The Evening Blues - 11-30-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans piano player and songwriter Huey "Piano" Smith. Enjoy!
Huey Piano Smith And The Clowns – Don't You Just Know It
"The legislature, like the executive, has ceased to be even the creature of the people: it is the creature of pressure groups, and most of them, it must be manifest, are of dubious wisdom and even more dubious honesty. Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle..."
-- H. L. Mencken
News and Opinion
While Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been frantically shuttling around the Middle East trying to stop the Israeli conflict in Gaza from exploding into a regional war, the United States has also sent two aircraft carrier strike groups, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and 1,200 extra troops to the Middle East as a “deterrent.” In plain language, the United States is threatening to attack any forces that come to the defense of the Palestinians from other countries in the region, reassuring Israel that it can keep killing with impunity in Gaza.
But if Israel persists in this genocidal war, U.S. threats may be impotent to prevent others from intervening. From Lebanon to Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Iran, the possibilities of the conflict spreading are enormous. Even Algeria says it is ready to fight for a free Palestine, based on a unanimous vote in its parliament on November 1.
Middle Eastern governments and their people already see the United States as a party to Israel’s massacre in Gaza. So any direct U.S. military action will be seen as an escalation on the side of Israel and is more likely to provoke further escalation than to deter it.
The United States already faces this predicament in Iraq. Despite years of Iraqi demands for the removal of U.S. forces, at least 2,500 U.S. troops remain at Al-Asad Airbase in western Anbar province, Al-Harir Airbase, north of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, and another small base at the airport in Erbil. There are also “several hundred” NATO troops, including Americans, advising Iraqi forces in NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), based near Baghdad.
For many years, U.S. forces in Iraq have been mired in a low-grade war against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) that Iraq formed to fight ISIS, mainly from Shia militias. Despite their links to Iran, the armed groups Kata’ib Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and other PMFs have often ignored Iranian calls to de-escalate attacks on U.S. forces. These Iraqi groups do not respect Iran Quds Force leader General Esmail Qaani as highly as they did General Qasem Soleimani, so Soleimani’s assassination by the United States in 2020 has further reduced Iran’s ability to restrain the militias in Iraq.
After a year-long truce between U.S. and Iraqi forces, the Israeli war on Gaza has triggered a new escalation of this conflict in both Iraq and Syria. Some militias rebranded themselves as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq and began attacking U.S. bases on October 17. After 32 attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, 34 more in Syria, and 3 U.S. airstrikes in Syria, U.S. forces conducted airstrikes against two Kata’ib Hezbollah bases in Iraq, one in Anbar province and one in Jurf Al-Nasr, south of Baghdad, on November 21, killing at least nine militiamen.
The U.S. airstrikes prompted a furious response from the Iraqi government spokesman Bassam al-Awadi. “We vehemently condemn the attack on Jurf Al-Nasr, executed without the knowledge of government agencies,” al-Awadi said. “This action is a blatant violation of sovereignty and an attempt to destabilize the security situation… The recent incident represents a clear violation of the coalition’s mission to combat Daesh (ISIS) on Iraqi soil. We call on all parties to avoid unilateral actions and to respect Iraq’s sovereignty…”
As the Iraqi government feared, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq responded to the U.S. airstrikes with two attacks on Al-Harir airbase on November 22 and several more on November 23. They attacked Al-Asad airbase with several drones, launched another drone attack on the U.S. base at Erbil airport, and their allies in Syria attacked two U.S. bases across the border in northeastern Syria.
Short of a cease-fire in Gaza or a full U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Syria, there is no decisive action the U.S. can take that would put a stop to these attacks. So the level of violence in Iraq and Syria is likely to keep rising as long as the war on Gaza continues.
Another formidable and experienced military force opposing Israel and the United States is the Houthi army in Yemen. On November 14, Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi government in Yemen, asked neighboring countries to open a corridor through their territory for his army to go and fight Israel in Gaza.
The Houthi Deputy Information Secretary Nasreddin Amer told Newsweek that if they had a way to enter Palestine, they would not hesitate to join the fight against Israel, “We have fighters numbering hundreds of thousands who are brave, tough, trained, and experienced in fighting,” Amer said. “They have a very strong belief, and their dream in life is to fight the Zionists and the Americans.”
Transporting hundreds of thousands of Yemeni soldiers to fight in Gaza would be nearly impossible unless Saudi Arabia opened the way. That seems highly unlikely, but Iran or another ally could help to transport a smaller number by air or sea to join the fight.
The Houthis have been waging an asymmetric war against Saudi-led invaders for many years, and they have developed weapons and tactics that they could bring to bear against Israel. Soon after al-Houthi’s statement, Yemeni forces in the Red Sea boarded a ship owned, via shell companies, by Israeli billionaire Abraham Ungar. The ship, which was on its way from Istanbul to India, was detained in a Yemeni port.
The Houthis have also launched a series of drones and missiles towards Israel. While many members of Congress try to portray the Houthis as simply puppets of Iran, the Houthis are actually an independent, unpredictable force that other actors in the region cannot control.
Even NATO ally Türkiye is finding it difficult to remain a bystander, given the widespread public support for Palestine. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye was among the first international leaders to speak out strongly against the Israeli war on Gaza, explicitly calling it a massacre and saying that it amounted to genocide.
Turkish civil society groups are spearheading a campaign to send humanitarian aid to Gaza on cargo ships, braving a possible confrontation like the one that occurred in 2010 when the Israelis attacked the Freedom Flotilla, killing 10 people aboard the Mavi Marmara.
On the Lebanese border, Israel and Hezbollah have conducted daily exchanges of fire since October 7, killing 97 combatants and 15 civilians in Lebanon and 9 soldiers and 3 civilians in Israel. Some 46,000 Lebanese civilians and 65,000 Israelis have been displaced from the border area. Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant warned on November 11, “What we’re doing in Gaza, we can also do in Beirut.”
How will Hezbollah react if Israel resumes its brutal massacre in Gaza after the brief pause is over or if Israel expands the massacre to the West Bank, where it has already killed at least 237 more Palestinians since October 7?
In a speech on November 3, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah held back from declaring a new war on Israel, but warned that “all options are on the table” if Israel does not end its war on Gaza.
As Israel prepared to pause its bombing on November 23, Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held meetings in Qatar, first with Nasrallah and Lebanese officials, and then with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
In a public statement, Amirabdollahian said, “The continuation of the cease-fire can prevent further expansion of the scope of the war. In the meeting with the leaders of the resistance, I found out that if Israel’s war crimes and genocide continue, a tougher and more complicated scenario of the resistance will be implemented.”
Amirabdollahian already warned on October 16 that, “The leaders of the resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to do whatever it wants in Gaza and then go to other fronts of the resistance.”
In other words, if Iran and its allies believe that Israel really intends to continue its war on Gaza until it has removed Hamas from power, and then to turn its war machine loose on Lebanon or its other neighbors, they would prefer to fight a wider war now, forcing Israel to fight the Palestinians, Hezbollah, and their allies at the same time, rather than waiting for Israel to attack them one by one.
Tragically, the White House is not listening. The next day, President Joe Biden continued to back Israel’s vow to resume the destruction of Gaza after its “humanitarian pause,” saying that attempting to eliminate Hamas is “a legitimate objective.”
America’s unconditional support for Israel and endless supply of weapons have succeeded only in turning Israel into an out-of-control, genocidal, destabilizing force at the heart of a fragile region already shattered and traumatized by decades of U.S. warmaking. The result is a country that refuses to recognize its own borders or those of its neighbors, and rejects any and all limits on its territorial ambitions and war crimes.
If Israel’s actions lead to a wider war, the U.S. will find itself with few allies ready to jump into the fray. Even if a regional conflict is avoided, the U.S. support for Israel has already created tremendous damage to the U.S. reputation in the region and beyond, and direct U.S. involvement in the war would leave it more isolated and impotent than its previous misadventures in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The United States can still avoid this fate by insisting on an immediate and permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. If Israel will not agree to that, the U.S. must back up this position with an immediate suspension of arms deliveries, military aid, Israeli access to U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel, and diplomatic support for Israel’s war on Palestine.
The priority of U.S. officials must be to stop Israel’s massacre, avoid a regional war, and get out of the way so that other nations can help negotiate a real solution to the occupation of Palestine.
"The heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day."
Sometimes Israel’s crimes are so horrific that at first you don’t even understand what you’re looking at. You just stare at it trying to make sense of what you’re seeing for a bit, like you would if you suddenly saw a space alien or a leprechaun or something.
It happened to me yesterday when I was watching a Sky News report about a teenage boy who was shot by Israeli forces in Jerusalem for celebrating the release of Palestinian prisoners in the hostage negotiations with Hamas. I was watching it thinking to myself, I must be misunderstanding what I’m looking at. I know that Israel does gross things, but surely the story here isn’t that they shot a kid for being happy about something.
I don’t understand. Was a teenager shot for celebrating? https://t.co/zAJdcHRK4K
— Katie Halper A Jew For #CeasefireNow (@kthalps) November 29, 2023
Then, as has happened so many times over the last two months, I kept watching and learned that yes, that is indeed what happened. The deputy mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is seen defending the shooting by saying “part of the deal is that there would be no celebrations for the release of attempted murderers” (this was actually not a part of the deal, it was just a decree issued by Israel’s national security minister) and claiming dishonestly that “we’re talking about the release of attempted murderers” (the vast majority have not been convicted of any crime and have been denied any due process for the accusations against them).
The band Eve6 nicely summed up what it felt like watching the clip of the deputy mayor’s comments, tweeting, “The remarkable thing about this clip is her self assurance. Like she’s supremely confident that ‘we shot the teenager because he was celebrating’ is a thing that people will find reasonable.”
Five tiny infants died starving, cold and alone. Their bodies decomposed. They were still connected to ventilation and intravenous tubes, 17 days after Israeli soldiers stormed the al-Nasr pediatric hospital and ordered doctors to leave https://t.co/IBLdmH0kvJ
— Electronic Intifada (@intifada) November 29, 2023
I had the same experience reading about the five premature babies who were left to die after the IDF raided al-Nasr Pediatric Hospital in Gaza earlier this month, their decomposing bodies only discovered when the temporary ceasefire allowed access to the hospital. It’s just too insane to believe — they attacked a pediatric hospital? And then they left the babies there to die? What??
The only reason we’re learning about this now is because the pause in fighting allowed journalists to get cameras into the building and show the dead infants to the world. This calls to mind the Politico report immediately prior to the ceasefire which said that the White House was worried “an unintended consequence of the pause” would be “that it would allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.”
Indeed, since the pause in fighting began the world has been receiving drone footage from mainstream platforms like Reuters and The Washington Post revealing vast expanses of urban terrain completely destroyed by a blanket of Israeli military explosives spanning from city block to city block. Looking at the blatantly indiscriminate devastation that’s been caused by Israel’s assault on Gaza since October 7 makes it clear that the IDF are not targeting Hamas but Gaza itself. ...
This thing is so astonishingly ugly, and it could get a whole lot uglier after the ceasefire ends. If there’s anything positive to be found in this living nightmare, it’s that it’s so earth-shakingly ugly that it just might shake the world awake.
Lest we forget: Israel's army is wiping out any chance of Peace by utilising the temporary lull in Gaza to raid Jenin in the West Bank. That's what Western gvts are supporting behind the lie of a 2-state solution: The complete annexation of the West Bank once Gaza is 'cleansed'.
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) November 29, 2023
While talks continued over extending the truce in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces have continued to prepare for a resumption of hostilities within days – which risks provoking an unprecedented humanitarian crisis among an already desperate population. Israel remains determined to take control of the southern part of the strip, and in particular Khan Younis, where it believes Hamas’s leader, Yahwa Sinwar, is based, in pursuit of the overall goal of destroying the group’s military and political capacity.
But after demanding the evacuation of northern Gaza, insiders and experts accept the strategy has to change. “The IDF knows it cannot conduct a duplicate of the operation in northern Gaza in the south,” said Tamir Hayman, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, who has been providing advice to his previous employer since 7 October. There are, Hayman says, 2 million people in the south of Gaza, 1 million of whom have moved there since the start of Israel’s attacks on the strip, in response to demands that they evacuate from the heart of the combat zone. This has not stopped Israel’s air force bombing in the south, but by contrast the north has been smashed.
An idea that is being aired in some circles, though not publicly, is that Israel’s military will have to organise local evacuations of civilians on a village-by-village or district-by-district basis, before attacking to take control of both the ground and tunnels below. Air power may only be deployed once an evacuation is complete. It would also mean drawn-out fighting – “the overarching strategy is for a very long war,” Hayman says grimly. Gaza’s northernmost town, Beit Hanoun, was after the initial aerial bombardment attacked and surrounded, and a commander, Col Arye Baat from the 252nd division, a unit of reservists, said it took “about 24 days” to seize military control in heavy fighting.
If the new model is viable, the IDF thinks fighting will could go on for months, at least into January. But the prospect of a longer war and above all further evacuations, to an increasingly small portion of the strip, alarms aid agencies and will raise wider concerns that Israel’s ultimate goal is to depopulate the strip.
A 10-month-old baby who was the youngest hostage kidnapped and taken to Gaza has reportedly been killed in an Israeli bombing alongside his mother and brother, Hamas has claimed.
Kfir Bibas was taken from the Nir Oz kibbutz along with his four-year-old brother, Ariel, and their mother, Shiri. His father, Yarden, was also abducted during the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel, in which about 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage.
Footage of the family’s abduction showed a terrified Shiri clutching her two sons as they were bundled away. Yarden appeared in a separate video with an apparent head injury. ...
Shortly before Wednesday’s planned release of women and children, the military wing of Hamas said Kfir had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, along with his brother and their mother. Yarden was not mentioned.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was trying to verifying the claims. It said in a statement: “IDF representatives spoke with the Bibas family following the recent reports and are with them at this difficult time. The IDF is assessing the accuracy of the information. Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas must be held accountable. Hamas’s actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children. Hamas must immediately release our hostages.”
Almost a million Americans signed petitions from half a dozen civil society organizations demanding that U.S. President Joe Biden and Congress push for a lasting cease-fire in Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.
Amnesty International USA, Avaaz, Demand Progress, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), MoveOn, and Oxfam America circulated similar petitions in response to the war, which Israel launched after a Hamas-led attack on October 7.
The groups delivered the petition signatures to the White House on Wednesday as the world waited to see if a temporary truce would be extended. The initial four-day pause in fighting—during which Hamas freed some hostages taken last month and Israel released some Palestinian prisoners—was extended by two days on Monday, but as of press time, no new announcement had been made.
"This Is Genocide": Attorney Raji Sourani on Israeli War Crimes & Fleeing Gaza After Home Was Bombed
Netanyahu is only PM if he keeps the war going. Bibi is Ben-Gvir's hostage:
Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has threatened to break apart the governing coalition if Israel's war on Gaza stops.
"Stopping the war = breaking apart the government," he posted on X on Tuesday.
Genocide Joe is working hard to earn his moniker...
Senior US officials speaking to POLITICO on Wednesday have reaffirmed that the Biden administration intends to place no conditions on future military aid to Israel despite public comments suggesting the idea was under consideration.
Amid growing calls from Democrats to condition military aid to Israel, President Biden told reporters the idea is a “worthwhile thought,” but US officials said it won’t happen. “It’s not something we’re currently pursuing,” one official said.
Much more at the link.
Almost as important as its military campaign for Israel is its battle to control its public image. Even as it kills thousands of people in Gaza, the small Middle Eastern nation is spending millions of dollars on a propaganda war, purchasing ads on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other online apps. At the same time, an army of pro-Israel trolls has invaded the Community Notes function on X/Twitter, attempting to influence the online debate around the ongoing crisis.
Since Oct. 7, Israel has inundated YouTube with advertisements, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs spending nearly $7.1 million on ads in the two weeks following Hamas’ incursion. According to journalist Sophia Smith Galer, this equates to almost one billion impressions. With its campaign, the Israeli government overwhelmingly focused on rich Western nations, its top targets being France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States. In France alone, the ministry spent $3.8 million. ...
Israel’s YouTube campaign has been matched by expansive attempts to control the public debate on other social media platforms. In barely a week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ran 30 ads seen over 4 million times on Twitter. Like with YouTube, analytics data shows they were inordinately targeting adults in Western Europe. ... The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also bought large numbers of advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, mobile games and apps such as language trainer Duolingo.
The Community Notes function on Twitter is an attempt to fight false information. Contributors who sign up for the feature can leave notes on any post, adding context to potentially misleading statements. The community then votes on these notes, and if enough people consider the note useful, it is presented below the original tweet.
While it has its advantages, the system is ripe for abuse and infiltration. Since Oct. 7, an army of pro-Israel trolls [Ed.: not necessarily linked to the Israeli government] has brigaded the function and is attempting to undermine and attack as many posts as possible that show Israel in a negative light or Palestine in a positive one. This has often been done in an attempt to hide Israeli war crimes.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul's office says he will force a vote in the coming weeks on a bill he introduced this month that could remove all U.S. troops — approximately 900 — from Syria. Sources say a vote could come as early as next week.
"The American people have had enough of endless wars in the Middle East. Yet, 900 U.S. troops remain in Syria with no vital U.S. interest at stake, no definition of victory, no exit strategy, and no congressional authorization to be there," Paul said in a statement provided to RS.
"If we are going to deploy our young men and women in uniform to Syria to fight and potentially give their life for some supposed cause, shouldn’t we as their elected representatives at least debate the merits of sending them there? Shouldn’t we do our constitutional duty and debate if the mission we are sending them on is achievable?"
"We're not at war."
That's what U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) claimed during a Wednesday hearing about controversial legislation backed by Republicans and right-wing Democrats that would create a so-called fiscal commission for the U.S. debt.
Making some on-the-fly additions to his prepared remarks, Arrington said, "120% debt to GDP—this is the highest level of indebtedness in the history of our country surpassing World War II and we're not at war, we're in relative peace and prosperity."
And yet, a report published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs shows that since 2021, the U.S. military has conducted counterterrorism operations—including training and assistance, military exercises, combat and detention, and air and drone strikes—in at least 78 countries.
"The war launched by the United States government in response to the 9/11 terror attacks continues," states the report, authored by project co-director Stephanie Savell. "This map is a snapshot of today's global military and civilian operations that evolved from President George W. Bush's 'Global War on Terror,' launched in 2001, and continued through and beyond the U.S. military's official withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. This war on terror continues under President Joe Biden."
The United States conducted air and drone strikes against militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and likely Yemen, according to the report. U.S. forces also "engaged in combat and detention, using force on the ground against militants/terrorism suspects" in those five countries plus Cuba, Kenya, Mali, and the United Arab Emirates.
The publication also identifies 30 countries where the United States "conducted formal, named military exercises to project
force locally and rehearse scenarios of combating 'terrorists' or 'violent extremist organizations," and 73 nations where the U.S. government "trained and/or assisted military, police, and/or border patrol forces."
As the report details:
Many U.S. military operations are not included here—notably, those aimed at what U.S. officials and media identify as the military threat posed by Russia and China, the focus of much current U.S. foreign policy. Nor does this map include the military bases that have housed counterterrorism operations. Further, it does not include counterterrorism-related arms sales to foreign governments, all deployments of U.S. special operations forces, or all Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations. Also excluded are "military information support operations (MISO)," or "psychological operations," which the U.S. military carries out in many countries on the map and beyond, such as in Iran. All of these are significant elements of the bigger picture of U.S. counterterrorism strategy but beyond the scope of the map's data set.
USA Today exclusively reported on the new map. Citing the Pentagon and David Vine, an anthropologist and U.S military expert at American University, the newspaper noted that "there are up to 800 U.S. military bases overseas," and "the Biden administration signed an agreement in June that will bring six new U.S. military bases to Papua New Guinea."
The Costs of War Project report points out that "there are a few notable differences in comparing the current data with the previous version of the map, which covered activities between 2018 through 2020 under President Donald Trump's administration." Differences include that the number of nations hit with U.S. airstrikes decreased while the tally of countries where U.S. service members engaged in ground combat rose by one—the UAE.
"Overall, though the total number of countries has decreased slightly, from 85 to 78 total countries, the United States counterterrorism footprint remains remarkably similar," the report stresses. "Taken altogether, this map's data highlights that the expansive global counterterrorism apparatus grinds ever onwards. This contrasts starkly with claims or assumptions on the part of the U.S. public and policymakers that the so-called 'War on Terror' is over."
The report comes as Congress considers how much more military aid—if any—to provide Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion since February 2022, and Israel, which launched a war on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a Hamas-led attack on October 7.
"Today, in the current geopolitical context of the Middle East, the U.S. counterterrorism machinery is like a spark, ready to ignite," Savell wrote Wednesday in a related opinion piece for Newsweek. "The U.S. footprint in the region does not only make U.S. forces sitting ducks—it also threatens to dramatically escalate the current war on Gaza. Research has shown that having U.S. troops at the ready in so many places actually makes the chances of the U.S. waging aggressive, offensive wars far more likely."
"It is time for the U.S. to think deeply about the costs of overseas counterterrorism and to admit it has been a failure, underlaid by structural racism," she argued. "It is time to truly end the post-9/11 war era."
The Republican-led push to establish a fiscal commission for the U.S. debt was met with vocal opposition during a House Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, with progressive advocates and Democratic lawmakers calling the proposal a thinly veiled ploy to further undermine and cut Social Security and Medicare.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), one of eight witnesses who testified at Wednesday's hearing, said he was "a little skeptical" that Republican lawmakers are now concerned about the national debt given that they have driven it up with tax cuts for the rich and large corporations in recent years—and are still trying to increase it.
According to one analysis, the series of tax cuts approved under former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump have added $10 trillion to the debt since their enactment and are responsible for the bulk of the increase in the debt ratio since 2001.
Social Security, by contrast, is not a driver of federal deficits.
"If we want to ensure long-term solvency [for Social Security], there are two choices: Some on the other side think we should cut benefits, I think we should ask the ultra-rich to pay their fair share. We don't need a commission to tell us that," McGovern said during his testimony. "And my fear is that a commission would be used by some as an excuse to slash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal anti-poverty programs."
A Colorado prosecutor said on Wednesday that two paramedics“did nothing” to help an ailing Elijah McClain as he lay on the ground and instead injected him with an overdose of a powerful sedative that killed the 23-year-old Black man, after he had been weakened by police neck holds when officers forcibly restrained him as he was walking home from a convenience store. ... The trial is expected to explore largely uncharted legal territory because it is rare for medical first responders to face criminal charges.
Initially, no one was charged because the coroner’s office could not determine exactly how McClain died. But social justice protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd drew renewed attention to McClain’s case, and a grand jury indicted the paramedics and three officers in 2021.
The officers already have gone to trial, and two were acquitted, including one who is back at work for the Aurora police department. The third officer was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault.
Aurora fire department paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lt Peter Cichuniec have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and several counts each of assault.
“Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec were called to help Elijah McClain get medical treatment. He was their patient. But they didn’t do one thing that night to give him medical treatment,” the Colorado solicitor general, Shannon Stevenson, told jurors. “Instead, he faced down on the ground, not speaking, barely moving. The defendants injected him with an overdose of a powerful sedative, a drug that Elijah had no medical need for and the defendants had no medical purpose to give.” Cooper’s attorney Shana Beggan said the paramedics decided to use the sedative ketamine based on the officers’ description of McClain resisting them, grabbing at an officer’s gun and having superhuman strength.
Getting stuck in traffic is one of the most common stressors that millions of Americans face every day. The bumper-to-bumper traffic can come at the cost of wasted gas, environmental pollution, and as new research shows, even spikes in blood pressure.
Air pollution from traffic can cause a significant rise in blood pressure that can last up to 24 hours, according to a study via the University of Washington. The spike is comparable to the effect of a high-sodium diet and can contribute to cardiovascular problems. Long-term exposure to vehicle exhaust has been widely linked with respiratory problems such as asthma, especially in children.
“Traffic air pollution increases blood pressure within an hour of being in traffic and it stays elevated a day later,” said author of the study Joel Kaufman, a physician and professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington. ...
Breathing unfiltered air resulted in blood pressure increase of more than 4.5mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) compared to filtered air. Most of the pollution came from tailpipe exhaust or the fossil fuel combustion, as well as brake and tire wear. The filters were most effective in reducing ultrafine particles (86% decrease), black carbon, which is mostly from diesel (86%), and PM2.5 (60%) while gasses like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide were unaffected. “The clue here is that these tiniest particles are probably what’s responsible for blood pressure difference,” Kaufman said.
The North American wolverine, a species from the badger family that resembles a small bear with a bushy tail, will receive government protections under a Biden administration proposal after scientists warned that its harsh, prairie mountain habitat was being threatened by climate change.
The proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to grant wolverines, sometimes called “mountain devils”, federal protections under the Endangered Species Act brings a close to 30-year fight by conservation groups who first petitioned for the species to be listed as threatened in 1994.
“Current and increasing impacts of climate change and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation are imperiling the North American wolverine,” said the service’s Pacific regional director, Hugh Morrison, in a press release. “Based on the best available science, this listing determination will help to stem the long-term impact and enhance the viability of wolverines in the contiguous United States.”
Last year, a federal judge in Montana gave wildlife officials 18 months to decide if wolverines should receive protections following years of dispute over the risks climate change and other threats posed to the rare and elusive predators.
That order came after environmentalists challenged a 2020 decision by the Trump administration to withhold protections despite no more than 300 being thought to remain in the lower 48 states, primarily in fragmented, isolated groups at high elevations in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington state.
Big meat companies and lobby groups are planning a large presence at the Cop28 climate conference, equipped with a communications plan to get a pro-meat message heard by policymakers throughout the summit. Documents seen by the Guardian and DeSmog show that the meat industry is poised to “tell its story and tell it well” at the Dubai conference. The files show how the world’s largest meat company, JBS, is planning to come out in “full force” at the summit, along with other big industry hitters such as the Global Dairy Platform and the North American Meat Institute.
The documents, which were produced by the industry-funded Global Meat Alliance (GMA), emphasise the industry’s desire to promote “our scientific evidence” at the summit. Members of the alliance have been asked to stick to key comms messages, which include the idea that meat is beneficial to the environment.
Meat and dairy companies are under increasing pressure over their large greenhouse gas footprints. The dairy industry is responsible for 3.4% of global human-induced emissions, a higher share than aviation. Trade groups also give some indication in the documents of how they hope to shape conversations in Dubai. One said it will “push” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to host “positive livestock content” at Cop28. The Guardian recently revealed that pressure from the industry led to censorship of FAO reports on the role of cattle in increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Animal agriculture is the largest emitter of methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide when measured over a 20-year period. Scientists said that unless swift action is taken, methane from agriculture alone will push the world beyond a 1.5C (2.7F) rise in temperature above preindustrial levels that risks tipping the world into irreversible climate breakdown.
“These companies are stepping up their game because the exposure they are facing is stepping up,” says Jennifer Jacquet, professor of environmental science and policy at the University of Miami. “It used to be that they were caught on the back foot, but now they’re completely prepared.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Huey Piano Smith & His Clowns – I Don't Play Like That
Huey Piano Smith & His Clowns – Little Liza Jane
Junior Gordon With Huey Piano Smith's Orchestra – Blow Wind Blow
Huey Piano Smith & His Clowns – Why Did I Do (Wa Do Do)
Huey Piano Smith & His Clowns – Little Chicken Wah Wah
Huey Piano Smith And The Clowns – Don't You Know Yockomo
Huey Piano Smith And The Clowns – High Blood Pressure
Huey "Piano" Smith - Sea Cruise (Original)
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