The Evening Blues - 9-20-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features 1930's blues singer, guitarist and pianist Peetie Wheatstraw. Enjoy!
Peetie Wheatstraw - Stomp
"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
France has been accused of an unacceptable attack on press freedom after the arrest of an investigative journalist who reported on leaked documents that alleged French intelligence was used to target civilians in Egypt. Police arrived at the home of Ariane Lavrilleux at dawn on Tuesday and took her into custody after searching her property. The news agency AFP reported that she was being questioned by agents of the DGSI, France’s domestic intelligence agency.
Lavrilleux wrote a series of articles published on the investigative website Disclose in November 2021 that were based on hundreds of leaked classified documents. These allegedly showed how information from a French counter-intelligence operation in Egypt was used by Cairo for “a campaign of arbitrary killings” against smugglers operating along the Libyan border.
Disclose described the arrest as “an unacceptable attack on the secrecy of [press] sources”. The Société des Journalistes at France Télévisions and Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) also condemned the targeting of the journalist. “We fear that the DGSI’s actions will undermine the secrecy of the sources,” RSF said.
Virginie Marquet, the lawyer for Lavrilleux and Disclose, said they had only published information of public interest and condemned the arrest.
Australian Senator Peter Whish-Wilson Calls on US to Drop “Totalitarian” Case Against Julian Assange
During a Sunday appearance on Face the Nation to plug his new Zelensky movie, actor Sean Penn decried the “cowardice” of the US government in its caution around provoking a nuclear exchange with its proxy warfare in Ukraine.
“It is my absolute feeling that the caution with which the United States has pledged support, which seemed, in my reading of February 2022 was a, like a lean on in the fear of nuclear conflict, something I think all of us should look very carefully at and understand that, of course, is possible,” Penn said. “And that’s to be concerning. The likelihood is extremely low. And as one of our witnesses in the film says, you know, are we going to let a gangster with nuclear weapons dictate the way we live?”
Penn emotionally lamented the fact that the Biden administration did not pour F-16 warplanes into Ukraine from the very beginning of the conflict, initially fearing the move to be too escalatory. Describing this hesitation, Penn said that “at some point, caution becomes cowardice.”
As you might expect, the interviewer refrained from challenging Penn on his claim that the likelihood of nuclear war is “extremely low” in spite of his acknowledgement that it’s a real possibility, or on his claim that resisting increasing the likelihood of nuclear war is an act of cowardice.
Sean Penn has been one of Hollywood’s most egregious empire apologists for some time now (in 2020 he told CNN that “there is no greater humanitarian force on the planet than the United States military”), but even by his standards these comments about nuclear brinkmanship are remarkably odious.
There’s this obnoxious idea that comes up in mainstream political discourse about Ukraine that an aversion to nuclear brinkmanship is somehow cowardly, and that being willing to risk the life of every terrestrial organism advancing US strategic objectives is somehow an act of courage.
We saw this back in July from Paul Massaro, an advisor to the US government’s Helsinki Commission and a minor celebrity in online Zelenskyite circles. During this year’s “Captive Nations Summit” with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Massaro mocked westerners for being “fearful” of proxy warfare in Ukraine leading to nuclear warfare.
“I think the biggest thing is fear, I think we’re fearful,” Massaro said. “It’s very funny to me, because you meet Ukrainians, not a single Ukrainian is fearful. You talk to Ukrainians it’s like ‘What if the Russians use nuclear weapons?’, they’re like ‘We’ll keep fighting, we’ll win.’ You know it’s only the westerners that are like ‘Oh my god, I’m over here in California and what if the Russians use nuclear weapons?’ You know, it’s almost pathetic.”
It’s a common theme. Any time you talk publicly about the risk of the continually escalating war in Ukraine leading to nuclear catastrophe you’ll get empire apologists calling you a coward and saying we all need to be brave and stand up to the big bully Putin. And it’s just such a disgusting perversion of what courage actually is and what it looks like.
Empire loyalists often talk about nuclear brinkmanship like it’s something courageous that they personally are doing, as though gambling every terrestrial life on strategic grand chessboard maneuverings is a brave risk that could only hurt them. If you think you are brave for risking the life of everyone on earth to advance your personal geopolitical agendas, you might be a malignant narcissist, because you think the world revolves around you, and other lives exist only as props to support your main character adventures.
Hardly any human on this planet gives a shit who governs Crimea or the Donbass — and exactly zero of the plants and animals do — but people like Sean Penn and Paul Massaro think they have every right to not only gamble all their lives on a bid to control that outcome, but to call themselves courageous for doing so. Imagine being so self-absorbed you think you’re a brave hero for putting the lives of Africans, Asians, and South Americans on the betting table who’ve never even heard of Donetsk or Luhansk and don’t care who governs them, as well as every non-human life on earth.
I mean, the absolute arrogance. The fucking gall. It’s as emotionally stunted and infantile a perspective as you could possibly come up with, but these are the people whose worldview is shaping outcomes on this planet. These are the sort of people who are setting the trajectory of our species as a collective.
The mainstream western political consensus is a sickness of the mind. Its existence should make us all want to fall to our knees and beg the forgiveness of every life on this earth that it imperils.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York City in an effort to mobilize support for the US-NATO war against Russia. Their appearance follows the failure of Ukraine’s “spring offensive,” which has made no significant territorial gains despite the loss of tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops. On Monday, Zelensky’s government announced that it had dismissed all of its deputy defense ministers, following the firing last month of the country’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov.
Adding to the context of crisis and desperation, just one day ahead of Zelensky’s appearance at the UN, the New York Times published a report refuting claims that a September 6 missile attack on a Ukrainian market that killed at least 15 civilians was a deliberate massacre by Russian “terrorists.” Instead, the Times reported, the disaster was the result of an allegedly accidental Ukrainian missile strike—suspiciously timed to correspond with the arrival of Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ukraine the same day.
The mass dismissal of the entire leading ranks of the Ukrainian defense ministry is an all but open admission that the counter-offensive failed. Zelensky is being flown into Washington for emergency talks. It is evident that the Biden administration is responding to the military setback by escalating the war. It is demanding that Congress pass a further $21 billion in weapons and aid to Ukraine, adding to the more than $150 billion that has already been allocated. It is also moving to send long-range missiles capable of striking deep into Russian territory.
The US media’s coverage is more and more directly using the language of open war against Russia. “How to wage the financial war against Russia’s economy,” read an editorial in the Washington Post. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, one of America’s leading war propagandists, called in an op-ed Friday for the US to urgently lift any remaining restraints on the intervention. “Ukraine needs to inflict as much damage on Putin’s army as fast as possible,” Friedman wrote. “That means we need to massively and rapidly deliver the weaponry Ukraine needs to break Putin’s lines in the country’s southeast. I’m talking the kitchen sink: F-16s …; MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile Systems, which could strike deep behind Russian lines—whatever the Ukrainians can use effectively and fast.” ...
In an indication of what is actually being discussed behind the scenes, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö warned of the threat of a nuclear escalation of the war in an interview published Sunday in the New York Times. Niinistö warned, “We’re in a very sensitive situation. Even small things can change matters a great deal and unfortunately for the worse. That is the risk of such large-scale warfare.” He concluded, “The risk that nuclear weapons could be used is tremendous.”
In fact, what the United States seeks to present as self-assurance is in reality desperation. Facing a deepening economic and social crisis, US imperialism is seeking to preserve its global hegemony and the dominance of the US dollar in global economic life, which it perceives as being increasingly threatened by the rise of China.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told the UN general assembly that Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine and urged world leaders to attend a peace summit to help stop the invasion and future wars of aggression. ...
Zelenskiy said he would give further details of his peace plan, based on national sovereignty and territorial integrity, at a special session of the security council on Wednesday. He said all leaders “who do not tolerate any aggression” would be invited to a peace summit. He did not say when or where the meeting would be held, but he has previously expressed the hope it would happen by autumn this year. ...
He said the Ukrainian peace blueprint, which involves a Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, accountability for war crimes and restitution for damages, represented “a real chance to end aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked”.
Zelenskiy added: “While Russia is pushing the world to a final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after this Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation.”
The propaganda vehicle that got away.
A missile strike that hit a crowded market in the Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka killing at least 17 civilians earlier this month could have been caused by an errant missile fired by Ukraine, the New York Times has reported.
A further 32 people were wounded on 6 September by the impact of the missile 12 miles (20km) from the frontlines in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, in one of the highest civilian death tolls from a single incident in recent months. Video of the aftermath showed fires raging in destroyed buildings and soldiers carrying body bags away from the scene. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a few hours later accused Russia of being responsible for the attack.
However, evidence collected and analysed by the New York Times suggests the strike was “the result of an Ukrainian air defence missile fired by a Buk launch system” that failed to hit its intended target and landed in the bustling heart of Kostiantynivka instead.
“Missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defence missile fired” it reported on Tuesday. Security camera footage reviewed by the paper shows that “the missile flew into Kostiantynivka from the direction of Ukrainian-held territory, not from behind Russian lines”. ...
The New York Times also cited evidence showing that, minutes before the strike, the Ukrainian military had launched two surface-to-air missiles towards the Russian frontline from the town of Druzhkivka, 10 miles (16km) north-west of Kostiantynivka.
Azerbaijan has launched attacks against the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, with bombing raids hitting the regional capital of Stepanakert, in an explosive move that threatens to reopen a bloody 2020 war.
Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, said its “anti-terrorist” campaign on the blockaded region, which local Armenians call Artsakh, was “limited” and necessary to restore order, and that it was committed to peace. However, the previous offensive, in which Azerbaijan retook land from a local Armenian population, was fiercely fought amid widespread accusations of war crimes.
Video from Stepanakert appeared to show bomb raid warnings blaring and the audible sounds of artillery fire. Other video from the region seemed to show Azerbaijan using drones to strike Armenian anti-air defence positions. Artillery fire, possibly from a Grad multiple rocket launcher system, could also be heard on the outskirts of the city of Askeran. ...
The ministry claimed weapons were not being used against civilian positions but the strikes were clearly being carried out in close proximity to major cities and population centres.
Azerbaijan said it had launched the attacks to force Armenian-backed fighters from the region and demanded that the local ethnic Armenian government “must dissolve itself”. ... Analysts said it appears that Baku is seeking to drain resolve from the de-facto Artsakh republic by blockading the local population and increasing pressure on hundreds of thousands of locals to leave the territories.
Months before Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in a car park in Canada, three other Indians associated with the Sikh separatist movement had died on foreign soil – in circumstances deemed, at least by some, as suspicious.
On Monday, Justin Trudeau alleged there was “credible evidence” that the Indian government was behind the assassination of Nijjar, an explosive accusation that torpedoed already frayed diplomatic relations between India and Canada. India called the allegation “absurd” and both sides expelled senior diplomats in response.
Yet some had already connected Nijjar’s killing in June to the deaths of other prominent figures connected to the Khalistani separatist movement, which fights for the independence of the Indian state of Punjab and has recently seen a revival in India.
The Indian government has in recent months openly pursued and arrested Khalistani militants and sympathisers within its own borders, and Sikh groups have accused the government of taking its crackdown on dissent beyond Indian territory. Nijjar had been designated as a terrorist by the Indian authorities since 2020 and was said to head a militant group, the Khalistan Tiger Force.
After the assassinations of two known Khalistani militants in neighbouring Pakistan in January and May – both in the city of Lahore – there was suspicion of India’s involvement. ... Pakistan has previously accused India of carrying out killings of militants on its territory. Speaking after Trudeau’s allegations, Pakistan’s former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called India a “rogue Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] terrorist state”.
Republican leaders seemed to move further away from a resolution to the impending government shutdown on Tuesday.
In a sign of how bad the party’s split has become, a procedural vote on the short-term funding bill expected to happen today was cancelled, and an attempt to advance a Pentagon spending bill was voted down, thanks to rightwing Republicans. The vote intensifies the risk of a shutdown on 1 October and Kevin McCarthy losing his speakership. ...
Part of the holdup includes proposed amendments from far-right Republicans on the continuing resolution that would prevent funds from being used for Ukraine aid and other initiatives. Greene’s list of amendments also included a ban on funding for Covid-19 vaccine mandates. ...
Late on Sunday a group of hardline and moderate Republicans had reached agreement on a short-term stopgap spending bill, known as a “continuing resolution”, or CR, that could help McCarthy move forward on defence legislation.
But it remains unclear whether it can garner enough Republican support to pass the House. At least a dozen members came out against it or expressed scepticism. Matt Gaetz, a Florida congressman who has called for McCarthy’s removal, tweeted that the CR is “a betrayal of Republicans” while Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia posted: “I’m a NO!”
In this year’s only opportunity for US voters to directly weigh in on the right to abortion, an upcoming ballot referendum in Ohio will include language that describes a fetus as an “unborn child”, in a disappointing loss for abortion rights activists in the state who had sued to stop voters from seeing language they say is misleading. ...
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights proposed using the text of the amendment, which includes guarantees that the state cannot interfere with the right to contraception, miscarriage care and abortion up until the point of viability, a benchmark that’s generally pegged to about 24 weeks of pregnancy. However, by a 3-2 vote, the Ohio ballot board voted to adopt a summary of the amendment instead. This summary repeatedly substituted the term “unborn child” for “fetus” and says the amendment would “always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability” if a doctor deems an abortion necessary to protect a “pregnant woman’s life or health”.
Days after the Ohio ballot board vote, the coalition behind the referendum, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, sued. ... In a ruling Tuesday evening, the Ohio supreme court ruled that the proposed summary was misleading only because it used the language “citizens of the state”. It ordered the Ohio ballot board to reconvene to rewrite the summary and accurately reflect that the abortion referendum will regulate the state government, rather than everyday Ohioans.
Climate campaigners on Tuesday took U.S. President Joe Biden to task following an address before the United Nations General Assembly in which he called on world leaders to urgently "climate-proof" the heating Earth while making what critics said were false claims about his administration's efforts to tackle the planetary emergency.
During his speech, Biden said that increasingly extreme weather events occurring around the world "tell the urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels," while claiming that "the United States has treated this crisis as the existential threat from the moment we took office."
Despite such lofty rhetoric and campaign pledges to center climate action—including by stopping new fossil fuel drilling on public lands—Biden has overseen the approval of more new permits for drilling on public land during his first two years in office than former President Donald Trump did in 2017 and 2018. The Biden administration has also held a massive fossil fuel lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico and has approved the highly controversial Willow project, Mountain Valley Pipeline, and increased liquefied natural gas production and export.
Oil Change International recently called the United States—which the climate action group says accounts for more than one-third of planned global oil and gas expansion through 2050—the "planet-wrecker-in-chief."
“I’m Not a Criminal… Enbridge Is”: Charges Tossed Against Winona LaDuke & Others for Pipeline Action
Groups of animal species are vanishing at a rate 35 times higher than average due to human activity, according to researchers, who say it is further evidence that a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and accelerating.
Scientists analysing the rate at which closely related animal species have gone extinct in the past 500 years have found they would have taken 18,000 years to vanish in the absence of humans, and the rate at which they are being lost is increasing.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that at least 73 mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species groupings have gone extinct since 1500. If trends had followed the average pre-human impact rates of extinction, just two would have been expected to disappear, they estimated. Those lost include the elephant birds of Madagascar, moa from New Zealand and Hawaiian moho honeyeaters.
Due to habitat destruction, the climate crisis and the illegal trade in wildlife, losses are projected to accelerate in the coming years. In the worst-case scenario – that all currently endangered species groups disappear by the end of the century – the rate would be 354 times above the average for the past million years.
“The current generic extinction rates are 35 times higher than expected background rates prevailing in the last million years under the absence of human impacts,” the report said.
The Australian government is “missing half the equation” in acting on the climate crisis by backing a shift to renewable energy but having no plan to get out of fossil fuels, according to an author of a new scientific review.
Prof Lesley Hughes is a leading climate change scientist and member of the independent Climate Council and government advisory body the Climate Change Authority. Hughes said there is a “cognitive dissonance” between Labor’s stated commitment to addressing the problem and the pace at which it is moving.
The dissonance is most clear in it subsidising or approving new and expanded fossil fuel developments while arguing it supports trying to limit global heating to 1.5C – a goal agreed at UN climate conferences.
“The two things are completely at odds with each other,” she said.
Hughes is the co-author of a Climate Council review, released on Wednesday, which found Australia should be cutting national carbon dioxide emissions by 75% by 2030. The government’s legislated target is a minimum 43% cut (compared with 2005 levels). The report said the country should be aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2035 – much sooner than the current 2050 goal. The finding is broadly consistent with other analyses that have found Australia should be moving more rapidly.
A network of Native American ceremonial and burial mounds in southern Ohio have been added to the list of world heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). The move places what the organization describes as “part cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory” on the same cultural plane as the Acropolis, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China.
The recognition of the Hopewell ceremonial earthworks was announced by Unesco’s world heritage committee during a meeting in Saudi Arabia. ... The Hopewell site near Newark, Ohio, is part of eight large earthen enclosures built in a central and southern area of the state between about AD1 and AD400. They are considered to be the largest set of geometric enclosures in the world.
Other sites included under the new designation are the Fort Ancient earthworks in Oregonia and the Great Circle earthworks in Heath and five sites within the Hopewell Culture national historical park in Chillicothe: the Mound City group, the Hopewell mound group, the Seip earthworks, the High Bank earthworks and the Hopeton earthworks. ...
The Octagon earthworks are believed to follow an 18.6-year moon cycle, with the central axis of the earthworks aligning with the northernmost rising of the moon, and other walls aligning with different moonrises. In the 1970s, Ray Hively and Robert Horn, two professors at Ohio’s Earlham College, rediscovered the alignments and said the walls of the Octagon “define the most accurate astronomical alignments known in the prehistoric world”.
It is believed that the earthworks were host to ceremonies that drew people from across the US, based on archaeological discoveries of raw materials brought from as far west as the Rocky Mountains.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Peetie Wheatstraw - Devil's Son-In-Law
Peetie Wheatstraw - Gangster's Blues
Peetie Wheatstraw - Crazy With The Blues
Peetie Wheatstraw - Road Tramp Blues
Peetie Wheatstraw - Police Station Blues
YPeetie Wheatstraw - ou Can't Stop Me From Drinking
Peetie Wheatstraw - The Last Dime
Peetie Wheatstraw - Tennessee Peaches Blues
Peetie Wheatstraw - King Of Spades
Peetie Wheatstraw - Five Minutes Blues
Peetie Wheatstraw - Throw Me In The Alley