The Evening Blues - 9-18-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer Lil Green. Enjoy!
Lil Green - Walkin' and Talkin'
"The best indicator of a sociopath serial bully is not a clinical diagnosis but the trail of devastation and destruction of lives and livelihoods surrounding this individual throughout their life."
-- Tim Field
News and Opinion
The Twitter account of America’s 44th president just casually shared some links to organizations providing relief to the victims of the terrible flooding in Libya, which as of this writing has already killed thousands of people.
And that would of course be a fine and normal thing for America’s 44th president to do — had America’s 44th president not personally played a massive role in paving the way to the devastation we’re seeing in Libya today.
“If you’re looking to help people impacted by the floods in Libya, check out these organizations providing relief,” Obama tweeted.
Uhh, excuse me? Sir? You know you’re literally Barack Obama, right?
If you’re looking to help people impacted by the floods in Libya, check out these organizations providing relief: https://t.co/Vc9kbNgFuE
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 15, 2023
In 2010 the oil-rich Libya ranked higher on the UN Human Development Index than any other nation in Africa, with much better national infrastructure to protect itself from floods and other natural disasters. Today Libya is a chaotic humanitarian disaster where UN-backed investigators now say literal crimes against humanity have been taking place, including women being forced into sexual slavery.
What changed? If you’re reading this, you probably already know what changed.
In 2011, US, French and British forces helped rebels with extensive links to Al Qaeda kill Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, which immediately plunged the nation into violence, chaos, extremism and instability which persists to this day. It was later revealed that NATO powers knew they were backing murderous Al Qaeda-linked jihadists at the time.
Falsely branded a “humanitarian intervention” designed to prevent alleged plans for genocide and Viagra-fueled mass rapes against peaceful protesters by Gaddafi’s troops, the NATO attack on Libya quickly morphed into a regime change operation which saw Gaddafi brutally lynched in the streets and dying after being stabbed in the anus with a bayonet. Years later in 2016 a UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee found that the narratives used to justify the intervention in Libya were “not supported by the available evidence.”
“We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” the report reads. “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”
This confirmed concerns voiced by Amnesty International and a UN human rights investigator months before Gaddafi’s death that the evidence for the alleged atrocities the intervention was meant to prevent simply wasn’t there to be found. Because no policy changes were made after the Iraq invasion and nobody was ever punished for inflicting that horror upon our world, no lessons were learned, and it happened again. The west was deceived into yet another disastrous military intervention, which continues to have severe consequences for people in the region to this day.
In an article published earlier this month in Responsible Statecraft about the crisis in Niger, Branko Marcetic made the interesting observation that the Nigerien junta which ousted the previous government has explicitly stated that the coup was necessary because of the “continuous deterioration of the security situation” which Niger and other countries in the Sahel have been suffering from for over a decade due to “the negative socioeconomic, security, political and humanitarian consequences of NATO’s hazardous adventure in Libya.”
Marcetic also notes that the regime change intervention in Libya was meant to segue into a regime change intervention in Syria by the same means:
“Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and John Kerry (D-Mass.) all called for a no-fly zone. ‘I love the military … but they always seem to find reasons why you can’t do something rather than why you can,’ complained McCain. The American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka said it would be ‘an important humanitarian step.’ The now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) think tank gathered a who’s who of neoconservatives to repeatedly urge the same. In a letter to then-President Barack Obama, they quoted back Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech in which he argued that ‘inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later.’
“Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reportedly instrumental in persuading Obama to act, was herself swayed by similar arguments. Friend and unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal assured her that, once Gaddafi fell, ‘limited but targeted military support from the West combined with an identifiable rebellion’ could become a new model for toppling Middle Eastern dictators. Pointing to the similar, deteriorating situation in Syria, Blumenthal claimed that ‘the most important event that could alter the Syrian equation would be the fall of Gaddafi, providing an example of a successful rebellion.’ ”
And that’s exactly what the Obama administration set out to do: pouring weapons into Syria with the goal of effecting regime change, once again on the side of Al Qaeda-linked fighters. Had Russia not intervened in 2015 to prevent Damascus from being toppled, Syria would likely have suffered the same fate as Libya.
So that’s two countries Obama and his cohorts tossed in the incinerator back-to-back, in much the same way the previous administration torched Afghanistan and Iraq. It was done a bit more slyly and subtly than the overt Hulk Smash ground invasions of the Bush era, but the death, suffering and destabilization caused by Obama’s depravity have been just as real.
This is as clear as day, and yet we still get imperial propaganda outlets like The Washington Post telling us that “everyone” is to blame for Libya’s current troubles. WaPo has a new article out titled “Libya’s catastrophe is everyone’s fault,” which is a bit like Charles Manson saying the Manson Family killings were everyone’s fault. The article’s author Ishaan Tharoor lays the blame for Libya’s inability to adequately protect its people from the flood on “Libya’s feuding factions and fractured polity” as well as other nations in the region before conceding that NATO’s toppling of Gaddafi would have also played some role.
Another Washington Post article titled “How a decade of conflict and division put Libya in peril of disaster” lays zero blame at all on Obama and NATO powers for the nation’s suffering, saying only that Gaddafi was a brutal dictator who “was killed by rebel forces during a NATO-backed Arab Spring uprising.” But it does acknowledge that Libyans are now dying because the nation’s infrastructure has been in a state of decay since 2011:
“The country, with terrain ranging across desert and coastal communities, is highly vulnerable to human-induced climate change. But improvements to and maintenance of basic services and infrastructure, such as the country’s networks of dams, has been deprioritized, said Mary Fitzgerald, a Libya expert at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank.
“‘Between 2011 and 2014, there were already concerns about the state of Libyan infrastructure,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘And then Libya went through a six-year civil conflict from 2014 to 2020 and a lot of infrastructure was damaged during that conflict. In the three years since, you have a situation of rival government, which has yet again complicated political dynamics.’”
This nation has been in a continuous state of strife, violence and suffering since the United States spearheaded a NATO campaign to smash it to pieces. And yet you’ll still get empire simps telling you that NATO is a “defensive alliance”, and you’ll still get liberals saying that Obama’s worst scandal was wearing a tan suit one time.
Barack Obama belongs in a fucking cage. His crimes are utterly unforgivable, and if the law existed to punish the world’s worst criminals instead of to protect them he would be rotting in a maximum security prison cell.
It’s all well and good that people are sending Libya aid and that the call to do so is being amplified by influential voices. But the fact that the 44th president of the United States can just come out and pretend to support a nation he personally helped destroy without being called out and excoriated by the mass media shows that we live in a world which is dominated by lies and propaganda.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted the US for waging a proxy war in Ukraine. The Washington-led North Atlantic alliance has transferred nearly $100 billion in military aid to Kyiv. Lavrov said the White House was controlling Ukraine’s military decisions.
On Sunday Morning at the Eastern Economic Forum, the Russian diplomat explained Moscow’s position. “No matter what it says, it [the US] controls this war, it supplies weapons, munition, intelligence information, data from satellites, it is pursuing a war against us,” Lavrov said.
According to the Kiel Institute, the US and its allies have transferred slightly under $100 billion in weapons to Ukraine since the start of the war. Additionally, the West has trained thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and provided Kyiv with other military support, such as targeting and intelligence.
Lavrov said the proxy war the West is waging against Russia in Ukraine was a long-planned effort aimed at Moscow’s strategic defeat. He stated, “While what is going on is that Ukraine has been prepared, has long been prepared for inflicting strategic defeat to Russia using its hands and its bodies.”
The Ukrainian president says his forces have recaptured the tactically important village of Klishchiivka on the southern flank of the key frontline city of Bakhmut.
“Today I would like to particularly commend the soldiers who, step by step, are returning to Ukraine what belongs to it, namely in the area of Bakhmut,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. Zelenskiy praised the soldiers fighting near Bakhmut and singled out those who had retaken Klishchiivka, saying “Well done!” in his address. He also said Kyiv was “preparing new defence solutions for Ukraine”, adding that “air defence and artillery are the priority”, without providing details.
The deputy defence minister, Hanna Maliar, shared a video of Ukrainian forces displaying flags including the blue and yellow national flag, with ruined buildings and the sound of ongoing fighting in the background. Russia was still trying to regain lost positions despite Klishchiivka’s liberation, she wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “Today we had to fight off enemy attacks all day.”
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, also confirmed the recapture of the village, which Russia claimed control of in January. It had a pre-war population of about 400 and is around 9km (six miles) south of Bakhmut, the city that fell into Russian hands in May after months of heavy fighting. “Klishchiivka was cleared of Russians,” Syrsky posted on social media.
It has been clear for some time that US corporate news media have explicitly taken a side on the Ukraine War. This role includes suppressing relevant history of the lead-up to the war (FAIR.org, 3/4/22), attacking people who bring up that history as “conspiracy theorists” (FAIR.org, 5/18/22), accepting official government pronouncements at face value (FAIR.org, 12/2/22) and promoting an overly rosy picture of the conflict in order to boost morale.
For most of the war, most of the US coverage has been as pro-Ukrainian as Ukraine’s own media, now consolidated under the Zelenskyy government (FAIR.org, 5/9/23). Dire predictions sporadically appeared, but were drowned out by drumbeat coverage portraying a Ukrainian army on the cusp of victory, and the Russian army as incompetent and on the verge of collapse.
Triumphalist rhetoric soared in early 2023, as optimistic talk of a game-changing “spring offensive” dominated Ukraine coverage. Apparently delayed, the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched in June. While even US officials did not believe that it would amount to much, US media papered over these doubts in the runup to the campaign.
Over the last three months, it has become clear that the Ukrainian military operation will not be the game-changer it was sold as; namely, it will not significantly roll back the Russian occupation and obviate the need for a negotiated settlement. Only after this became undeniable did media report on the true costs of war to the Ukrainian people.
In the runup to the counteroffensive, US media were full of excited conversation about how it would reshape the nature of the conflict. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Radio Free Europe (4/21/23) he was “confident Ukraine will be successful.” Sen. Lindsey Graham assured Politico (5/30/23), “In the coming days, you’re going to see a pretty impressive display of power by the Ukrainians.” Asked for his predictions about Ukraine’s plans, retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges told NPR (5/12/23), “I actually expect…they will be quite successful.”
I personally think that this is going to be really quite successful…. And [the Russians] are going to have to withdraw under pressure of this Ukrainian offensive, the most difficult possible tactical maneuver, and I don’t think they’re going to do well at that.
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius (4/15/23) acknowledged that “hope is not a strategy,” but still insisted that “Ukraine’s will to win—its determination to expel Russian invaders from its territory at whatever cost—might be the X-factor in the decisive season of conflict ahead.”
The New York Times (6/2/23) ran a story praising recruits who signed up for the Ukrainian pushback, even though it “promises to be deadly.” Times columnist Paul Krugman (6/5/23) declared we were witnessing “the moral equivalent of D-Day.” CNN (5/30/23) reported that Ukrainians were “unfazed” as they “gear up for a counteroffensive.”
Cable news was replete with buzz about how the counteroffensive, couched with modifiers like “long-awaited” or “highly anticipated,” could turn the tide in the war. Nightly news shows (e.g., NBC, 6/15/23, 6/16/23) presented audiences with optimistic statements from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other figures talking about the imminent success.
Despite the soaring rhetoric presented to audiences, Western officials understood that the counteroffensive was all but doomed to fail. This had been known long before the above comments were reported, but media failed to include that fact as prominently as the predictions for success.
On April 10, as part of the Discord leaks story, the Washington Post (4/10/23) reported that top secret documents showed that Ukraine’s drive would fall “well short” of its objectives, due to equipment, ammunition and conscription problems. The document predicted “sustainment shortfalls” and only “modest territorial gains.”
The Post additionally cited anonymous officials who claimed that the documents’ conclusions were corroborated by a classified National Intelligence Council assessment, shown only to a select few in Congress. The Post spoke to a Ukrainian official who “did not dispute the revelations,” and acknowledged that it was “partially true.”
While the Post has yet to publish the documents in full, the leaks and the other sources clearly painted a picture of a potentially disastrous counteroffensive. Fear was so palpable that the Biden administration privately worried about how he could keep up support for the war when the widely hyped offensive sputtered. In the midst of this, Blinken continued to dismiss the idea of a ceasefire, opting instead to pursue further escalating the conflict.
Despite the importance of these facts, they were hardly reported on by the rest of corporate media, and dropped from subsequent war coverage. When the Post (6/14/23) published a long article citing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s cautious optimism about the campaign, it neglected to mention its earlier reporting about the government’s privately gloomier assessments. The documents only started appearing again in the press after thousands were dead, and the campaign’s failure undeniable.
In an honest press, excited comments from politicians and commentators would be published alongside reports about how even our highest-level officials did not believe that the counteroffensive would amount to much. Instead, anticipation was allowed to build while doubts were set to the side.
By July, Ukrainian casualties were mounting, and it became clearer and clearer that the counteroffensive would fail to recapture significant amounts of Ukrainian territory. Reporting grew more realistic, and we were given insights into conditions on the ground in Ukraine, as well as what was in the minds of US officials.
According to the Washington Post (8/17/23), US and Ukrainian militaries had conducted war games and had anticipated that an advance would be accompanied by heavy losses. But when the real-world fatalities mounted, the Post reported, “Ukraine chose to stem the losses on the battlefield.”
This caused a rift between the Ukrainians and their Western backers, who were frustrated at Ukrainians’ desire to keep their people alive. A mid-July New York Times article (7/14/23) reported that US officials were privately frustrated that Ukraine had become too afraid of dying to fight effectively. The officials worried that Ukrainian commanders “fear[ed] casualties among their ranks,” and had “reverted to old habits” rather than “pressing harder.” A later Times article (8/18/23) repeated Washington’s worries that Ukrainians were too “casualty-averse.”
After it became undeniable that Ukraine’s military action was going nowhere, a Wall Street Journal report (7/23/23) raised some of the doubts that had been invisible in the press on the offensive’s eve. The report’s opening lines say it all:
When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring, Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons—from shells to warplanes—that it needed to dislodge Russian forces.
The Journal acknowledged that Western officials simply “hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day.”
One Post column (7/26/23) asked, “Was Gen. Mark Milley Right Last Year About the War in Ukraine?” Columnist Jason Willick acknowledged that “Milley’s skepticism about Ukraine’s ability to achieve total victory appears to have been widespread within the Biden administration before the counteroffensive began.”
And when one official told Politico (8/18/23), “Milley had a point,” acknowledging the former military head’s November suggestion for negotiations. The quote was so telling that Politico made it the headline of the article.
Even Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), co-chair of the congressional Ukraine Caucus, publicly questioned whether or not the war was “winnable” (Politico, 8/17/23). Speaking on the counteroffensive’s status, he said, “I’ll be blunt, it’s failed.”
Newsweek (8/16/23) reported on a Ukrainian leadership divided over how to handle the “underwhelming” counteroffensive. The Washington Post (8/17/23) reported that the US intelligence community assessed that the offensive would fail to fulfill its key objective of severing the land bridge between Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
As the triumphalism ebbed, outlets began reporting on scenes that were almost certainly common before the spring push but had gone unpublished. One piece from the Post (8/10/23) outlined a “darken[ed] mood in Ukraine,” in which the nation was “worn out.” The piece acknowledged that “Ukrainian officials and their Western partners hyped up a coming counteroffensive,” but there was “little visible progress.”
The Wall Street Journal (8/1/23) published a devastating piece about the massive number of amputees returning home from the mine-laden battlefield. They reported that between 20,000 and 50,000 Ukrainians had lost one or more limbs as a result of the war—numbers that are comparable to those seen during World War I.
Rather than dwelling on the stalled campaign, the New York Times and other outlets focused on the drone war against Russia, even while acknowledging that the remote strikes were largely an exercise in public relations. The Times (8/25/23) declared that the strikes had “little significant damage to Russia’s overall military might” and were primarily “a message for [Ukraine’s] own people,” citing US officials who noted that they “intended to demonstrate to the Ukrainian public that Kyiv can still strike back.” Looking at the quantity of Times coverage (8/30/23, 8/30/23, 8/23/23, 8/22/23, 8/22/23, 8/21/23, 8/18/23), the drone strikes were apparently aimed at an increasingly war-weary US public as well.
The fact that US officials pushed for a Ukrainian counteroffensive that all but expected would fail raises an important question: Why would they do this? Sending thousands of young people to be maimed and killed does nothing to advance Ukrainian territorial integrity, and actively hinders the war effort.
The answer has been clear since before the war. Despite the high-minded rhetoric about support for democracy, this has never been the goal of pushing for war in Ukraine. Though it often goes unacknowledged in the US press, policymakers saw a war in Ukraine as a desirable outcome. One 2019 study from the RAND Corporation—a think tank with close ties to the Pentagon—suggested that an effective way to overextend and unbalance Russia would be to increase military support for Ukraine, arguing that this could lead to a Russian invasion.
In December 2021, as Russian President Vladimir Putin began to mass troops at Ukraine’s border while demanding negotiations, John Deni of the Atlantic Council published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (12/22/21) headlined “The Strategic Case for Risking War in Ukraine,” which laid out the US logic explicitly: Provoking a war would allow the US to impose sanctions and fight a proxy war that would grind Russia down. Additionally, the anti-Russian sentiment that resulted from a war would strengthen NATO’s resolve.
All of this came to pass as Washington’s stance of non-negotiation successfully provoked a Russian invasion. Even as Ukraine and Russia sat at the negotiation table early in the war, the US made it clear that it wanted the war to continue and escalate. The US’s objective was, in the words of Raytheon boardmember–turned–Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, “to see Russia weakened.” Despite stated commitments to Ukrainian democracy, US policies have instead severely damaged it.
In the wake of the stalled counteroffensive, the US interest in sacrificing Ukraine to bleed Russia was put on display again. In July, the Post‘s Ignatius declared that the West shouldn’t be so “gloomy” about Ukraine, since the war had been a “strategic windfall” for NATO and its allies. Echoing two of Deni’s objectives, Ignatius asserted that “the West’s most reckless antagonist has been rocked,” and “NATO has grown much stronger with the additions of Sweden and Finland.”
In the starkest demonstration of the lack of concern for Ukraine or its people, he also wrote that these strategic successes came “at relatively low cost,” adding, in a parenthetical aside, “(other than for the Ukrainians).”
Ignatius is far from alone. Hawkish Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah) explained why US funding for the proxy war was “about the best national defense spending I think we’ve ever done”: “We’re losing no lives in Ukraine, and the Ukrainians, they’re fighting heroically against Russia.”
The consensus among policymakers in Washington is to push for endless conflict, no matter how many Ukrainians die in the process. As long as Russia loses men and material, the effect on Ukraine is irrelevant. Ukrainian victory was never the goal.
Polls show that support for increased US involvement in Ukraine is rapidly declining. The recent Republican presidential debate demonstrated clear fractures within the right wing of the US power structure. Politico (8/18/23) reported that some US officials are regretting potential lost opportunities for negotiations. Unfortunately, this minority dissent has yet to affect the dominant consensus.
The failure of the counteroffensive has not caused Washington to rethink its strategy of attempting to bleed Russia. The flow of US military hardware to Ukraine is likely to continue so long as this remains the goal. The Hill (9/5/23) gave the game away about NATO’s commitment to escalation with a piece titled “Fears of Peace Talks With Putin Rise Amid US Squabbling.”
But even within the Biden administration, the Pentagon appears to be at odds with the State Department and National Security Council over the Ukraine conflict. Contrary to what may be expected, the civilian officials like Jake Sullivan, Victoria Nuland and Antony Blinken are taking a harder line on perpetuating this conflict than the professional soldiers in the Pentagon. The media’s sharp change of tone may both signify and fuel the doubts gaining traction within the US political class.
US oil and gas multinationals are facing fresh questions over their trade with Russia after customs records revealed that more than $7.1m (£5.7m) worth of equipment manufactured by Halliburton has been imported into the country since it announced the end of its Russian operations.
Last September Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of products and services for oil and gas exploration, sold its Russian office to local management amid pressure on all US companies to cease their trade after the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian customs records seen by the Guardian show that despite this move to sell up on 8 September, Halliburton subsidiaries exported equipment of a value of $5,729,600 to its former operation in Russia in the six weeks that followed the sale. ...
The bulk of exports from the subsidiaries ended on 6 October but the last shipment to Russia from a Halliburton company, recorded as Halliburton MFG in the records, was of a sealing element priced at $2,939.40 on 24 October 2022 from Malaysia to a firm called Sakhalin Energy, a consortium that is developing the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in eastern Russian. Its investors include Gazprom. Shell disinvested from the consortium after the invasion of Ukraine.
After a short pause, imports of Halliburton equipment to Russia then resumed in December 2022 from two companies unrelated to the US multinational. The products were imported from Turkey, bringing the total value of exports of Halliburton equipment to Russia since the company closed its operations to at least $7,163,317.
Oil prices are on track to reach $100 a barrel this month for the first time in 2023 after surging by almost 30% since June, after Russian and Saudi Arabian production cuts and rising demand from China.
Brent crude, the oil price benchmark, rose to a 10-month high last week of almost $94 a barrel, up from $72 a barrel at its lowest point in June – heading for its biggest quarterly increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The lighter US crude, West Texas Intermediate, has climbed from $67 a barrel to $90 a barrel over the same period. Both benchmarks were up by about 4% on the week. ...
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia extended 1.3m barrels per day (bpd) of combined cuts to the end of the year, accelerating a drawdown in global inventories.
Supply cuts by Russia to boost prices have also supported efforts by other Opec countries to push prices towards $100 a barrel.
The president of the United Auto Workers condemned Ford and General Motors on Saturday after the companies said they plan to temporarily lay off thousands of nonstriking employees, blaming the union's walkouts at two plants in Michigan and Ohio.
Ford said in a statement Friday that it is laying off roughly 600 workers at its Michigan Assembly Plant, pointing to "knock-on effects" from the UAW's walkouts at the facility's final assembly and paint departments.
General Motors, meanwhile, said it expects 2,000 workers at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas "to be idled as soon as next week," a decision the company called "a negative ripple effect" of the UAW's historic strike.
But UAW president Shawn Fain argued the layoffs are completely unnecessary—and an obvious attempt by Ford and General Motors to "put the squeeze on our members to settle for less."
"With their record profits, they don't have to lay off a single employee. In fact, they could double every autoworker's pay, not raise car prices, and still rake in billions of dollars," said Fain. "Their plan won't work. The UAW will make sure any worker laid off in the Big Three's latest attack will not go without an income. We'll organize one day longer than they can, and go the distance to win economic and social justice at the Big Three."
The UAW's response to the layoffs came as union negotiators and the Big Three automakers returned to the bargaining table to continue negotiating over a new contract.
More than 12,000 UAW autoworkers are currently on strike at three plants, and—as part of its "stand-up strike" strategy—the union is expected to call on additional locals to strike in the coming days if the car manufacturers don't make a sufficient contract offer.
The UAW says a gradual wave of strikes at select plants will give its negotiators maximal leverage—and keep the Big Three guessing—as the union attempts to win significant benefit and wage improvements. Fain has said an "all-out" strike is still on the table.
Reuters reported Saturday morning that Stellantis has increased its wage-hike offer to nearly 21% over the life of the contract—the biggest total wage boost proposed by a Big Three automaker thus far, but still well shy of the union's demand for a 36% raise.
Ford and General Motors have proposed raises of 20% and 18%, respectively.
Ford CEO Jim Farley, whose compensation package totaled nearly $21 million last year, faced backlash from the UAW and lawmakers for claiming earlier this week that the union's wage demands would "bankrupt" the company.
"There's no way you can continue wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on stock buybacks to manipulate prices, jack up CEO pay to ludicrous levels, all while starving the workers who actually make the product you sell," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) replied on social media. "THAT is what is unsustainable. Pay your workers."
Fain, for his part, called Farley's claim "a lie like everything else that comes out of their mouths."
As Fortune reported on Friday, Morgan Stanley's auto analyst estimated in a recent note that a 40% pay raise for autoworkers would result in $2.6 billion in additional labor costs for Ford, which expects to bring in $168 billion in total revenue this year.
The company spent nearly $500 million on stock buybacks last year.
"They could double our wages and not raise the prices of vehicles, and they would still make billions of dollars," Fain said from the picket line on Friday.
On Friday, September 8, Mark Dial of the Philadelphia Police Department surrendered to authorities for charges against him in the killing of Eddie Irizarry, 27. Dial shot Irizarry dead on August 14 as the young man sat in his car. District Attorney Larry Krasner announced that Dial would face first-degree murder charges, along with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Charges were brought against Dial only because the killing was captured by a neighborhood security camera. Initially, authorities followed standard operating procedure for all such killings. They blamed the victim, asserting that Irizarry had left his car and lunged at police with a knife. But then the neighborhood video footage emerged showing Officer Dial moving rapidly from his car, within a few seconds firing several shots through the windows of the parked vehicle, killing Irizarry.
The revelation forced the release of police body cam videos, which the Philadelphia Police Department had initially refused to share with Irizarry’s family attorney, Shaka Johnson. The footage is even more damning than that taken from the neighborhood security camera. It shows Dial cursing, “I will f**king shoot you!” before immediately firing six shots at Irizarry within a few feet of the driver side window and windshield. A few seconds later officers open the door, revealing Irizarry, covered in blood and moaning, still seated behind the car’s steering column.
The video shows that Irizarry was given no chance to communicate prior to the shots being fired. Nothing in the video suggests that Irizarry posed the slightest threat to Dial and his partner, who remains officially unidentified.
The footage forced police to abandon their initial claim that Irizarry lunged with a knife. But attorneys for Dial have a new story. Dial now claims he opened fire because he thought Irizarry had a gun.
After a dramatic impeachment trial that lasted more than a week, Ken Paxton, the ultraconservative Texas attorney general, has been acquitted and will be able to resume his work in elected office.
Paxton, who faced 16 articles of impeachment against him in this trial – involving bribery, dereliction of duty and disregard for official duty – and four more separately, avoided becoming Texas’s highest-ranking elected official to be removed from state office. He quickly issued a statement boasting that, in his case, “the truth prevailed”. ...
During Saturday’s senate voting session, which required 21 votes to convict Paxton on any one article, the majority of senators voted along party lines to acquit. Republicans currently dominate the chamber with a 19-12 majority.
Most of the impeachment articles saw votes of 14 yeas and 16 nays. Article 3, which concerned the abuse of the open records process, saw the widest disparity in votes, with two yeas and 28 nays. ...
Though Paxton is now back in office, he still faces legal peril on three fronts, as the AP reported: the ongoing federal investigation into allegations leading to his impeachment; a disciplinary proceeding for allegedly participating in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election; and pending securities fraud charges.
Donald Trump grappled with a wide range of contentious issues in an interview with NBC that generated criticism against the network, including his thoughts on democratic principles, abortion rights and ageing politicians. He also confirmed his interest in choosing Kristi Noem to be his vice-presidential running mate if he wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 as he seeks a second term in the White House.
In an interview on Sunday with Kristen Welker during her debut as host of NBC’s Meet the Press, the former president advised members of his party to abandon their hardline stance of abortion bans with no exceptions. He said Republicans “speak very inarticulately” about abortion and criticized those who push for abortion bans without exceptions in the cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.
“Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t – you’re not going to win on this issue,” said Trump, who faces more than 90 pending criminal charges across four separate indictments, including for subversion of the 2020 election which he lost to Joe Biden. “But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks.”
Tens of thousands of climate activists took to the streets of New York City on Sunday in a “march to end fossil fuels”, with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez telling the crowd that the movement must become “too big and too radical to ignore”. ...
Organizers estimated that between 50,000 and 75,000 people attended the march in Manhattan and had anticipated it would be the biggest climate march in the US in the past five years. The NYPD said it did not comment on crowd numbers.
“This is an incredible moment,” said Jean Su of the Center for Biological Diversity, who helped organize the mobilization. “Tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets of New York because they want climate action, and they understand Biden’s expansion of fossil fuels is squandering our last chance to avoid climate catastrophe.” She said the action was the largest climate protest in the US since the start of the pandemic.
“This also shows the tremendous grit and fight of the people, especially youth and communities living at the frontlines of fossil fuel violence, to fight back and demand change for the future they have every right to lead,” she said.
The march came as world leaders gather for this week’s UN general assembly, and a UN climate ambitions summit on Wednesday, which the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has described as a “no nonsense” conference meant to highlight new climate commitments.
Echoing previous warnings from climate advocates and studies, an environmental watchdog on Friday released research from experts at the University of California which shows that trying to offset fossil fuel emissions with popular forest carbon credit projects "is a pipe dream."
As the new Berkeley Carbon Trading Project assessment—funded by Carbon Market Watch (CMW)—explains, "The voluntary carbon market generates credits, each nominally equivalent to one metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced or removed from the atmosphere, from a wide range of projects around the globe."
Critics have long argued that carbon credit schemes are "false solutions" that harm poor communities where such projects are based and enable companies worldwide to greenwash their polluting activity rather than implementing reforms or investing in action to actually combat deforestation and the climate emergency.
"Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is the project type that has the most credits on the voluntary carbon market—about a quarter of all credits to date," the assessment details. "These projects pay governments, organizations, communities, and individuals in forest landscapes (primarily tropical ones in the Global South) for activities that preserve forests and avoid forest-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions."
Over the past two decades, more than $3 billion has been poured into REDD+ and nearly half a billion carbon credits have been awarded, yet "deforestation is still continuing at an alarming rate," the report notes. Berkeley researchers' analysis of four methodologies that have generated almost all REDD+ credits—under Verra, the largest voluntary carbon market registry—revealed that estimated GHG emissions reductions were dramatically exaggerated.
"We found significant over-crediting from all of the factors we reviewed, the core causes of which are a combination of incentives and uncertainty," said Barbara Haya, who led the research. "Everyone involved in the voluntary carbon market, from the buyers and sellers of credits, to the registries who write the rules and the auditors who enforce them, all benefit from more credits."
"Large uncertainty in climate benefit calculations creates many opportunities for market participants to choose assumptions that inflate credits issued," Haya added. "Drawing on all evidence, we conclude that REDD+ is ill-suited for carbon offsetting."
California has filed a lawsuit against some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, claiming they deceived the public and downplayed the risks posed by fossil fuels. The civil lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in San Francisco also seeks creation of a fund – financed by the companies – to pay for recovery efforts after devastating storms and fires. Democratic governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement the companies named in the lawsuit – Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP – should be held accountable.
“For more than 50 years, Big Oil has been lying to us – covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet,” Newsom said. “California taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for billions of dollars in damages – wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke clogging our air, deadly heatwaves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells.”
The 135-page complaint argues that the companies have known since at least the 1960s that the burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet and change the climate, but they downplayed the looming threat in public statements and marketing. It said the companies’ scientists knew as far back as the 1950s that the climate impacts would be catastrophic, and that there was only a narrow window of time in which communities and governments could respond.
Instead, the lawsuit said, the companies mounted a disinformation campaign beginning at least as early as the 1970s to discredit a growing scientific consensus on climate change, and disputed climate change-related risks.
The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group also named in the lawsuit, said climate policy should be debated in Congress, not the courtroom.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lil Green - Romance In The Dark
Lil Green - I'm Going to Copyright Your Kisses
Lil Green - Knockin' Myself Out
Lil Green - Why Don't You Do Right
Lil Green - Just Rockin'
Lil Green - Every Time
Lil Green - Country Boy Blues
Lil Green - Love Me
Lil Green - Blow Top Blues
Lil Green - My Mellow Man