet again—to trample on the workers, in their rush to cozy up to the corporations.

It is shocking and appalling that any member of Congress would cast a vote against any sort of provision that raises the standard of living for hard-working Americans. In fact, such a vote is nothing less than anti-American, an abdication of their oath of office, and you are deemed, in my eyes, unworthy of holding office. I am resolved to shine a light on their votes over this issue, because all railroad workers deserve to know and need to know who will stand and fight with them for what is right and just. They also deserve to know and need to know those who are willing to put them in harm's way to save their own political and personal self-interests.

Noting that the House-approved sick day resolution would have been much closer to passage if the few Senate Democrats who didn't vote had been there "and Manchin wouldn't have screwed us," Cardwell concluded in his comments to Politico that "corporations won today and the working class lost."

How Trudeau, MSM BETRAYED The Canadian Working Class And Persecuted Protesting Truckers: BJ Dichter

As Millions Face Poverty, Global Food Companies Paid Out Nearly 15 Billion to Shareholders

The world's biggest food companies have paid out nearly £15bn to shareholders as spiralling prices leave desperate families struggling to afford to eat, openDemocracy can reveal.

Nestlé, Unilever, Associated British Foods, Mondelez and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) have raked in £20bn in profits in the space of a year while all raising average food prices.

Four of the five multinationals—which between them own thousands of popular brands such as Twinings, Kingsmill and Cheerios—have also signalled that consumers should expect further price rises. Only ADM has not.

The firms' profits would be enough to fill the £9.8bn funding gap twice over that is currently facing the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP)—which aims to provide food for 160 million people facing poverty by the end of the year. The WFP said it costs 44% more for it to buy food than it did in 2020. ...

Food prices in the UK have increased by an average of 16% in the past year, with the costs of some staples—such as bread and milk—rising by a third. The prices of vegetable oil and pasta have soared by more than 60%, the highest increases among the lowest-cost groceries tracked by the Office of National Statistics.

The UK's biggest producer of vegetable oil, Edible Oils Limited, is jointly owned by American grain giant Archer-Daniels-Midland and Princes, a UK subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation. The former has seen its profits rise by 48% this year and paid out the equivalent of £1.5bn to its shareholders in dividends and share buybacks in the first half of this year alone.

The UK's highest grossing food company, Associated British Foods (ABF), has also paid out £500m to shareholders.

This month, ABF's chief executive George G Weston, who will receive £2.2m in remuneration this year, told investors at the firm's annual results presentation: "Revenues benefiting from price increases and operating profit was solid [sic]. We've had to recover a huge amount of input cost from customers that don't like giving you price rises and we've done that job really well—but it's not finished."

Some food multinationals have claimed they have tried to soften the blow to consumers when passing on costs. Nestlé chief executive Mark Schneider said the company had "made a point of acting responsibly with our price increases" when announcing its half-year results in July.

Nestlé reported half-year profits of £4.5bn, a 11% fall from the same period last year. But the firm has paid out £8.5bn to shareholders in the form of share buybacks this year, while raising prices by up to 7.5% on its products, which include a top-selling baby formula.

"These corporations are very adept at rhetoric that doesn't have a lot of substance," Philip Howard, a professor at the department of community sustainability at Michigan State University, told openDemocracy.

"They talk about balance but if there's a choice between increasing their power and doing the right thing, increasing power is going to win every time. That's what the shareholders demand."

Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational that also produces household cleaning and personal care products, has made £4.3bn in profits this year—a 4% increase on last year. The company told investors it has raised its prices by 12% to cover increased costs. At the same time, it has paid out £1.3bn to shareholders.

The US snack firm Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, has reported a 10% rise in profits this year—bringing in £6.9bn. The company has handed £2.8bn to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividends, while raising its prices by 11% in the last quarter.

"The shareholders who own these companies expect growth every year and a return on their investment. Maybe that makes sense for companies selling phones or TVs, but food is not a commodity—it's what everyone of us depends on to survive, and these corporations' need for ever-growing profits poses existential questions for humanity," said Mousseau, who is also a policy director at the Oakland Institute, a US think tank.

the horse race

Biden RIGS Dem Primary For Himself, Kamala

the evening greens

EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

Campaigners across the United States celebrated the Biden administration's step this week to safeguard Alaska's Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine long opposed by conservationists, local fishery advocates, and tribal leaders.

Critics of Pebble Mine warn that any attempts to extract regional copper and gold deposits would endanger the world's largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, which generates over $2 billion a year, supports thousands of U.S. jobs, and sustains Indigenous communities.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller on Thursday unveiled a recommended determination to prohibit and restrict the use of certain waters in the region as disposal sites, the third step in the agency's four-step Clean Water Act Section 404(c) review process.

"If affirmed by EPA's Office of Water, this action would help protect salmon fishery areas that support world-class commercial and recreational fisheries and that have sustained Alaska Native communities for thousands of years, supporting a subsistence-based way of life for one of the last intact wild salmon-based cultures in the world," said Sixkiller.

Welcoming the development, Alannah Hurley, executive director for the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said that "after 20 years of Pebble hanging over our heads, the Biden administration has the opportunity to follow through on its commitments by finalizing comprehensive, durable protections for our region as soon as possible."

"We look forward to reviewing the EPA's recommended determination in greater detail to ensure it achieves the goal of protecting our people and region from the threat of the Pebble Mine," Hurley added.

Bonnie Gestring, Earthworks' Northwest program director, also praised the EPA's "important step forward in the fight to permanently protect Bristol Bay, its economy, its salmon, and its people from the dangerous and destructive Pebble Mine."

"We can't afford to lose any more time to the uncertainty that has hung over Bristol Bay communities for years," Gestring emphasized. "We urge the Biden administration to finish the job of providing lasting protection for Bristol Bay by the end of the year, and fulfill their commitment to the people of Alaska."

Alaska Environment state director Dyani Chapman stressed that the Bristol Bay headwaters must remain free of not only mining but also dams and other destructive industrial activities.

"The whole ecosystem including bears, birds, walruses, whales, and freshwater-dwelling seals depend on the salmon, and the salmon depend on healthy water," Chapman said. "Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently."

Lava flow from Mauna Loa slows even as volcano continues to emit gas plumes

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, that erupted last week for the first time in nearly four decades, continued to spew lava Saturday, though the flows have slowed to a crawl.

Fissure three in the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii remains active and is feeding a lava flow advancing at an average rate of 150 feet an hour over the past 24 hours. Fissurefour is “sluggish”, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said, while fissures one and two are no longer active.

Officials warned that lava advances could be highly variable over the coming days and weeks as the flow crosses level ground. But the volcano continues to release gas plumes high into the atmosphere before being blown west toward Japan.

That’s generating what is known as vog, a sulphurous, visible haze of air pollution made primarily of water vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas, according to the the US Geological Survey. Pele’s hair (strands of volcanic glass) is falling in the Humu’ula Saddle area, according the the agency’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Biodiversity hotspot Gabon offers safe haven to endangered species

Jabal: the new wheat scientists say can withstand extreme heat and drought

A new drought-tolerant variety of durum wheat has been created as part of an international breeding programme to boost climate resilience in the food system by increasing crop diversity.

Durum wheat is used to make pasta, pizza crusts, and flatbreads such as pitta and chapatis, as well as for couscous, bulgur and pastry for desserts such as baklava.

The new wheat Jabal, which means “mountain” in Arabic, was developed by farmers and crop scientists by crossing a commercial durum wheat with a wild relative from an arid region of Syria, to create a new durum variety which can withstand drought.

It’s part of the Crop Trust’s wild relatives project, which is using genetically diverse crop varieties to help develop more resilient and adaptive varieties of wheat, barley, rice, and potato that can withstand erratic and extreme weather conditions caused by the climate breakdown.

While it is not yet commercially available, farmers in Morocco will be the first to start growing the new version of durum wheat, which is widely eaten in north Africa and the Middle East, in about three years. Morocco is suffering its worst drought in four decades, and grain production is down by about 70% due to the extremely dry conditions.

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

“A Cautionary Tale for Everyone”: The Media Mob Turns on Taibbi

Dem Congressman at Center of Twitter Files SPEAKS OUT

How Joe Biden suckered Europe

Israel’s Nuclear Menacing of the Middle East

NYT, WSJ Look to Hawks for Ukraine Expertise

Prayer & Political Peddling at US High Court

The Jobs Report in Light of what Powell Said: The Fed Cannot Create Supply of Labor, But it Can Slow the Demand for Labor

Rail Worker SLAMS Biden's "Tyrannical" Move Blocking Strike

Fonda's Fire Drill Fridays Returns to DC Streets Over Manchin Dirty Deal

Greece in ‘preliminary’ talks with British Museum about Parthenon marbles

Traditional china serving up the big issues of today – in pictures

WEF Chair Klaus Schwab: “Creating The Physical Brain For Digitization”

Nuland in Kiev, blames letters on Russia. Snowden, Russian citizen. Elensky upset with $60 cap.

A Little Night Music

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - Jimmy Mack

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - Come And Get These Memories

Dusty Springfield and Martha Reeves - Wishin' and hopin'

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - I'm Ready For Love

Martha and the Vandellas - I'll Have to Let Him Go

Martha and the Vandellas - Nowhere To Run

Martha and the Vandellas - Honey Chile

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - My Baby Loves Me

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas ~ Heat Wave

Martha Reeves with James Jamerson - Live on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert

17 users have voted.


lotlizard's picture

I’m guessing that it’s in observance of an interval of mourning for Jiang Zemin (江泽民 · 1926–2022).

11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it's funny that there was so little mention of it in the western press, i saw one small blurb about his passing in the guardian, but not the sort of coverage that normally attends the passing of a well-known head of state.


China to come to standstill for late leader Jiang Zemin’s memorial

6 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Hi all, Hey Joe!

How predictable that when Taibi again proves the people that call themselves journalists are really just presstitutes, and asleep at the switch, they all attack him. As idiotic as that may seem, the angle they used that he was shilling for Elon was insane, false, irrelevant, and the most poorly thought out attack I have ever seen. They have been shills for so long, now it is all they can do, idiotically at best, like Brockbots. This is why you don't sell out.

Martha and the Vandellas were great, what voices... that duet with Dusty Springfield is awesome. Thanks for the great sounds!

12 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


yep, the response to taibbi was really quite something. you'd think that maybe it was motivated professional jealousy at taibbi getting a major scoop, but it seems this time it is rather a circling of the wagons by co-conspirators.

have a great evening!

7 users have voted.

less serious side.

Switch to alternative transport. So that's what you are "Green transition".

This was not intended as a joke yet it still made me laugh.

10 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@humphrey @humphrey  
When I do skim ’em, I’m usually thinking, “City of London globalist bankster propaganda—yawn” and/or “Oh, that’s what they want us to believe now? Wotta clown show.”

The FT / Financial Times seems to fall into the same category.

11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i got a good chuckle out of the alternative transport piece, thanks!

i'm not sure how to react to zelensky being recognized by the financial times. i suppose that if ft was genuinely respectable, it might be concerning that a major publication had been snookered by a coke-addled fool with a 24/7/365 pr firm working his case. on the other hand, the ft is regularly snookered by con men with hedge funds and major banking concerns behind them.

9 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

"a move some critics say outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) should have anticipated "

It was their plan, very clumsily handled, too.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


good to see you!

if it was clumsily handled, it was part of their oligarch-serving strategy, meant to cover for their cravenness.

5 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

Sad but true, brought to you courtesy of SV/MIC

8 users have voted.

I never knew that the term "Never Again" only pertained to
those born Jewish

"Antisemite used to be someone who didn't like Jews
now it's someone who Jews don't like"

Heard from Margaret Kimberley

joe shikspack's picture


heh, the new glass teat. well done!

7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

And they make decisions for the rest of us?

This is a fun twist on the Twitter BS.

Elon Musk: worse than Hitler

It is no exaggeration to say that Elon Musk’s annexation of Twitter is the most terrifying development in recent history. Only a fascist would seek to impose free speech on humanity.

This is why there has been such a chorus of execration from left-wing commentators, celebrities and influencers. On the day that Musk seized control of Twitter, Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz noted that it was “like the gates of hell opened on this site tonight”. Charlie Warzel in The Atlantic wrote that there was “an apocalyptic feel to the ordeal”.

But it was the Independent that really grasped the full gravity of this moment. Its headline read — “RIP Twitter, 2006-2022: Dead at the Hands of Elon Musk”. It is a testament to the cool-headed stoicism of left-wing journalists that they have managed not to overreact.

Musk’s takeover of Twitter is far worse than anything Hitler ever did

I also am trying my best to keep matters in perspective, but Musk’s takeover of Twitter is far worse than anything Hitler ever did. I do not approve of mass genocide, but it pales in comparison to providing a social media platform where Eddie Izzard might be misgendered.

The media stenographers got their orders for what their talking point should be.

11 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

Voting is like driving with a toy steering wheel.

joe shikspack's picture


it's pretty amazing that our lawmakers are incapable of discerning when they are losing badly. imagine their ecstasy if ukraine were cleared and made a dmz.

this twitter thing is becoming more amazingly revelatory every day - probably not the way that the establishment thinks it is, though.

7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

I’m sure that the FBI only censored foreign countries and wouldn’t dream of censoring anyone else who didn’t toe the party line. Right? The main thing that the anti Musk mouthpieces don’t address is that government cannot use its power to censor social media. Twitter might be a private company, but it’s a 1st amendment issue when the government gets involved in the censorship. It’s exactly what Biden and democrats did. Funny how the shitlibs don’t give a rat’s ass about our rights anymore.

I haven’t read all of this and I’m not sure that it isn’t slanted from a right wing perspective, but it has some interesting information in it. It starts out with the new intelligence agencies that were created after 9/11 and how they have been weaponized against we the people.

Barack Obama and Eric Holder did not create a weaponized DOJ and FBI; the institutions were already weaponized by the Patriot Act. What Obama and Holder did was take the preexisting system and retool it, so the weapons of government only targeted one side of the political continuum.

This point is where many people understandably get confused.

We know that Hillary used the fbi to go after Trump and that Brennan and Obama knew that she just made up the Russia gate saga that captured the country’s attention for 5 years…

Oh yeah and if Ukraine is spending the money wisely then how did so much of it find its way back into congress pockets? Shhh..let’s not talk about money laundering.

9 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

Voting is like driving with a toy steering wheel.

snoopydawg's picture


Ron Paul

How did they get away with all of this? As another truly independent journalist, Glenn Greenwald, pointed out on the Tucker Carlson show the night the “Twitter Papers” were released, while it was once controversial for the CIA to attempt to manipulate what Americans consume in the mainstream media, nowadays these outlets openly hire “former” US intelligence leaders and officers as news analysts. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and the rest of them all bring on “former” members of the intelligence services to tell Americans what to think. “Big tech censorship is a critical tool of the national security state,” Greenwald told Tucker. “Whenever anyone tries to do anything about it these former people from the CIA and the Pentagon and the rest jump up and say ‘we cannot allow you to restore free speech.’”

This is a corruption scandal so massive that it is almost guaranteed to never be properly investigated. Government itself is among the most guilty and we know “government commissions” are really about covering up rather than uncovering the crimes committed. But the truth is powerful. Some 58 years after the Warren Report whitewashed the assassination of President Kennedy, polls show that few Americans believe the “official” narrative.

Unfortunately too many do believe the official narrative. Tucker Carlson might go up to the edge of the line, but he holds a lot back.

11 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

Voting is like driving with a toy steering wheel.

joe shikspack's picture


social media presents too tempting a target for the powers-that-be not to target and manipulate it. they proved that with operation mockingbird decades ago.

that's just the kind of people that they are. as mr. shrubya so eloquently put it, "it's just a damned piece of paper."

6 users have voted.
usefewersyllables's picture


obscene. I have no more syllables.

8 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

snoopydawg's picture


Hopefully Musk keeps going and really does spill the beans. Or were you talking about the stupidity of Smith? Britain is telling its nurses not to strike because if they do then Putin wins. I imagine that if elections were on the up and up many people in government would never get elected.

9 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

Voting is like driving with a toy steering wheel.

What a trip down memory lane! Danced a lot to those sounds back in the day.

There was a lot of not so good news tonight. Hope people are paying attention to what happened to the rail workers and what this says about what Congress really thinks about the workers and not just the Republicans.

There was some news that I hope turns out for the good of Bristol Bay. This fight has been going on for a long time and would love to see this area protected for the future and the people and the environment of that region.

Interesting clip about Gabon as a refuge for the endangered species. Am going to have to do a little research because it does sound interesting.

Thanks for all the news you did bring to my reading table tonight and have a good rest of your evening.

9 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture


i am still hoping that the railroad workers will retaliate and that the retaliation will spread throughout organized and striving-to-be-organized and unorganized workers alike. it's really pretty obvious that the powers-that-be have either outright contempt or utter indifference for the working class - and it's time for that to change.

heh, i am always hopeful that we might win a few of the environmental battles that have been fought for years. i'm always surprised when we do get a win and i hope that the salmon and everything that depends on them will survive.

7 users have voted.

7 users have voted.

@humphrey Dammit!

6 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

i'll check jimmy dore's youtube feed tomorrow. maybe he'll have something up about it.

4 users have voted.
CB's picture


4 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

Yet again I must congratulate and commend you for finding stuff that I've not only never heard but never would've imagined, specifically Martha Reeves in long braids singing Van Morrison. I mean, the duet with Ms. Springfield, while a surprise, was still easily within the realm of things that could easily happen, but the other was something that would simply never occur to one as something that might happen. Thanks.

The politics, of course, remains what it was, is, and will be. One disgruntled RR type same something about one big craft union, which is somewhat proper thinking, but far short of the needed "ONE BIG UNION", which really needs to make a comeback and to do it before they have enough Robocops to assign one per member.

be well and have a good one

7 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --