The Evening Blues - 1-30-23


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Lil Son Jackson

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Texas blues guitarist Lil Son Jackson. Enjoy!

Lil Son Jackson - Gamblin Blues

"The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department."

-- Joseph McCarthy

News and Opinion

The Mass Media Used To Publish Perspectives On Ukraine That They Would Never Publish Today

The other day I stumbled across a 2014 opinion piece in The Guardian titled “It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war” by Seumas Milne, who the following year would go on to become the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications under Jeremy Corbyn.

I bring this up because the perspectives you’ll find in that article are jarring in how severely they deviate from anything you’ll see published in the mainstream press about Ukraine in 2023. It places the brunt of the blame for the violence and tensions in that nation at that time squarely at Washington’s feet, opening with a warning that the “threat of war in Ukraine is growing” and saying there’s an “unelected government in Kiev,” and it only gets naughtier from there.

I strongly recommend reading the article in full if you want some perspective in just how dramatically the mass media has clamped down on dissenting ideas about Ukraine and Russia, beginning with the frenzied stoking of Russia hysteria in 2016 and exploding exponentially with the Russian invasion last year. I doubt there’s a single paragraph which could get published in any mainstream outlet in the media environment of today.

Milne writes about how “the Ukrainian president was replaced by a US-selected administration, in an entirely unconstitutional takeover,” and about “the role of the fascistic right on the streets and in the new Ukrainian regime.” He says that “Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia,” and that “you don’t hear much about the Ukrainian government’s veneration of wartime Nazi collaborators and pogromists, or the arson attacks on the homes and offices of elected communist leaders, or the integration of the extreme Right Sector into the national guard, while the anti-semitism and white supremacism of the government’s ultra-nationalists is assiduously played down.” He says that “after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure.”

Milne says “Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive,” and says the US and its allies have been “encouraging the military crackdown on protesters after visits from Joe Biden and the CIA director, John Brennan.” He correctly predicts that “one outcome of the crisis is likely to be a closer alliance between China and Russia, as the US continues its anti-Chinese ‘pivot’ to Asia,” and presciently warns of “the threat of a return of big-power conflict” as Ukraine moves toward war.

To be clear, Milne was not some fringe voice who happened to get picked up for one Guardian op-ed by a strange editorial fluke; he published hundreds of articles with The Guardian over the course of many years, and kept on publishing for a year and a half after this Ukraine piece came out, right up until he went to work for Corbyn. He was on the left end of the mainstream media, but he was very much part of the mainstream media.

This article would of course have drawn controversy and criticism at the time; there were many people who were on the opposite side of the debate in 2014, though they would’ve had a fraction of the numbers of the shrieking conformity enforcers we see on all matters related to Ukraine today. Milne himself says that “the bulk of the western media abandoned any hint of even-handed coverage” after the Crimea annexation, so his article would have been an outlier to be sure. But the fact remains that it was published in The Guardian, and that it would never be published there today.

Seriously, try to imagine an article like that about what happened in Ukraine in 2014 appearing in a mainstream publication like The Guardian in 2023. Can you imagine the hysterics? The histrionic garment-rending from the establishment narrative managers? The social media swarming of Zelenskyite trolls? This is after all the same media environment that pressured CBS to retract its story about how arms shipments to Ukraine weren’t getting where they were supposed to, and pressured Amnesty International to apologize for saying anything about Ukrainian war crimes.

Or how about this Guardian article by John Pilger titled “In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia,” subtitled “Washington’s role in Ukraine, and its backing for the regime’s neo-Nazis, has huge implications for the rest of the world,” published two weeks after Milne’s?

Pilger’s article is somehow even more heretical than Milne’s, saying Washington “masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev” and that “Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of ‘special units’ from the CIA and FBI setting up a ‘security structure’ that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup.”

As with Milne, Pilger criticizes the media environment at the time, saying “propaganda” about what’s happening in Ukraine is happening in an “Orwellian style”. But again, his article was published in The Guardian, whereas today it never would be.

Pilger has actually provided some background for this shift in mass media reporting, saying that there was a “purge” of dissident voices from The Guardian’s ranks around 2014-2015.

“My written journalism is no longer welcome in The Guardian which, three years ago, got rid of people like me in pretty much a purge of those who really were saying what The Guardian no longer says any more,” Pilger reported in a January 2018 radio interview.

Interestingly, a 2019 Declassified UK report found that British intelligence services began aggressively targeting The Guardian after its 2013 publication of the Edward Snowden documents, and found their in when the outlet’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was replaced by Katharine Viner in March 2015. After that point The Guardian began moving away from critical investigative reporting and began publishing softball “interviews” with MI5 and MI6 chiefs and willingly participating in the west’s information war against Russia.

Once the western world plunged in unison into blinkered Russia hysteria after Hillary Clinton lost the US presidential election in 2016, we began seeing things like that time a BBC reporter admonished a guest for voicing unauthorized opinions about Syria because “we’re in an information war with Russia.”

Whether or not you agree with the perspectives authored by Milne and Pilger is irrelevant to the very important fact that they could say things in the mainstream media in 2014 that they could never say in the mainstream media in 2023. The dramatic shift from a media environment where criticism of establishment Russia narratives is permitted to one where it is not permitted is worth noting, because it means there was a conscious shift toward converting the mass media into full-fledged cold war propaganda outlets.

A lot of things have happened since 2014, but nothing about what happened in 2014 has changed since 2014. It’s still the same year it always was, because that’s how time works; nothing has changed about 2014 other than the thoughts you’re permitted to voice about it in mainstream outlets like The Guardian.

This bizarre historical revisionism has been occurring not just in The Guardian but throughout the mainstream media. Last year Moon of Alabama published a piece titled “Media Are Now Whitewashing Nazis They Had Previously Condemned” which compiles many, many instances in which the mass media have reported on Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem over the years, and contrasts this with the way the mass media now whitewashes those paramilitaries and pretends they’re just fine upstanding patriots. In the years prior to the Russian invasion there were neo-Nazis in Ukraine; now there are no neo-Nazis in Ukraine and there never have been and you’re a treasonous Putin puppet if you say otherwise. Nothing actually changed about Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem; all that changed is the narrative.

Everyone should be aware that the mass media have drastically changed the perspectives they’re willing to publish on Ukraine, because it proves that these outlets are not working to help create a well-informed populace and facilitate important conversations, but are in fact knowingly operating as war propaganda firms. They’re not trying to inform people about what’s going on in the world, they’re trying to manipulate the way people think about the world. These two goals could not possibly be more different.

Power is controlling what happens; true power is controlling what people think about what happens. They’re re-writing history to influence control over what people think about the present. As old Orwell put it, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

To US Papers, Iranian Weapons Far More Newsworthy Than Those Made in USA

Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones in the Ukraine war has garnered substantial attention in flagship US news outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. These papers’ first references to the matter came on July 11. Between then and the time of writing (January 24), the publications have run 215 pieces that mention Ukraine and the words “Iranian drones,” “Iranian-made drones,” “drones made in Iran” or minor variations on these phrases. That’s more than one mention per day over six-and-a-half months.

The fact that some of Russia’s drones are made in Iran is not only frequently mentioned, but is often featured in headlines like “Iran to Send Hundreds of Drones to Russia for Use in Ukraine, US Says” (Washington Post, 7/11/22), “Ukraine Warns of Growing Attacks by Drones Iran Has Supplied to Russia” (New York Times, 9/25/22) and “Russia’s Iranian Drones Pose Growing Threat to Ukraine” (Wall Street Journal, 10/18/22).

Drones are, of course, just one type of weapons export among many, and US-made armaments have not received similar coverage when they are implicated in the slaughter of innocents.

One example is Israel’s May 10–21, 2021, bombing of Gaza. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Israeli military killed approximately 245 Palestinians, including 63 children, and “totally destroyed or severely damaged” more than 2,000 housing units:

An estimated 15,000 housing units sustained some degree of damage, as did multiple water and sanitation facilities and infrastructure, 58 education facilities, nine hospitals and 19 primary healthcare centers. The damage to infrastructure has exacerbated Gaza’s chronic infrastructure and power deficits, resulting in a decrease of clean water and sewage treatment, and daily power cuts of 18–20 hours, affecting hundreds of thousands.

Israel’s attack was carried out with an arsenal replete with US weaponry. From 2009–20, more than 70% of Israel’s major conventional arms purchases came from the US; according to Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Israel’s “major combat aircraft come from the US,” notably including the F-16 fighter jets that were bombarding Gaza at the time (Middle East Eye, 5/18/21). As the Congressional Research Service (11/16/20) noted six months before the attack on Gaza, Israel has received more cumulative US foreign assistance than any other country since World War II:

To date, the United States has provided Israel $146 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. At present, almost all US bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance.

I searched the databases of the Times, Journal and Post for the equivalent terms I used for the Iranian drones used in Ukraine, and added analogous terms. In the one-month period beginning May 10, just 15 articles in these papers mentioned Israel’s use of US weapons, approximately half as many stories as have been published on the Russian use of Iranian-made drones each month.

A grisly case from the ongoing Yemen war is another worthwhile comparison for how Iranian weapons exports and their US counterparts are covered. On January 21, 2022, the US/Saudi/Emirati/British/Canadian coalition in Yemen bombed a prison in Sa’adah, killing at least 80 people and injuring more than 200. The US weapons-maker Raytheon manufactured the bomb used in the atrocity.

In coverage from the month following the attack, I find evidence of only two articles in the three papers that link the slaughter and US weapons. A New York Times story (1/21/22) raised the possibility that US-made bombs killed people in Sa’adah:

It was unclear whether the weapons used in the airstrikes had been provided by the United States, which in recent years has been by far the largest arms seller to Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab] Emirates, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors weapons transfers.

The one piece that explicitly pointed to US culpability in the Sa’adah massacre was an op-ed in the Washington Post (1/26/22) that referred to “ample evidence showing US weapons used in the attack.” Thus the Wall Street Journal didn’t consider US  participation in a mass murder that killed 80 people to be newsworthy, and the Times and Post evidently concluded that US involvement merited minimal attention. The Post (1/21/22) even ran an article that misleadingly suggested the US had ceased to be a major factor in the war:

The United States once strongly backed the Saudi-led coalition. But President Biden announced early last year that Washington would withdraw support for the coalition’s offensive operations, which have been blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians. The Trump administration had previously halted US refueling of Saudi jets operating against the Houthis. Some members of Congress had long expressed outrage over US involvement in the war, including weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Yet mere weeks before Sa’adah killings, Congress signed off on a Biden-approved $650 million weapons sale to Saudi Arabia (Al Jazeera, 12/8/21). That means Washington is still “strongly back[ing]” the coalition, notwithstanding the hollow claims that such weapons are defensive (In These Times, 11/22/21).

The coverage of Iran’s weapons exports and the US’s also diverges in terms of the analyses that the outlets offer.

David Ignatius told his Washington Post (8/24/22) readers to “beware the emerging Tehran/Moscow alliance.” In the periods I examined, there is a marked shortage of articles urging readers to “beware” the Washington/Tel Aviv or Washington/Riyadh alliances, despise the bloodshed they facilitate.

The Wall Street Journal (10/28/22) contended that

Russia’s expanding use of Iranian drones in Ukraine poses an increasing threat for the US and its European allies as Tehran attempts to project military power beyond the Middle East.

The article went on to say that “the Western-made components that guide, power and steer the [Iranian] drones touch on a vexing problem world leaders face in trying to contain the expanding threat.” The piece cited Norman Roule, formerly of the CIA,

warn[ing] that the combination of drones and missiles one day might be used against Western powers. “This Ukraine conflict provides Iran with a unique and low-risk opportunity to test its weapons systems against modern Western defenses,” Mr. Roule said.

The US weapons that helped lay waste to Gaza and snuff out dozens of prisoners in Sa’adah are barely presented as having harmed their victims, and not at all as an “increasing” or “expanding” threat to rival powers such as Russia or China, or to anyone else.

In the New York Times (11/1/22), Bret Stephens contended that the Biden

administration should warn Iran’s leaders that their UAV factories will be targeted and destroyed if they continue to provide kamikaze drones to Russia, in flat violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. If Tehran can get away with being an accessory to mass murder in Ukraine, it will never have any reason to fear the United States for any of its malign behavior. Every country should be put on notice that the price for helping Moscow in its slaughter will be steep.

Of course, the UN charter does not give individual countries the right to attack other nations they perceive as violating UN Security Council resolutions. And needless to say, the Times, Journal and Post do not say that US responsibility for mass murder in Palestine and Yemen means that weapons factories in the US should be “targeted and destroyed” by a hostile power. Nor do they suggest that the US should be “put on notice” that there will be a “steep” “price for helping” Tel Aviv or Riyadh in their “slaughter.”

William B. Taylor and David J. Kramer argue in the Post (12/6/22) that Iranian drones are among the few “Russian weapons that work,” and that the US needs to “provid[e] Ukraine with missile defense, anti-drone and antiaircraft systems.” None of the articles I examined said that anyone should give military hardware to the Palestinians or Yemenis for protection against US-made weapons.

If these outlets’ concern about Iranian arms exports to Russia were about the sanctity of human life, there wouldn’t be such a gap between the volume and character of this coverage compared to that of US weapons piling up corpses in Palestine and Yemen. Instead, corporate media have focused on how official enemies enact violence, and downplayed that which their own country inflicts.

Israel STRIKES Iran For Russia Support

Pentagon CLOSE To Sending F16s To Ukraine

White House “discussing” sending US fighter jets to Ukraine

The White House confirmed Thursday that the United States is considering sending Western fighter jets to Ukraine to fight Russia. Asked whether the “United States is willing to consider” sending fighter jets to Ukraine, White House deputy national security advisor Jon Finer told MSNBC Thursday that the United States will be “discussing this very carefully.”

The announcement Wednesday by President Joe Biden that the United States would send the Abrams main battle tank to Ukraine was immediately met with demands within the media and political establishment to send the F-16 multi-role fighter jet as well. ... The statement by Finer came the same day that Thomas Gassilloud, the chairman of the French defense committee, said that France would “leave all the doors open” to sending Western fighter aircraft into the war with Russia. Netherlands Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, asked last week if the country would consider sending fighters to Ukraine, replied, “When it comes to things that the Netherlands can supply, there are no taboos.”

On Wednesday, ArmyINFORM, an information agency for Ukraine’s ministry of defense, reported that Ukrainian fighter pilots have already begun training in the United States. “Our military pilots went to the United States, funds were allocated for the training of our pilots,” wrote the publication, quoting a Ukrainian ministry of defense official. The publication reported that the type of aircraft the United States will send to Ukraine has already been decided. “The type of aircraft, which is likely to be provided to Ukraine, and the corresponding terms of training have already been determined.” ...

On Friday, leading Democratic and Republican senators called on the White House to send F-16 fourth-generation nuclear-capable fighter aircraft to Ukraine. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal demanded that the jets be provided to “erode Russia’s capability to continue fighting in Ukraine.” The senators added, “While the tanks represent a tremendous upgrade in Ukraine’s military, we urge the Biden administration and our allies to send more long range artillery, such as ATACMS, and fighter aircraft such as F-16s.”

They continued, “The combination of tanks, fighter aircraft, and ATACMS will help Ukraine confront the upcoming Russian offensive and go on offense in both the East and the South.” The letter concluded, “Let’s give the Ukrainians everything they need to win—now.”

Military Reality vs. Political Reality. Putin vs. The West

Russia Warns of ‘Full-Blown Conflict in Europe’

The decision by the United States and several allies to supply Ukraine with main battle tanks is paving a “direct path” to a full-scale war in Europe, Russia’s deputy envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned.

In a statement issued on Thursday concerning the “dangerous policy of the Western Alliance countries to escalate tensions” in Ukraine, deputy OSCE representative Maxim Buyakevich said foreign arms deliveries to Kiev would only prolong the current conflict, or kick off a larger regional war.

“The leaders of the US and their NATO client states have come close to a red line. Their deliberate actions to escalate the military confrontation in Ukraine – provoking the regime into military action against the Russian population using Western heavy weapons and NATO intelligence – is a direct path to a full-blown military conflict in Europe,” he said, arguing that all people on the continent “definitely stand to lose” from such a war.

Pro-western Petr Pavel sweeps to landslide win in race for Czech presidency

Petr Pavel, a retired general and former senior Nato commander, has swept to the Czech presidency after a landslide victory over the former prime minister Andrej Babis in an election overshadowed by rows over the war between Russia and Ukraine.

With nearly all the votes counted, returns showed Pavel prevailing by the emphatic margin of 58.3% to 41.68%, the largest ever recorded in a Czech presidential poll and reflecting an advantage of more than 958,000 votes nationwide. Pavel’s supporters immediately hailed the result as a victory for liberal democracy over oligarchic populism, which they believe Babis represents. ...

It also amounted to a humiliating rebuff for Slovak-born Babis, 68, a billionaire tycoon who stood accused of running a shameless, scorched-earth campaign after portraying Pavel as a warmonger for his support of military aid to Ukraine. At one point, Babis even appeared to question Nato’s collective security arrangements by saying he would never send Czech troops to Poland, a fellow member of the military alliance, if it was attacked by Russia.

He also tried to capitalise on Pavel’s past membership of the then ruling Communist party before it was toppled in the 1989 Velvet Revolution – brazenly overlooking his own previous role, confirmed by a court ruling, as an informer for the communist-era secret police and his backing from the current Czech communists.

"An Intolerable Situation": Rashid Khalidi & Orly Noy on Israeli Colonialism & Escalating Violence

Florida Republican sends welcome grenades to fellow Congress members

A newly elected Florida Republican sent grenades to fellow members of Congress, prompting one aghast Democrat to say “not even George Santos could make this stuff up”.

The grenades were sent by another freshman, Cory Mills, a member of the armed services and foreign affairs committees.

Stamped with a Republican elephant, the inert projectiles came with a letter in which Mills said: “It is my pleasure to give you a 40mm grenade, made for a Mk19 grenade launcher. They are manufactured in the Sunshine State and first developed in the Vietnam war.

“Let’s come together and get to work on behalf of our constituents.” ...

A defense and security contractor before entering Congress, he has boasted about selling teargas used against protesters for racial justice.

HUGE Antiwar Victory Won By RIGHT WING!

Georgia is seeking to define ‘Cop City’ protests as terrorism, experts say

When author and environmental movement expert Will Potter saw the Atlanta police chief, Darin Schierbaum, tell a recent press conference “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an attorney to tell you that breaking windows and setting fires is not protest – it’s terrorism”, he could not believe his ears. The problem, Potter told the Guardian, is that while you may not have to be a rocket scientist, “the reality is, it’s been difficult to come to an understanding of what terrorism is and what political violence is for decades”.

Schierbaum was speaking about a march through midtown Atlanta, Georgia, last Saturday night that began peacefully, only to see several protesters separate and begin breaking windows of businesses and lighting fire to a police car. The marchers were protesting “Cop City”, an 85-acre, $90m training facility planned for South River forest, a wooded area south-east of the city. They were also protesting the fatal police shooting of Tortuguita, a fellow activist, less than a week earlier, on a raid in the Atlanta forest where dozens have been tree-sitting and camping for more than a year.

The march, arrests of 18 activists charged under a state domestic terrorism law, a series of raids on the forest in recent weeks and Tortuguita’s killing have escalated tensions over Cop City. They culminated Thursday afternoon in the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, declaring a state of emergency. Under the order, up to 1,000 national guard troops will be available until 9 February or upon further order.

These actions have also been matched by a strident rhetoric from police and politicians in Georgia, seeking to define a largely peaceful protest movement – often focused on environmental and racial justice issues – as terrorism and those who participate in it as terrorists. It has shocked many observers including Potter, who see a crude attempt to use as powerful tools as possible to crush opposition. “I can’t help but think it’s to shut the protest down and remove them from the public spotlight,” Potter said of Kemp’s order Thursday. ...

On Saturday night, six activists in Atlanta were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism, bringing the total since December to 18. All have been charged under a Georgia statute, marking the first time state law has been used this way in the history of environmental movements in the US. On 18 January, Tortuguita also became the first environmental activist killed by police in US history, experts said.

Tyre Nichols: Video of Fatal Police Beating in Memphis Spurs New Demands for Police Accountability

‘We’re not done’: end of Scorpion unit after Tyre Nichols death is first step, protesters say

Along Main Street, just outside Memphis City Hall, a swarm of white and Black protesters and organizers gathered under the sprinkling rain to mark a significant victory: the city police department had just announced they would permanently disband the so-called Scorpion unit whose officers were involved in the beating death of Tyre Nichols. Still, they argued, that was just the first step in getting justice for Nichols, whose shocking death has stunned and angered much of America and reopened a debate over racism and police brutality. “We’re not done,” one organizer said through a megaphone. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

They called for the release of information on all officers and personnel involved in Nichols’s death on top of the murder charges laid against the five Black officers who attacked the 29-year-old. They also demanded an end to pre-textual traffic stops, such as pulling people over for broken tail lights and loud music, and the dissolution of other units and task forces the Memphis police department operates.

Before the announcement of the Scorpions disbandment, demonstrators had marched past a fire station and Memphis police headquarters and chanted “Justice for Tyre”. The protest had come just a day after the city released video footage of the brutal mass beating that had led to Nichols’s death. At one point, protesters surrounded police vehicles that had blocked off the streets.

Ending the unit, one of several police task forces in Memphis dispatched to neighborhoods to suppress crime, had been one of several demands protesters and Nichols’s family made in the aftermath of the Nichols’s death. In a statement, the family’s attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said that the unit’s dissolution marked an “appropriate and proportional” response to Nichols’s death and a “decent and just decision” to Memphis residents.

“We hope that other cities take similar action with their saturation police units in the near future to begin to create greater trust in their communities,” they said. “We must keep in mind that this is just the next step on this journey for justice and accountability, as clearly this misconduct is not restricted to these specialty units. It extends so much further.”

Texas national guard soldier shoots and wounds migrant at Mexico border

A Texas national guard soldier has shot and wounded a migrant in the shoulder along the US-Mexico border. According to Texas military records reviewed by the Military Times and the Texas Tribune, the soldier fired at the migrant on 15 January as he was attempting to detain the migrant.

The shooting is believed to be the first time that a national guard member deployed to the border as part of Texas’s border security mission Operation Lone Star has shot and injured a migrant.

The incident occurred west of McAllen, Texas, at around 4.20am when two national guard soldiers and border patrol agents tracked several migrants to an abandoned house. Records reviewed by the Military Times and the Texas Tribune showed that upon the two soldiers entering the house, three of the migrants surrendered. A fourth migrant tried to escape from a window and one of the soldiers attempted to apprehend the migrant.

The migrant was reported to have wrestled with the soldier and struck him with his fists and elbows. At one point, the soldier drew his M17 pistol, fired once and shot the migrant. Military records reviewed by the outlets does not indicate that the migrant had fired any weapons towards the soldier.

Florida officers charged with battery after allegedly beating homeless man

Two Florida police officers are facing armed kidnapping and battery charges for allegedly assaulting a homeless man after handcuffing him without reason, and taking him to an “isolated” location where they beat him unconscious. ...

Florida prosecutors say that on 17 December, officers Rafael Otano and Lorenzo Orfila of Hialeah city in Miami-Dade county handcuffed 50-year-old Jose Ortega Gutierrez, a homeless man who was known in the area. Surveillance cameras in the area around did not show any behavior by Gutierrez that would warrant an arrest.

The officers then drove him to a “dark” and “isolated” spot six miles away, blasting their emergency lights on the way. They allegedly threw Gutierrez on the ground and beat him. He later woke up without cuffs, bleeding from his head. ...

The incident soon led to an internal investigation. A few days later, Ali Amin Saleh, 45, allegedly approached Gutierrez and offered him $1,200, persuading him into signing an affidavit claiming the officers did not assault him. Gutierrez, who does not know how to read and was not informed what was in the statement, said he signed the paper because he needed the money.

the horse race

Billionaire Funded Judges Who Could Decide His Speech-Crushing Beto Case

A lawsuit that could punish speech against wealthy political donors may ultimately land before judges who have accepted campaign donations from the billionaire bringing the case, a Lever review has found. The plaintiff’s fossil fuel company has also delivered money to political groups who boosted those judges’ election bids.

Kelcy Warren, who controls the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and has a net worth of $5.3 billion, is suing former Congressman Beto O’Rourke over campaign comments made about him in a case that could set a new legal precedent for financially punishing political candidates who criticize billionaires’ political spending.

On January 20, The Lever reported on Warren’s lawsuit, which alleges that he was defamed when O’Rourke impugned his $1 million donation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), which was made weeks after the governor signed legislation allowing natural gas companies like Warren’s to opt out of weatherization regulations.

If Warren appeals a negative ruling in the lower court, the case could head to the Texas Supreme Court — where three justices have received direct campaign contributions from Warren. What’s more, Warren and his company, Energy Transfer Partners, have spent $1 million financing super PACs supporting successful candidates for that court. One of those super PACs has recently drawn scrutiny for influencing judicial decisions in Texas.

If he wins, Warren could score a landmark victory for wealthy political donors to influence elections, while insulating them from scrutiny over their influence.

the evening greens

House Republican Bill Sacrifices Public Lands for Fossil Fuel Profits

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act. The first major energy bill of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would mandate that non-emergency drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) would be accompanied by a plan to lease a percentage of public lands and waters for fossil fuel production. After the inclusion of an amendment by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), the bill would permit a leasing plan that could include as much of fifteen percent of federal lands and waters.

“Fossil fuel companies are already swimming in record profits, but House Republicans are using one of their first legislative opportunities to auction off our public lands for more drilling,” said Martin Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation. “Ramping down fossil fuel extraction and transitioning to clean energy are our best opportunity to protect ourselves from the worst impacts of climate change, insulate families from volatile energy prices, and ensure that we reach our climate goals. At a time when we’re seeing the impacts of climate change every day, this bill would lock in decades of fossil fuel drilling that we simply cannot afford.”

The federal government presides over approximately 640 million acres of onshore land along with 2.5 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf. If agencies had to follow through with the plan to lease the 15 percent of public lands required by this bill, they could be forced to lease 471 million acres. The final bill also included numerous problematic amendments, including one that would make the bill apply retroactively to non-emergency releases from the SPR since President Biden took office.

Sweden discovers major rare earth deposits in Arctic region

A Swedish mining company reported earlier this month that it has discovered a large deposit of rare earth minerals in the far north of the country.

Rare earths are a series of 17 minerals commonly found together that are used in most high-tech electronics, military systems and batteries. While widely distributed throughout the world, they are hard to find in sufficient concentrations to be economic to extract.

The deposit was found by Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB), a state-owned mining company that operates two major iron mines in the far north of the country, just inside the Arctic Circle. The discovery was made at LKAB’s Kiruna mine, which is about 130 kilometers from the Finnish border and 300 kilometers from the Russian border. ...

The discovery was heralded in the mainstream press throughout Europe and the US as a significant geopolitical development that would wrestle control over the rare earth supply chain away from China.

NPR’s Paddy Hirsch described it as “a very big deal for the West.” He continued, “We have seen in the last 10 years that the U.S. in particular has been very, very worried about the fact that China has such a lock hold on the production of rare earths. … So this find in Sweden is a very big deal for the West and for Western nations and NATO…”

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Matt Taibbi: Move Over, Jason Blair: Meet Hamilton 68, the New King of Media Fraud

Consortium News Editor Named on Hamilton 68 Secret ‘Disinfo’ List

Hamilton 68: Brief Addendum

Ukraine - RAND Study Sees Risks In Prolonged War

90 Seconds to Midnight?

Enormous Lockheed stock buybacks and dividends come at expense of taxpayers

Celebrities Protect The Interests Of The Empire: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson Discuss the Causes and Politicization of Inflation

Rural Americans Aren’t Included in Inflation Figures – and for Them, the Cost of Living May Be Rising Faster

California’s Plan to Disappear the Homeless

Protests Erupt Across US After Memphis Releases Video of Ex-Cops Beating Tyre Nichols

Death in the marshes: environmental calamity hits Iraq’s unique wetlands

"Robin Hood" Strikers CUT Electric to Rich, Give to Poor

Will The U.S. Invade Haiti Just To Stop Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier?

WEF Threatens Elon Musk To Follow Orders “Or Else!”

Americans Are WILDLY Misled About Ethiopia!

Media, Deep State Pushed FAKE Russian Bot Narrative, New Twitter Files Show

A Little Night Music

Lil Son Jackson - Rockin' And Rollin'

Melvin "Lil' Son" Jackson - Milford Blues

Lil Son Jackson - Evil Blues

Lil Son Jackson - Cairo Blues

Lil Son Jackson - Groundhog Blues

Lil' Son Jackson - Blues Come To Texas

Lil' Son Jackson - No Money, No Love

Lil' Son Jackson - Homeless Blues

Lil' Son Jackson - Sugar Mama

Lil' Son Jackson - Ticket Agent

17 users have voted.


That was during the time the Bidens and Clintons stepped into the mess.
How soon the media forgets.

Thanks for the headlines and tunes!

16 users have voted.


and second poorest country in Europe, after Moldova, before the coup. After the coup, Ukraine became THE POOREST, as well as THE MOST CORRUPT, country in Europe, while an Energy Holding Company, Burisma, could pay an American attorney $50,000 a month while the Ukrainian workforce was the poorest in Europe. And our current president was smack in the middle of this crime.

13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, ukraine might have even rivaled new jersey for corruption. Smile

7 users have voted.

articles by Caitlin Johnstone and Fair are a good way to start.

Sometimes it is best way to deal with the ongoing insanity is with a bit of humor.

Edited to add this gem: Watch the ending for a chuckle.

12 users have voted.


Apparently the western dogs want to fight with China
and think nothing of it to get NATO troops and weapons
there to do its bidding. Not North Atlantic. More Southern Pacific.
Perhaps the war hogs should be renamed.
TACO Total American Control Org.
Remove Treaty and Atlantic to reflect reality.

10 users have voted.

@QMS I like it. Not really funny, but I did laugh.

7 users have voted.


@humphrey for the edit!

5 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

joe shikspack's picture


i guess stoltenberg was in south korea to arrange towing for it to be relocated off of the coast of the u.s. just south of charlottesville, virginia so that it can be an official north atlantic nation and still on the 38th parallel.

10 users have voted.

@humphrey Europe has virtually nothing to offer to South Korea in terms of its dispute with North Korea. Stoltenberg was really there to get South Korean weapons sent to Ukraine.

Stoltenberg underscored the “urgent need for more ammunition, more weapons to Ukraine” to defeat Russia’s invasion.

“If you believe in democracy and if you don’t want autocracy and tyranny to win, then they need weapons. That’s the reality,” the NATO chief said, adding South Korea has the final say.

But South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Monday said the government has “maintained the stance that it is difficult to provide lethal weapons for Ukraine in light of the country’s security situation.”

Stoltenberg and others no doubt are looking to get over on Yoon, who because of his low IQ and lack of experience, gives away the store in order to boost his international image. Give him a photo op and he'll say anything. This is because he unpopular in South Korea. He has one of the lowest approval ratings of any elected leader. The South Korean economy is tanking, it's racked by inflation. Meanwhile Yoon is persecuting the political opposition, labor and civic organizations. He has presided over two debacles since taking office, the Itaewon crush disaster and the five hour North Korean drone incursion into South Korea. People are sick of his lies, excuses (blaming others) and authoritarian practices.

A rift appears to be opening up in Yoon's party, by those who reject his party rule changes intended to control the party leader selection process, and gain complete control of the appointment of conservative party candidates in the next National Assembly elections, spring 2024. He forced Na Kyang-won to give up her bid for the position and grovel publicly in an unseemly way. She was far more popular than Yoon's candidate for the position. The old Park Geun-hye faction on the conservative side is looking for a way to avoid a Yoon debacle in the 2024 race. People are speculating whether Ahn Chul-soo will step up to oppose the Yoon clique, or split the party.

Because Yoon is an authoritarian himself, Stoltenberg's statement about not wanting autocracy and tyranny to win, is far off the mark and terribly ironic. Contributing to the fiction that Yoon is about democratic values is an effort to improve his image in South Korea which is currently that of a corrupt liar and thug. If the US or NATO have the satellite photos of rockets and artillery being loaded at the North Korean Russian border, why not publish them?

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i can't imagine anybody more ill-suited to improving a tarnished image than jens stoltenberg. the man is such a transparent buffoon and mic shill that nobody with one brain cell to rub against the next would pay any attention to anything he says.

7 users have voted.

(You can better view the images by clicking on them.)

I wonder if the Big Guy got his 10% ?

13 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Every day it just seems to get worse and worse with no one doing anything about it. This says it all.

The grenades were sent by another freshman, Cory Mills, a member of the armed services and foreign affairs committees.

“Let’s come together and get to work on behalf of our constituents.” ...

Good bet that the constituents aren’t we the people. But how does a freshman congress member get appointed to one of the top committees? I bet that someone who has been there longer and isn’t an ex military creep would better represent our interests.

I agree with Joe…why not just send Ukraine nukes and get it over with?

9 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun

joe shikspack's picture


heh, i am so old that i can remember a time when people from florida were proud of the oranges they grew and would send them to family and friends at xmas.

apparently now they send inert hand grenades. go figure.

9 users have voted.

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg Still must be money to be made as Ukraine turns into a wasteland.

Seriously, though. It's increasingly difficult not to feel complete frustration if you have been paying attention as we have done here at C99.

There have been rumblings from a few corners of the Commentariat that say the Pentagon and the US Military are interested in ending this War. Pepe Escobar and the Rand Corporation and The Duran and WashPo have been reporting on this.

i will believe it when I see it a bit more clearly than what the Washington Post is saying.

10 users have voted.


snoopydawg's picture


Looks like soon we will be at war with China and Iran soon and Ukraine, Syria, Somalia and gawd knows where else won’t be the only countries seeing our bombs dropping on them. Sure wish that we the people had a say in who we war with!

7 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun

reason shows how messed up things are.


9 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

The Slimes came out and said that there was no there there for Russia putting Trump in office, but so many people still believe they did. The replies to this….

After all the evidence that has debunked this it’s not going to die because the propaganda ate people’s brains. I wonder if Hillary said that she just made it up if people would think that Russia threatened her to say it?

7 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun

The Taliban has a sense of humor.

9 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

Lota of good stuff tonight. I stumbled across a few gems today for your collection:

If there is no sufficient reason for war, the war party will make war on one pretext, then invent another.

Every nation has its war party... It is commercial, imperialistic, ruthless. It tolerates no opposition.

In times of peace, the war party insists on making preparation for war. As soon as prepared for, it insists on making war.

Every nation has its war party. It is not the party of democracy. It is the party of autocracy. It seeks to dominate absolutely.

be well and have a good one

6 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

i especially like the third one, thanks!

have a great evening!

4 users have voted.

Senator Feinstein Keeps Everyone Guessing on Whether She’ll Run Again in California

US Senator Dianne Feinstein said she’ll announce this spring whether she will seek reelection to a seventh term even as fellow California Democrats announce plans to compete for the seat.

“You’ll be hearing, soon,” Feinstein told Bloomberg News on Monday night. “In the spring sometime. Not in the winter. I don’t announce in the winter.”

Feinstein, 89, is the Senate’s longest-serving Democrat and its oldest member. Her health has been an issue on Capitol Hill and in her home state after the San Francisco Chronicle reported last year that some colleagues were expressing concern about memory lapses and her ability to perform duties.

Representatives Katie Porter and Adam Schiff have already announced plans to run for the Senate seat, while Representative Barbara Lee has informed the Congressional Black Caucus of her plans to run but hasn’t announced publicly.

Representative Ro Khanna has also expressed an interest in the seat, but told Bloomberg News he wants to see whether Lee, a fellow progressive, runs.

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


perhaps she has to find out if she can swing any more deals for her husband.

6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack until insider trading became an opportunity, then her brain lit up.
Great eb, as is your way.
Cops suck.
So does war.
At least we have the blues!
Take good care, my friend!

6 users have voted.

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

apparently her dementia didn't get in the way of her bringing home information useful to her husband's investments.

have a great evening!

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


They weren’t sold on whether Biden should keep Harris as VP and they went on and on about the misogyny dealt Harris whilst absolutely shit posting about Porter and Warren. No misogyny there though. Those 2 women said basically that Harris only offers up word salads which she does and hasn’t accomplished much, but boy is that misogynistic to point it out! Funny how it’s okay for them to do what they accuse others of doing. Schiff though is the golden boy. You just can’t make this crap up.

7 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun