The Evening Blues - 1-11-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. Enjoy!
Jimmy Witherspoon - Good morning blues
"A free people are kept so, by no other means than an equal distribution of property; every man, who has a share of property, having a proportionable share of power; and the first seeds of anarchy (which, for the most part, ends in tyranny) are produced from hence, that some are ungovernably rich, and many more are miserably poor; that is, some are masters of all means of oppression, and others want all the means of self-defence."
-- Thomas Gordon (a hat tip to Tony Wikrent at Ian Welsh's blog)
News and Opinion
Page 3 of today’s Daily Nation, Kenya pic.twitter.com/VR5UXtvGTD
— Declan Walsh (@declanwalsh) January 8, 2021
Since Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, evidence has piled up showing that many had violent intentions. Photos of nooses and zip-tie handcuffs and videos of assailants trying to smash their way through barricaded doors have highlighted how much danger members of Congress were in before they were evacuated to safety. The events of January 6 may be the defining moment of Donald Trump’s presidency. But the siege was also the culmination of years of warnings about the the growing threat posed by far-right extremists. An October report from the Department of Homeland Security, for example, said that “white supremacist extremists” will “remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.”
“Can we just accept that the post-9/11 era is over?” Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin, a former Defense Department official who touted her experience as a CIA analyst in Iraq and her expertise on terrorism and insurgencies when she ran for Congress in 2018, told MSNBC. “We are in a new era.” While noting that external threats like Russia and China remained, Slotkin continued that “the single greatest national security threat right now is our internal division. It’s the threat of domestic terrorism. It’s that polarization that threatens our democracy.”
However Trump leaves office, a new Congress appears poised to revive a years-old debate on whether the U.S. should expand the legal framework for going after “domestic terrorism.” A group of former Justice Department officials, along with the FBI Agents Association, has long argued that current law makes it easier to prosecute ideologically motivated acts of violence as terrorism if they appear to be inspired by a foreign terror organization like the Islamic State, and that a domestic terror statute would allow them to prosecute white supremacist terror — like Dylann Roof’s mass shooting in a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina — on equal footing.
But civil liberties advocates are wary of such a move, noting that federal law enforcement already has powerful tools to investigate and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism without any new laws, and that importing the anti-terrorism framework risks creating broad and vague powers that could be used to go after activists or religious minorities. “Anyone familiar with the scope of surveillance and targeting of Black political dissent, or Muslim communities, knows that law enforcement has all the tools it needs to aggressively disrupt and hold accountable those who planned and participated in the storming of the Capitol,” said Diala Shamas, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Why they didn’t raises serious questions, but it was not because their hands were tied. We don’t need new terrorism designations.”
Democrats calling for Donald Trump’s removal following the deadly US Capitol riots will introduce articles of impeachment as early as Monday, but may be willing to wait for a Senate trial until long after Joe Biden takes office in nine days’ time.
They will do so with a chilling warning ringing in their ears. Late on Sunday afternoon, the office of the Colorado Democratic representative Jason Crow released a readout of a call in which army secretary Ryan McCarthy “indicated that [the Department of Defense] is aware of further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day”.
According to the readout, McCarthy said the Pentagon was “working with local and federal law enforcement to coordinate security preparations” for 20 January.
Crow, a former US army ranger, said he had “raised grave concerns about reports that active duty and reserve military members were involved in the insurrection” and asked that “troops deployed for the inauguration … are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists”. The readout said McCarthy agreed and said he was willing to testify publicly in the coming days. ...
James Clyburn, the House majority whip, told CNN a single article of impeachment, which accuses Trump of “inciting an insurrection” and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions”, would be presented. “It may be Tuesday or Wednesday before action is taken but it will be taken this week,” Clyburn said.
A vote to impeach Trump for a second time, a near certainty given the Democratic House majority, would send the case to the Senate for trial, where a two-thirds majority would see his removal.
Much more at the link:
The FBI has long been concerned about the infiltration of law enforcement by white supremacist groups and its impact on police abuse and tolerance of racism, the unredacted version of a previously circulated document reveals. The FBI threat assessment report was released by Rep. Jamie Raskin, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, ahead of a hearing about the white supremacist infiltration of local police departments scheduled for Tuesday.
A heavily redacted version of the 2006 document had previously been published, one of a handful of documents revealing federal officials’ growing concern with white supremacists’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” A different internal document obtained by The Intercept in 2017 had also noted that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”
The unredacted version of the first document sheds further light on the FBI’s concerns, as early as 2006, about “self-initiated efforts by individuals, particularly among those already within law enforcement ranks, to volunteer their professional resources to white supremacist causes with which they sympathize.”
“Having personnel within law enforcement agencies has historically been and will continue to be a desired asset for white supremacist groups seeking to anticipate law enforcement interest in and actions against them,” the report notes in a section that was previously redacted. Another previously redacted section warned of “factors that might generate sympathies among existing law enforcement personnel and cause them to volunteer their support to white supremacist causes,” which could include hostility toward developments in U.S. domestic and foreign policies “that conflict with white supremacist ideologies,” the report warns.
Some redactions do not seem to be justified, for instance, the FBI’s conclusion that “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement can result in other abuses of authority and passive tolerance of racism within communities served” — an apparent recognition of the potential harm to the public posed by white supremacist individuals embedded in police departments.
Defense leaders are reviewing restrictions on the use of force by National Guard members and could allow troops to carry batons or guns in Washington, D.C., as they brace for more protests and possible violence around the Jan. 20 inaugural, The Associated Press has learned.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The AP Friday that any changes will be determined by the intelligence gathered in the coming days about potential threats. But he said they are looking at allowing troops to carry their M-4 rifles or 9 mm Berettas, and he will know more in a day or two.
The review reflects concerns about the safety of the Guard troops in the wake of the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, and would also consider the legal restrictions that prohibit the use of the military for domestic law enforcement. Allowing troops to carry deadly weapons would run up against deep-seated fears about the optics of anything suggesting that U.S. military forces were being used against Americans on U.S. soil.
“We'll be looking at the intelligence, and make a determination over the next day or so,” McCarthy said. “It's just going to require us to get better intel, and then we'll have to make a risk assessment.”
Twitter stopped the phrase “Hang Mike Pence” trending on Saturday, but not before it trended on the social media platform in the aftermath of the company’s decision to suspend Donald Trump’s account.
The chant was heard in the US Capitol on Wednesday, as a mob incited by the president mounted a putsch, roaming the halls, confronting law enforcement and in some cases apparently planning to kidnap lawmakers.
Jim Bourg, a Reuters picture editor in Washington, said on Twitter: “I heard at least three different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice-President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor. It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.” ...
Video of the mob chanting “hang Mike Pence.” pic.twitter.com/K4EcKK2rab
— American Times Film (@ExportedFromMI) January 9, 2021
In a statement on Saturday, a Twitter spokesman said: “We blocked the phrase and other variations of it from trending. “We want trends to promote healthy discussions on Twitter. This means that at times, we may prevent certain content from trending. As per our Help Center, there are rules for trends – if we identify accounts that violate these rules, we’ll take enforcement action.”
House lawmakers may have been exposed to someone testing positive for Covid-19 while they sheltered at an undisclosed location during the Capitol riot by a violent mob loyal to Donald Trump.
The Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers on Sunday of the virus exposure and urged them to be tested. The infected individual was not named.
Dr Brian Moynihan wrote that on Wednesday, “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room – some for several hours” and “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection”.
"Kevin McCarthy Must Resign": House Minority Leader Under Fire for Enabling Trump's "Worst and Most Destructive Acts"
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is being urged to step down for having "spread the very lies" that fueled the Wednesday attack on the U.S. Capitol and his repeated enabling of President Donald Trump's "worst and most destructive acts."
In a Twitter thread Saturday, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) laid out the case against McCarthy (R-Calif.)—a key figure in blocking Americans getting $2,000 relief checks who's backed GOP efforts to overturn the election results.
"Kevin McCarthy should resign," wrote Beyer.
While Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) should face accountability for their roles in fueling the Capitol siege—as Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have urged—McCarthy has more to answer for, said Beyer.
"Hawley and Cruz deserve to be held accountable, but they are back-benchers," Beyer tweeted. "What Kevin McCarthy did was just as bad, but he is Minority Leader."
"Every House Republican voted to make him Speaker, and when he led his caucus into an attack on our democracy two-thirds followed him," the Virginia Democrat continued.
"Kevin McCarthy embraced and empowered the worst conspiracy theorists in his caucus," Beyer continued. "He spread the very lies that helped incite this violence. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Trump in trying to destroy our democracy. He always enables Trump's worst and most destructive acts."
Beyer further accused McCarthy of echoing "Trump's incendiary lies and dehumanizing attacks on political opponents" and rejected as false his "claims to oppose 'division.'"
"No," Beyer added. "Kevin McCarthy must resign."
It's not just Democrats expressing frustration with McCarthy's recent actions.
Politico reported Saturday that McCarthy, as well as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, are causing frustration in anonymous Republicans because McCarthy and Scalise "failed to show leadership in a time of crisis and should have done more to call out Trump for his role in the riots that left five people dead."
In a Friday statement, as the outlet noted, McCarthy acknowledged for the first that President-elect Joe Biden will assume office this month.
"As a nation I know we sit back and we're appalled by what we're seeing," McCarthy told ABC News Wednesday, "but I want everybody to take a deep breath and understand we all have some responsibility here."
Millionaire West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on Friday threatened to single-handedly block new $2,000 survival checks to millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands in his own state, which is facing growing starvation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Manchin told the Washington Post he will “absolutely not” support a new round of $2,000 survival checks that congressional Democrats and President-elect Joe Biden promised to send out if Democrats managed to win the two Georgia senate runoff races and take back control of the U.S. Senate, which they did on Tuesday.
“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed?” Manchin said. “And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”
Even investors were upset. The stock market quickly tanked after the report about Manchin’s opposition. Investment bank Goldman Sachs had just finished adjusting its expectations for economic growth based on the idea that Democrats’ Georgia wins would mean “an additional $750 billion in aid,” according to a Bloomberg morning email.
But Manchin’s opposition to survival checks could be especially costly for his constituents. Manchin represents West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation. The last round of stimulus checks only gave the full $600 of aid to individuals who earn less than $75,000 — which includes nearly 70 percent of West Virginians. That means his constituents stand to disproportionately benefit from new rounds of stimulus checks. Manchin would not be eligible for a check himself, since his senate seat comes with an annual salary of $174,000. He’s also in the commercial real estate business, and was worth an estimated $7 million in 2018, according to OpenSecrets.
His constituents, on the other hand, badly need help. According to census data, more than 40 percent of West Virginians are now facing food insecurity. Roughly 13 percent report suffering from food scarcity, meaning they sometimes or often don’t have enough to eat. The percentage of Manchin’s West Virginia constituents who say they often don’t have enough to eat has increased 70 percent during the pandemic.
When millions of people are starving in tent cities, they will be called "Manchinvilles." https://t.co/jxGSm05Mtq
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) January 8, 2021
Just as Democrats Claim Senate Majority, Manchin Condemned for Vowing to 'Absolutely Not' Support $2,000 Checks
Days after the crucial victories of new Democratic Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were credited in large part to clear messaging about the need for a Democrat-controlled Senate in order to send $2,000 checks to American households, Sen. Joe Manchin on Friday provoked scorn Friday by saying he would "absolutely not" support providing such relief.
Manchin told the Washington Post he believes vaccine distribution should be "job number one" for Democrats, despite the fact that additional funding for coronavirus vaccines is expected to be included in the package the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden is developing.
The conservative West Virginia Democrat expressed concern that people who have not lost income at this point as a result of the pandemic would potentially receive $2,000 checks, in addition to those who currently are in dire need of relief. ...
As more than 125 economists from institutions including Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley told lawmakers in November, direct payments to a wide swath of American households "are one of the quickest, most equitable, and most effective ways to get families and the economy back on track" amid 6.7% unemployment and an economic crisis which has caused more than half of American adults to lose income, left nearly 26 million people unable to afford basic essentials like groceries, and caused an estimated 12 million renters to fall thousands of dollars behind in their rent payments.
The legislation Biden's team is currently working on would include extended unemployment benefits as well as direct payments and funding for state and local governments. Under the control of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who opposes $2,000 payments and funding for states and cities, the Senate has failed to pass legislation including more than $600 payments since last March, when the CARES Act was passed.
Gaining a Democratic majority in the upper chamber has been thought to be the key to ensuring people across the country receive meaningful aid after nearly 10 months of receiving no direct payments, and nearly half a year without the enhanced unemployment benefits included in the CARES Act, which were credited with reducing poverty but were allowed to lapse by the Republican Party last summer.
Ossoff and Warnock's victories in Georgia, following two months of tireless get-out-the-vote efforts by organizers with groups including Mijente and the New Georgia Project, give Democrats control of the senate, with a 50-50 split and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris acting as tiebreaker if the Democrats use Senate rules allowing them to pass the coronavirus relief package with a simple majority.
With the close margin, the loss of Manchin's vote could force Biden to drastically change his proposal, the Post reported—just after he called on Georgia voters to support Ossoff and Warnock to make sure "those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now."
Saikat Chakrabarti, co-founder of Justice Democrats, denounced Manchin for coming out against the $2,000 payments—saying the senator's comment "already hurts the Democrats," even before the actual vote takes place.
"We won Georgia because we promised $2,000 checks," Chakrabarti tweeted. "Joe Manchin is threatening the Democratic majority in the Senate if he goes against it, and for no reason."
Apartment rental prices in San Francisco – a city mocked for being so unaffordable that residents pay more than a grand each month to sleep in a bunk bed and share space with strangers – have plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, falling roughly 24% over the last year, according to new data.
It might seem like good news for a city long known for its dizzying rents. But the drop wasn’t enough to topple San Francisco from the top spot of the list of costliest cities compiled by the rental company Zumper. One-bedroom apartments on average still rent for a staggering $2,660 a month. Median single-family home prices in the city, meanwhile, have continued to rise, reaching an exorbitant $1.625m.
The numbers tell a troubling story about increasing inequality in the Bay Area, an issue compounded by Covid and the looming recession caused by the pandemic. Rents in the region are still too expensive for most residents, especially those who have lost income this year and were already clinging to the edge of a financial cliff. At the same time, tech workers and other high earners who easily adapted to work-from-home policies early in the pandemic while retaining big salaries have been able to lower their rental rates or cash in on new opportunities to purchase homes with extremely low interest rates.
Even amid an exodus from the city, San Francisco’s housing crisis may be getting worse. “Perspective is really important – and it is still ridiculously expensive,” said Matt Regan, the senior vice-president of public policy at the Bay Area Economic Institute. “The magnitude of the crisis before Covid and the mismatch between the number of people looking for housing and the number of people who could afford what was available was so enormous that – even with a phenomenal drop for a rental – we are still in a crisis”.
Last spring, the California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC), an agency created by the state legislature in 1988 to assist non-profits and local governments to create and preserve affordable housing, calculated California needed roughly 1.3m more affordable rentals to meet housing needs. Faced with a costly recovery from the pandemic, the state may fall even further behind.
Meanwhile in a country that’s taking the eviction crisis seriously https://t.co/sSQEkXekIS
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 10, 2021
Suburban Denver police officers will not be charged after detaining four black girls at gunpoint this summer and handcuffing two after wrongly suspecting they were riding in a stolen car, prosecutors said on Friday. The same day, the Colorado attorney general opened a grand jury investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who was stopped as he walked down the street, placed in a neck hold and injected with a sedative in 2019. Both involved officers from the Aurora police department and drew national attention during a national reckoning over racism and police brutality.
Months after video of the girls lying face down in a parking lot – some in tears – spread on social media, a review by the district attorney found no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers acted unlawfully during the 2 August traffic stop. However, the chief deputy district attorney, Clinton McKinzie, called it “disturbing” and urged the police department to review its policies. “What happened to the innocent occupants is unacceptable and preventable,” McKinzie wrote.
Police eventually determined the car carrying the girls, who ranged in age from six to 17, had the same license plate number as a motorcycle they were seeking from another state. ...
David Lane, a lawyer for the driver and the girls, said he was not surprised by the decision, which he said fitted a pattern in Aurora and the US. “When white cops point guns at small black children, there are no consequences in America,” he said.
As Pro-Trump Mob Boasts About Roles in Deadly Capitol Invasion, Indigenous Water Protecters Charged for Peaceful Keystone XL Protests
Indigenous advocates on Friday noted the stark contrast between the treatment of two Native American water protectors criminally charged for peacefully protesting the Keystone XL pipeline with that of supporters of President Donald Trump who have been openly boasting about their participation in Wednesday's deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
According to the Lakota People's Law Project, Jasilyn Charger and Oscar High Elk were charged in Phillip, South Dakota for previous protest activities against the pipeline. The Cheyenne River Sioux activists were part of a resistance camp on their reservation, which is about 100 miles from the proposed route of the pipeline.
Charger, who locked herself to a pump station in November 2020, was arraigned for alleged misdemeanor trespassing. High Elk—whose protest was also entirely peaceful—faces 12 counts, including felony aggravated assault and felony aggravated eluding. If convicted on all counts he could be jailed for as long as 23 years.
Keystone XL would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline is opposed by leading Indigenous and environmental groups because it would carry what the National Congress of American Indians calls "the world's dirtiest and most environmentally destructive form of oil."
Not only would the pipeline threaten the Ogallala aquifer upon which millions of people depend for their drinking water, it would also bring in large numbers of temporary male workers whose presence is a threat—sometimes a deadly one—to local Indigenous women and girls.
"This is on my people's land, and I have the right to protect it for my future generations," Charger said, according to Lakota People's Law Project. "Our people will not be bullied, and we're not criminals for protecting our water. What they forget to realize is that we have been occupying and living on this land for generations."
"This just goes to show that we need to keep showing up as a people," she added. "We need to keep up the resistance."
Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People's Law Project, a nonprofit organization helping with the legal defense of one of the activists, noted that "at a time when white rioters are being let off the hook after raiding the nation's Capitol and driving legislators into hiding, Native Americans and other people of color are still being dealt harsh criminal charges for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience."
For the residents of Mead, Nebraska, the first sign of something amiss was the stench, the smell of something rotting. People reported eye and throat irritation and nosebleeds. Then colonies of bees started dying, birds and butterflies appeared disoriented and pet dogs grew ill, staggering about with dilated pupils. There is no mystery as to the cause of the concerns in Mead, a farming community so small that its 500 residents refer to it as a village and not a town.
After multiple complaints to state and federal officials and an inquiry by a researcher from the University of Nebraska, all evidence points to what should be an unlikely culprit – an ethanol plant that, like many others around the United States, turns corn into biofuel. The company, called AltEn, is supposed to be helpful to the environment, using high-starch grains such as corn to annually churn out about 25m gallons of ethanol, a practice regulators generally hail as an environmentally friendly source for auto fuel. Ethanol plants typically also produce a byproduct called distillers grains to sell as nutritious livestock feed.
But unlike most of the other 203 US ethanol plants, AltEn has been using seed coated with fungicides and insecticides, including those known as neonicotinoids, or “neonics”, in its production process. Company officials have advertised AltEn as a “recycling” location where agricultural companies can rid themselves of excess supplies of pesticide-treated seeds, a strategy that gave AltEn free supplies for its ethanol, but also left it with a waste product too pesticide-laden to feed to animals.
Instead, AltEn has been accumulating thousands of pounds of a smelly, lime-green mash of fermented grains, distributing some to farm fields as a “soil conditioner” and accumulating the rest on the grounds of its plant. It is that waste that some researchers say is dangerously polluting water and soil and probably also posing a health threat to animals and people. They point to testing ordered by state officials that found neonics in AltEn waste at levels many times higher than what is considered safe. ...
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers neonics in food and water safe at a range of up to 70 parts per billion (ppb) depending on the specific pesticide. The agency sets different benchmarks for “aquatic life” freshwater invertebrates. For the neonic known as clothianidin the benchmark is 11ppb and it is 17.5ppb for a neonic called thiamethoxam. On the AltEn property, state environmental officials recorded levels of clothianidin at a staggering 427,000ppb in testing of one of the large hills of AltEn waste. Thiamethoxam was detected at 85,100ppb, according to testing ordered by the Nebraska department of agriculture.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jimmy Witherspoon - Evenin'
Jimmy Witherspoon w/ Robben Ford - Nothing's Changed
Jimmy Witherspoon - Who's Been Jivin' You
Art Pepper & Jimmy Witherspoon - Past 40 blues
Jimmy Witherspoon - Money Is Getting Cheaper
Jimmy Witherspoon & T-Bone Walker - I've been treated wrong
Jimmy Witherspoon - It Ain't No Secret What My Baby Can Do
Jimmy Witherspoon & The Quintones - My Girl Ivy
Jimmy Witherspoon & Robben Ford - Walkin' By Myself