The Evening Blues - 6-7-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul singer Chet "Poison" Ivey. Enjoy!
Chet "Poison" Ivey - Soul Is My Game
“Knowing what's right doesn't mean much unless you do what's right.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt
News and Opinion
In a report on Saturday, the prominent Spanish publication El Pais reported the most direct evidence yet that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) illegally spied on Julian Assange when he was an internationally-recognised political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy. The new evidence, adding as it does to a mountain of previous disclosures, underscores the criminality of the US pursuit of Assange. It again makes clear that the attempted US extradition and prosecution of Assange, for publishing evidence of US-led war crimes, is the pseudo-legal arm of a murderous campaign that has involved violations of innumerable laws within domestic jurisdictions and internationally.
Previously, there had been substantial indirect evidence of the CIA spying. On the one hand, a Yahoo News article in late 2021 had indicated that the Trump administration and the CIA had conducted dirty tricks against Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy, up to and including discussions of a kidnap attempt or an assassination. Those revelations were based on the statements of 30 former US officials. On the other hand, whistleblowing former employees of UC Global, the Spanish security firm contracted at the time by the Ecuadorian authorities to provide security for its London embassy, alleged that the company had essentially gone rogue.
Behind the backs of the Ecuadorian government, it had installed extensive surveillance equipment which it had transmitted to secret third parties in the United States. It was alleged that UC Global had entered into relations with the company of Trump ally and casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, whose firm appeared to have played the role of a cutout for US intelligence in obtaining the material. That UC Global had conducted spying was clear from vast amounts of video and audio material of Assange in the embassy, including privileged discussions with lawyers.
The latest revelations bring the two threads together. They establish irrefutably that UC Global was acting as the essential ground force of the CIA campaign against Assange. UC Global’s owner, David Morales, is being criminally prosecuted in Spain on several interrelated charges, including for spying on Assange, his lawyers and other journalists. As per El Pais, Spanish police had previously obtained electronic records of UC Global as part of the criminal investigation, but representatives of Assange had voiced concerns that the records were incomplete and thus did not tell the full story of the company’s activities. In consequence, with the assistance of Assange’s lawyers and their technical experts, a far more extensive data set has now been obtained. Much of the new material is from Morales’s own records and computers. ...
All of the US legal efforts targeting Assange, including the superseding indictments adding Espionage Act charges and the extradition bid, can be traced back to illegal CIA operations targeting the WikiLeaks founder when he was a political refugee. That entirely refutes the assertions of the US Justice Department, which has said that even if the CIA did spy on Assange, it has no bearing on their case due to the supposed “Chinese walls” between different branches of the American government.
The Biden administration received an intelligence report that Ukraine had a plan for an attack on the Nord Stream pipelines three months before an underwater explosion disabled the natural gas link from Russia to Germany, the Washington Post has reported.
A European intelligence service told the CIA that the Ukrainian military was planning an attack using a small team of divers who reported directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, the paper reported.
The six-person team reported directly to General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the report claimed, so that president Volodymyr Zelenskiy would not know about the operation.
The Washington Post report was based on a larger leak of secret documents that was shared by a a US armed services member on the chat platform Discord. The reports, posted online by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira, first came from a European intelligence agency later shared with the US and then Germany and then were corroborated by security officials from a number of countries, the Washington Post reported.
It remains disputed who carried out the attacks, which took place in September against the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany. Many European governments have suspected Russia, while Vladimir Putin has blamed the US and its allies. Ukraine has strenuously denied any link to the attacks.
Top advisor of Zelensky thanks journalists in advance today for helping the Ukraine government win the "diplomatic and informational battle" around the bombing of the Nova Kakhovka dam. Helpful reminder of the state imperatives these journalists are expected to abide by pic.twitter.com/kckjjQY12b
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) June 6, 2023
The Guardian's propaganda catapult serves up some more:
Russia’s UN envoy was accused of floundering in a “mud of lies” after he claimed at an emergency session of the security council that Ukraine destroyed Kakhovka dam in a “war crime”.
Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukraine envoy to the UN, said it was typical of Russia to blame the victim for its own crimes, pointing out Russia has been in control of the dam for more than a year and it was physically impossible to blow it up by shelling. He said the dam was mined by the Russian occupiers and they blew it up. He accused Russia of “floundering again in the mud of lies”.
“By resorting to scorched earth tactics, or in this case to flooded earth tactics, the Russian occupiers have effectively recognised that the captured territory does not belong to them, and they are not able to hold these lands,” Kyslytsya said.
Neither the French, US or British representatives at the UN directly said there was evidence of Russian responsibility, but called for an investigation and insisted their support for Ukraine was unwavering.
Outside the UN security council chamber, the deputy US ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, said: “We’re not certain at all, we hope to have more information in the coming days.
The New York Times reported Monday that the Biden administration has “shrugged off” Ukrainian attacks inside Russia as US officials are no longer as concerned about escalation as they were earlier in the war.
The report said that during the first year of the war, Biden administration officials worried that if Ukraine hit targets inside Russia, Moscow could retaliate against NATO. But those fears are gone as the administration does not seem concerned over the recent attacks inside Russia, which have included drone attacks on residential areas in Moscow and a cross-border raid in Russia’s Belgorod region that was carried out using US armored vehicles.
“It’s not like we’re going to go out and investigate this,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters when asked if the US thought Ukraine was behind the attacks in Moscow. According to the Times, administration officials seem even less concerned behind closed doors.
Iran has alarmed Israel by unveiling what it claims is its first domestically made hypersonic missile. It had previously said it would be able to hit Israel within 400 seconds.
The Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, attended the unveiling of the missile, named Fattah, or “conqueror” in Farsi. It is claimed to have a range of 870 miles (1,400km), to be able to travel at up to 15 times the speed of sound and to bypass air defence systems.
Hypersonic missiles can fly at least at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound – and their speed and claimed manoeuvrability is believed to make them difficult to intercept. Only four other countries claim to have them in their arsenals.
Iran said in November it was on the way to building a hypersonic ballistic missile that could manoeuvre in and out of the atmosphere. “It can bypass the most advanced anti-ballistic missile systems of the US and the Zionist regime, including Israel’s Iron Dome,” Iran’s state TV said.
US Senator Chris Van Hollen has said that the administration's report on the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is unable to provide new information on the death because Washington's investigation was blocked from access to key witnesses.
Van Hollen, who was finally able to take a look at the report on Abu Akleh's killing at the hands of Israeli forces after weeks of demanding it from the State Department, commended the Biden administration for completing the review but added he had been made aware the US wasn't allowed access to certain witnesses.
"The USSC and his team were not granted access to key witnesses and therefore were unable to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting death of Shireen Abu Akleh," Van Hollen said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
"As such, this summation report does not and cannot shed new light on the state of mind of the individual responsible for firing the fatal shot". The senator added that the report, which still remains classified, does provide some insights into the unit in the Israeli forces that were operating in the area during her shooting.
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden on Tuesday said that "nothing is off the table"—including a subpoena—after a lawyer for Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow continued to duck questions about the billionaire's gifts to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives.
In a June 2 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Crow attorney Michael Bopp expressed "respect" for the panel's "important role in formulating legislation concerning our federal courts system," while stating that he would "welcome a discussion with your staff."
However, Bopp also reiterated his assertion that "Congress does not have the power to impose ethics standards on the Supreme Court" and "therefore cannot mount an investigation for the purpose of helping craft such standards."
In response to Bopp's assertion—which has been roundly refuted by Durbin and legal experts—Wyden, a progressive Oregon Democrat, accused the Gibson Dunn partner of "stonewalling."
"It comes as little surprise that Mr. Crow is doubling down on bogus legal theories as he continues to stonewall basic questions about his gifts to Clarence Thomas and his family. If anything, the most recent letter from his attorney raises more questions than it answers," the senator said in a statement.
"The letter states, 'charter rates or reimbursements at rates prescribed by law were paid to the Crow family entities' with zero additional detail that could help clarify these financial arrangements, such as exactly who made those payments for Justice Thomas' extravagant luxury travel, and how many times and in what amounts those payments were made," Wyden continued.
"Far too often, efforts to investigate real-life tax practices of the ultra-wealthy and powerful end with this kind of vague, carefully-worded assurance that everything is on the level. That's simply not good enough," he argued. "This is exactly why the Finance Committee is pursuing this matter as part of its broader review of gift and estate tax practices of ultra-high net worth individuals."
Wyden added: "I've already begun productive discussions with the Finance Committee on next steps to compel answers to our questions from Mr. Crow, including by subpoena, and those discussions will continue."
A Texas sheriff’s office has recommended criminal charges over flights that the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, arranged to deport 49 South American migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, last year.
In a statement on Monday, the Bexar county sheriff’s office said it had filed a criminal case with the local district attorney over the flight. The Bexar county sheriff, Javier Salazar, has previously said the migrants were “lured under false pretenses” into traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal town. ...
“The charge filed is unlawful restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,” the Bexar county sheriff’s office said in a statement provided to KSAT News.
“At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA’s office. Once an update is available, it will be provided to the public.”
DeSantis arranged for two planes to carry migrants, including women and children, to Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022. The groups were told they would have jobs and housing if they boarded the planes, but in reality officials in Martha’s Vineyard had been given no advance notice of the arrival of the 49 people, most of whom had traveled from Venezuela.
Florida confirmed on Tuesday that it was behind two private jet flights that brought three dozen people seeking asylum from the US southern border to California amid accusations that the individuals were coerced to travel under false pretenses.
The state’s division of emergency management said in a statement that the passengers all went willingly, and refuted allegations from California officials such as the governor, Gavin Newsom, who had threatened Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, with kidnapping charges.
Two planes arrived in Sacramento on 2 and 5 June, each carrying people seeking asylum, mostly from Colombia and Venezuela. The individuals had been picked up in El Paso, Texas, taken to New Mexico and then put on charter flights to California’s capital of Sacramento, said Rob Bonta, the state’s attorney general. Bonta, who said Florida would be guilty of “state-sanctioned kidnapping” if it was found to be behind the flights, is investigating whether any violations of criminal or civil law occurred.
Alecia Collins, a spokesperson for the Florida division of emergency management, said in a statement that “through verbal and written consent, these volunteers indicated they wanted to go to California”. She also shared a video compilation that appeared to show people signing consent forms and thanking officials for treating them well.
The clips had no time stamps, and Collins declined to share additional details about when and where they were recorded. It was the DeSantis administration’s first acknowledgment that it coordinated the flights.
Cornel West: Running for President, Ending Ukraine War & Taking on “Corporate Duopoly” of Dems & GOP
The former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced his bid for for the Republican presidential nomination at a New Hampshire town hall.
In an unconventionally contrite speech, Christie said: “I can’t guarantee you success in what I’m about to do. But I guarantee you that at the end of it. You will have no doubt in your mind, who I am and what I stand for and whether I deserve it.”
Christie filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday afternoon. He announced his presidential run hours later in a town hall hosted at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The pugilistic politician joins the primary as a rank outsider but promises a campaign with a singular focus: to take the fight to Donald Trump, the former president who left office in disgrace after the January 6 attack on Congress but who is the clear frontrunner to face Joe Biden again at the polls.
Such is Trump’s dominance of Republican polling – in which he leads his closest challenger, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, by wide margins – others in the field have been slow to turn their fire Trump’s way.
Canada is dealing with a series of intense wildfires that have spread from the western provinces to Quebec, with hundreds of forest fires burning. Wind has carried smoke from the fires southward, triggering air-quality alerts throughout the United States.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday issued a poor air-quality alert for New England, a day after parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota received a similar advisory. Last week, US officials as far south as Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania reported being affected by the wildfires. ...
The EPA said hazy skies, reduced visibility and the odor of burning wood are likely, and that the smoke will linger for a few days in New England.
“It’s not unusual for us to get fire smoke in our area. It’s very typical in terms of north-west Canada,” said Darren Austin, a meteorologist and senior air-quality specialist with the Rhode Island department of environmental management. But the smoke usually has been aloft higher in the atmosphere, not affecting people’s health, he said.
The Quebec-area fires are big and relatively close, about 500 to 600 miles (roughly 800 to 970km) away from Rhode Island. And they followed wildfires in Nova Scotia, which resulted in a short-lived air-quality alert on 30 May, Austin said.
It is now too late to save summer Arctic sea ice, research has shown, and scientists say preparations need to be made for the increased extreme weather across the northern hemisphere that is likely to occur as a result.
Analysis shows that even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced, the Arctic will be ice-free in September in coming decades. The study also shows that if emissions decline slowly or continue to rise, the first ice-free summer could be in the 2030s, a decade earlier than previous projections.
The research shows that 90% of the melting is the result of human-caused global heating, with natural factors accounting for the rest.
Since satellite records began in 1979, summer Arctic ice has shrunk by 13% a decade, in one of the clearest signs of the climate crisis. Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum at the end of summer, in September, and in 2021 it was at its second lowest extent on record.
“Unfortunately it has become too late to save Arctic summer sea ice,” said Prof Dirk Notz, of the University of Hamburg, Germany, who was part of the study team. “As scientists, we’ve been warning about the loss of Arctic summer sea ice for decades. This is now the first major component of the Earth system that we are going to lose because of global warming. People didn’t listen to our warnings.
State Farm, the country’s largest property insurer, announced this week that it will almost entirely stop issuing new policies in California, the country’s largest property insurance market. The reasons for forgoing all that new business are entirely economic. The company cited “historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market”. Those things are owed largely to the wildfires engulfing bigger parts of the state in bigger chunks of the year.
California’s woes have a lot to do with the climate crisis, which fuels the hot, dry conditions that turn wooded hills into kindling. It’s also a political failure. Housing crises in the Golden state have pushed more and more people out of densely populated areas and into the so-called wildland-urban interface – places that are cheaper to live in, and more prone to burn. Wealthy homeowners in fire-prone enclaves are also reluctant to move, keen to keep rebuilding properties that keep getting destroyed.
Similar dynamics are playing out around the country. Insurance companies are hiking up costs or wholly withdrawing from some areas after deadly, costly flooding in Appalachia and hurricanes in Louisiana and Florida, where property insurance rates are now roughly triple the national average. In each case the rich will make out all right, for now, able to pony up the cost of more expensive policies or relocation. The rest will find themselves on the losing end of what happens when the private sector is entrusted with planning for climate chaos.
State Farm didn’t mention climate change in its announcement, of course. The sector has been under pressure from rightwingers that have attacked private sector initiatives like the Net Zero Insurers Alliance (NZIA) as a plot by shadowy globalists to enforce a radical climate agenda through undemocratic means; more concretely, Republican lawmakers are engaged in sabre-rattling premised on the notion that such alliances constitute a violation of antitrust rules.
Republican lawmakers are trying to ban companies from making similarly pragmatic considerations of climate risk in their planning. Governments, meanwhile, have been slow to do much climate planning at all. There is no comprehensive federal plan to house people – let alone whole communities – wiped out by climate-fueled storms and floods, despite the fact that some 13.1 million people could be displaced by sea-level rise through the end of the century. When governments don’t plan for such events, corporations fill the gap, raising prices and deepening existing inequalities.
California will soon become the first state to determine residents’ electricity fees based on their income as part of a new effort to spur households toward full electrification and bring down the state’s soaring electricity costs for low-income Californians.
Electricity bills are made up of fixed costs as well as fees that vary based on the amount of electricity residents use. Last year, the state passed a law giving the California public utilities commission a 1 July 2024 deadline to determine a fixed charge for household electric bills based on people’s income.
The new income-based electricity bills could hit residents’ mailboxes as soon as 2025. Based on proposals currently under consideration, residents who make more than $180,000 a year could pay about $500 more annually on their electricity bills, while Californians who make less than $28,000 annually could save up to $300 a year. The law is part of the state’s answer of how to equitably transition away from carbon as an energy source. ...
But state officials are already facing backlash from higher-income residents who don’t want to see their bills increase. The proposals have so far received more than 250 public comments, with a large number opposing the law. “Why should I pay for someone else’s bill when I paid thousands for solar?” one commenter wrote. ...
According to Severin Borenstein, one of the report’s co-authors and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, electricity prices in the state are so high because utility companies are also paying for damages from wildfires and subsidies for rooftop solar panels, among other costs. They make up for these expenditures by raising the price for electricity use. ... Borenstein said that people who power their homes with solar panels are only able to save money because of “massive subsidies” that drive up electricity prices for people on the grid.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Chet "Poison" Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers - Keep On Keeping On
Chet "Poison" Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers - Shake A Poo Poo
Chet 'Poison' Ivey - Mata Hari
Chet "Poison" Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers - The Poo Poo Man
Chet Poison Ivey - Let's Do The Pony & Just A Little Bit Of Love
Chet "Poison" Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers - Handle With Care
Chet Poison Ivey - Alpine Twist
Chet Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers - Something Else
Chet Ivey - Movin'