The Evening Blues - 1-31-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b singer and guitarist Albert Washington. Enjoy!
Albert Washington - I'm The Man
“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.”
-- Baltasar Gracian
News and Opinion
The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance. It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries. It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation. ...
NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. ... The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal. The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six to eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal. Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.
So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.
Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition. Ukraine has suffered nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted with frequent power cuts. Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced — 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require humanitarian assistance. Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.5 a day, according to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zero temperatures, the Ukrainian president says. According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.
“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Senator Rob Portman was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.” Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.
The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire. America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the capital on January 6, the botched response to the pandemic, declining life expectancies and the plague of mass shootings — and a series of military debacles from Vietnam to Afghanistan. The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism. ...
The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East. It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs. As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States. Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself.
NATO’s top military spokesman called Saturday for members of the US-led military alliance to transition to a “wartime economy” in order to “increase the production in the defense industry.” In the interview, aired Friday on Portugal’s public broadcaster RTP News, These statements follow the announcement last week by the Biden administration that it would deploy M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, and statements by the White House that it is “discussing” sending nuclear-capable F16 jet fighters.
Bauer’s statements make clear that the US-led NATO alliance is actively preparing for the Ukraine war to escalate into a direct clash between the NATO alliance and Russia, both of which are armed with nuclear weapons. At the start of the interview, Bauer stressed that NATO views the conflict with Russia as much broader than the war in Ukraine.
Asked by RTP News, “You don’t believe that it’s only about Ukraine,” Bauer replied “no, it’s about turning back to the old Soviet Union.” The interviewer continued, “so the entire Eastern Flank is at risk somehow?” Bauer replied, “Yeah.” The interviewer asked, “We are ready to [sic] a direct confrontation with Russia?” To this Bauer replied, “we are.” Bauer noted the massive expansion of NATO’s forces in what NATO terms its “eastern flank,” saying:
“...what we have done after the war started was [deploying] the battle groups along the eastern flank, we had four in the north, the three Baltic States and Poland, the enhanced forward presence, battle groups, we have decided now… to create four more battle groups in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. And to basically strengthen those battle groups, make them a little bit larger, give them a little bit more support in terms of fire support, and give them better stocks for ammunition and other things.”
In order to prepare for war with Russia, Bauer declared, “we need to increase the production in the defense industry,” citing the wartime measures taken by the United States during World War II. Bauer continued, “In the first four years in the United States in the Second World War, in the Ford factories, there was no civilian cars made, but only military production…. And that is, in a way, talking about a wartime economy,”
More, more, more!
Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s most senior adviser has suggested Poland is willing to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters as Ukraine’s lobbying for the combat jets steps up only a few days after Germany and the US agreed to send over their tanks. Andriy Yermak said Ukraine had had “positive signals” from Warsaw in a Telegram posting, although Poland’s prime minister was careful to stress his own country would only act in consultation with Nato allies.
“We coordinate all actions aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s defence forces with our Nato partners,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference – where he announced plans to lift his country’s defence spending to 4% of GDP – when asked about the jets. Any possible transfer of fighter jets would come “in full coordination” he added.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said on Monday he would not rule out the delivery of fighter planes to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict. ...
Ukraine began its lobbying campaign for the US-made jets almost immediately after Germany and the US said they would supply Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks, but this time its effort could be successful more quickly.
Joe Biden said late on Monday that the US would not send F-16s to Ukraine, but added that he would be visiting Poland soon. With the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion on 24 February looming, speculation has grown that the US president could visit Europe in a show of support for the alliance backing Ukraine.
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic became the latest critic to condemn the decision of Western countries, including the United States, to send dozens of tanks to Ukraine to help fight the war against Russia, warning that continued military escalation will not help bring the conflict to an end.
"I am against sending any lethal arms there," Milanovic said at a press conference. "It prolongs the war."
The Biden administration last week announced that it will send more than 30 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, while German officials confirmed they will supply Ukrainian soldiers with 14 Leopard 2 tanks. Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have already dispatched tanks to the country, which was invaded nearly a year ago by Russian forces.
Conservative British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last week that the continued military support for Ukraine will "ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace," but peace advocates have long said that countries including the U.S. must prioritize promoting diplomacy between Ukraine and Russia.
The Stop the War Coalition in the U.K. announced an upcoming demonstration last week following the announcement by the U.S. and Germany, saying, "Arming Ukraine and sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation."
In October, progressives in the U.S. House said in a letter to Biden that "the alternative to diplomacy is protracted war" before distancing themselves from the statement under pressure. The White House has resisted calls to aggressively push for peaceful negotiations even from Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
Milanovic's most recent comments follow his accusation earlier this month that the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO) are fighting a "proxy war against Russia through Ukraine."
"What is the goal of this war?" Milanovic asked on Monday. "A war against a nuclear power that is at war in another country? Is there a conventional way to defeat such a country?"
He also predicted that European countries will "pay the price" for becoming militarily involved in the way and that Europe will ultimately pour more resources into the effort to end the war through military might.
"America pays the least," he said. "Not a single American tank will go to Ukraine in a year. Only German tanks will be sent there."
Last week, he expressed hope in a television interview that negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are ongoing.
"Supplies of Western tanks to Ukraine will extend the war. If America and Russia don't agree, and that's not in sight so far, the war won't be over," he toldN1. "I hope that some talks are going on, otherwise we are inching toward the Third World War."
On Saturday, Russia accused Ukrainian forces of killing 14 people and injuring 25 in a strike on a hospital in the eastern Luhansk oblast using US-provided HIMARS rocket systems.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the strike took place in the town of Novoaidar and called it a “deliberate” attack on civilians. “A deliberate missile strike against a known functioning civilian medical facility is without doubt a serious war crime by the Kiev regime,” the Defense Ministry said. ...
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the UN, said the US was “directly complicit” in the alleged strike. “As we know from Ukrainian officials, the targets of HIMARS are agreed by Washington,” Polyansky said.
Unnamed U.S. officials on Sunday confirmed suspicions that Israel was behind the weekend drone attack on a purported military facility in the Iranian city of Isfahan, heightening concerns that the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is gearing up for a broader assault on Iran as international nuclear talks remain at a standstill.
The New York Times reported that the drone attack—which Iran says it mostly thwarted—was "the work of the Mossad, Israel's premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident."
"American officials quickly sent out word on Sunday morning that the United States was not responsible for the attack," the Times noted. "One official confirmed that it had been conducted by Israel but did not have details about the target."
The Times added that the "facility that was struck on Saturday was in the middle of the city and did not appear to be nuclear-related."
The Wall Street Journal also reported Sunday that Israel carried out the attack, which was launched hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East for planned trips to Israel, Egypt, and the occupied West Bank.
Last week, CIA Director William Burns made an unannounced trip to Israel to discuss "Iran and other regional issues," according to the Journal.
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that he is "deeply concerned by the gathering clouds of war in the Middle East."
"This latest act of sabotage conducted via a military attack inside Iran is a dangerous escalation and should be cause for concern for everyone who opposes war," said Abdi. "War will only further empower the most violent and repressive forces inside Iran at the expense of ordinary Iranians demanding freedom, and will embolden reactionary elements in Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S."
Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing investigation as part of an inquiry into an alleged attempt to topple the country’s government, has filed a request for a six-month visitor visa to stay in the US.
The former leader is understood to have entered the US on an A-1 visa reserved for sitting heads of state, which would expire on Tuesday, 30 days from the end of his presidential term.
On Monday, a California-based law firm known for its work with Brazilians said that Bolsonaro had requested a six-month visa to stay in the US.
Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing Covid-19 on 11 May, as most of the world has returned closer to normalcy nearly three years after they were first declared.
The move to end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response to treat the virus as an endemic threat to public health that can be managed through agencies’ normal authorities.
It comes as lawmakers have already ended elements of the emergencies that kept millions of Americans insured during the pandemic. Combined with the drawdown of most federal Covid-19 relief money, it would also shift the development of vaccines and treatments away from the direct management of the federal government.
The president’s announcement comes in a statement opposing resolutions being brought to the floor this week by House Republicans to bring the emergency to an immediate end. House Republicans are also gearing up to launch investigations on the federal government’s response to Covid-19.
A coalition of more than 1,300 climate and racial justice groups from across the United States on Monday joined a call for an independent investigation into the police killing of forest defender Manuel Paez Terán earlier this month, and demanded the resignation of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
Nearly two weeks after the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old activist and medic—known as Tortuguita—Dickens "has still failed to condemn the killing," said the groups, and has instead opted "to condemn protestors and parrot the rhetoric of extreme right-wing governor Brian Kemp."
Tortuguita was shot and killed on January 18 when a joint task force including Atlanta police officers raided an encampment at Weelaunee forest. The forest is the site of a proposed $90 million police training facility known as Cop City.
Over the weekend Dickens, a Democrat, condemned people who have protested Tortuguita's killing in Atlanta, accusing protesters of traveling to the city to "wreak havoc" at demonstrations that were overwhelmingly peaceful.
"Within a few hours of the shooting, Dickens tweeted support for [an] injured state trooper and completely ignored the death at the hands of a task force which included Atlanta police officers on his watch," wrote the groups, which include People vs. Fossil Fuels, Jewish Voice for Peace, Climate Justice Alliance, and Oil Change International. "As a growing number of Atlanta residents, national and global news outlets, and human rights and environmental organizations worldwide call for an investigation of the police narrative of Tortuguita's death, Dickens has dismissed their concerns. He has refused to bring any scrutiny to the one-sided and unsubstantiated recounting of events. Dickens has yet to offer condolences to the slain protestor's family."
The groups noted that Dickens and the Atlanta City Council have the authority to terminate the land lease for Cop City in the forest and called for the mayor to do so immediately, denouncing his strong support for the Atlanta Police Foundation's proposal.
"His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country's highest level of wealth inequality," said the groups. "Mayor Dickens can somehow find $90 million dollars for Cop City, one third of which will come from taxpayer money. Still, he can't find money to keep our already overwhelmed hospitals open or to finance much-needed affordable housing."
Ikiya Collective, a signatory of the letter, noted that the training slated to take place at Cop City "will impact organizing across the country" as police are trained to respond to popular uprisings.
"This is a national issue," said the collective. "Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta."
"It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel 'Tortuguita' Paez Terán," said Ikiya Collective. "We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens' resignation."
A sixth officer involved in the death of Tyre Nichols has been removed from duty, police said, as an influential group of Black elected officials has called for a meeting with Joe Biden to discuss police reform. Officer Preston Hemphill, who is white, was relieved of duty and put on what is known as administrative leave, Memphis police major Karen Rudolph said on Monday, according to multiple reports.
Rudolph stopped short of saying what role Hemphill had at the scene of Nichols’ deadly beating or whether he would be charged with a crime in connection with the killing as several other officers have been. But Rudolph said that the investigation into Nichols’ death remained ongoing, and “more information will be shared as it develops”. ...
Hemphill was the third officer at a traffic stop that preceded the violent arrest but was not at the scene where Nichols was beaten, his lawyer Lee Gerald said. ...
Also on Monday, fire department officials announced the firing of emergency medical technicians Robert Long and JaMicheal Sandridge and Lt Michelle Whitaker in connection with Nichols’ death.
Fire chief Gina Sweat said in a statement that the department received a call from police to respond to a report of a person who had been pepper-sprayed, and the workers arrived as Nichols was handcuffed and leaning up against a squad car. Long and Sandridge, based on the nature of the call and information they were told by police, “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols”, the statement said. Whitaker and the driver remained in the vehicle.
Barrett Strong, a singer and songwriter who rose to fame as the vocalist on Motown’s first hit single Money (That’s What I Want), has died, aged 81. The news was confirmed on Monday by the Motown Museum; no cause of death was given.
Born in Mississippi in 1941 but raised in Detroit, Strong was one of the first artists to be signed by the future Motown maven Berry Gordy. He began recording for Gordy’s label, Tamla Records, in the late 1950s, and in 1960 his recording of the Gordy-penned Money (That’s What I Want) became the first hit for either artist. Peaking at No 2 on the R&B singles chart and No 23 on the Hot 100, Money came to define the early years of Motown, and was later recorded by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Although Money was a huge hit for the company and for Strong, the track’s credits were subject to great dispute throughout Strong’s whole career. Strong himself contended that he co-wrote the song with Gordy and songwriter Janie Bradford, while Gordy has consistently denied this, saying Strong was only involved in the recording. When it was initially registered for copyright, Strong was listed as one of the track’s writers; in a 2013 New York Times feature about Strong’s fight for recognition, representatives for Gordy stated that this was a clerical error, although session musicians present during the song’s recording said that Strong wrote the track’s iconic piano riff and guitar lines. “Songs outlive people,” Strong told the NYT. “The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it … If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy.”
Although Money was a hit, Strong found that he wasn’t earning enough money to support his family, so in the early 60s he briefly began working on the factory floor at Chrysler. In the mid-60s, he returned to Motown as a staff songwriter, and with producer Norman Whitfield wrote many of the company’s most iconic tracks, including I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, and War. The pair’s partnership with the Temptations, in particular, yielded a string of extremely successful, beloved tracks; in 1973, he was awarded the Grammy for best R&B song for Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.
Prosecutors are to present a grand jury with evidence about hush money payments made by Donald Trump, the former US president, to adult film actor and producer Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election campaign, it was reported on Monday.
The surprise move by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney in New York, revives a long-running investigation that appeared to be drifting and raises the threat of criminal charges, adding to Trump’s already daunting legal troubles.
The report from the New York Times newspaper came two days after the ex-president became the first candidate to hit the 2024 election campaign trail, delivering speeches in the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford but professes to prefer her stage name, claims to have had sex with Trump in Nevada in 2006 when he was already married to Melania Trump. He denied the allegation but in 2016 his longtime fixer Michael Cohen made a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels, which Trump reimbursed.
Coal in the US is now being economically outmatched by renewables to such an extent that it’s more expensive for 99% of the country’s coal-fired power plants to keep running than it is to build an entirely new solar or wind energy operation nearby, a new analysis has found. The plummeting cost of renewable energy, which has been supercharged by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, means that it is cheaper to build an array of solar panels or a cluster of new wind turbines and connect them to the grid than it is to keep operating all of the 210 coal plants in the contiguous US, bar one, according to the study.
“Coal is unequivocally more expensive than wind and solar resources, it’s just no longer cost competitive with renewables,” said Michelle Solomon, a policy analyst at Energy Innovation, which undertook the analysis. “This report certainly challenges the narrative that coal is here to stay.”
The new analysis, conducted in the wake of the $370bn in tax credits and other support for clean energy passed by Democrats in last summer’s Inflation Reduction Act, compared the fuel, running and maintenance cost of America’s coal fleet with the building of new solar or wind from scratch in the same utility region.
On average, the marginal cost for the coal plants is $36 each megawatt hour, while new solar is about $24 each megawatt hour, or about a third cheaper. Only one coal plant – Dry Fork in Wyoming – is cost competitive with the new renewables. “It was a bit surprising to find this,” said Solomon. “It shows that not only have renewables dropped in cost, the Inflation Reduction Act is accelerating this trend.”
Coal, which is a heavily carbon-intensive fuel and responsible for 60% of planet-heating emissions from electricity generation, once formed the backbone of the American grid, generating enough power to light up 186m homes at its peak in 2007. However, by 2021 this output had dropped by 55%, while jobs in the coal mining sector have more than halved over the past decade, to less than 40,000.
The world is on the brink of breaching a critical climate threshold, according to a new study published on Monday, signifying time is running exceedingly short to spare the world the most catastrophic effects of global heating.
Using artificial intelligence to predict warming timelines, researchers at Stanford University and Colorado State University found that 1.5C of warming over industrial levels will probably be crossed in the next decade. The study also shows the Earth is on track to exceed 2C warming,which international scientists identified as a tipping point, with a 50% chance the grave benchmark would be met by mid-century.
“We have very clear evidence of the impact on different ecosystems from the 1C of global warming that’s already happened,” said Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, who co-authored the study with atmospheric scientist Elizabeth Barnes. “This new study, using a new method, adds to the evidence that we certainly will face continuing changes in climate that intensify the impacts we are already feeling.”
Utilizing a neural network, or a type of AI that recognizes relationships in vast sets of data, the scientists trained the system to analyze a wide array of global climate model simulations and then asked it to determine timelines for given temperature thresholds.
The model found a nearly 70% chance that the two-degree threshold would be crossed between 2044 and 2065, even if emissions rapidly decline. To check the AI’s prediction prowess, they also entered historical measurements and asked the system to evaluate current levels of heating already noted. Using data from 1980 to 2021, the AI passed the test, correctly homing in on both the 1.1C warming reached by 2022 and the patterns and pace observed in recent decades.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Albert Washington w/ Lonnie Mack- Having a Good Time
Albert Washington - Bring It On Up
Albert Washington w/ Lonnie Mack- Turn on the Bright Lights
Albert Washington - Case of the blues
Albert Washington - Doggin' Me Around
Albert Washington - Loosen These Pains And Let Me Go
Albert Washington w/ Lonnie Mack- I'm Gonna Pour Me A Drink
Albert Washington - Steal Away
Albert Washington - Somewhere Down The Line
Albert Washington - You're Messing Up My Mind
Albert Washington - Woman Love