The Evening Blues - 1-25-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer and saxophone player Jackie Brenston. Enjoy!
Jackie Brenston - Trouble Up The Road
"Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation."
-- Lyndon B. Johnson
News and Opinion
The bear-baiting ratchets up.
The United States appears poised to start a process that would eventually send dozens of its M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, US media reported, in a reversal that could have significant implications for Kyiv’s efforts to repel Russian forces.
The development prompted swift reaction from Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, who said it would be a “blatant provocation”.
“If the United States decides to supply tanks, then justifying such a step with arguments about ‘defensive weapons’ will definitely not work. This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation,” Antonov said in remarks published on the embassy’s Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.
The move follows reports on Tuesday that Berlin has succumbed to huge international and domestic pressure and was set to announce that it will send German-manufactured tanks to Ukraine, and allow other countries to do the same.
An official US announcement that it will send just over 30 tanks is expected to come on Wednesday, a US official told the Associated Press.
Punchbowl News reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning a trip to Taiwan, which will be yet another incendiary provocation against Beijing if it occurs. The previous House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, sparked a significant escalation in hostilities with her visit last year, the consequences of which are still reverberating today.
Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp explains:
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was viewed in Beijing as a major provocation, and it sparked the largest-ever Chinese military drills around the island. The exercises included China firing missiles over Taiwan and simulating a blockade of the island, both unprecedented actions.
China has kept up the military pressure on Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, and its warplanes regularly now cross the median line, an informal barrier that divides the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Before Pelosi’s trip, China barely crossed the line. Now, it’s an almost-daily occurrence.
Beijing views the US House speaker visiting Taiwan as an affront to the one-China policy and the understanding the US and China reached in 1979, when Washington severed formal relations with Taipei.
US-led provocations and escalations against China are becoming a regular occurrence, both from the US itself and from its imperial assets like Australia and Taiwan. Yet according to the western political/media class, the urgent threat of our day is “Chinese aggression”.
After the House of Representatives voted to approve the new Select Committee on China — a Republican initiative designed to increase internal pressure in the US government to ramp up the new cold war — the committee’s chairman Mike Gallagher put out a statement saying that it is “time to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression in bipartisan fashion.”
Gallagher is a particularly noxious warmonger who says urgent efforts must be made to stop China from “destroying the capitalist system led by the United States in order to make way for the triumph of world socialism with Chinese characteristics.” He advocates the “selective decoupling” from specific sectors of the Chinese economy and says the US is in “the early stages of a new cold war” against China. He advocates pouring weapons into Taiwan in much the same way the US did in the lead-up to its proxy war in Ukraine, and asserts that the US needs to be preparing for a direct hot war with China in the near future.
Gallagher’s hawkishness on China is quickly becoming the mainstream consensus position in the western political/media class as the US-centralized empire ramps up aggressions while continually complaining about Chinese aggression.
The US empire has been increasingly positioning its war machinery around China since the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” in ways that would have led to an immediate third world war if the roles were reversed, and its aggressions have escalated with each subsequent administration. Just in the last couple of months we’ve had news that the US is planning on returning to its Subic Bay base in the Philippines as part of its encirclement campaign against China, and also intends to station missile-armed marines along Japan’s Okinawa islands. The US is also reportedly working on building a network of missile systems on a chain of islands near the Chinese mainland, explicitly for the goal of countering China. The US and its allies have dramatically increased their naval presence in disputed waters near China, viewed as acts of aggression by Beijing.
None of this would be tolerated by the United States if China were openly moving its war machinery into adjacent areas with the stated goal of “countering the US”. If China were doing this, it would be a near-unanimous consensus throughout the western world that China was engaged in hostile provocations and was clearly the aggressor. Nobody would listen to China if it claimed it was militarily encircling the US for defensive purposes.
But that’s exactly what happens with US aggressions against China. It’s just taken as matter of fact when the US says it’s moving more and more war machinery into the waters around China as a defensive precaution to deter Chinese aggression. Because the narrative is coming from the most effective propaganda machine ever devised, we hear “No bro, the US is militarily encircling its number one geopolitical rival on the other side of the planet defensively. Because like what if China tries to do something aggressive?”
In a surprisingly decent Foreign Affairs article titled “The Problem With Primacy,” Van Jackson argues that the US is behaving in such a transparently aggressive manner toward China that it can’t possibly claim to be acting in the interests of preserving peace and stability in the region.
“This is not the rationale of a country that is simply balancing Chinese power or trying to stop Beijing from creating a sphere of influence,” writes Jackson of the recent US semiconductor export ban against China. “It is not the strategy of a state trying to decouple from the Chinese economy. It is containment in all but name.”
“The Pentagon has promised that 2023 will be ‘the most transformative year in US force posture in the region in a generation,’ a line likely meant to be reassuring but that comes off as ominous,” Jackson writes. “The Department of Defense is making good on this promise by modernizing its large traditional presence in Northeast Asia while increasing its footprint in the Pacific Islands and Australia—areas that the Chinese military cannot seriously contest.”
Jackson argues that Washington’s efforts to halt China’s rise will likely achieve nothing besides provoking China into militarizing against it, saying, “There is no reason to believe that spending over a trillion dollars modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal or selling submarines to Australia will cause China to do anything but continue arming itself as quickly as possible.”
This aligns with the warnings of an anonymous US official cited in a November article by Bloomberg, who said that “the hawkish tone in DC has contributed to a cycle where the US makes the first move, interprets Chinese reactions as a provocation, and then escalates further.”
It’s the US making the first move every time.
Taiwan is an odd case because empire apologists will openly tell you that Beijing must never control the island as it’s a geostrategically crucial location with essential semiconductor manufacturing, and then turn around and still try to tell you that Washington’s interest in Taiwan is because it wants to protect freedom and democracy. It’s even more transparent than when they were pretending to yearn for the liberation of nations that just so happened to sit on a lot of oil.
I don’t know if Beijing will ever launch an attack on Taiwan or some other future flashpoint, but if it does it seems a safe bet that it will be because the US empire kept ramping up aggressions and provocations until it got to the point that China felt it was losing more from inaction than it would from action. And then empire apologists will spend all day shrieking at anyone who tries to talk about those provocations.
Because that’s the rule now, if you weren’t aware. As of February 2022 we’re all meant to pretend that the concept of provocation is not a commonplace idea that everyone understands and learns about as children, but that “provocation” is rather a nonsensical propaganda word that was invented by Vladimir Putin last year. It is now no longer permissible for you to talk about the aggressions that led up to a nation going to war; we must all pretend that history began the day their troops crossed the border.
History is being re-written with Ukraine, and if war erupts over Taiwan it will probably be re-written there as well. But note to the future: the road to war was paved by mountains of US aggression.
The Pentagon is planning to boost its production of artillery ammunition by 500% over the next two years as the US is depleting its military stockpiles by sending millions of shells to Ukraine, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the US has pledged to send Ukraine over one million 155mm artillery shells. Before the US Army began efforts to increase production, it produced 14,400 155mm shells a month, but under the new plans, the number could reach over 90,000 each month.
According to the Times, an Army report said the plan will involve expanding factories and bringing in new producers in an effort described as “the most aggressive modernization effort in nearly 40 years” of the US military-industrial complex.
As he pledges to cut €13 billion per year from pensions, French President Emmanuel Macron aims to raise military spending €118 billion over the next six years. On Friday, speaking at an airbase in Mont-de-Marsan, he announced a nearly 40 percent rise in military spending, to €413 billion in the period of 2024-2030. As Macron and all the NATO powers spend billions of euros on waging war on Russia in Ukraine, this plan exposes the ruling elite’s undisguised contempt for public opinion and the social needs of the working class. Macron’s pension cuts are opposed by 80 percent of the French people. Yet he wants to transfer hundreds of billions of euros from retirees to the banks and the military, arguing that further, major escalations of the war are unavoidable. ...
With NATO teetering on the brink of launching an all-out global war on Russia, Macron demanded that France prepare for further, explosive military escalation and high intensity wars. “We must never be one war late. We must be ahead by one war,” Macron said, insisting that France must be ready for “more brutal and more numerous wars.”
He announced a comprehensive modernisation of the warheads, missile launch systems of France’s nuclear missiles, and an increase in the size of its ballistic-missile submarine fleet. Praising France’s nuclear deterrent program, Macron said: “Deterrence is one issue that makes France a different country in Europe. We are seeing again in Ukraine its vital importance. It deserves the considerable efforts that we devote to it.”
The budget expends enormous resources on the latest methods of spying and drone warfare. Macron announced a 60 percent rise in military intelligence and cyber warfare budgets, increasing France’s fleet of reconnaissance and killer drones, and building new air defense systems to scan for enemy drones, many of which can evade radar. The budget also allows for building a new aircraft carrier, replacing all Mirage jets with newer Rafale fighters and buying large quantities of the new Scorpion armored vehicle. ...
He concluded by boasting that his presidency would entrench the vastly expanded power of the military high command in French public life, regardless of public opinion. Citing the 2019-2023 and 2024-2030 military budgets, Macron said: “Overall, the last two military budget laws will have led to a doubling of our military spending. … These are considerable resources that are amplifying defense spending whose growth is without precedent since five decades.” This doubling of French military spending—to levels unseen since the era of the bloody 1954-1962 colonial war in Algeria—is, he said, “a profound change that will now be irreversible.”
Macron did not spell this out, but the anti-democratic implications of this statement are self-evident: If workers’ social and political demands interfere with Macron’s “irreversible” decision to shower the high command with hundreds of billions of euros, they must be crushed.
The publisher of the Washington Post, Fred Ryan, has blasted the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo for “outrageously misrepresenting” and “spreading vile falsehoods” about Jamal Khashoggi, the Post columnist murdered by the Saudi Arabian regime in 2018.
“It is shameful that Pompeo would spread vile falsehoods to dishonor a courageous man’s life and service and his commitment to principles Americans hold dear as a ploy to sell books,” Ryan said. Pompeo’s memoir of his time in Donald Trump’s presidential administration, Never Give an Inch, was published on Tuesday. ...
The Guardian obtained and reported a copy last week. In its own review, published on Tuesday, the Post called Pompeo’s book “vicious … a master class in the performative anger poisoning American politics”. The reviewer, the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Tim Weiner, added: “Hatred animates this book. It’s got more venom than a quiver of cobras.” ...
Pompeo responded on Twitter, writing: “Americans are safer because we didn’t label Saudi Arabia a pariah state. I never let the media bully me. Just because someone is a part-time stringer for the Washington Post doesn’t make their life more important than our military serving in dangerous places protecting us all. I never forgot that.”
More journalists were killed in Latin America and the Caribbean than in any other part of the world last year, including the Ukraine war zone, the press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.
In a report released on Tuesday, the group said that, globally, at least 67 journalists and media workers had been killed in 2022, nearly double the 2021 figure of 45. Almost half of last year’s killings took place in Latin America and the Caribbean, where at least 30 journalists were killed, including the longtime Guardian contributor Dom Phillips.
Phillips was murdered last June while documenting Indigenous efforts to protect the Brazilian portion of the Amazon rainforest for a book he was writing. His alleged killers have yet to be brought to trial, although on Monday police named the alleged mastermind behind the crime.
“It’s an incredible number of people … the highest we have ever recorded in the region,” said the CPJ’s New York-based programme director, Carlos Martínez de la Serna. “And I don’t have any reason to think that this year is going be different unless we see very radically different approaches [from governments], like creating effective protection mechanisms [for journalists].”
The CPJ report said the rising number of killings in Latin America and the Caribbean reflected “the outsize risk journalists in the region face while covering topics such as crime, corruption, gang violence, and the environment”.
Anti-monopoly advocates on Tuesday praised the Biden administration and eight states for launching a federal antitrust lawsuit that could break up Google, which is accused of illegally dominating the digital advertising market.
"Competition in the ad tech space is broken, for reasons that were neither accidental nor inevitable," states the complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
"One industry behemoth, Google, has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising," the complaint continues.
"Having inserted itself into all aspects of the digital advertising marketplace, Google has used anti-competitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies," the document adds, urging the court to force the Alphabet-owned company to sell off its ad tech products.
South Dakota's Republican governor and attorney general on Tuesday issued a threatening letter directed at the state's pharmacists in response to a recent move by the Biden administration to ease restrictions on dispensing abortion pills amid the GOP's nationwide assault on reproductive freedom.
Gov. Kristi Noem and AG Marty Jackley's letter begins by noting that after Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reversed Roe v. Wade last year, abortion became illegal in South Dakota except to save the life of the pregnant person. It's one of 14 states where abortions are now largely unavailable.
The letter states that "in South Dakota, any person who administers, prescribes, or procures for any pregnant female any medicine or drug with the intent to induce an abortion is guilty of a felony."
In a policy change long advocated by medical experts and rights campaigners, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month formalized a regulatory change to allow retail pharmacies in the U.S. to dispense mifepristone, one of two drugs often taken in tandem for a medication abortion.
Referencing that development, the letter says that "under South Dakota law, pharmacies, including chain drug stores, are prohibited from procuring and dispensing abortion-inducing drugs with the intent to induce an abortion, and are subject to felony prosecution under South Dakota law, despite the recent FDA ruling."
As The Associated Pressreported Tuesday:
The [FDA's] change could expand access at online pharmacies. People can get a prescription via telehealth consultation with a health professional and then receive the pills through the mail, where permitted by law.
Still, in states like South Dakota, the rule change's impact has been blunted by laws limiting abortion broadly and the pills specifically. Legal experts foresee years of court battles over access to the pills as abortion rights proponents bring test cases to challenge state restrictions.
Amanda Bacon, the director of the South Dakota Pharmacists Association, said in an email that she was not aware of any South Dakota pharmacies with plans to participate in the federal program to dispense abortion pills.
The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, which tracks policies across the country, labels all six states that border South Dakota as restrictive of abortion access to various degrees—and South Dakota is among the dozen "most restrictive" states in the nation.
While the FDA's recent move was widely seen as a step toward alleviating some of the strain on clinics trying to serve a growing number of patients fleeing states with forced-birth policies, an ongoing legal battle over the agency's initial approval of mifepristone in 2000 could jeopardize access to the drug nationwide.
Anti-choice physicians last month asked Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk—appointed by former President Donald Trump to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas—to throw out the FDA's 2000 decision. The judge, who was previously the deputy general counsel at a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, could issue a ruling as soon as February 10.
If the Christian alliance that launched the attack on the FDA approval "wins in federal district court, the Biden administration would appeal to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, a conservative court with 12 of its 16 active judges appointed by Republicans," CNBC pointed out Tuesday. "From there, the case could end up at the Supreme Court."
School teachers in Florida’s Manatee county are removing books from their classrooms or physically covering them up after a new bill went into effect that prohibited material unless deemed appropriate by a librarian, or “certified media specialist”. If a teacher is found in violation of these guidelines, they could face felony charges.
The new guidelines for the Florida law, known as HB 1467, outline the books be free of pornographic material, suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material, and appropriate for the grade level and age group. In order to determine if the books meet these guidelines, certified media specialists must undergo an online training developed by Florida’s department of education.
With only a few or even one media specialist present in each school, the process to vet books is lengthy.
Scrutiny of teaching material in Florida schools heightened under the leadership of the rightwing Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, whose administration says it is actively working to “protect parental rights”, which includes a prohibition on childhood education on gender, sexual orientation and critical race theory.
Close aides to Mike Pence discovered about a dozen classified-marked documents stored in boxes at his home in Indiana last week and turned over the materials to the US justice department, according to a top adviser to the former vice-president.
The documents were inadvertently taken to Pence’s home at the end of the Donald Trump administration and Pence was unaware of their presence, his representative to the National Archives and former counsel Greg Jacob said in a letter.
The presence of sensitive papers in Pence’s home, weeks after similar discoveries at Biden’s properties and after the FBI seized hundreds of classified-marked documents from Donald Trump, also raises more questions about the management of sensitive government records. ...
Jacob said in the letter, dated 18 January and first reported by CNN, that Pence hired an outside lawyer to search his home out of an abundance of caution after the discovery of classified-marked documents at Biden’s residence and a private office in Washington.
The letter added that the lawyer could not specify anything more about the documents – including the content, dates and classification level, which remain unclear – because he stopped looking as soon he saw the classified markings.
Just over 24 hours after announcing his 2024 U.S. Senate candidacy for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's seat in Arizona, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego set multiple fundraising records and made clear the vast difference between his approach to public service and that of his opponent.
Gallego announced he has already raised more than $1 million, bringing in more than 27,000 donations since launching his campaign Monday morning.
The congressman broke Sen. Mark Kelly's (D-Ariz.) previous 24-hour fundraising record in the state—doing so in just eight hours—and distinguished his relationship with small donors from Sinema's (I-Ariz.) reliance on Wall Street and corporate PACs for contributions.
The individual donations Gallego has already received in just one day surpass the amount that "Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has received in the last three years," said his campaign.
The early fundraising haul "speaks to the excitement and grassroots support for his candidacy and the momentum behind the campaign to return Sen. Sinema's seat back to the hands of everyday Arizonans," the campaign added.
The US’s transition to electric vehicles could require three times as much lithium as is currently produced for the entire global market, causing needless water shortages, Indigenous land grabs, and ecosystem destruction inside and outside its borders, new research finds.
It warns that unless the US’s dependence on cars in towns and cities falls drastically, the transition to lithium battery-powered electric vehicles by 2050 will deepen global environmental and social inequalities linked to mining – and may even jeopardize the 1.5C global heating target.
But ambitious policies investing in mass transit, walkable towns and cities, and robust battery recycling in the US would slash the amount of extra lithium required in 2050 by more than 90%. ...
The global demand for lithium, also known as white gold, is predicted to rise over 40 times by 2040, driven predominantly by the shift to electric vehicles. Grassroots protests and lawsuits against lithium mining are on the rise from the US and Chile to Serbia and Tibet amid rising concern about the socio-environmental impacts and increasingly tense geopolitics around supply.
The US’s affinity for cars, especially big ones, and sprawling cities and suburbs where driving to work, school and shop is often the only option, gives its transition to electric vehicles major global significance. No matter what path it chooses, the US will achieve zero emission transportation by 2050, according to the research. But the speed of the transition – as well as who benefits and who suffers from it – will depend on the number and size of electric vehicles (and batteries) Americans opt for going forward.
As the worsening climate emergency creates an increasing number of migrants around the world, the economic effects of the planetary crisis are paradoxically making millions of people throughout the Global South too poor to escape its ravages.
That's according to a study published recently in the journal Environmental Research Letters by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.
"Climate change reduces economic growth in almost all countries of the world. But it has very divergent effects in poorer and richer countries," study co-author Jacob Schewe said Monday. "Overall, migration related to climate change has increased—but it has done so to a lesser extent than might have been expected. The reason is bitter: In poor countries, many people in need are lacking the means to migrate. They have no choice but to stay where they are."
Co-author Christian Otto noted that "economic growth affects national income levels, which in turn affect migration. Relatively few people migrate from high-income and from very low-income countries. In the case of poor countries, this is partly because many people simply cannot afford to leave. So very poor people often stay in their home country, even if they are in need or would like to migrate for other reasons."
Another study co-author, Anders Levermann, said that "ongoing climate change is keeping many people in the Global South in poverty, making it more difficult for them to migrate. Thus climate change deprives people of an important way to adapt to its impacts and increases the gap between rich and poor."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jackie Brenston - Gonna Wait For My Chance
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats - My Real Gone Rocket
Jackie Brenston & Edna McRaney - Hi Ho Baby
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turner's Orchestra - You Ain't The One
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm - Independent Woman
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats - Leo The Louse
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats - Juiced
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm - Gonna Wait For My Chance
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats - Come Back Where You Belong
Jackie Brenston - Rocket "88"