The Evening Blues - 3-31-23


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Mighty Joe Young

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Mighty Joe Young. Enjoy!

Mighty Joe Young and Gatemouth Brown - Why Baby

"Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are, in principle, under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist, that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level. [...] Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I am opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy."

-- Noam Chomsky

News and Opinion

AUKUS Exists To Manage The Risks Created By Its Existence

“NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence,” Professor Richard Sakwa once wrote in an attempt to articulate the absurdity of the military alliance’s provocative nature on the world stage. At some point Australians must wake up to the fact that this is equally true of AUKUS: we’re told the military alliance exists for our protection, but its very existence makes us less safe.

As former prime minister Paul Keating recently observed in the Australian Financial Review, this government’s justification for the AUKUS alliance and the obscenely expensive nuclear submarine deal that goes with it has been all over the map, first claiming that it’s to protect our own shores from a Chinese attack, then pivoting to claiming it’s to protect sea lanes from being blocked off by China after Keating dismantled the first claim at the National Press Club two weeks ago.

One thing Canberra has struggled to do is to explain exactly why China would launch an unprovoked attack on Australia or its shipping routes; the former couldn’t yield any benefit that would outweigh the immense cost even if it succeeded, and the latter is absurd because open trade routes are what makes China an economic superpower in the first place.

Luckily for us, the Pentagon pets cited in the Australian media’s recent propaganda blitz to promote war with China explained precisely what the argument is on Canberra’s behalf. They say Australia would be at risk of being attacked by China because the US wants to use Australia to attack China.

In Part Two of the infamous joint “Red Alert” war propaganda series by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, imperial spinmeisters Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott wrote the following:

But why would China use its limited resources to attack Australia instead of focusing solely on seizing Taiwan? Because of the strategically crucial role Australia is expected to play for the United States in the conflict.

“Our geography means we are a southern base for the Americans for what comes next,” Ryan says. “That’s how they’re seeing us. They want our geography. They want us to build bases for several hundred thousand Americans in due course like in World War II.”

Jennings says Americans would defend Taiwan by fighting from bases in Australia.

“America has a strategy called dispersal, which means when there’s a hint of a crisis, the Air Force gets out of Guam, the marines get out of Okinawa. Why? Because they know there is a high chance they will be obliterated. Where do they come? They come here. One risk our government is very concerned about is the phone rings, and it’s the US President asking for 150,000 Americans to be in the Northern Territory by next Tuesday.”

Ryan says as many as 200,000 US troops could descend on northern Australia.

Interestingly, the article also contains a rare acknowledgement in the mainstream press that the presence of the American surveillance base Pine Gap makes Australia a legitimate target for ICBMs:

“Distance is no longer equivalent to safety from our strategic perspective,” he says. In the first three days of a war, he says Beijing would be tempted to target Australian military bases with a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile attack to minimise our usefulness in the conflict.

“If China seriously wants to go after Taiwan in a military sense, the only way they can really contemplate quick success is to pre-emptively attack those assets that might be a threat to them. That means Pine Gap goes,” he says, referring to the top secret US-Australian base in the Northern Territory that the US uses to detect nuclear missile launches.

In their haste to make the case for more militarism and brinkmanship, these war propagandists admit what’s long been obvious to anyone paying attention: that the only thing putting Australia in danger from China is its alliances and agreements with the United States. The difference between them and normal human beings is that they see no problem with this.

Other empire lackeys have been making similar admissions. In a recent article by Foreign Policy, Lowy Institute think tanker Sam Roggeveen is quoted as saying the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal will make it “almost impossible” for Australia to avoid getting entangled in a war between the US and China:

“When you build a weapon system that is almost specifically designed to operate thousands of kilometers to our north, and which is perfectly suited to fighting a military campaign against China,” he said, “then at the final moment when the call comes from the White House—‘Will you take part in this war, or won’t you?’—it will be very difficult, almost impossible, for Australia to say no.”

The only way China attacks Australia is if Australia’s role as a US military asset makes us a target when the US attacks China, possibly over Taiwan or some other internal issue that’s nobody’s business but the Chinese. We’re told we’re allied with the US to protect ourselves, but that “protection” reminds me of an old joke by Willie Barcena:

“My homeboy Tito was always trying to get me to join a gang. Tito, with two black eyes, arm in a sling, and crutches, saying, ‘Hey, Willie, why don’t you join the gang? You get protection!’”

This obvious point gets flipped upside-down by those desperate to manufacture consent for militarism and empire, as we saw on a recent episode of ABC’s Q+A where South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas called Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John an “isolationist” (my God I hate that word) for questioning AUKUS and said if we’re attacked it’s because we didn’t travel rapidly enough along this self-destructive trajectory.

“Do you worry because of the AUKUS deal, because of South Australia’s role in this, do you believe South Australia becomes a target?” Malinauskas was asked by host Stan Grant.

“No,” Malinauskas said. “Because if Australia becomes a target, that speaks to the fact that we haven’t been making the decisions that we should’ve a long time ago to ensure that we don’t become a target, and the best way to do that is to improve our defence posture.”

Of course this is bullshit. AUKUS has nothing to do with “defence”. You don’t need long-range submarines to defend Australia’s easily-defended shores, you need long-range submarines to attack China. Australia’s “defence posture” is an attack posture.

Keating expanded on this point in the aforementioned National Press Club appearance, suggesting that the real plan for those nuclear submarines is to take out China’s nuclear-armed submarines to cripple their “second strike capability”, i.e. to allow the US to win a nuclear war with China. Keating gave the following comments after arguing that many short-range submarines are a much better way to defend Australia’s coast than a few vastly more expensive long-range nuclear submarines:

“That’s the better defense policy for Australia than joining with the Americans up there in the shallow waters of the Chinese coast, trying to knock out — see look, you know this, Phil, or you may know this — the Chinese, in the air-sea battle plan they had eight or ten years ago, is whether they could knock out all the Chinese nuclear weapons in one strike. And people doubt that this could happen, you know, you can find the sites and knock them out.

“So what big states do is they have submarines in deep water that carry the same nuclear weapons that are not subject to a strike — it’s called a second-strike capability. What the Americans are trying to do is deny the Chinese a second-strike capability, and we’d be the mugs up there helping them. We’ll be up there saying Oh no, we’ll put our boats into jeopardy in the shallow waters of China.”

So stop babbling about AUKUS having anything to do with defending Australia or its shipping lanes, or defending anything at all besides the US empire’s last desperate hopes of securing unipolar planetary hegemony.

AUKUS is not a defence partnership because it’s got nothing to do with defence, and it’s also not a defence partnership because it is not a “partnership”. It’s the US empire driving Australia to its doom, to nobody’s benefit but the US empire.

AUKUS exists to manage the risks created by its existence, and the same is true of ANZUS and all the other ways our nation has become knit into the workings of the US war machine. If we’re being told that our entanglements with the US war machine will make it almost impossible for us to avoid entering into a horrific war that will destroy our country, then the obvious conclusion is that we must disentangle ourselves from it immediately.

The problem is not that Australia’s corrupt media are saying our nation will have to follow the US into war with China, the problem is that they’re almost certainly correct. The Australian media aren’t criminal in telling us the US is going to drag us into a war of unimaginable horror; that’s just telling the truth. No, the Australian media are criminal for telling us that we just need to accept that and get comfortable with the idea.

No. Absolutely not. This war cannot happen. Must not happen. We cannot go to war with a nuclear-armed country that also happens to be propping up our economy as our number one trading partner. We need to shred whatever alliances need to be shredded, enrage whatever powers we need to enrage, kick the US troops out of this country, get ourselves out of the Commonwealth while we’re at it, bring Assange home where he belongs, and become a real nation.

China Tells Taiwan President Not to Meet With US House Speaker as She Heads to US

China on Wednesday warned that it would respond if Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while she visits the US as part of a trip to Central America.

Tsai departed for her trip to Guatemala and Belize, two countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taipei. On the way there, Tsai will spend two days in New York, and on the way back, she will stop in Los Angeles on April 4 and 5, where she’s expected to meet with McCarthy.

Beijing views any official contact between Taiwan’s president and high-level US government officials as an affront to the one-China policy. In August 2022, China launched its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting the island.

Trump, no reverse gear. Ursula, de-risking China. Free Assange. Austria, walking out on Elensky.

The TikTok Hearing Was About Stoking a Cold War With China, Not Addressing Data Privacy

Members of Congress inveighing against online “harm”; a nervous tech executive defending his company’s policies; thinly veiled threats about regulatory changes. If you tuned into C-SPAN last Thursday, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the rerun of a pre-2022 hearing, when Democrats used their control of Congress to haul Facebook personnel before them to harangue. Almost, but not quite. Instead, this particular grilling was made possible by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and instead of Facebook, it was TikTok CEO Shou Chew in the firing line. And as a result, there’s now a US ban on TikTok being seriously discussed in the corridors of power.

Over five hours long, the hearing was at times a darkly hilarious reminder that the lawmakers most gung ho about clamping down on tech platforms are not exactly tech-savvy. ... It was refreshing to hear some lawmakers raise concerns to a tech executive about his company’s censorship policies and their unintended consequences, instead of pressuring him to do more of it. Even so, this line of questioning was not the norm, with committee members from both parties — even the GOP, who have attempted to rebrand as opponents of censorship (despite going into overdrive in pushing their own censorship measures) in recent years — pressing Chew, as per usual, to do more to remove “potentially harmful content” from the platform, whether misinformation and hate speech for the Democrats or the promotion of drugs for Republicans.

But given this is 2023, this was very much a showcase of hostility to China, with committee members mostly using the hearing to raise nonstop concerns about the dangerous implications of TikTok’s role as a medium of information and its collection of users’ data, given its relationship to Beijing. ... Even so, the hyperventilating underway in Washington over this is hard to take seriously for several reasons. It’s true that the world shouldn’t be sanguine about one extremely powerful government’s special level of influence over a globally popular tech platform or the surveillance implications that result. But this is the same argument that one can make about the United States and the various tech companies — Google, Facebook, Twitter, to name a few — headquartered there.

As the “Twitter Files” reporting and recent disclosures have shown, the US government has a shockingly intimate relationship with, and powerful influence over, tech platforms like these, guiding or even directly shaping their censorship policies, right down to what kind of content and which accounts are to be censored. This isn’t totally new: among the revelations of the Edward Snowden documents was that Washington uses social media to push what the National Security Agency (NSA) itself labeled “propaganda” and “deception.” Several recent major studies found that bots pushing US government–aligned messaging were vastly more active than those of US adversaries, even if we don’t hear about them as much. ...

But for Americans who were meant to watch Thursday’s hearing and come away feeling very, very afraid of the threat China poses to their personal safety, it’s worth remembering a far more important point: that people everywhere have more to fear from the spying their own governments and businesses do than from the surveillance that foreign adversaries do, however unsavory those other governments might be.

Even ChatGPT Knows The U.S. Provoked Russia To Invade Ukraine

Covering (Up) Antiwar Protest in US Media

In the early morning of March 20, 2003, US Navy bombers on aircraft carriers and Tomahawk missile-launching vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, along with Air Force B-52s in Britain and B-2s in Diego Garcia, struck Baghdad and other parts of Iraq in a “Shock and Awe” blitzkrieg to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and occupy that oil-rich country.

Twenty years on, the US news media, as is their habit with America’s wars, published stories looking back at that war and its history (, 3/22/23), most of them treading lightly around the rank illegality of the US attack, a war crime that was not approved by the UN Security Council, and was not a response to any imminent Iraqi threat to the US, as required by the UN Charter.

Oddly, none of those national media organizations’ editors saw as relevant or remotely newsworthy a groundbreaking protest rally and march outside the White House of at least 2,500–3,000 people on Saturday, March 18, 2023, called by a coalition of over 200 peace and anti-militarism organizations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

The Washington Post, like the rest of the national news media, failed to mention or even run a photo of the rally in Lafayette Park. It didn’t even cover the peaceful and spirited march from the front of the White House along Pennsylvania and New York avenues to the K Street Washington Post building to deliver several black coffins as a local story—despite the paper’s having a reporter whose beat is actually described by Post as being to “to cover protests and general assignments for the metro desk.” An email request to this reporter, Ellie Silverman, asking why this local protest in DC went unreported did not get a response.

The rally, organized by the ANSWER Coalition and sponsors such as Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Black Alliance for Peace and Radical Elders, drew “several thousand” antiwar, anti-military protesters, according to ANSWER Coalition national director Brian Becker. He said the demonstration’s endorsers were calling for peace negotiations and an end to US arms for Ukraine, major cuts in the US military budget, an end to the US policy of endless wars, and freedom for Julian Assange and Indigenous prisoner Leonard Peltier.

Becker said that the coalition had a media team that spent two weeks on phones and computers, reaching out to national and local media organizations, including in the seven or eight other cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, that held rallies on the same day. “Not a single member of the national press even showed up,” he said.

Two local Washington TV stations (CBS and ABC affiliates) did do brief stories on the rally and march, but Google and Nexis searches turned up not a single major mainstream national news report on the event, though it was the second, and significantly larger, antiwar demonstration in Washington in just four weeks, and the first by specifically left-wing peace and antiwar organizations. (The first rally, on February 19, called “Rage Against the War Machine,” organized primarily by libertarians and some left-wing opponents of the US proxy war with Russia, did get a mention in the conservative Washington Times (2/19/23) and promotion a day before the event by right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson (2/17/22).

“We talked to reporters and gave them details about our planning events during the two weeks before the march—the kinds of things that journalists years back used to like to attend to hear what the activists were saying and thinking, but nobody showed up from the media at those sessions,” says Becker. “I guess those who make the decisions about assignments and coverage didn’t want this event covered.”

FAIR founder Jeff Cohen noted a shift from the way peace demonstrations were covered in the 1960s. “Even a few hundred antiwar protesters at a local anti-Vietnam War march would get local news coverage,” he recalled:

We weren’t ignored, but every participant complained about the quality of the coverage that so often focused on the length of men’s hair, length of women’s skirts, usage of four-letter words, etc. and not substantive critique of war or US foreign policy. National protests in DC got significant national coverage, but not friendly coverage.

Cohen contrasted this with antiwar protests in recent decades, which have frequently been snubbed by media. “I think the ignoring of local and even national antiwar marches kicked in during the mid- and late 1980s around movements opposing US intervention in Central America,” he said.

Noam Chomsky (who knows from personal experience the sensation of being virtually blacklisted by corporate media) was a speaker at the March 18 event. Asked to explain this latest blackout of antiwar sentiment and opposition to military aid to Ukraine, he responded, “Par for the course.” He added, “Media rarely stray far from the basic framework imposed by systems of power, as FAIR has been effectively documenting for many years.”

Fortunately, alternative media, which have proliferated online, are filling in the hole in protest coverage, though of course readers and viewers have to seek out those sources of information. There was a news report on the march in Fightback News (3/23/23), for example, and commentary on the World Socialist Web Site (3/21/23) and Black Agenda Report (2/22/23).

Foreign coverage of the March 18 antiwar event in the US was substantial, which should embarrass editors at US news organizations. Some foreign coverage, considering that it appeared in state-owned or partially state-owned media, were surprisingly professional. Read, for example, the report by Xinhua (3/19/23), China’s government-owned news service, or one in Al Myadeen (3/18/23), the Lebanese satellite news service, which reportedly favors Syria and Hezbollah.

It’s rather disturbing to find such foreign news outfits, not just covering news that is being hidden from Americans by their own vaunted and supposedly “free” press, but doing it more straightforwardly than US corporate media often do when they actually report on protests against US government policy.

Efforts to get either the Washington Post or New York Times to explain their airbrushing out the March 18 antiwar protest in Washington were unsuccessful. (Both publications have eliminated their news ombud offices, citing “budget issues.”)

Fortunately Patrick Pexton, the last ombud at the Washington Post, who now teaches journalism at Johns Hopkins University, and writes on media, foreign and defense policy, and politics and society, offered this emailed observation about the March 18 demonstration blackout:

I confess that I am surprised no major national news organization covered it. I know that some people look down their noses at Code Pink and ANSWER Coalition, and journalists generally are supportive of the Ukraine War, but the demonstrators have a legitimate point of view, and my general personal rule is that anytime you get 1,000 people to turn out to protest something, you should at the very least do a local story about it. I don’t know what the Post rules are today.

The Macron Decree That Ignited France

Over 2 million people hit the streets across France on Tuesday, denouncing the controversial pension reforms pushed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government. The reforms were forcibly passed in the National Assembly on March 16 using Article 49.3 to bypass the parliamentary vote. The move has further weakened the legitimacy of the reforms, already detested by the majority of the French working class. While the government, headed by Macron and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, narrowly survived a no-confidence vote on March 20, the approval rating of the president has plummeted along with political good will for his neo-liberal Renaissance (RE) Party, as anger against the anti-worker pension reforms rages across the country. ...

Left-wing opposition groups are also gearing up toward a national referendum on the issue. The coalition of trade unions has called for larger mobilization and strikes on April 6 as well. The government has shown no leniency towards the protesters and unleashed security forces to quell them.

Meanwhile, legislators from the leftist coalition New Ecologic and Social Peoples Union (NUPES) are waiting for the Constitutional Council’s decision on their request for a Referendum of Shared Initiative (RIP) on the implementation of the pension reforms. The NUPES coalition — including the socialists from La France Insoumise (LFI), communists from the PCF, social democrats from the Socialist Party (PS), and the Greens — has the parliamentary strength required to initiate a referendum, and is also confident of collecting the officially required number of signatures — a 10th of the voters, or 4.87 million — within nine months to conduct the referendum.

Addressing the media on March 27, NUPES leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said, “the French and foreign press as well as a number of international institutions are well aware of what is happening in France,” adding that “this is more reminiscent of the workings of an authoritarian regime than that of a democracy with authority."

California police union executive charged with attempting to import opioids

The executive director of a US police union has been charged with attempting to illegally import a fentanyl analogue, and has been accused of using the police union’s office to communicate with her suppliers and mail the drugs.

Joanne Segovia, the executive director of the San Jose Police Officers Association in California, was charged with attempt to unlawfully import valeryl fentanyl, a variation of the powerful synthetic opioid, and faces up to 20 years in prison, the justice department said in a statement on Wednesday.

Between 2015 and 2023, Segovia allegedly used “her personal and office computers to order thousands of opioid and other pills to her home and agreed to distribute the drugs elsewhere in the United States”, the justice department said.

At least one package of drugs, in 2021, was sent using the UPS account of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, according to a photograph of the shipment, according to the criminal complaint against Segovia. ...

An archived version of the San Jose police union’s website from late last year said that Segovia, 64, had worked for the union since 2003, and that “she maintains control over financial and administrative matters associated with the SJPOA, as well as the SJPOA Charitable Foundation”. It also noted that she “works with Concerns of Police Survivors (Cops) in line of duty deaths”.

the horse race

Indicted: Trump Faces Criminal Charges in NY; Three Other Investigations Into Ex-President Continue

Donald Trump indicted by grand jury over hush money payment to Stormy Daniels

A grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump in New York, over a hush money payment made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

No former US president has ever been criminally indicted. The news is set to shake the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, in which Trump leads most polls.

“This evening we contacted Mr Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s Office for arraignment on a supreme court indictment, which remains under seal,” said a statement from Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s spokesperson. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

Trump will reportedly appear in court for his arraignment on Tuesday, according to the New York Times and CNN, where he will enter a plea on the charges.

It is unclear whether or not he will be handcuffed, because of his status, but he will be fingerprinted, photographed and processed for a felony arrest. His legal team is expected to vigorously fight the charges, and a timeline for a potential trial remains unclear.

Consequences Of Indicting Trump

So, a New York DA has charged Trump. There’s some posturing by DeSantis, but Trump will almost certainly go to New York and surrender. This is a watershed moment, no former President has ever been charged with a crime.

  • This is a political act. Many President have committed crimes and have not been charged.
  • It will lead to red state DAs indicting Democratic politicians with crimes to stop them from running or to damage them.
  • This is a worldwide trend. Lula in Brazil and Rahul Gandhi in India are other examples.
  • ...

    My judgment is that almost every powerful politician and every CEO of an important company has done things which are criminal acts: violations of red-letter law. But when you change a norm like this, it becomes open season and causes political instability. Politicians may be guilty, but they will be charged not based on whether they are guilty but based on political expedience.

    This is a further step towards America becoming ungovernable, and potentially a step towards a break-up of the Union, since red-state elites will be persecuted by blue state elites and vice-versa. With no norm of what laws elites are immune to, no member of the elite will feel safe. Either one side or the other must win and set a new norm, or the country must divide.

    In Chicago Mayoral Race, Plutocrats Spend Big Against New Taxes

    In the final stretch of Chicago’s closely watched mayoral race, candidate Paul Vallas is attacking his progressive opponent’s plan to fund public schools and infrastructure by taxing the wealthy — including a tax on financial trading that would hit some of Vallas’ top campaign donors.

    The revenue plan proposed by Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson includes what he calls a “Big Banks Securities and Speculation Tax,” which would levy a $1 or $2 charge on most trades. Johnson’s campaign estimates this financial transaction tax could raise as much as $100 million annually for the city.

    Vallas opposed Johnson’s tax plan during a debate last week, arguing that raising taxes “is the absolute wrong approach to take,” and that Chicago’s next mayor should instead focus on reducing spending.

    Johnson’s tax proposal would hit financial firms that profit from speculative trades, often conducted at the millisecond level. Executives at six such firms have contributed $1.6 million to Vallas' bid, according to a Lever review of campaign finance records. That’s nearly 10 percent of Vallas’ total mayoral fundraising haul.

    the evening greens

    A rare parasite is killing California sea otters – is cat poop runoff to blame?

    Scientist Melissa Miller was seeing something in California sea otters that she had not seen before: an unusually severe form of toxoplasmosis, which officials have confirmed has killed at least four of the animals.

    “We wanted to get the word out. We’re seeing something we haven’t seen before, we want people to know about it and we want people working on marine mammals to be aware of these weird findings,” said Miller, a wildlife veterinarian specialist with the California department of fish and wildlife (DFW). “Take extra precautions.”

    Last week, a study from the DFW and the University of California, Davis, revealed that a rare strain of the parasite, never before reported in aquatic animals, was tied to the deaths of four sea otters. The strain, first seen in Canadian mountain lions in 1995, had not been previously detected on the California coast.

    “This was a complete surprise,” Karen Shapiro, with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “The COUG [toxoplasma strain] genotype has never before been described in sea otters, nor anywhere in the California coastal environment or in any other aquatic mammal or bird.”

    The extent of the risk to California’s sea otters is not yet clear, but the parasite is concerning, the authors of the study said, due to the effects it could have on the population of the threatened species as well as the risk to other animals. It could pose a public health risk if it contaminates the environment and marine food chain, according to an announcement from UC Davis. The parasite can also infect humans.

    Residents evacuated after train carrying ethanol derails in Minnesota

    A train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire in Minnesota early on Thursday and nearby residents were ordered to evacuate their homes, authorities said. ... BNSF said 22 cars derailed in Minnesota but no injuries were reported. Environmental Protection Agency officials said four ethanol cars ruptured and caught fire and continued to burn shortly before 10am on Thursday.

    “The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available,” said a statement from a BNSF spokesperson, Lena Kent. “The cause of the incident is under investigation.”

    Homes in a half-mile area around the site were evacuated, Tollefson said, and residents were taken to a shelter in Prinsburg.

    The US transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, told CNN about 14 cars were carrying hazardous materials. BNSF said the only hazardous material on board was ethanol. “We’ve been in touch with the governor,” Buttigieg said, adding that EPA officials were en route to the site “given the hazardous material situation”. The EPA started monitoring the air around the derailment for toxic chemicals by 6.30am.

    Also of Interest

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

    Patrick Lawrence: French Streets and American Sofas

    Uganda LGBTQ Law Obscures Crimes Committed on Behalf of the U.S.

    Congress Sweats the Small Stuff as Four Wall Street Mega Banks Have a Combined $3.3 Trillion in Uninsured Deposits

    Tyrannosaurus rex had lips over its teeth, research suggests

    France's CGT union elects first woman as chief amid protests

    Matt Taibbi Shares He's LEFT Democratic Party

    A Little Night Music

    Mighty Joe Young - Just A Minute

    Mighty Joe Young - Turning Point

    Mighty Joe Young ~ Somebody Loan Me A Dime

    Mighty Joe Young - Drivin' Wheel

    Mighty Joe Young ~ Lookin' For You

    Mighty Joe Young ~ Big Talk

    Mighty Joe Young - Teasin' the Blues

    Mighty Joe Young - Early In The Morning

    Mighty Joe Young - Why Baby

    Mighty Joe Young - Live At The Wise Fools Pub

    13 users have voted.


    snoopydawg's picture

    I admit that I have been avoiding reading very much about this, but from what I’ve seen it’s nothing that I think we should create because so many people are seeing a negative side to it.

    The Unrecognized Threat of Human Augmentation

    The Technology is Real

    All of the tech necessary to reduce mankind to a state of absolute, irreversible technological slavery is being actively researched and there are numerous published papers on it, many of them in open-access journals.

    By conducting searches with various keywords, like Internet of Bodies, Internet of Bio-Nano Things, intra-body nano-networks, Smart Cities, nanotransducer BCIs, biodigital convergence, synthetic biology, bionanotechnology, and so on, you will pull up paper after paper of literal mad science. Implantable tracking devices, methods to manipulate the membrane potentials of cells remotely, ways to self-assemble logic circuits and molecular Turing machines inside people’s bodies, and so on. These are not mere hypotheticals or flights of fancy. Test articles have been engineered and experiments have been conducted, with success.

    Let’s take some of the papers ChatGPT dug up, for example.

    Musk and Jobs have agreed to stop working on making humans into something they are not. Musk has been experimenting with implanting chips into monkey’s brains so he can find a way to do it to humans. Rumors are that he has killed thousands of them and is nowhere close to making it work.

    7 users have voted.

    I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun whilst heading towards a cliff.

    joe shikspack's picture


    heh, chatgpt really doesn't interest me, except in the effect that it will have on society. i have no want or need for chatgpt, i can do my own research and the obvious vulnerability chatgpt and other services like it have to manipulation make it less than useless to me.

    9 users have voted.

    to steer us away from more serious damages done and doing.
    Add in the fear factor, and it's just another ingredient in the stew.
    Perhaps indicative of things to come? Maybe, if you want to put the
    pieces together. What to do? Ignorance is my best defense.

    8 users have voted.
    joe shikspack's picture


    heh, what people do with actual intelligence is trouble enough without adding the enhancements of artificial intelligence. it appears to me that every advance of science in our culture is adapted either towards the amoral pursuit of profit or killing people, this advance will be no different since it will be at the service of the sociopaths that run our society.

    9 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack

    the cognizant reticent

    please mista, mista please - don't make me think

    8 users have voted.

    My take is that it shows that the US in retaining its global hegemony uses Australia as a mere pawn just like it did to Germany regardless to the internal consequences of the countries.

    As an aside this makes sense when you think about it.

    8 users have voted.
    joe shikspack's picture


    as the war criminal henry the k put it:

    “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”

    -- Henry Kissinger

    8 users have voted.

    Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Belarusian Democratic Leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya today in Washington, D.C. In advance of Belarus Freedom Day on March 25, the Deputy Secretary expressed the United States’ continuing commitment to supporting the Belarusian people’s pursuit of a democratic, sovereign, and stable future for Belarus.

    Deputy Secretary Sherman also shared with Ms. Tsikhanouskaya the United States’ intent to launch a comprehensive Strategic Dialogue with the Belarusian democratic movement and civil society beginning in late 2023.

    Russian strategic nuclear weapons might be deployed in Belarus along with part of Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that his country intended to deploy tactical, comparatively short-range and small-yield nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus.

    The strategic nuclear weapons such as missile-borne warheads that Lukashenko mentioned during his state-of-the-nation address would pose an even greater threat, if Moscow moved them to the territory of its ally.

    Both Lukashenko and Putin have alleged that Western powers want to ruin Russia and Belarus.

    “Putin and I will decide and introduce here, if necessary, strategic weapons, and they must understand this, the scoundrels abroad, who today are trying to blow us up from inside and outside,” the Belarusian leader in an hours-long televised address to the nation. “We will stop at nothing to protect our countries, our state and their peoples.”

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    snoopydawg's picture

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    I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun whilst heading towards a cliff.


    National Weather Service

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    joe shikspack's picture


    those are both pretty large and nasty looking. eek!

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    joe shikspack's picture


    she's absolutely right.

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    I am both shocked and dismayed.
    Macron is gonna pay a price sooner or later, at least that is my fervent hope.
    Thanks for all you do, joe!

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

    joe shikspack's picture

    @on the cusp

    heh, i post stories like that one to remind people that law enforcement is a joke, the only reason that it exists is to keep the little people subjugated.

    yep, one would hope that macron is headed for a major spanking, delivered with joy by the french people.

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    Cyrus Janssen's latest video on China's innovation starts out with the ASPI report on the subject. I don't have time to read it right now, so I'll just post his video, which takes a positive view toward the development (no pun intended). Generally, I don't like ASPI because it's a war mongering anti-China rag, but if you can get through that part, I think it's worthwhile to hear Cyrus' take on the subject-

    Below is the reaction in "Breaking Defense" to the ASPI report, which I really think the ASPI report is designed to elicit for the war industry:

    China outpacing US in critical tech research ‘should be a wake up call’: report
    In a new report, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says China is outpacing the US in 37 out of 44 critical technology research areas.

    “It’s important to emphasise that research excellence isn’t a tap that can be turned on or off at will,” the report says. “Substantial time is needed to establish and develop research excellence to the point where the research is the best in the world, in terms of being highly innovative and genuinely breaking new ground. Similarly, decades of investment can be destroyed by turning off funding in response to short-term pressures.”

    In one of the recommendations, ASPI urges Five Eyes partners and Japan to build a dedicated China technology collection and analysis center that will “pool resources, maximise information sharing and promote innovation in selected critical technology areas.”

    “Starting the initiative by building up new multi-government open-source capabilities also offers governments the space and opportunity to deepen collaboration with partners in a more unclassified environment in which lessons learned, tradecraft and innovations (such as research and big-data practices) can be shared before pulling in classified programs of work into the centre,” according to the report.

    The way I interpret this is somewhat comical in a tragic turn of perspective. The Breaking Defense author seems to be calling on the US and its allies to spy on China and steal their new technologies. I thought this is what our media tell us the Chinese are doing or have done, and that its wrong and not consistent with the "rules based order." I think the real problem here is that someone else's advances can't be viewed positively and have to be considered a national security threat.

    As for myself with regard to innovation, I'm a dinosaur, and I'm not adapting well as I age. My late model Korean made van, has so many bells and whistles on it, I can't be bothered to read the 80 plus page manual, which is poorly written. So the van does things from time to time that puzzle me and interfere with simple functions like shutting off the electrical system or trying to avoid road hazards. But that's another subject. I read an article the other day that the "tow package" has a circuit in it, that is a fire hazard when it gets wet. The van actually loads data from your phone into the auto's computer system. I haven't allowed it to do that yet but my wife did and her spam messages went way up.

    And no, I don't want to "do it online." Nor do I want to upload your f...g ap.

    I didn't see Japan on that rank of innovation/change among the other countries. Maybe I missed it.

    Thanks JS for the open thread.

    Did the ChatGPT leave the Panama invasion off the list? There was an observation at the time, that the invasion of Grenada, the Panama invasion, and the first Iraq War represented a deliberate escalating design by the US to shake off the so called "Vietnam War hangover," (reticence to start another war) and to normalize military adventurism abroad, by showing that US invasions could be "successful" again.

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