The Evening Blues - 12-7-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer and guitarist Peppermint Harris. Enjoy!
Peppermint Harris - I Got Loaded
"Hysteria is a chaotic and irrational emotional state caused by seeing how the world really operates."
-- Robert Anton Wilson
News and Opinion
It is hard to overstate how manic, primal and unhinged is the reaction of corporate media employees to the mere prospect that new Twitter owner Elon Musk may restore a modicum of greater free speech to that platform. It was easy to predict — back when Musk was merely toying with the idea of buying Twitter and loosening some of its censorship restrictions — that there would be an all-out attack from Western power centers if he tried. Online censorship has become one of the most potent propaganda weapons they possess, and there is no way they will allow anyone to dilute it even mildly without attempting to destroy them. Even with that expectation in place of what was to come, the liberal sector of the corporate media (by far the most dominant media sector) really outdid itself when it came to group-think panic, rhetorical excess, and reckless and shrill accusations.
In unison, these media outlets decreed that not only would greater free speech on Twitter usher in the usual parade of horribles they trot out when demanding censorship — disinformation, hate speech, attacks on the “marginalized,” etc. etc. — but this time they severely escalated their rhetorical hysteria by claiming that Musk would literally cause mass murder by permitting a broader range of political opinion to be aired. The Washington Post's Taylor Lorenz even warned of supernatural demons that would be unleashed by these new free speech policies, as she talked to a handful of obviously neurotic pro-censorship “experts” and then wrote about these thinly disguised therapy sessions with those neurotics under this headline: “‘Opening the gates of hell’: Musk says he will revive banned accounts.”
But the self-evident absurdity of this laughable meltdown and the ease of mocking it should not obscure that there are lurking within these episodes some genuinely insidious and serious dangers. These preposterous media employees are just the sideshow. But what they are doing, unwittingly or otherwise, is laying the groundwork for far less frivolous and more serious people to use the attacks on Musk to further fortify the regime of censorship they have been constructing: the limitlessly demonizing language heaped on him, the success they have already had in driving away many if not most corporate advertisers from Twitter, the threats to once again abuse the monopoly power of Google and Apple to destroy Twitter or at least cripple it if Musk does not comply with their censorship orders (as they succeeded in doing last year to the free speech site Parler when it became the most-downloaded app in the country and refused to censor on demand).
[To see Glenn's new program on the topic on Rumble, click here.]
Pffffftttt!!! In other news, Ned Price's nose grew a foot longer yesterday.
The United States is not enabling or encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders, the State Department said on Tuesday, after Ukraine demonstrated an apparent new ability to penetrate hundreds of kilometers into Russian air space with attacks on air bases.
Moscow said attacks on Monday killed three of its servicemen and wounded four, as well as damaging two warplanes. On Tuesday, a third Russian airfield in Kursk, which lies closer to Ukraine, was set ablaze in another drone strike.
"We are not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We are not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told The Intercept on Monday that he could bring a Yemen War Powers Resolution to the floor of the Senate for a vote “hopefully next week.”
The resolution would end US support for the brutal Saudi-led war and blockade on Yemen. According to the UN, the war and blockade have killed at least 377,000 people, more than half of which are children under the age of five.
A version of the resolution has been introduced in the House and Senate, and both have received strong bipartisan support, with over 100 co-sponsors in the House. When asked by The Intercept if he will have enough votes to pass the resolution, Sanders said, “I think we do, yes.” A similar resolution made it through Congress in 2019, but the measure was vetoed by President Trump.
Americans can call 1-833-Stop-War to get connected to their senators and representatives and urge them to support the legislation that could bring an end to the over seven-year war. Go to 1833stopwar.com for more information and for helpful prompts on what to say when connected.
Joe Biden has agreed a deal to ramp up gas exports from the US to the UK as part of a joint effort to cut bills and limit Russia’s impact on western energy supplies.
Sunak and Biden announced an “energy security and affordability partnership” and set up a joint action group, led by Westminster and White House officials, with the aim of reducing global dependence on Russian energy.
Britain was not reliant on large quantities of Russian gas before the invasion of Ukraine but has been exposed to the huge rises in prices as European neighbours competed for other supplies as they rushed to fill up storage facilities.
Under the deal, the US aims to more than double the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported to the UK over the coming year, compared with 2021.
The two countries also intend to collaborate on accelerating green initiatives such as decarbonising the aerospace industry, boosting the electric vehicle market and developing energy efficient appliances. They also plan to further collaborate on nuclear, hydrogen and carbon capture projects.
Al Jazeera television network has filed a formal request to the international criminal court against Israeli forces over the killing of the veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Abu Akleh was shot in the head during an Israeli raid in a refugee camp on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin in May, while wearing a helmet and flak jacket that clearly indicated she was a member of the press. Several investigations by human rights organisations, as well as international news outlets and the UN, have concluded that Abu Akleh, 51, was shot by an Israeli soldier. Her colleague Ali al-Samoudi survived after being shot in the shoulder. ...
Tuesday’s submission of new video evidence to The Hague, some of which was also aired in a new Al Jazeera documentary, provides a detailed account of events during the morning Abu Akleh died.
The formal filing shows “Shireen and her colleagues were directly fired at by the [IDF]”, Al Jazeera said in a statement, and “confirms, without any doubt, that there was no firing in the area where Shireen was, other than the [IDF] shooting directly at her”.
The Qatari-owned network claims that Abu Akleh’s “deliberate killing” is “part of a wider campaign to target and silence Al Jazeera”, also referencing the bombing of the news outlet’s offices in Gaza City during last year’s war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman that claimed he conspired to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the crown prince was entitled to sovereign immunity despite “credible allegations” that he was involved in the murder.
Judge John Bates, a US district court judge with a long history of presiding over cases involving national security, acknowledged “uneasiness” in making the decision, but said that his hands were in effect tied by the Biden administration’s recent recommendation that Prince Mohammed be given immunity.
The decision to dismiss the civil claim, which was brought by Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and Dawn, a pro-democracy group founded by the murdered journalist, likely marks the end of efforts to hold the future Saudi king accountable for the 2018 murder.
The dismissal of the civil claim against Prince Mohammed and two of his close associates – Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri – means the Saudi heir can now travel to the US and other jurisdictions freely. Although the case was not brought by US prosecutors with the power to arrest him, if it had been allowed to proceed, the case would have created a legal minefield for the crown prince and if he had been found guilty, could have put his financial interests in the US in jeopardy.
Argentina’s vice-president and former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been sentenced to six years in prison and given a lifelong ban on holding public office after being found guilty in a $1bn fraud case related to public works.
Fernández de Kirchner – who was president of Argentina for two terms between 2007 and 2015 – was found guilty of fraud on Tuesday, though she is unlikely to serve any prison time soon as she has immunity due to her government roles and is expected to launch a lengthy appeals process that could take years.
In a live stream after the verdict was announced, Fernández de Kirchner said that the charges against her were politically motivated. “It is clear that the idea was always to convict me,” she said. “This is a parallel state and mafia.”
Fernández de Kirchner – who many had expected to run for president next year – also said: “I won’t be a candidate for anything, not president, not senator. My name will not be on any ballot.” The former president described the proceedings against her as “law-fare”, which political analysts in the region describe as a form of “political warfare” involving politicians, the judiciary and the media, usually with a view to smearing leftist leaders as corrupt.
The verdict is certain to deepen fissures in Argentina, where the 69-year-old populist dominates the political landscape and recently survived a failed assassination attempt after her assailant’s gun apparently jammed. Last month, Fernández de Kirchner compared her judges to a “firing squad”. ...
Fernández de Kirchner is a profoundly divisive figure in Argentinian politics. She and her husband were members of the so-called “pink tide” of leftwing presidents that ruled many Latin American countries at the start of the century, alongside figures such as Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Chile’s Michele Bachelet. The Kirchners’ supporters credit them with implementing progressive economic policies that improved life for the poor and helped steer Argentina back to prosperity following a cataclysmic economic collapse in 2001 and 2002.
Authorities in Honduras will partially suspend constitutional rights as part of an effort to combat an apparent rise in extortion, raising fears of human rights violations and warnings of creeping authoritarianism in Central America.
Under the plan, which will come into effect late on Tuesday and will be in effect for at least 30 days, thousands of security forces will be deployed to 162 gang-infested neighborhoods in the country’s two largest cities, San Pedro Sula and the capital, Tegucigalpa.
“[Extortion] is one of the main causes of insecurity, migration, displacement, loss of freedom, violent deaths and the closure of small and medium-sized businesses,” said Xiomara Castro, the president, while announcing the plan on 1 December. “With the comprehensive strategy against extortion and related crimes announced today by the national police, this government of democratic socialism declares war on extortion.”
Castro’s announcement immediately drew comparisons with the hardline policies of neighbouring El Salvador, where President Nayib Bukele has partially suspended constitutional rights for the last eight months during an unprecedented crackdown on gangs that has resulted in more than 55,000 arrests and a slew of alleged human rights violations.
Experts doubt that Castro’s government will take measures to the same extreme as its Salvadoran counterpart. “I really struggle to see them going as far as Bukele,” said Tiziano Breda, a Central America security analyst for the International Crisis Group, who listed three main reasons for his conclusion. First, widespread human rights violations would threaten to alienate a key faction of the coalition that brought Castro and her center-left Libre party to power just one year ago. Second, although El Salvador is a smaller country in both territory and population, it has more military and police officers as well as prison capacity. Finally, Castro’s party has not yet taken control of the judicial branch, whose compliance would be essential.
Democrats don't care. They are more than willing to allow the Republicans to privatize or otherwise destroy Social Security and Medicare - Democrat Wall Street cronies want it, so Democrats do, too.
As GOP lawmakers double down on their vow to hold the economy hostage to force cuts to popular federal programs such as Medicare and Social Security, progressives are reiterating their call for Democrats to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and take away Republicans' leverage before they assume control of the House next month.
"If the debt ceiling is not raised, our economy will come to a crashing halt," Social Security Works tweeted Tuesday. "Republicans are set on using your earned Social Security benefits as a bargaining chip. Democrats need to act NOW and raise the debt limit before it's too late!"
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested before last month's midterms, during which Republicans won a slight majority, that he would refuse to lift the country's arbitrary borrowing limit unless Democrats agreed to slash the social safety net and climate investments in return.
Now that McCarthy is trying to secure enough votes to be elected House speaker, he is facing pressure from several right-wing colleagues to state specifically how he would approach the debt ceiling question "before they decide whether to support him on January 3 for the most powerful position in Congress," CNN reported Tuesday. The California Republican "can only afford to lose four GOP votes."
"In interviews with CNN, more than two dozen House GOP lawmakers laid out their demands to avoid the nation's first-ever debt default, ranging from new immigration policies to imposing deep domestic spending cuts," the outlet reported. "And several Republicans flatly said they would oppose raising the borrowing limit even if all their demands were met, making McCarthy's narrow path even narrower." ...
If the U.S. were to default on its debt, the economic consequences would be catastrophic. Knowing this, several GOP lawmakers have made clear their willingness to go to the edge to coerce Democrats into accepting socially damaging welfare cuts. Notably, Capitol Hill's deficit hawks are not in favor of reducing the Pentagon's ballooning budget or hiking taxes on the wealthy to increase revenue.
As many observers have pointed out repeatedly in recent weeks, Democrats have the power to prevent this high-risk game of brinkmanship from proceeding any further by raising the debt ceiling—or abolishing it altogether—while they still control both chambers of Congress.
San Francisco lawmakers voted to ban police robots from using deadly force on Tuesday, reversing course one week after officials had approved the practice and sparked national outrage.
The city’s board of supervisors voted to explicitly prohibit the San Francisco police department (SFPD) from using the 17 robots in its arsenal to kill people. The board, however, also sent the issue back to a committee for further review, which means it could later decide to allow lethal force in some circumstances.
The U-turn came after the majority of members on the 11-person board had voted last week to allow robots to be armed with explosives and use them to kill people “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD”. The board had also added an amendment saying that only high-ranking officers would be allowed to authorize deadly force.
The initial decision to allow “killer robots” was met with widespread criticism from civil rights groups and shone a harsh light on the increasing militarization of US police forces.
Jim Stewart, founder of influential southern soul label Stax Records, has died aged 92. Stax confirmed the news on social media this morning, writing that Stewart “passed away peacefully earlier today, surrounded by his family”.
As the founder of Stax, Stewart was responsible for signing and nurturing the careers of many of soul and R&B’s most influential figures, including Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Albert King and the Bar-Kays.
He began Stax as Satellite Records in 1957; originally a country fiddle player, Stewart founded Satellite as a country and rockabilly label before pivoting almost exclusively to R&B. Stewart likened his introduction to Black music as “like a blind man who suddenly gained his sight”. Based in segregation-era Tennessee, Stax was a rarity in that it had a mixed-race staff and sought to uplift its Black employees as much as its white ones.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock was declared the winner Tuesday night in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff race against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, giving the incumbent's party a 51-49 advantage in the upper chamber and helping to temper the obstructionist power of the GOP and right-wing Democrats like West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The Associated Press, NBC News, Decision Desk HQ, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other outlets projected a Warnock victory as tallied ballots from heavily Democratic metro Atlanta gave the incumbent a late surge of support over Walker, an ex-National Football League star backed by former President Donald Trump.
"The People Have Spoken": Sen. Warnock Wins in Georgia in Victory Over GOP Voter Suppression Efforts
A jury in New York has convicted the Trump Organization of criminal tax fraud in a stinging rebuke of the former US president’s company.
Although Donald Trump was not personally on trial, prosecutors in the case brought by the Manhattan district attorney insisted he was fully aware of the long-running scheme in which they said executives were enriched by off-the-books perks to make up for lower salaries, reducing the company’s tax liabilities.
The 12-person jury in New York’s state court was sent out to deliberate on Monday morning after a six-week trial in which Trump Organization lawyers pinned blame for the fraud solely on the greed of longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
Trump, who recently launched his 2024 campaign, assailed the investigation as part of a politically motivated “witch hunt”. In a statement on Tuesday, the Trump Organization denounced the verdict, which could carry a fine of up to $1.6m, a relatively negligible sum for such a large company though it could affect future business dealings. A lawyer for the Trump Organization vowed to appeal.
“The notion that a company could be held responsible for an employee’s actions, to benefit themselves, on their own personal tax returns is simply preposterous,” the company said in a statement.
The House January 6 select committee will make criminal referrals to the US justice department in connection with its investigation into the Capitol attack, the chairman of the panel said Tuesday, heightening tensions ahead of the release of its final report expected to come later this month.
The targets and details about the referrals were not immediately clear, and the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson affirmed to reporters only that the panel would issue citations.
But the decision to move forward with referrals comes days after a special four-member subcommittee established to consider the issue recommended that the full committee seek prosecution from the justice department for a number of individuals connected to January 6, two sources said.
The referrals could follow two tracks: citations for things that Congress can request prosecution by statute, such as perjury or witness tampering, or wider-ranging recommendations such as making the case that Donald Trump obstructed an official proceeding on 6 January.
Well, they are getting good at the rhetoric, the actions, not so much.
Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction and governments must end the “orgy of destruction”, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said at the beginning of the biodiversity Cop15.
“We are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song. Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction. Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once-thriving ecosystems,” he said.
“Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics … The most important lesson we impart to children is to take responsibility for their actions. What example are we setting when we ourselves are failing this basic test?
“The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B,” Guterres told the opening ceremony of the conference in Montreal, Canada, where governments will begin formal negotiations for this decade’s UN biodiversity targets on Wednesday.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Peppermint Harris - Got A Big Fine Baby
Peppermint Harris - Fat Girl Boogie
Peppermint Harris - Need Your Lovin'
Peppermint Harris - How Long Must I Suffer (For One Mistake I Made)
Peppermint Harris - Bye Bye, Fare Thee Well
Peppermint Harris - The Blues Pick On Me
Peppermint Harris - Angel Child
Peppermint Harris - I Cry For My Baby
Peppermint Harris - Wait Until It Happens To You