The Evening Blues - 6-2-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues rock guitarist Elvin Bishop. Enjoy!
Elvin Bishop - Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby
"A unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism. That now seems to me undeniable."
-- Craig Murray
News and Opinion
There is nobody in government on the side of the common person (not that it's a big surprise) ...
The US supreme court on Thursday made it easier for employers to pursue lawsuits against striking workers, in a decision seen as a setback to labor unions. The opinion, written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett and backed by not just conservative colleagues but all except one on the nine-member bench, sided with a concrete business in Washington state that sued the union representing its truck drivers after a work stoppage.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, the bench’s most recently confirmed associate member, was the lone dissenter, noting “today the court falters”.
The decision in the case of Glacier Northwest Inc against a local affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters overturned a lower court’s ruling in the union’s favor. Glacier had accused the union of intentional property destruction during a 2017 strike when a group of drivers went on strike on a day when their mixing trucks were filled with concrete for delivery to customers. The company had been forced to discard the unused product at a financial loss. If the concrete is left in the trucks to harden, the vehicles can sustain serious damage.
The supreme court overruled the Washington state supreme court ruling that the loss was incidental to a strike that could be considered arguably protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
, Reuters reports. The decision allows Glacier’s lawsuit to proceed.
But, of course!
The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans places no constraints on spending on the war in Ukraine, a White House official told Bloomberg.
The $113 billion that has been authorized to spend on the war in Ukraine so far was passed as supplemental emergency funds, which is exempt from the spending caps that are part of the debt ceiling deal.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, funding “designated as an emergency requirement or for overseas contingency operations would not be constrained, and certain other funding would not be subject to the caps.” The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025.
Hawks in Congress are looking to use emergency spending to increase the $886 billion military budget that was agreed to as part of the deal. The emergency funds could go beyond Ukraine and might be used to send weapons to Taiwan or for other spending that hawks favor as part of their strategy against China.
The commander of the Czech Republic’s armed forces said the North Atlantic alliance and Russia are on the path to a direct war. The general described the potential war as the “worst-case scenario” but emphasized that it remains a distinct possibility.
General Karel Rehka, the chief of the Czech armed forces general staff, told his country’s parliament on Monday about the potentiality of a war between NATO and Russia. “No one wants it at all, but it is not impossible. It is necessary to stop saying that this is not possible, because it is simply possible. It can happen and it is necessary to prepare for it in the long run,” he said. ...
While high-ranking officials in NATO nations say they hope to avoid a direct conflict with Russia, those nations continue to cross redlines set by Moscow. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recently asserted that Kiev could use arms it receives from Washington to attack the Crimean Peninsula. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously acknowledged that targeting Crimea was a “red line” for the Kremlin.
Embassy slams remark by UK’s top diplomat as encouraging Kiev to attack Russia
The recent remark by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly who said Ukraine had the right to attack targets inside Russia may encourage Kiev to carry out more terrorist acts in Russia, the Russian embassy to the United Kingdom said in a comment on Wednesday.
"The hostile statements by Britain’s top `diplomat’ cannot be viewed as anything but an attempt to encourage the Kiev regime to carry out more attacks on civilian facilities and our civilians," the embassy said. "Apparently, from their windows, the Foreign Office - or Estonia - sees residential blocks in Moscow as `legitimate military targets’," the embassy lamented. "We assume that such statements should mean that Cleverly himself is ready to take responsibility for the damage and suffering caused to the Russians as well as for the extremely dangerous escalation of the conflict," it added.
NATO is unlikely to vote to admit Ukraine as a member when the alliance summit convenes in July, but it ought to offer the beleaguered country “concrete and tangible security guarantees,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.
“I'm not sure we will have a consensus…for full-fledged membership. Let's be clear,” Macron, who just weeks ago declared France’s support for Ukraine’s path to membership, conceded at the GLOBSEC Security Forum here.
But he said that NATO should work instead to cement a more modest guarantee of support.
“I think we have to build something between the security provided to Israel and a full fledged membership,” he said. “I think we need to talk concrete and tangible security guarantees.”
Revisiting his 2019 comments that NATO was essentially “brain dead, Macron said the alliance had been revived by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though some members are still not as awake to the threat as they need to be.
2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has once again blasted the United States government for lying to the public and to the world about Ukraine, while calling out the Military Industrial Complex in particular. It's not the first time. Earlier this month an avalanche of mainstream media headlines condemned his take when he told UnHerd the following: "We should have listened to Putin over many years. We made a commitment to Russia, to Gorbachev, that we would not move NATO one inch to the east. Then we went in, and we lied."
More recent speaking engagements wherein he utters unpopular truths on Ukraine have gone viral this week. In one of them, he tells an audience at a campaign event, "Our government is lying to us about it. The media is going on with the lie…It’s a laundering operation for the Military Industrial Complex." ...
Interestingly, he said that while many Americans are moved by compassion for the Ukrainian people, including his son who actually early on went to fight within Ukraine's foreign legion, Washington has been deceptive in selling Americans on the billions in defense aid poured into the conflict.
"We were told that the reason we were going over there is because it was a humanitarian mission," RFK Jr said. "But then every choice that we made along the way, that's been about prolonging the war and increasing the bloodshed, and refusing to negotiate. If it was a humanitarian mission we would want to terminate the war, to shorten it, and to reduce the amount of bloodshed," he continued.
He then talked about the "real reason" for escalation of the conflict seen in the rhetoric of Biden and some of his top officials as including regime change against Vladimir Putin, as well as weakening and exhausting Russia's military in order to prevent its effectiveness in future conflicts elsewhere in the world. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has long been on record as saying this is about 'weakening' Russia.
Below is an April speech that included similar statements by Robert F. Kennedy Jr...
BREAKING: Here is the full UNEDITED clip of RFK Jr on Ukraine pic.twitter.com/VJy2VI3C2r
— Jack Poso (@JackPosobiec) May 30, 2023
The Senate began voting Thursday evening on the debt ceiling bill that passed the House a day earlier, with the US creeping closer to the 5 June deadline to avert a potentially disastrous federal default.
Senators plan to hold a series of votes on amendments to the debt ceiling bill, all of which are expected to fail. Once that vote series is complete, the Senate will then move on to the final passage of the bill.
The Senate majority leader, the New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, vowed that the upper chamber would “stay in session until we send a bill avoiding default to President Biden’s desk”.
The House of Representatives voted 314 - 117 last night to approve a debt deal that includes provisions expediting construction of a controversial fossil fuel pipeline — and attempting to block courts from hearing challenges to its legality.
The language nestled into the agreement reached by the Biden administration and congressional Republicans last weekend came amid a flood of campaign cash from executives at NextEra Energy, one of the companies spearheading the pipeline, to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ind.-Ariz.) and two other Democratic senators whose votes could be needed to pass the agreement.
The bill now advances to the Senate. Not only does it mandate approval of a major gas pipeline, it also omits proposals to expedite construction of transmission lines that energy grid experts say are necessary to transition the country off fossil fuels.
The pipeline measure is part of the nearly 100-page legislation to raise the debt ceiling and keep the country from defaulting on its payments. This package — which also includes cuts to the IRS budget, the resumption of student loan payments, and new work requirements for social safety net programs — is serving as a vehicle to push through the pipeline and energy permitting fast-tracking measures championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y).
Sinema was reportedly involved in negotiating the debt ceiling bill’s permitting language, which will expedite federal agency reviews of energy infrastructure projects, limiting the window for project opponents to bring legal challenges under keystone environmental laws.
'Behavior of a Fascist Police State': Legal Aid Organizers Arrested After Backing Cop City Protesters
Rights advocates warned Wednesday that the arrests of three board members of an Atlanta-based bail fund could mark the beginning of a new era in the United States' treatment of peaceful protesters—one in which both demonstrators and those who support them are targeted by law enforcement.
Under the direction of the Republican state attorney general, Christopher Carr, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department carried out the arrests of Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Maclean of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF).
The group offers financial support to people who have been arrested for protesting, including the dozens of people who have been detained for resisting the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known by critics as Cop City—a $90 million police training facility that would take up 85 acres of publicly-owned forest.
The three board members were charged with money laundering and charity fraud, leading state Rep. Saira Draper (D-90) to question the state's use of SWAT teams and helicopters to conduct the raid in a residential neighborhood.
"Peaceful protest is as American as apple pie," said Draper. "Using heavy handed tactics to suppress peaceful protest is shameful."
Writer and historian William Horne denounced the arrests as "the behavior of a fascist police state."
Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, told The Intercept on Wednesday that the ASF is "the first bail fund to be attacked in this way." The funds have been used for at least a century to pool together communities' financial resources to help bail people, including civil rights protesters, out of jail.
"There is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support," Regan said.
She added in a press statement that "bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime."
"In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on," she said. "Someone had to bail out civil rights activists in the 60's—I think we can all agree that community support isn't a crime."
Plans for Cop City garnered national attention earlier this year after Georgia state troopers killed a forest defender named Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, shooting him nearly 60 times.
Since Tortuguita's killing, nearly 30 people have been charged with domestic terrorism for allegedly damaging property and trespassing while protesting Cop City.
More than 40 people in all are facing domestic terrorism charges, and three people charged with felonies have been placed in solitary confinement.
Civil rights attorney Alec Karakatsanis called the use of a "heavily militarized" police force to arrest three campaigners for alleged financial crimes "a bone-chilling development" that could have implications for the future of protesting in the United States.
Karakatsanis added that "everyone should be scared by" a statement made by Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who said arrests were "a reminder that we will track down every member of a criminal organization, from violent foot soldiers to uncaring leaders."
"When three community organizers who help to run a bail fund are arrested with an entire SWAT team on clearly bogus financial charges, it signals that not only is it illegal to protest, it's also illegal to try and support people who have been criminalized for protesting," Hannah Riley, a writer and organizer, told HuffPost. "If bail funds aren't safe, what's next?"
Click and read the whole thing:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has announced his presidential campaign. Kennedy obviously has the advantage of name recognition, and he isn’t shy about making frequent references to “my uncle” and “my father.” Yet he is attractive to leftists in the party because he is willing to take positions in opposition to its established orthodoxy. He does make the obligatory references to Russia’s “brutal invasion” of Ukraine but he also points out what no one in the Democratic Party will say, that the war was provoked by U.S. actions and he calls the billions of dollars in allocations to the Ukrainian government a “money laundering operation for the military industrial complex.”
Yet Kennedy also falls back into line if pressured. He said that the CIA assassinated his uncle John F. Kennedy, and he points out the many CIA interventions around the world as a practice he would end as president, but he backtracks if criticized, making a lie out of his pronouncements. “The majority of people working at the CIA are good, patriotic people committed to their missions and the law. My own daughter-in-law was a field agent, and she is among the bravest people I have known.” He certainly got the zionist message about Israel. Kennedy praised musician Roger Waters for his opposition to the war in Ukraine but then deleted his comment on twitter because Waters also opposes Israeli apartheid. For good measure he added meaningless blather about the “aspirations of the Palestinian people.” After being called out when he ran for cover, he then deleted his comments which rescinded his first comment.
There is another issue aside from Kennedy’s willingness to back pedal when criticized for taking the positions he claims to run against. Will his supporters end up like those who worked for Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, or Bernie Sanders, who believed in their candidate only to be told that they had to support Mondale or Dukakis or Kerry or Clinton or Biden? One must ask, what is the point of going out on a limb yet again when history gives a strong indication of how this campaign will end?
The selective amnesia of many Kennedy supporters indicates another problem with what passes for left politics in this country. People here have been so thoroughly indoctrinated about the value of electoral politics that they believe it is the only way to bring about the changes they want to see. The end result is the search for a savior, the belief that we can vote our way out of a situation created by the oligarchy which controls both wings of the duopoly. It is comforting to think that the right president would end capitalist exploitation and imperialism but such a belief, while understandable, doesn’t hold water.
An analysis of previously secret documents published Wednesday sheds new light on how chemical corporations aped Big Tobacco by conspiring to conceal the extreme toxicity of a class of synthetic compounds contaminating the Earth's air, water, soil, plants, and animals—including most of the world's people.
Commonly called "forever chemicals" because they do not biodegrade and accumulate in the human body, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—which include PFOS, PFOA, and GenX—have myriad uses, from nonstick cookware to waterproof clothing to firefighting foam. According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PFAS is linked to cancers of the kidneys and testicles, low infant weight, suppressed immune function, and other adverse health effects. It is found in the blood of 99% of Americans and a similar percentage of people around the world.
But that wasn't known until recently. Scientists and public health officials were some of the first to understand the dangers of PFAS, and in recent years, exposés like Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifer's 2018 documentary feature The Devil We Know and a 2022 episode of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" in which host John Oliver called PFAS "the devil's piss" raised awareness of the "forever chemicals." In 2018, Congress held its first hearing on PFAS, and around that time it emerged that chemical giants DuPont and 3M understood—and covered up—the dangers of PFAS.
The Devil They Knew: Chemical Documents Analysis of Industry Influence on PFAS Science—a new paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Global Health—enriches understanding of the chemical industry's role in concealing the dangers of PFAS. It includes documents like a 1970 DuPont internal memo stating the PFOA C8—used to make the nonstick surface Teflon—is "highly toxic when inhaled and moderately toxic when injected."
"These documents reveal clear evidence that the chemical industry knew about the dangers of PFAS and failed to let the public, regulators, and even their own employees know the risks," Tracey J. Woodruff—who wrote the paper with Nadia Gaber and Lisa Bero—told Phys.org.
One 1979 DuPont report describes a range of highly toxic effects from testing PFAS on animals, including two beagles who died after being administered a single 450 mg dose of ammonium perfluorooctanoate, and rats that suffered enlarged livers and eye ulcers.
Another document, from 1980, shows DuPont and 3M learned that two out of eight pregnant employees who worked making C8 had babies with birth defects, but then lied the following year in a memo declaring that "we know of no evidence of birth defects" caused by C8.
"Further, the industry used several strategies that have been shown common to tobacco, pharmaceutical, and other industries to influence science and regulation—most notably, suppressing unfavorable research and distorting public discourse," the paper states.
Banning fishing in a Mexican marine park did not reduce the fishing catch, according to a new study that says it has dispelled the “myth” spread by fishing companies that protecting marine areas leaves less fish available for people to eat.
The before-and-after study looked at whether banning commercial fishing from the Revillagigedo national park, which covers 147,000 sq km (57,000 sq miles) of Pacific Ocean west of Mexico, would reduce the country’s catch volumes.
The answer was no, said the study’s authors, who said the finding showed that “large, fully protected MPAs [marine protected areas] can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable use of the ocean, without major economic repercussions on the fishing industry”.
Before fishing in the MPA was banned in 2017, Mexico’s $1bn fishing sector had warned it could reduce their catch of tuna and other pelagic fish by 20%.
But catch data comparisons from the four years before and after the ban showed the MPA “had no causal effect on catches or area use, and therefore did not cause harm [to the Mexican fishing fleet]”, said Fabio Favoretto, a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, and the lead author of the peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Science Advances.
Rapid warming in the Arctic has opened up faster shipping channels through the fabled Northwest Passage in recent decades, but a study reveals that the reduction in ice is likely to lead to increased levels of fog, potentially removing the benefits of these high-latitude short cuts. ...
Xianyao Chen from the Ocean University of China and colleagues plugged historical fog data into climate models to assess how much the fogginess along the Northwest Passage (through the Canadian archipelago) and the Northern Sea Route (along the Russian Arctic coast) is likely to increase.
Their findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, show that fog is already slowing shipping along these routes, and by 2100 increased fogginess could add three days to the Northwest Passage route (under a moderate 3C warming scenario). Furthermore, the reduced visibility increases the risk of collision with icebergs.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Elvin Bishop - Everybody's In The Same Boat
Elvin Bishop - Stealin' Watermelons
Elvin Bishop - Red Dog Speaks
Elvin Bishop - Let The Good Times Roll / A Change Is Gonna Come / Bring It On Home To Me
Elvin Bishop -So Fine / Party Till The Cows Come Home
Elvin Bishop - Midnight Creeper
Elvin Bishop - Rock My Soul
The Butterfield Blues Band – Never Say No
The Butterfield Blues Band – Walkin' Blues