The Evening Blues - 1-27-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul and blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, Cash McCall. Enjoy!
Cash McCall - I Can't Quit You Baby
"Social Security's not the hard one to solve. Medicare, that is the gorilla in the room, and you've got to put all of it on the table."
-- Joe Biden
News and Opinion
Worth a full read. Here are some highlights.
Over the past few weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden has been making an effort to recast his record on Social Security as one of a champion who defended the program from assaults, rather than one who consistently argued that it ought to be cut.
The value of such a revision is clear: Austerity is no longer a politically viable platform for Democrats to take in the primary. His defense of his record has included multiple television interviews, public comments, and even an ad attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders for “dishonest smears” challenging him on Social Security. In the ad, Biden makes a sweeping claim: “I’ve been fighting to protect — and expand — Social Security for my whole career. Any suggestion otherwise is just flat-out wrong.” At Vice’s Black and Brown Forum in Iowa this week, when pressed on his proposal to freeze Social Security payments by moderator Antonia Hylton, he simply lied: “I didn’t propose a freeze.”
In fact, Biden has argued for cuts or freezes to Social Security throughout much of his career. Earlier in January, The Intercept wrote about several instances in which Biden advocated for cutting Social Security over the course of his career. Biden, when he acknowledges his past support for cuts, portrays the advocacy as deep in the past. But a close inspection finds reams of more recent evidence of Biden’s support for cuts — including in Biden’s recent recounting of a conversation he had with China’s president, Xi Jinping, and in his choice of Bruce Reed, a longtime deficit hawk, as a senior policy adviser in his current presidential campaign. Reed, a longtime Biden aide, played a central role in advocating cuts to the New Deal-era program as a co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, as the top staffer for a controversial commission dedicated to slashing the deficit, and then as Biden’s chief of staff during the Obama administration. In Washington, D.C., he would be the last high-level staffer a campaign would bring aboard if it was genuinely intent on expanding, not cutting, Social Security. ...
The cuts came closest to happening amid talks between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans aimed at hammering out a so-called grand bargain. The most prominent vehicle for those negotiations was known as the Bowles-Simpson Commission, a bipartisan panel charged with making recommendations to Congress on how to reduce the federal debt. It was chaired by Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina. And the staff director for Bowles-Simpson? Bruce Reed. “Our team was led by Bruce Reed, and believe me, there wouldn’t be a Simpson-Bowles Report without Bruce,” Bowles later wrote. The chairs of the commission recommended reducing Social Security benefits for the top half of earners, cutting the amount the benefit grew relative to inflation and raising the retirement age to 69. ...
The commission failed to secure the supermajority needed for its recommendations to move on to Congress, but the administration was far from done try to implement them. After finishing with the commission, Reed was brought on as Vice President Biden’s chief of staff, to continue to work on a grand bargain. ... The next phase of the Obama-era bargain talks, in the wake of Bowles-Simpson, became the so-called Biden Committee, a series of negotiations over deficit reduction chaired by Biden, staffed by Reed, and joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and others. Biden, in talks that were covered closely in Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics,” put Social Security and other cuts on the table but couldn’t get to a yes because Republicans refused to agree to any tax cuts. ...
Sanders was asked on Friday if he would apologize to Biden for criticizing him on Social Security, as he had apologized for a surrogate’s op-ed that argued Biden had a corruption problem. “No,” Sanders said. “There are ways to raise money in order to protect the working families of this country. Cutting Social Security ain’t one of ’em.”
'More Lies,' Says Sanders as Trump Vows to 'Save' Social Security Just One Day After Threatening Cuts
Just over 24 hours after threatening to cut Social Security at the World Economic Forum's annual gathering of global elites in Davos, President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to "save" the New Deal-era program from supposed Democratic efforts to "destroy" it—prompting Sen. Bernie Sanders to accuse the president of peddling "more lies."
"Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security," Trump wrote on Twitter. "I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!"
Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate and long-time advocate of Social Security expansion, responded by pointing in a tweet to Trump's 2020 budget proposal, which called for $25 billion in cuts to Social Security and trillions more in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
In a separate tweet late Thursday, Sanders posted a video contrasting the president's comments at Davos with then-candidate Trump's pledge in 2015 to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from cuts backed by Republicans in Congress. "As a candidate, Trump said he'd protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid," Sanders wrote. "Now he has an obligation to tell the American people: 'I was lying. It was all just a campaign ruse.'"
As a candidate, Trump said he'd protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Now he has an obligation to tell the American people: "I was lying. It was all just a campaign ruse." pic.twitter.com/670Cl9exuI
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2020
As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration is currently pursuing changes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that, if implemented, could terminate crucial benefits for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. The public comment period on the administration's proposed rule change—which would make it more difficult for people with disabilities and other serious ailments to receive Social Security payments—ends Jan. 31. Comments can be left here.
There were three men authorised by the CIA to carry out waterboarding on detainees in America’s “war on terror”. Two of them were contractors who are in Guantánamo Bay this week to give evidence. The third has still not been identified 17 years after the torture was committed. In the courtroom of the military commission, the CIA officer was referred to only by three-digit code NZ7, or simply as “the Preacher” – a nickname he was given because of his peculiar way of terrorising detainees.
According to James Mitchell, a psychologist on contract to the CIA who helped draft and apply their “enhanced interrogation techniques”, the Preacher “would at random times put one hand on the forehead of a detainee, raise the other high in the air, and in a deep Southern drawl say things like, ‘Can you feel it, son? Can you feel the spirit moving down my arm, into your body?’” ...
Mitchell, together with his friend and business partner, Bruce Jessen – who is due to testify next week – have been the public face of the US torture programme for five years, settling out of court in 2017 in a civil suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three prisoners. Almost everyone else involved in the extensive programme, involving a network of black sites around the world, has remained in the shadows. In terms of legality, it is still the dark side of the moon.
Defence lawyers at the Guantánamo military commission hearings have asked to examine 52 witnesses. They have so far been permitted to question only two, Mitchell and Jessen. James Connell, representing defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, lost his patience on Thursday when prosecutors objected that he was asking Mitchell about events he had not directly witnessed. “He’s the only witness we’ve got. The government has blocked all the CIA witnesses,” Connell complained. ...
The longer the hearings have continued, the clearer it has become that the Mitchell and Jessen partnership was just a small part of the infrastructure of torture, with its own bureaucracy and personal rivalries. In his testimony, Mitchell railed repeatedly against the “middle management” who he believed was plotting against him.
In some refreshingly good news about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks is reporting that its founder has finally been moved out of solitary confinement to a different wing in Belmarsh Prison where he can have normal social interactions with 40 other inmates.
This fantastic news lifts a huge weight from the chests of those of us who’ve been protesting Assange’s cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of an international alliance of governments bent on making a draconian public example of a journalist whose publications exposed US war crimes. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, and a UN Special Rapporteur has confirmed that Assange shows clear symptoms that he is a victim of psychological torture caused by his persecution from coordinated efforts by Washington, London, Stockholm, Canberra and Quito.
So what caused this shift in Assange’s treatment? Did the powerful empire-like alliance loosely centralized around the United States suddenly come to its senses and realize that torturing journalists for telling the truth is the sort of tyrannical abuse that it accuses other governments of perpetrating? Did officials in the British government bow to public pressure from the pro-Assange demonstrations which have been taking place in London month after month and have some faint flickerings of conscience? Did Belmarsh Prison authorities come to their senses after more than a hundred doctors warned that their cruelty was killing the award-winning publisher?
Why no. As it turns out, Assange was in fact rescued from the cruelty of this globe-sprawling empire by the concerted protests of high-security prison inmates. ...
Belmarsh is a notoriously harsh maximum-security prison full of violent offenders and prisoners convicted under anti-terrorism laws, one of many reasons that Assange supporters have so vigorously opposed his confinement there. What does it tell you about the society you are living in that this population has a superior moral compass to the people who are actually running things?
For years I’ve been arguing with Democratic Party-aligned liberals on one side saying that Assange is a Russian agent who deserves to be tortured, and a bunch of Trump-aligned right wingers on the other side saying their president is extraditing Assange for the good of the world. These are the two mainstream views on Assange within the western empire today. And a group of Belmarsh prisoners just proved themselves infinitely more ethical than any of them. They have a better sense of right and wrong than those running the empire, and they have a better sense of right and wrong than the propagandized apologists for that empire.
Today, hundreds of “yellow vests” from France and protesters from other countries across Europe, including Belgium and Britain, are protesting outside Belmarsh maximum security prison in London to demand the freeing of WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.
A principled and courageous journalist whose revelations exposed imperialist crimes against humanity and encouraged working class protests around the world, Assange is the target of a relentless state campaign to destroy him. He is locked up in Belmarsh, subjected to torture according to testimony from doctors and UN experts, and faces extradition to America. There, he faces a life sentence in prison under the US Espionage Act, for publishing material such as the “Collateral Murder” video of US troops illegally gunning down civilians in US-occupied Iraq.
The decision of the “yellow vests” to protest in London points to deeply rooted international opposition to the relentless persecution of Assange among workers and more serious artists and intellectuals. As part of their initiative, they have also issued a petition, signed by over 15,000 people, including leading figures of French and European artistic life, titled “Freedom for Julian Assange.”
If you're the sort of person that calls congressworms and asks them to do your bidding, this would be a great thing to pester them about:
While most of the focus in Congress is on the impeachment, Congress has still found time to advance some votes relevant to the potential war with Iran, and are set for some such votes next week.
Two votes are planned in the House, and expected on Thursday. One is from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) prohibiting any funding for a war in Iran without Congressional authorization. The second will attempt to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Three rockets slammed into the US embassy in Iraq's capital on Sunday in the first direct hit reported after months of close calls, as thousands of protesters kept up anti-government sit-ins across the country. The attack marked a dangerous escalation in the spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.
None of the attacks has been claimed but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq.
On Sunday, one rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed nearby, a security source told AFP.
A senior Iraqi official told AFP at least one person was wounded, but it was not immediately clear how serious the injuries were and whether the person was an American national or an Iraqi staff member working at the mission.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, a prominent organization advocating for US military veterans, has called for Donald Trump to apologize for remarks downplaying brain injuries recently suffered by nearly three dozen American service members in Iraq. The group was joined by several other US veterans’ organizations, criticizing Trump’s remarks and saying they showed a lack of understanding of injuries and what US troops face in overseas conflicts.
The VFW’s statement stems from Trump’s remarks on injuries resulting from a 8 January Iranian missile strike on a US base in Iraq. Thirty-four US soldiers suffered from concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) after the strike, which was a reprisal for the US drone strike assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. Donald Trump had previously said that the US “suffered no casualties” from the attack. ...
“So far, so good”, Trump said after the strike. “I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. After the Pentagon announced on 16 January that troops were being treated for concussion symptoms, Trump claimed the discrepancy was because he heard about the injuries “numerous days later”. Trump also downplayed the severity, saying, “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”
“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen. I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms,” he said.
Interim Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez, who came to power in November, has rejected claims that her predecessor, Evo Morales, was ousted in a coup — while cracking down on dissent and calling for new elections to solidify the rule of conservative opposition forces that seized control of the government in Morales’s absence.
As many critics have noted, the cycle bears a striking similarity to the coup d’etat that ousted Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya a decade ago. The left-wing leader was whisked out of office by the military, only to be replaced with an interim government led by right-wing opposition forces that swiftly consolidated power through a controversial election process.
The parallels were apparently not lost on the Bolivia’s new rulers. The Áñez government has retained the services of the same Washington, D.C., consultants hired by the Honduran interim government to build American support. In December, Bolivia inked an agreement with CLS Strategies to provide “strategic communications counsel” for new elections this year and other interactions with the U.S. government. The lobbying firm, previously known as Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, provided remarkably similar work after Zelaya’s ouster, helping the interim Honduran government earn backing from American policymakers and media outlets as the country held new elections.
The draft of a book by former US national security adviser John Bolton reportedly describes how Donald Trump told him about his determination to delay US military aid to Ukraine until its government agreed to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The explosive manuscript details the kind of material that Bolton could be expected to reveal publicly were he to be called as a witness in Trump’s impeachment trial now going on in the US Senate.
The account undermines Trump’s claims that the delay in aid to Ukraine last summer and the president’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate US Democrats were unconnected, the New York Times said as part of its article on Sunday night revealing the Bolton manuscript.
The manuscript reportedly contains new details about the actions of senior cabinet officials including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, attorney general William Barr and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Bolton has been circulating the draft passages from his planned book to associates and has sent the manuscript to the White House for what would be a mandatory review process for someone who was in Bolton’s position in the government before exiting the post last year, the NYT reported. The White House could censor the manuscript before Bolton’s planned book is published.
F*cking foul-mouthed evangelical Christers, sheesh!
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo launched an extraordinary attack on a respected NPR journalist on Saturday, a day after reports emerged of him swearing at and trying to humiliate her by asking her to identify Ukraine on a map. In a sharply-worded statement issued by the state department, Pompeo accused the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, of lying to him and being part of an “unhinged” media conspiracy “in a quest to hurt President Trump and this administration”.
The bizarre final line of the brief statement – “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine” – appears to suggest that Pompeo believes Kelly identified a different country when he asked her to point out Ukraine on an unmarked map produced by aides. The claim contradicts the experienced foreign correspondent and radio host’s own recollection of the encounter, in which she said she had no trouble identifying Ukraine, after which Pompeo put the map away and insisted: “People will hear about this.”
The release of the statement further suggests that the politician, who has a notoriously short fuse, was stung by media coverage of the aftermath of his interview with Kelly, which ended prematurely when Pompeo refused to answer questions about Ukraine. Kelly said Pompeo then called her into a separate room and attempted to browbeat her, asking “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” and launching into a foul-mouthed tirade.
Puerto Ricans hit the streets again on Thursday — guillotine in tow — to demand the resignation of their governor.
The new unrest was triggered by the recent discovery of a warehouse in the southern part of the island that was full of emergency supplies, some dating back to before Hurricane Maria in 2017. But that was just the last straw for people who were shaken by a round of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, and who say the government has mismanaged emergency responses for years.
Despite heavy rain, hundreds turned out in protest at Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s official residence on Thursday night and stepped up the revolutionary imagery:
The guillotine has been been put up outside the Governor’s mansion in San Juan. pic.twitter.com/siTCpihlRO
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) January 23, 2020
— Ash Boyd (@Ashfallen0) January 24, 2020
Protesters are demanding resignation and even jail time for Vázquez and other top government officials. The territory’s former housing secretary, who was fired last weekend, claimed earlier this week that the governor knew about the unused aid.
A retired Salvadoran general on Friday acknowledged for the first time that the armed forces were responsible for a notorious 1981 massacre of more than 1,000 people during the country's civil war. Juan Rafael Bustillo, a former commander of the Air Force, told a court the elite Atlacatl Battalion carried out the El Mozote massacre in eastern El Salvador in which unarmed villagers, most of them women and children, were slaughtered.
According to a U.N. report, soldiers tortured and executed over 1,000 residents of El Mozote and surrounding hamlets in the Morazan department, 180 km (110 miles) northeast of San Salvador, as they searched for guerrillas in December 1981.
At a court hearing in the eastern town of San Francisco Gotera in Morazan, Bustillo testified he had had no part in the operation which he said was conducted at the behest of Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, commander of the feared Atlacatl Battalion. ...
The 1980-1992 civil war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against the U.S.-backed Salvadoran army, lead to the deaths of an estimated 75,000 people and left 8,000 more missing.
In 2016, a judge ordered the case of the El Mozote massacre to be re-opened. Sixteen military officials including ex-defense minister Guillermo Garcia are being tried over the killings.
Emerson Hernandez and his daughter Maddie have withstood hunger and thirst. They’ve been dumped in a threatening border city in Mexico, a foreign country with nowhere to shelter. And, for seven months, they’ve been locked up at what critics call a “baby jail”. The father and daughter have weathered all of this just for a chance at asylum in the United States after they fled a home in Guatemala that’s now overrun with crime.
“I don’t want my daughter to grow up in that environment of delinquency. I really am afraid that something could happen to her,” Emerson told the Guardian.
Maddie has been detained the longest of any child currently held in family immigration detention across the country, her attorneys say. On 17 January, she turned seven years old at Berks county residential center, a controversial detention facility in Pennsylvania where she has spent roughly 8% of her life. Despite her lawyers exhausting the legal avenues that could get her out, the government won’t release her and Emerson together. ...
Emerson said Maddie has always been strong, but being confined for such a long time has changed her. She’s gone from an easy, smiley little girl to someone who has become violent and throws explosive temper tantrums, according to her parents and an attorney. “Her change was sudden,” Emerson said. “And she says to me, ‘When are we going to leave this place?’”
The truth is no one knows. The Flores settlement, a landmark 1997 federal agreement that regulates child and family detention, made it the longstanding rule that kids and families should be released within 20 days.
The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders has a new directive for its army of volunteers in the final week before the Iowa caucuses: Lay off the phone calls.
The new guidance was shared with top volunteers on Saturday, and provided by a volunteer to The Intercept, which independently confirmed its authenticity. The move away from phonebanking comes as Sanders is surging in the polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationally, and is explained in a detailed memo sent via Slack to campaign volunteers by Claire Sandberg, the campaign’s national organizing director. The directive applies to volunteers who live in states that vote in March, which together make up more than half the country.
“Up until now, you have heard us loud and clear that if you are not in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina, the most important things are to: 1) get to one of those states and knock on doors and 2) if you can’t get there in person, phonebank,” Sandberg wrote. But, she continued, “We have already run through most of the calls we wanted to make for this weekend,” citing volunteer participation that has exceeded targets and expectations. “This is definitely a great problem to have,” she wrote, “but this does mean we need to recalibrate.”
Sandberg, in the memo, urges volunteers to pivot either to door-to-door canvassing in their home state, or to friend-to-friend organizing through the campaign’s Bern app. The app, covered in a previous Intercept article, allows a user to find friends in the voter file and enter information about their level of support or opposition to Sanders, and has shown promise to be more effective than phone calls as an organizing tactic.
Campaign phone calls and text messages, when the volume runs into the millions, can be expensive — and are certainly more expensive than using the app or door-knocking — which may also be contributing to a cost-benefit analysis. In the final week leading to caucus day in Iowa on February 3, Democrats there are bombarded with phone calls from pollsters, campaigns, and outside advocacy groups. That, in addition to baseline spam, creates a cacophony that is hard for campaigns to break through. It is far more effective, campaign leaders have argued, to have friends and relatives urge those close to them to come out to caucus than to carpet bomb phone lines, what is known as relational organizing. The campaign’s original goal for phone calls before Iowa was 5 million, but volunteers have already surpassed 7 million.
Pundits have routinely underestimated how much voters care about issues of war and peace. https://t.co/bCAchOVUes
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) January 25, 2020
Bernie Sanders emerged as the frontrunner in the two earliest Democratic 2020 nomination voting states this weekend, Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the latest polls – but Elizabeth Warren received a powerful boost with an endorsement from the Des Moines Register newspaper in what is still considered an open race.
Warren had been slipping behind in Iowa, which holds the first vote in the nation with its caucuses just a week a way on 3 February, but the Register this weekend named her “the president this nation needs”.
Meanwhile, a surging Bernie Sanders, the original ultra-progressive in his runs for the White House in 2016 and 2020 elections, topped a new CNN and University of New Hampshire poll of likely Democratic primary voters in that state, released on Sunday, with 25% backing him – a considerable lead on former Vice President Joe Biden who was placed second with 16%. Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor, was third with 15% and Massachusetts senator Warren behind him with just 12%.
Sanders, who won the state by more than 20 points in the primaries four years ago, has gained four points since October and Warren has dropped six points in the same period. The state will vote in the Democratic primary on 11 February.
Meanwhile, a Washington Post-ABC News national poll, also published on Sunday, showed Biden and Sanders have emerged nationally as breakaway leaders in the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Worth a full read, detail-rich with individual bios of Warren's Warmongers and the poop on the institutions that have been keeping them warm, dry, well-fed and ready to start wars.
Elizabeth Warren has promised “big, structural change” on a range of issues related to the economy. Warren has a plan for foreign policy, too, but it appears to be scarcely different from that of the last Democrat to occupy the White House. A close examination of Warren’s newly assembled team of international advisors presents little hope of change from the military interventionism, regime change strong-arming and drone warfare that characterized the administration of President Barack Obama.
Earlier this month, Warren foreign policy aide Sasha Baker revealed a list of 34 “friends, colleagues, and advisors” that formed the foundation of the candidate’s foreign policy team. For the first time, observers were offered a clear window into what US foreign policy might look like under a Warren presidency. According to CNN, these self-described foreign policy professionals have worked through “group text chains and conference calls where they brainstorm responses to urgent international events, help draft campaign statements and policy papers, and flag development.”
Despite repeated assurances that she was leading a “grassroots movement,” no one on this informal team had any record of grassroots anti-war organizing. Instead, the list was filled with 30 and 40-something Ivy League graduates-turned-Beltway careerists. Baker was a perfect example, having served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter.
Most others have spent time at the big four Democratic foreign policy think tanks, with six from the Center for American Progress (CAP), three from the Century Foundation, five from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and five from the Truman Project. The remaining five members of the team worked at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington’s two main arms for funding regime change activity.
The scaly-foot snail is one of Earth’s strangest creatures. It lives more than 2,300 metres below the surface of the sea on a trio of deep-sea hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Here it has evolved a remarkable form of protection against the crushing, grim conditions found at these Stygian depths. It grows a shell made of iron. Discovered in 1999, the multi-layered iron sulphide armour of Chrysomallon squamiferum – which measures a few centimetres in diameter – has already attracted the interest of the US defence department, whose scientists are now studying its genes in a bid to discover how it grows its own metal armour.
The researchers will have to move quickly, however, for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just added the snail to its list of threatened species. German and Chinese industrial groups have revealed plans to explore the seabed around two of the three vents that provide homes for scaly-foot snails. Should they proceed, and mine the seabed’s veins of metals and minerals, a large chunk of the snail’s home base will be destroyed and the existence of this remarkable little creature will be threatened.
“On land, we are already exploiting mineral resources to the full,” says Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, of Stockholm University. “At the same time, the need for rare elements and metals is becoming increasingly important to supply green technologies such as wind and solar power plants. “And so industrialists are looking to the seabed where it is now technologically and economically feasible to mine for minerals. Hence the arrival of threats to creatures like the scaly-foot snail.”
Jouffray is the lead author of an analysis, published last week in the journal One Earth, which involved synthesising 50 years of data from shipping, drilling, aquaculture, and other marine industries and which paints an alarming picture of the impact of future exploitation of the oceans. This threat comes not just from seabed mining – which is set to expand dramatically in coming years – but from fish farming, desalination plant construction, shipping, submarine cable laying, cruise tourism and the building of offshore wind farms.
This is “blue acceleration”, the term that is used by Jouffray and his co-authors to describe the recent rapid rise in marine industrialisation, a trend that has brought increasing ocean acidification, marine heating, coral reef destruction, and plastic pollution in its wake.
On February 15, 2018, a fracked natural gas well owned by ExxonMobil’s XTO Energy and located in southeast Ohio experienced a well blowout, causing it to gush the potent greenhouse gas methane for nearly three weeks. The obscure accident ultimately resulted in one of the biggest methane leaks in U.S. history. The New York Times reported in December that new satellite data revealed that this single gas well leaked more methane in 20 days than an entire year’s worth of methane released by the oil and gas industries in countries like Norway and France.
The cause of this massive leak was a failure of the gas well’s casing, or internal lining. Well casing failures represent yet another significant but not widely discussed technical problem for an unprofitable fracking industry.
Casing failures occur when the steel or cement that’s lining an oil or gas well breaks or cracks, which means the well can’t maintain pressure anymore and creates a pathway for anything inside the well — such as fracking fluids — to leak into the surrounding environment. They can take place, as in the example of Exxon’s gas well in Ohio, at sites where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is happening. The results of these failures can be catastrophic, as a 2017 paper published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers spells out: “Outcomes from casing failures include blowouts, pollution, injuries/fatalities, and loss of the well with associated costs.”
For an industry laser-focused on cutting costs, the risk of losing an entire fracking well gets its attention. ... This growing problem for the fracking industry can be traced to the same issues that have caused past failures: cutting corners on costs because shale companies have been losing money and are pushing the limits of technology to try to finally turn a profit and pay back their sizable debts.
Once again, this cost-cutting approach hasn’t been working, and the risks to the climate, the environment, and investors continue to mount.
Swarms of locusts in east Africa have devastated crops and sent a passenger plane off course, and now the UN is warning that without international intervention the voracious insects threaten the food security of tens of millions of people.
Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are all struggling to deal with the food-munching insects and if efforts to eradicate them are not increased, the infestation will “threaten the food security of the entire subregion,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. said this week.
The swarms of insects are the worst seen in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years, while Kenya has not seen a locust infestation on this scale this size for 70 years. Uganda and South Sudan are also under threat.
Worst locust invasion to hit East Africa in 25 years grounds Ethiopia Airlines jet, which was a spattered mess with damaged engines after flying through swarm. Crops hit hard, with UN teams warning of food shortages. Locusts number 40million per sq km in some parts of East Africa pic.twitter.com/Ka4bReoUw6
— James Hall (@hallaboutafrica) January 15, 2020
"The speed of the pests' spread and the size of the infestations are so far beyond the norm that they have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit," the U.N. said in a statement.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Cash McCall - Don't Change on Me
Cash McCall - I'm Ready
Cash McCall - Gypsy Woman
Cash McCall - I'm In Danger
Cash McCall - S.O.S.
Cash McCall - Let's Get A Good Thing Going On
Cash McCall - It hurts me too
Cash McCall - No More Doggin'
Cash McCall - The Blues Just Won't Let Me Be
Cash McCall - Bring It on Home