The Evening Blues - 3-20-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features boogie woogie piano player Albert Ammons. Enjoy!
Albert Ammons - Monday Struggle
“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”
-- Salvador Dali
News and Opinion
Stop calling the Iraq War a “mistake”. When you make a mistake, you make changes to ensure that mistake is not repeated. Nobody responsible for that invasion suffered any consequences of any kind, zero policy changes were made, and the unipolarist ideology which led to it has become more entrenched than ever.
If the invasion of Iraq was a “mistake”, western government officials would be residing in prison cells at The Hague, countless pundits and journalists would now be working behind cash registers in retail shops, and US foreign policy would have undergone a massive, dramatic overhaul. Instead the exact opposite has happened — the western officials who launched the Iraq War are esteemed members of elite society, the pundits and journalists who manufactured consent for it are at the top of their field, and securing US unipolar hegemony by any means necessary is the accepted status quo norm in mainstream politics.
This is because the Iraq War was not a “mistake”. It was a cold, calculated decision which had precisely the effects it was intended to have: the advancement of western energy interests, greater geostrategic control, and the expansion of the US war machine in key geostrategic regions. Someone who makes a “mistake” doesn’t get everything they always wanted as a result and suffer zero consequences for the damage it caused. That’s what happens to someone who took a deliberate, calculated action in their own interests.
You can only pretend the Iraq War was a “mistake” if you accept the official reasons for starting it: getting those WMDs, spreading freedom and democracy to those poor Iraqis who we love, and making the Middle East a safer and more peaceful place for everyone. It’s not okay for grown adults in the year 2023 to believe those were the real intentions behind the invasion of Iraq.
If the invasion of Iraq was a mistake there would have been changes put in place to make sure nothing like it ever happens again. Those changes were never made because they thoroughly intend to do similar things in the future.
On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, for alleged war crimes. The move is transparently political. It takes place as the US and NATO powers are orchestrating a massive escalation of the war against Russia over Ukraine, and amidst ever more open statements from government officials that the aim of the war is regime change in Moscow.
The specific allegations filed against Putin and Lvova-Belova are listed under Article 8 of the Rome Statute, adopted in 1998, which includes “grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions” and “other serious violations” of international law. The arrest warrants specifically allege “the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” ... While the existence of the warrants was made public, the supposed evidence underlying them was not. The specific claims of the “unlawful deportation” of children have been promoted in the US media, including the New York Times, based on unsubstantiated allegations by the Biden administration and the Ukrainian government. ...
For its part, Russia has acknowledged the movement of populations from the war-ravaged eastern portions of Ukraine to Russia, including children primarily from orphanages. It has noted that anyone—including teachers and childcare workers—who continues to work in areas under Russian control are in danger of being accused as collaborators and killed by far-right Ukrainian forces.
As with the previous charges of war crimes, the US-led campaign is characterized by a staggering level of hypocrisy. By any objective standard, every US administration in recent memory is guilty of crimes far worse than any that have been alleged against Putin: From the nuclear obliteration of two Japanese cities at the end of the Second World War; to the leveling of North Korea between 1950-1953, to the point where not a single building was left standing; to the mass slaughter and pyrochemical incineration that was the US-led Vietnam War; through the thirty years of unending and expanding war that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The state leading the campaign for war crimes charges against Putin is responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the bombing of wedding parties and other civilian gatherings in Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Bay prison, and drone assassination.
Since the issue of the mistreatment of children is raised in the arrest warrants, we should recall the infamous statement by then US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, who declared in 1996, in reference to half a million dead children from US-backed sanctions against Iraq, “We think the price is worth it.”
Breaking News: The Pentagon is blocking the U.S. from sharing evidence on Russian atrocities in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court, officials said. Military leaders fear setting a precedent that might pave the way for it to prosecute Americans. https://t.co/xnHCjkkZnK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 8, 2023
Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday night in a show of defiance after the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges.
Russian state media released footage showing the president on his first trip to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine’s Donbas region since he launched a full-scale invasion last year.
The Tass news agency said Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol on Saturday and took a tour of the city, at times driving his own car. He visited several sites, spoke to residents and was presented with a report on reconstruction work in the city. ...
On Saturday Putin had travelled to Crimea, a short distance south-west of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine. Russian state TV showed him visiting the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol, accompanied by the local Moscow-appointed governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev.
Putin visited an art school and a children’s centre there – locations that appear to have been chosen in response to the ICC’s arrest warrant, which came about after a panel of judges agreed that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, bore responsibility for the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children.
Vladimir Putin has welcomed China’s willingness to play a “constructive role” in solving in what he called the Ukraine “crisis”, in an article released on the eve of a visit by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
In what the Kremlin said was an article written for a Chinese newspaper on Sunday, the Russian president called Xi his “good old friend” and said Russia had high hopes for his visit, the Chinese leader’s first to Russia since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine last year. ...
In the article, Putin said: “We are grateful for the balanced line of [China] in connection with the events taking place in Ukraine, for understanding their background and true causes. We welcome China’s willingness to play a constructive role in resolving the crisis.”
Xi and Putin signed a “no limits” partnership agreement weeks before the invasion last year. China has publicly remained neutral in the conflict, while criticising western sanctions against Russia and reaffirming its close ties with Moscow.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepared to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time since weeks before war erupted in Ukraine, the White House has expressed opposition to any effort by Beijing to broker a ceasefire in the conflict. ...
But just one week after China managed to broker a surprise deal for Middle Eastern rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia to reestablish ties, National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby argued that such a cessation of hostilities would not be the positive development it may seem.
Such a move, Kirby asserted during a virtual press call on Friday, "would, in effect, recognize Russia's gains, and its attempt to conquer his neighbor's territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory and, of course, it would be another continued violation of the U.N. Charter."
He stated that a ceasefire would also serve as opportunity for Russian troops "to only further entrench their positions in Ukraine" and "to rebuild, refit and refresh their forces so that they can restart attacks on Ukraine at a time of their choosing."
"We do not believe that this is a step towards a just and durable peace and, as we've all talked about, a just and durable, a sustainable peace has got to be one that is not one- sided," Kirby said, "and that fully incorporates Ukrainian perspectives and respects the basic idea of solid Ukrainian sovereignty in this case, which the Chinese say that they do want to respect."
"We all want to see the war end and we remain committed to that goal, but, as I said, for it to end, it's got to end in a just way that respects Ukrainian prerogatives and fully respects Ukrainian sovereignty," he added. "And a ceasefire, at this time, while that may sound good, we do not believe would have that effect."
Australia has “absolutely not” given the US any commitment as part of the Aukus negotiations that it would join its top security ally in a potential future war over the status of Taiwan, the deputy prime minister has said.
Richard Marles made the comment as he continued to defend Australia’s multi-decade plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, with help from the US and the UK, at a total cost of up to $368bn between now and the mid-2050s.
Marles, who is also the defence minister, said on Sunday that China’s rapid military buildup “shapes the strategic landscape in which we live”.
He told the ABC’s Insiders program the Aukus submarines would back up Australia’s interest in protecting trade and freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea.
Marles said he would not speculate about a future conflict over Taiwan – a self-governed democracy of 24 million people that China has not ruled out taking by force – but argued it was “a completely separate question”.
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile, Seoul’s military has said, in the fourth such weapons test in a week, which comes as South Korea and the United States stage major military drills.
“Our military detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from around the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province at 11.05 am towards the East Sea,” South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said on Sunday, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.
Seoul and Washington have ramped up defence cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of increasingly provocative banned weapons tests in recent months.
South Korea and the US are currently in the middle of 11-day joint drills known as Freedom Shield, their largest in five years. North Korea views all such exercises as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.
On Thursday, Pyongyang test-fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, a Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year.
The French government will face a no-confidence vote on Monday, as MPs said they feared for their safety, strike action intensified and police banned demonstrators from parts of central Paris after Emmanuel Macron’s decision to push through an unpopular rise in the pension age without a parliament vote. ...
After two months of protests against the pensions changes and on-off strikes headed by a rare united front of all trade unions, anger continued to mount during the weekend, with demonstrations in many towns. More rail, air and school strikes are planned over the next week.
The two no-confidence motions are seen as unlikely to pass, as they would require an unprecedented grouping together of all the warring opposition parties. There would have to be a united front across the political spectrum – from the radical left to Marine Le Pen’s far-right and Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing Les Républicains – in order to meet the high threshold of an absolute majority of 287 votes. ...
The only way a no-confidence vote would pass would be with the support of a large number of MPs from Les Républicains. But the party’s leader, Éric Ciotti, has ordered his MPs not to vote against the government on the grounds it could lead to “chaos”.
Political fall-out in the US from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank continued on Sunday when leftwing Senator Elizabeth Warren hit the morning talk shows and repeatedly called for an independent investigation into US bank failures and strongly criticised Federal Reserve finance officials.
The progressive Democrat from Massachusetts, who has positioned herself as a consumer protection advocate and trenchant critic of the US banking system, told CBS’s Face the Nation that she did not have faith in San Francisco Federal Reserve president Mary Daly or Fed chairman Jerome Powell.
“We need accountability for our regulators who clearly fell down on the job,” Warren said, adding that it “starts with” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who she said “was a dangerous man to have in this position”.
“Remember the Federal Reserve Bank and Jerome Powell are ultimately responsible for the oversight and supervision of these banks. And they have made clear that they think their job is to lighten regulations on these banks. We’ve now seen the consequences,” Warren added. Asked if she had “faith” in Daly, under whose jurisdiction SVB fell, Warren said flatly: “No, I do not.”
In the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley and Signature banks, the one-time presidential candidate has in recent days launched a broad offensive on politicians on both the left and the right who supported Trump-era deregulation of smaller US banks.
Wyoming has become the first US state to outlaw the use or prescription of medication abortion pills after the governor, Mark Gordon, signed into law a bill that was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature earlier this month.
The crux of the two-page Wyoming bill is a provision making it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion”.
So-called “morning-after” pills, prescription contraceptive medication used after sex but before a pregnancy can be confirmed, are exempted from the ban.
The measure also includes an exemption for any treatment necessary to protect a woman “from an imminent peril that substantially endangers her life or health”, as well as any treatment of a “natural miscarriage according to currently accepted medical guidelines”.
Violation of the ban is to be treated as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $9,000. The measure stipulates that a woman “upon whom a chemical abortion is performed or attempted shall not be criminally prosecuted”.
Nearly a month ago, Bianca Clayborne, Deonte Williams, and their five children were on their way from Georgia to Chicago for Clayborne’s uncle’s funeral when a highway patrol officer stopped them in Manchester, Tennessee.
That moment – about 60 miles outside Nashville – has since upended their lives as Clayborne and Williams try to regain custody of their children after they say state authorities “kidnapped” them on account of a minuscule amount of marijuana in the car, the Tennessee Lookout first reported.
The separation described by Clayborne and Williams fits into a historical pattern of US child welfare services dividing poor, Black and Indigenous families in particular on the grounds of alleged neglect and abuse, fueling disparities in who gets to remain a family and who doesn’t.
“I just have to believe if my clients looked different or had a different background, they would have just been given a citation and told you just keep this stuff away from the kids while you’re in this state and they’d be on their way,” said Jamaal Boykin, one of the family’s attorneys, according to the Tennessee Lookout.
Donald Trump is bracing for his most legally perilous week since he left the White House, with the Manhattan district attorney likely to bring criminal charges against him over his role in paying hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels, as he huddled this weekend to strategize his legal and political responses.
The former US president has posted in all-caps on his Truth Social platform that he expected to be “ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK” and called for his supporters to engage in protests – an ominous echo of his tweets urging protests in the lead-up to the January 6 US Capitol attack.
Trump’s post was nothing more than guesswork about when Alvin Bragg might bring charges, sources close to Trump said, after he saw media reporting that the district attorney’s office had contacted the US secret service about security in the event of an indictment.
The grand jury in New York hearing evidence in the resurrected 2016 hush money case is now expected to hear from one more witness on Monday, making it unlikely that an arrest would come the following day because it could take additional hours to draft charging papers.
That witness is reportedly Robert J Costello who is appearing at the request of Trump’s legal team. Costello was once a legal adviser to Cohen but the two have since fallen out. Costello’s testimony is likely to be aimed at undermining Cohen’s.
One by one, big oil firms have touted their investments in algae biofuels as the future of low-carbon transportation – and one by one, they have all dropped out. Now in the wake of the last remaining algae proponent, ExxonMobil, announcing its withdrawal, insiders say they are disappointed but not surprised. Algae research was central to Exxon’s green marketing campaigns for years, and frequently criticized as greenwashing rather than a genuine research effort.
But several of its former research partners told the Guardian that it was serious about the potential of algae biofuels – explaining why it stayed in the field long past the point at which other oil companies dropped out – but not serious enough. In its 12 years in the space, Exxon invested $350m in algae biofuels, according to spokesperson Casey Norton. (Norton says that’s more than double what the company spent on touting this research in ads.)
Even so, every algae researcher who spoke to the Guardian said a real effort to commercialize biofuels, algal or otherwise, requires several billion dollars, and a long-term dedication to overcoming seemingly fundamental biological limitations of wild organisms. And no oil company was willing to go that far.
“It’s very challenging and very expensive to bring these technologies to market,” said George Huber, whose biofuels research at the University of Wisconsin at Madison was funded by Exxon for years. “It’s not gonna happen overnight. It’s great they make these commitments, but you know they need to start putting more capital into these projects.” He added: “They’re driven by Wall Street and they have to keep their stock prices high and keep their shareholders happy. And usually that’s making a large amount of money. All the oil companies have been talking about the need to get into more sustainable things, but it’s hard to make money with. And most of their money comes from oil.”
The total weight of Earth’s wild land mammals – from elephants to bisons and from deer to tigers – is now less than 10% of the combined tonnage of men, women and children living on the planet.
A study by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, published this month, concludes that wild land mammals alive today have a total mass of 22m tonnes. By comparison, humanity now weighs in at a total of around 390m tonnes.
At the same time, the species we have domesticated, such as sheep and cattle, in addition to other hangers-on such as urban rodents, add a further 630m tonnes to the total mass of creatures that are now competing with wild mammals for Earth’s resources. The biomass of pigs alone is nearly double that of all wild land mammals.
The figures demonstrate starkly that humanity’s transformation of the planet’s wildernesses and natural habitats into a vast global plantation is now well under way – with devastating consequences for its wild creatures. As the study authors emphasise, the idea that Earth is a planet that still possesses great plains and jungles that are teeming with wild animals is now seriously out of kilter with reality. The natural world and its wild animals are vanishing as humanity’s population of almost eight billion individuals continues to grow.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Albert Ammons - Swanee River Boogie
Albert Ammons - Boogie Woogie Blues
Albert Ammons - Shout For Joy
Albert Ammons - The Boogie Rocks
Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson - Boogie Woogie Dream
Pete Johnson & Albert Ammons - Barrel House Boogie
Albert Ammons - Untitled Ammons Original
Albert Ammons - Suitcase Blues
Albert Ammons - Boogie Woogie Stomp