The Evening Blues - 5-30-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features harmonica legend Sonny Terry. Enjoy!
Brownie McGhee And Sonny Terry With Earl Hooker – Poor Man Blues
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
-- James Madison
News and Opinion
Just click and read the whole thing:
The FBI, before the release of Taibbi’s Twitter thread on Dec. 24, had denounced the Twitter Files as the work of “conspiracy theorists” who fed the public “misinformation” and whose “sole purpose” was “discrediting the agency.” ... “They must think us unambitious, if our ‘sole aim’ is to discredit the FBI,” Taibbi responded. “After all, a whole range of government agencies discredit themselves in the Twitter Files. Why stop with one?”
Taibbi was acutely aware these Christmas Eve revelations, which for the first time revealed the role of the CIA, would further enrage the intelligence agencies. “My understanding is that the FITF has a staff of at least 80,” Taibbi said. “It consists primarily of the FBI, but it also includes people from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The FITF was the conduit for content moderation requests that went to the tech platforms. They had something called an industry meeting which was, at first monthly and then weekly, leading into the 2020 election. It included companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikimedia, a series of others, about two dozen of them. They would have a general briefing on trends. Individually, each of the companies were receiving notices. Some of them were receiving weekly notices from the FITF. Twitter was. We know that because there were very specific instructions about how it was done. Requests that came from the states went through the DHS. Requests that came from the Federal Government went through the FBI. They went through a program called Teleporter. That’s how we got those documents.”
In March, Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger were called to testify before the Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government. While Taibbi was testifying on March 9, an IRS agent visited his house in New Jersey. ...
There are three steps to destroying a reporter who can’t be bought off or intimidated. The first is a campaign by the powerful, whose lies and crimes have been exposed, along with their obsequious courtiers in the press, to discredit the reporting. The second is a sustained campaign of character assassination. The third is persecution carried out once the reporter’s credibility has been weakened, his or her ability to publish or broadcast is degraded and public support has eroded. This is what happened to Julian Assange. It happened before Assange to Don Hollenbeck, I.F. Stone, Gary Webb, Ray Bonner and many others. It is what is happening to Taibbi whose revelations of widespread censorship — by the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security and other intelligence and government agencies — have enraged the ruling class.
I don’t know if they will win. Let us hope not. But the deafening silence by nearly all press outlets to what they are doing to Taibbi, as is true for Assange, is ominous and self-defeating. It sends a signal to those who attempt to report about the inner workings of power that no matter how well known you are or how high a profile you have, you too will be targeted. The concerted attacks on Taibbi are an example of how the walls are steadily closing in to impose an iron conformity, one more piece of our emergent corporate totalitarianism. ...
A discredited ruling class, which has disemboweled the nation for its corporate masters and whose primary mission is the perpetuation of permanent war, has no intention of carrying out reform. It will not permit an exchange of ideas or allow its critics a platform. It knows it is hated. It fears the rise of the neofascists its dysfunction and corruption have spawned. It seeks to perpetuate itself only through fear —— fear of what will replace it. That is all it has to offer a demoralized citizenry. Constitutional guarantees of free speech and the right to privacy are noisome impediments to its tenuous grip on power. These constitutional rights have been effectively abolished. What the Twitter Files revealed is massive government blacklists and the craven acquiescence of media platforms to marginalize and ban individuals and groups on these blacklists. Taibbi, not surprisingly, is being targeted by the totalitarian machinery he exposed.
Well it’s that time again. Time for everyone to spend a year and a half pouring mountains of mental energy into arguing about who should be the next President of the United States of America.
Friendships will be shattered. Family dinners will be ruined. Social media activists will lose themselves in weeks-long flame wars. And, when all is said and done, the person sworn into office on January 2024 will oversee an administration which governs in more or less the same way as their predecessors.
As Tom Woods put it, no matter who you vote for, you get John McCain.
I’m writing this article now because I’m already getting a bunch of questions about this election and who I think is best and worst and why, and I know I’m going to get a whole lot more. Many Americans get so swept up in this thing it often looks odd to them seeing someone talking about their government without talking about the presidential race when it’s in season.
So to be perfectly clear I will not be supporting or cheerleading any candidate in this election. Not because I don’t think Australians have a right to involve themselves in US politics (we absolutely do), but because US presidential elections are a performance designed to trick Americans into thinking they have any meaningful control over the major decisions that will be made by their government. They’re the unplugged video game controller you give your baby brother so you can stop him from whining to play without actually letting him.
I am not saying not to vote. By all means vote if you want to; it gets you out of the house, gives you something to talk about, plus you get to have a sausage (I’m assuming Americans also get sausages at their voting sites).
And vote for whomever you please. Vote for Biden. Vote for Ronald DeSantrump. Write in Warwick Davis, star of the 1988 cult classic fantasy film Willow. Write in a pod of laundry detergent. It will make the exact same amount of difference to the large-scale operations of the US government.
So on election day, please do as you wish. How often to you get to make a decision that’s completely free of any consequences of any kind? Whoever you vote for or don’t vote for, you can sleep free and easy knowing that it made no difference to anything at all. Like eating a single cucumber slice with no dressing.
This is because the US presidency is too important to be left in the hands of the electorate. If you live in a western “democracy” and you want a road fixed or a school bus route changed, then you might find some recourse in electoral politics if you are lucky. But the position that is officially responsible for overseeing the operation of a globe-spanning empire is not something that you will ever be permitted to vote on. There’s just too much power riding on it.
That’s why any third party or primary candidates who might pose a challenge to the machine will never be permitted to get to the general election. If they look like they might put a wobble on things they’ll be demonized, marginalized, and otherwise pushed off course.
Only those trusted by the empire will be allowed to cross the velvet rope by the imperial bouncers — and yes I’m sorry Trumpers but this includes your guy; he’d never have made it through if he wasn’t trusted, and indeed he spent his entire term advancing longstanding empire agendas.
Only those willing to sign off on all the murderous, tyrannical things that need to be done to keep a globe-spanning empire on the top of the world order get to be president. They don’t really need to have any other qualities than that: a willingness to either actively facilitate the empire’s interests or passively allow the empire managers to do what they need to do.
The fact that a literal dementia patient sits in the White House currently is all the proof you could possibly need that this is the case. All that’s required of a US president is to not get in the way while the empire managers do their thing. A bottle of kombucha could do Biden’s job, and do it just as well.
The truth of the matter is that you can’t vote your way out of a mess you never voted your way into in the first place. You never voted for any of this.
You never voted for your government to circle the planet with hundreds of military bases and continuously work to destroy any government which disobeys it.
You never voted for your government to imperil the world with rapidly escalating brinkmanship against nuclear-armed nations.
You never voted to base your entire civilization on the pursuit of profit while shoving your biosphere into the capitalist machine like a tree branch into a wood chipper.
You never voted to let plutocrats and war profiteers make decisions for your government while normal people suffer and toil to scrape by.
You never voted to let billionaires live as kings while homeless people shiver in tents.
You never voted for surging authoritarianism with more and more police militarization, surveillance, censorship, propaganda and control.
You never voted to create this freakish dystopia where all political oxygen gets funneled toward vapid culture war debates which threaten the powerful in no way while any effort to effect meaningful change is ground into the dust.
None of those things were ever on the ballot, and they won’t be in November of next year either. What will be on the ballot is whether you want all of those things to continue under the office of someone with a D or an R next to their name.
This doesn’t mean there’s nothing anyone can do to make things better, it just means nothing will be made meaningfully better by the results of the US presidential election. If a building is on fire and everyone’s pushing on a fake door that’s painted on the wall, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to escape the building, but it does mean they need to stop pushing on the fake door and start looking for real exits if they’re going to get out.
Fresh off the Guardian propaganda catapult, the rest of the article is crap:
Moscow and its outskirts came under attack by drones, just as Russia launched another deadly wave of airstrikes on Kyiv.
The defence ministry, which blamed the drone attack on Ukraine, said eight drones targeted the city overnight – but Russian media close to the security services wrote that the number was many times higher, with more than 25 drones participating in the attack.
One Russian official said at least two drones were shot over Rublyovka, an area that also houses Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo state residence. ...
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, said Putin had no immediate plans to address the country and claimed there was “no imminent threat to residents of Moscow and the Moscow region either”. Later on Tuesday, the Russian president praised Moscow’s air defence.
Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) over his comments about Russians dying in Ukraine and calling US spending on the proxy war with Russia the “best money we’ve ever spent.” ...
Graham made the comments while meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. Zelensky’s office released a video that showed Graham saying, “Russians are dying,” that then cut to him saying it’s “the best money we’ve ever spent.”
After the comments caused outrage in Russia, Ukraine released the full video that showed Graham and Zelensky discussing other things in between the quotes. Graham called US funding of the war the “best money we’ve ever spent” after Zelensky thanked the US for providing $38 billion in military aid.
But Graham’s satisfaction over the fact that Russians are dying is still provocative, and he has made extremely hawkish comments throughout the war, including calling for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
South Africa has issued blanket diplomatic immunity to all leaders attending an August summit, meaning Vladimir Putin might be able to travel to Johannesburg and not fear the country acting on an international criminal court warrant for his arrest.
South African officials insisted the broad offer of immunity, issued in a government gazette, may not trump the ICC arrest warrant. As an ICC member, South Africa would be under pressure, and possibly under a legal requirement, to arrest Putin. The court issued a warrant for his arrest in March over the alleged forcible deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.
South Africa is hosting a summit of the Brics group: Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, in August. A two-day planning meeting of foreign ministers is due to take place this Thursday.
“This is a standard conferment of immunities that we do for all international conferences and summits held in South Africa, irrespective of the level of participation,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. “The immunities are for the conference and not for specific individuals. They are meant to protect the conference and its attendees from the jurisdiction of the host country for the duration of the conference.” ...
It is not clear yet if Putin would be willing to save South Africa from the diplomatic dilemma by not attending in person. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia would take part at the “proper level”. The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is already slated to attend the planning meeting.
US political leaders appeared bullish on Monday that they can sell a bipartisan compromise debt ceiling deal to enough mainstream lawmakers – overcoming boisterous criticism from left and right – urgently enough to avert a first-ever national default on the $31.4tn the US owes creditors. ...
But the deal, agreed by the Democratic president and the Republican House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, at the weekend after weeks of tense, stop-start negotiations, has left some in Washington questioning if they had received enough concessions.
The 99-page bill needs their support at a crucial vote on Wednesday in the House of Representatives and, later in the week or even into the weekend, in the US Senate to then be signed by Biden and avoid a payments default as soon as next Monday.
But on Sunday when Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was asked if the White House should worry about support for the deal by progressives, she told CNN: “Yes, they have to worry.” ... Rightwing conservatives also hit out at the overall deal. A “turd sandwich”, the Texas Republican Chip Roy called the deal, while North Carolina’s Dan Bishop tweeted a green vomit emoji. ...
The proposed legislation bill limits non-defense spending, temporarily expands work requirements for some food stamp recipients, and claws back some Covid-19 relief funds. It also cuts $20bn off $80bn in new IRS spending designed to curb tax avoidance.
The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans that was announced Sunday caps military spending at $886 billion for 2024, matching President Biden’s requested budget.
Republicans negotiating the debt ceiling deal only sought non-military spending cuts. The $886 billion cap for military spending represents about a 3.3% increase from 2023.
The US supreme court is gearing itself up for the final nail-biting month of its 2022-3 term in which it will deliver decisions that could transform critical areas of public life, from affirmative action in colleges to voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality and the future of Native American tribes.
As the court enters the traditional June climax to its judicial year, it is already being battered by ethics scandals and plummeting public confidence. Yet over the next four weeks the six rightwing justices who command a supermajority on the nine-seat bench are still expected to push at the limits of constitutional law in the pursuit of their ideological goals. ...
Top of the pile of decisions being awaited with bated breath relates to the pair of challenges to the race-conscious admissions policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Should the supermajority strike down affirmative action it would overturn 50 years of established practice – a chilling echo of its evisceration of half a century of settled law on abortion. ...
Despite the court’s shaky hold on public opinion, the conservatives show no sign of letting up. A taste of what may be to come was given last week when, for the second time in a year, the rightwing justices delivered a blow to the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to combat pollution....
Brackeen v Haaland reviews whether Native American children can be forcibly removed from their families by child welfare agencies and placed in non-Native homes. That practice has a long, dark history in the US of being used to sap the strength of tribes.
In any other court, Moore v Harper would stand out as a blockbuster, though this June it seems just one among many such cases. It will test the debunked “independent state legislature theory” that has become a rallying cry for radical Republicans who believe that it gives state lawmakers almost total control over electoral maps and administration – including in federal elections.
Rock “flour” produced by the grinding under Greenland’s glaciers can trap climate-heating carbon dioxide when spread on farm fields, research has shown for the first time. Natural chemical reactions break down the rock powder and lead to CO2 from the air being fixed in new carbonate minerals. Scientists believe measures to speed up the process, called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), have global potential and could remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to prevent extreme global heating.
Soil fertility naturally depends on rock weathering to provide essential nutrients, so enhancing the process delivers an extra benefit. Spreading the Greenland rock flour on fields in Denmark, including those growing barley for the Carlsberg brewery, significantly increased yields.
Greenland’s giant ice sheet produces 1bn tonnes a year of rock flour, which flows as mud from under the glaciers. This means the potential supply of rock flour is essentially unlimited, the researchers said, and removing some would have very little effect on the local environment. ...
“If you want something to have a global impact, it has to be very simple,” said Prof Minik Rosing at the University of Copenhagen, who was part of the research team. “You can’t have very sophisticated things with all kinds of hi-tech components. So the simpler the better, and nothing is simpler than mud.” He added: “Above all this is a scalable solution. Rock flour has been piling up in Greenland for the past 8,000 years or so. The whole Earth’s agricultural areas could be covered with this, if you wished.”
Officials and climate experts in Nova Scotia, Canada on Tuesday pointed to numerous climate-related factors that have contributed to the wildfires that are raging in the province this week, forcing the evacuation of more than 16,000 people and destroying roughly 200 homes and other structures.
The Tantallon fire in the Halifax area and the Barrington Lake fire in the southwestern county of Shelburne have burned through a combined 25,000 acres in the Maritime province, which, as one firefighter told the Canadian newspaper SaltWire, has historically been far less likely to experience such blazes than landlocked western provinces.
"This the worst fire I've ever been on," volunteer firefighter Capt. Brett Tetanish toldSaltWire. "I've been on other large fires in Nova Scotia, Porters Lake, we lost structures there, but you don't see fires like this in Nova Scotia. You see these in Alberta." ...
Halfway through 2023, Nova Scotia has already experienced more wildfires than it did in all of 2022, according to the National Observer.
Karen McKendry, a wilderness outreach coordinator at the Ecology Action Center in Nova Scotia's capital, Halifax, told the Observer the province has experienced hotter dryer weather than normal this spring, making it easier for fires to spread.
"People haven't always, on a national scale, been thinking about Nova Scotia and wildfires," McKendry said. "What dominates the consciousness, rightly so in Canada, is what's happening out West. But with a warming climate and some drier seasons, this is going to become more common in Nova Scotia. So more fires, more widespread fires, more destructive fires from a human perspective as well."
The province's Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR) also warned last Friday that the wildfires were taking hold in the region less than a year after Hurricane Fiona downed what Premier Tim Houston called a "significant" number of trees across Nova Scotia.
"Fires in areas where Hurricane Fiona downed trees have the potential to move faster and burn more intensely, making them potentially more difficult to contain and control," said the DNRR. "At this time, needles, twigs, leaves, etc., support fire ignition and spread. With high winds, the spread can be rapid and intense."
Scientists last year linked warming oceans, fueled by the continued extraction of fossil fuels and emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases, to Fiona's destruction in Eastern Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Monday that the situation in Nova Scotia is "incredibly serious," prompting Saman Tabasinejad, acting executive director of Progress Toronto, to point to Trudeau's support for fossil fuel projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
"This would be a great time to end fossil fuel subsidies and invest in a Green New Deal!" Tabasinejad said on Twitter.
More than 200 crews have been sent by government agencies from across the province, and Nova Scotia officials said Tuesday that both the Tantallon and Barrington Lake fires were still "out of control" two days after they began and were "rapidly moving."
Halifax Fire and the DNRR are investigating the cause of the fires.
McKendry pointed out that a number of anti-conservation activities may be linked to increased wildfires.
Roads being built "deep into our forests" have allowed more people opportunities to accidentally set fires, while the government has been "emptying our urban areas of wetlands," making it easier for blazes to spread widely.
"Do not delude yourself into thinking this is a one-off," journalist John Vaillant toldSaltWire on Monday. "The world is more flammable than it has ever been."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Tryin' To Win
Sonny Terry, Johnny Winter - I Think I Got The Blues
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Walkin' My Blues Away
Brownie McGhee And Sonny Terry With Earl Hooker – Tell Me Why
Sonny Terry, Johnny Winter - Sonny's Whoopin' The Doop
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - You Bring Out The Boogie In Me
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry – Backdoor Sunshine
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Sonny's Thing
Brownie McGhee And Sonny Terry With Earl Hooker – Black Cat Bone
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry – Find My Way Home (Walk On)