The Evening Blues - 10-10-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues harmonica player Alec "Rice" Miller, Sonny Boy Williamson II. Enjoy!
Sonny Boy Williamson - When The Lights Went Out, I Can't Understand, Slowly Walk Close To Me, Once Upon A Time
"Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood."
News and Opinion
Turkish troops have advanced into north-eastern Syria, following airstrikes and artillery barrages aimed at US-backed Kurdish forces who control the region. The Turkish military confirmed on Wednesday it had “launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river” and later said it had hit 181 “militant targets”.
Video footage showed civilians fleeing towns with columns of smoke rising in the background and jet trails visible in the sky. Activists and observers said at least seven civilians had been killed so far. There were also early reports of civilian casualties in border towns hit by shelling. Pictures and video shared on social media showed wrecked buildings and bodies in the rubble. ...
Gulnur Aybet, one of the Turkish president’s senior advisers, told CNN: “President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is.” Aybet added that Trump “knows what the scope of this operation is”.
Hours after the bombing began, Trump issued a statement mildly criticising the offensive aimed at Kurdish forces, which for nearly five years fought alongside the US against Isis. “The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” the statement said, before noting: “There are no American soldiers in the area.” In remarks later, Trump presented the invasion as a historical inevitability, saying Turks and Kurds “have been fighting each other for centuries”. And he downplayed the US debt to Kurdish fighters, saying: “They didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us with Normandy … but they’re there to help us with their land.”
The UN security council is due to convene on Thursday to discuss the offensive at the request of its five current European members, but it is not expected to deliver a strong rebuke to Turkey, given tacit Russian support and US ambivalence.
'Humanitarian Catastrophe': Civilians Flee as Turkey Launches Trump-Sanctioned Military Assault on Kurds in Syria
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned in a statement Wednesday that Turkey's assault "will spill the blood of thousands of innocent civilians because our border areas are overcrowded."
On Twitter, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali accused Turkey of deliberately targeting "civilian areas."
Turkish warplanes have started to carry out airstrikes on civilian areas. There is a huge panic among people of the region.
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) October 9, 2019
Fighters with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which leads the SDF, told CNN that hundreds of civilians scrambled to escape northeastern Syria as Turkey began bombarding the area:
Hundreds of civilians in northern Syria have fled areas on the border with Turkey within the last 30 minutes, two YPG fighters and witnesses tell CNN. @npwcnn reports. https://t.co/Pm88pjHaON pic.twitter.com/iyoy1sjNcT
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 9, 2019
Turkey’s rebel allies in northern Syria said on Wednesday they would have no mercy on Syrian Kurdish fighters in the northeast.
“Strike them with an iron fist, make them taste the hell of your fires,” a statement from the National Army, the main Turkey-backed rebel force told its fighters.
A bipartisan Senate bill would halt U.S. military assistance to NATO ally Turkey and clamp sanctions on the U.S. assets of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because of his country's invasion Wednesday of northern Syria. ...
The measure would also impose sanctions on foreign military sales to Turkey, an outline of the legislation said. It would take effect immediately, and its restrictions would be lifted only when the Trump administration certifies that Turkey has ceased its operations and withdrawn its forces from the region.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, said he and co-sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, planned to introduce the legislation as soon as Congress returns from a recess next week. He said he and Graham would seek commitments from Senate leaders to bring the legislation to the floor quickly.
The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence has mistakenly admitted for the first time the budget size of a multibillion-pound program it manages for the Saudi Arabian royal family’s de facto protection force, which is also active in the devastating war in Yemen. It can also be revealed that this program, which is embedded in the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) but paid for by the Saudi regime, employs 10 times more people than the British government publicly admits, raising questions about ministers misleading the parliament in Westminster.
The Saudi Arabia National Guard Communications Project (known as Sangcom) has operated since 1978, when the British government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the authorities in Riyadh. The project provides military communications equipment to the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) but the MOU, which is itself secret, stipulates complete secrecy on the budget. In July this year, however, the MOD advertised for the position of a Sangcom project manager based in Riyadh. The job was open only to male applicants and the advert stated: “The UK MOD SANGCOM Project Team is responsible for the delivery of a £2bn programme to modernise the Saudi Arabian National Guard’s communications network.”
This is the MOD’s first public acknowledgement of the size of Sangcom’s budget in its 40-year history and such a casual mistake is likely to infuriate its Saudi counterparts. As recently as March 2019, Labour MP Catherine West asked a parliamentary question about the program’s budget and was told that it is “confidential to the two governments.” It is understood that this £2-billion budget runs for 10 years and was agreed in February 2010. This new phase of the Sangcom project is 15 times larger than the previous agreement, worth £124-million and signed in 2004.
Also known as the White Army, the Saudi Arabian National Guard comprises about 130,000 troops and acts as an internal security force separate from the regular Saudi army. Drawn from tribes loyal to the ruling Saud clan, the SANG’s essential task is to protect the royal family from a coup. The Sangcom project, alongside Britain’s long-standing military training of the SANG, clearly implicates the U.K. in the defense of the House of Saud, along with the U.S., which is also training and arming it.
The Saudi Arabian National Guard has also been involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has created the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, with 24 million people — nearly 80 percent of the population — needing assistance and protection. ... U.K. support for the SANG is another aspect of its involvement in the Yemen war, which continues even after the government lost a court case concluding that weapons sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful.
Indigenous protesters have clashed again with riot police in Ecuador’s captial as thousands of people joined anti-government rallies and marches calling for the repeal of austerity measures which have sparked the worst political unrest in a decade. Hooded youths threw stones and burned tires as police fired tear gas around the empty parliament building which had been sealed off. Demonstrators also tried unsuccessfully to storm barricades around the presidential palace, which the president, Lenín Moreno, left on Monday, moving his government to the port city of Guayaquil.
Other groups including labour unions and indigenous federations marched, for the most part peacefully, on the first day of a national strike which leaders say will not end until the government repeals a decree scrapping fuel subsidies which caused the price of petrol to spike by a third and the cost of diesel to more than double. ...
Indigenous protests have played a central role in toppling a string of Ecuador’s presidents, including Abdalá Bucaram in 1997, Jamil Mahuad in 2000 and Lucio Gutiérrez in 2005. Jaime Vargas, the leader of the Ecuador’s indigenous confederation Conaie, said there would be no dialogue until the government rolled back its order ending the subsidies. ...
Amnesty International called on the Ecuadorean government to end to “the heavy-handed repression of demonstrations, including mass detentions”. ...
Moreno, 66, has accused political opponents of orchestrating an attempted coup and claimed associates of his predecessor Rafael Correa – a former ally turned bitter enemy – were infiltrating the protests and stoking unrest.
The U.S. military has conducted an aerial survey of Greenland to assess the vast arctic island’s mineral potential as part of agreement between the two governments, a top U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding for cooperating on developing the mineral sector there was inked in June before a diplomatic flap between the United States and Denmark, to which Greenland is linked as an autonomous territory. ...
Frank Fannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for energy resources, told reporters at a gathering at London’s Chatham House that the process was “quite costly and technology intensive” and so Greenland had sought U.S. assistance. “We had the navy there to shoot a hyperspectral survey, to basically use overflight technology to better understand the resource endowment.” ...
Fannon added that the United States planned to help Greenland, armed with the data, to develop a regulatory structure to exploit mineral finds and market future tenders. ...
Greenland is gaining attention as global superpowers including China, Russia and the United States look towards the Arctic region for mineral resources and strategic waterways.
The Justice Department on Wednesday announced its eighth prosecution under President Donald Trump for leaking sensitive information to the media, expanding a crackdown on press disclosures that began during the Obama administration and has only accelerated under Trump. In an eight-page indictment unsealed on Wednesday, prosecutors alleged that Henry Kyle Frese, a 30-year-old counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, accessed intelligence reports unrelated to his job and discussed their contents with two reporters. The indictment describes one intelligence report as being “related to a certain foreign country’s weapons systems.”
According to an affidavit to seize Frese’s cellphone that was also unsealed, a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia authorized Frese’s communications to be monitored in August, which allowed the FBI to intercept his phone calls and access his private messages on social media.
The indictment does not name either of the reporters, but contains information news outlets have used to identify them as Amanda Macias, a national security reporter for CNBC, and Courtney Kube, a national security reporter for NBC. Last year, CNBC published a story that the Chinese military was heavily fortifying islands “west of the Philippines,” which cited American “intelligence assessments.” NBC also published a much-cited series of stories in 2018 with Kube’s byline saying U.S. intelligence assessed that North Korea was concealing a growing nuclear program, despite Trump’s Twitter assurances that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
In a statement to the press, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said, “Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain.”
Worth a full read.
A Spanish security company was apparently enlisted by the Central Intelligence Agency to compile reports on journalists, attorneys, doctors, and any Russians or Americans who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was living in Ecuador’s embassy in London. ... While visitors met with Assange, employees of the company put together a report that could be shared with the CIA via a server in Juarez de la Frontera. The FBI allegedly had access to files, too.
Reports contained the date of the meeting, a copy of the visitor’s passport, the content of their conversation, and video from the meeting. “Employees of U.C. Global S.L. took apart and photographed the cellphones of American journalists who visited the founder of WikiLeaks, according to testimony and graphic documents to which El País has had access.”
Glenn Greenwald, journalist and co-founder of the Intercept, had “photos taken of the Russian visas in his passport, as well as his cellphone.” Greenwald traveled to Russia to visit NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In a statement provided to Shadowproof, Greenwald wrote, “The new El País [report] indicates that affiliates of the U.S. Government, including the CIA and FBI, were effectively spying on their own citizens, including me, through an elaborate fraud in which visitors to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London who visited Julian Assange were lied to, told they had to give their passport for identification purposes and their cellphone for security purposes when, in reality, those items were seized so they could be photographed and put on a server, which both the CIA and FBI could access.”
“It’s unclear which parts of my cellphone were surveilled as part of this process, but what El País has reported constitutes an illegal and unconstitutional search of my property by the U.S. government. I am talking to lawyers about possible recourse, but this spying operation is very grave,” Greenwald added. ...
“On some occasions,” El País indicates U.C. Global employees opened the casing of targets’ cellphones in order to photograph the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, “a unique code that identifies a device and is one of the most valuable pieces of information for anyone looking to hack a phone. When a cellphone connects to a network, this identity number is automatically transmitted.”
The leader of congressional opposition to Donald Trump has declared that his attempts to stall an impeachment inquiry will prove futile, warning the US president: “You are not above the law.” Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said Democrats intend to move full speed ahead with their investigation despite the White House declaring it illegitimate, pushing the US towards a constitutional crisis.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Pelosi and other Democratic leaders on Tuesday: “Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the executive branch [White House] cannot be expected to participate in it.” ...
The letter set the stage for a historic clash between the executive and legislative branches of the US government. ... “The White House letter is only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy, and to insist that the president is above the law,” Pelosi said. “This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections.” ...
But the letter was widely scorned by political analysts and legal experts. George Conway, a lawyer married to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, tweeted: “I cannot fathom how any self-respecting member of the bar could affix his name to this letter. It’s pure hackery, and it disgraces the profession.” Gregg Nunziata, the former chief nominations counsel for Republicans on the Senate judiciary committee, added on Twitter: “Wow. This letter is bananas. A barely-lawyered temper tantrum. A middle finger to Congress and its oversight responsibilities. No member of Congress should accept it. Things are bad. Things will get worse.”
In the latest example of how vulture capital is destroying media, newly renamed G/O Media suddenly shuttered its political news outlet Splinter Thursday, leaving staffers and freelancers without jobs and closing a vital progressive news source in the midst of a major U.S. presidential primary battle and the constitutional crisis surrounding the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. ...
Reporting on the closure by The Daily Beast's Max Tani cited an internal memo from G/O executives claiming that the site's staffers would be moved "to the other sites to increase the impact the editorial department can have overall." But some staffers said on Twitter that they were "laid off," and their union announced that the staff writers had "lost their jobs."
Splinter rose from the ashes of Gawker, the politics, culture, and gossip site that shut down in 2016 after wrestler Hulk Hogan brought a lawsuit, backed by alleged blood-drinking billionaire Peter Thiel, against the outlet. The site's parent company, Gizmodo Media, was bought by Univision in 2016 and then sold to private equity firm Great Hill Partners in early 2019. The media group includes the sites Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Jezebel, and more.
Great Hill brought on Jim Spanfeller, a former Forbes editor, to manage the site. An exhaustive report on Spanfeller's brief but destructive reign by Deadspin's Laura Wagner in August described the experience of working for the new regime:
Spanfeller's biggest effect on the company since taking over has been a deflation of morale. Several high-ranking employees have left the company over the past three months, departments have been stretched thin, and those who remain say that Spanfeller's micromanaging and inappropriate interference has hamstrung their ability to effectively do their jobs.
G/O rebranded on October 2 as "The Heartbeat of Next," a slogan that was ridiculed by the company's staff.
Despite the tension between the new management and company staff, the closure of Splinter was unexpected.
"I'm sure management's decision to shut down Splinter makes sense, there probably wasn't any high-traffic politics news happening in the next year and a half," Kotaku's Chris Person said sarcastically.
Fed’s Powell Admits a Bigger Bailout for Wall Street Is Coming; Fed’s Balance Sheet Ballooned by $176 Billion Since September
Yesterday, at a speaking event in Denver at the National Association of Business Economists, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that a larger, long-term bailout of Wall Street is coming. His two key points were buried in a subterfuge of puffery but came across loud and clear: “…my colleagues and I will soon announce measures to add to the supply of reserves over time.” And this: “As we indicated in our March statement on balance sheet normalization, at some point, we will begin increasing our securities holdings to maintain an appropriate level of reserves. That time is now upon us.”
Let that final statement sink in for a moment. Under the previous Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, balance sheet normalization at the Federal Reserve meant reducing the Fed’s unprecedented $4.5 trillion balance sheet to get back to something near pre-crisis levels. Under Powell, normalization now means increasing the Fed’s balance sheet to as yet undefined heights. ...
On January 7, 2008, the Fed’s balance sheet stood at $881 billion. By 2015 and three rounds of QE it had spiraled out of control to $4.5 trillion. Yellen started her normalization program to shrink the Fed’s balance sheet in October 2017 by eliminating rolling over the Fed’s maturing Treasury securities and principal payments on agency mortgage-backed securities that the Fed had bought up from Wall Street banks. Powell’s Federal Reserve stopped that runoff this past August. The Fed is back to reinvesting its maturing bonds into new bonds to once again balloon its balance sheet.
On top of that, beginning on September 17 of this year, the Fed has been funneling hundreds of billions of dollars a week in revolving loans to Wall Street securities firms (primary dealers) by intervening in the repurchase agreement (repo) market. Between September 11 and September 30, the Fed’s balance sheet has exploded by $176 billion – in just 19 days – to a total of $3.9 trillion.
As recently as June 13 of last year, Powell was of a very different mind. During his press conference on that date, Powell explained the normalization schedule, stating: “…our program for reducing our balance sheet, which began in October, is proceeding smoothly. Barring a material and unexpected weakening in the outlook, this program will proceed on schedule, and our balance sheet will continue to shrink.” Since Powell is no longer shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet but dramatically expanding it, we should take him at his word at that press conference and conclude that there has been an “unexpected weakening in the outlook,” despite the fact that he continues to put a rosy spin on the U.S. economy in his speeches.
A candidate’s health is important, as are sober assessments of how serious medical incidents are; it is quite common to experience a heart attack and return to normal functioning fairly quickly (former Vice President Dick Cheney famously suffered five, the first at age 37), but more information and time will be necessary to see how Sanders will recover. On the other hand, apparently, you could spin the story into ageist musings about whether candidates in their 70s are too old to be president, regardless of the fact that the three top-polling candidates in the Democratic race—Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren—are all septuagenarians. (Never mind that our current president is 73 years old.)
“Is Age Only a Number, Even When You’re Running for President?” wondered the headline over a New York Times piece (10/2/19) that presented the question “How old is too old?” as a campaign issue alongside things like “healthcare costs and college affordability, stagnant wages and immigration.”
“The averages paint a sobering picture,” the paper’s Lisa Lerer reported—despite the fact that population averages tell us next to nothing about an individual’s health or physical capabilities. And, as Cheney demonstrated, even politicians scarcely old enough to be president can have heart attacks. Medical experts, on the other hand, could offer useful insight. In fact, the geriatric medicine expert she interviewed rejected the premise of the article. In another Times story the same day (10/2/19), reporters suggested that Sanders’ heart procedure “could prove to be a political problem for him,” marshaling remarkably weak evidence of voter “discomfort” about candidates in their 70s: a Pew poll that found people believe the “best” age for a president would be in the 50s, and a 68-year-old voter on a portable oxygen tank who led off his comment with, “I’m not an ageist, and I never have been”—before concluding, based on his own experience, that “I think [age] does matter.”
The Hill (10/2/19) went a step further, giving a “Democratic strategist” anonymity to flaunt their ageism shamelessly: “You can be a young 78 but you’re still 78. I think the Bernie news is proof of that. They’re all old. Is this really the best we could do?” ...
No one would deny that most people in their 70s would not be able to keep up with the demands of the presidency. But most people in their 70s are not running for president. Just as coverage wondering whether female candidates and candidates of color are “electable” serves to heighten the very stereotypes and prejudices it purports to be passively observing (FAIR.org, 7/22/19), “how old is too old” stories draw on tired prejudices that need to be challenged by reporters, not reinforced by them.
Bernie Sanders said he intends to compete as aggressively as ever for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination after suffering a heart attack last week, saying he “misspoke” when he told reporters he planned to scale back the relentless pace of his campaign for health reasons.
In an interview with NBC News that aired on Wednesday, the 78-year-old Sanders forcefully defended his campaign’s handling of the incident amid criticism that aides should have disclosed his condition sooner.
“I misspoke the other day. I said a word I should not have said and media drives me a little bit nuts to make a big deal about it,” Sanders said in the interview. “We’re going to get back into the groove of a very vigorous campaign, I love doing rallies and I love doing town meetings.”
Sitting alongside his wife Jane, Sanders struck a more defiant tone as he made clear that he had no intention of leaving the race. “We’re going to win this thing.” ...
Sanders is recuperating at home, and it is unclear whether he will return to the campaign trail before the fourth Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, on Tuesday, which he plans to attend.
The high-stakes appearance will test Sanders’ durability over the course of the three-hour primetime event as he shares a stage with 11 of his leading rivals on the same stage. With millions of viewers watching, the debate offers an opportunity for Sanders to confront the inevitable questions about his health and the viability of his campaign.
'This Is Truly Terrifying': Scientists Studying Underwater Permafrost Thaw Find Area of the Arctic Ocean 'Boiling With Methane Bubbles'
Scientists studying the consequences of methane emissions from underwater permafrost in the Arctic Ocean announced this week that they found a 50-square-foot area of the East Siberian Sea "boiling with methane bubbles."
"This is the most powerful seep I have ever been able to observe," lead scientist Igor Semiletov said Monday, using a term for methane gas bubbling up from the seafloor to the surface. "No one has ever recorded anything similar."
Semiletov, a Russian researcher who has participated in 45 Arctic expeditions, set out on the Academic Mstislav Keldysh last month, accompanied by scientists from the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Their discovery was announced in a statement from Russia's Tomsk Polytechnic University, where Semiletov is a professor. The researchers' findings from the expedition and Semiletov's remarks were translated and reported on Tuesday by The Telegraph.
Russian scientists find 'most powerful' ever methane seep in Arctic Ocean https://t.co/v6HrbjPlXv
— Telegraph World News (@TelegraphWorld) October 8, 2019
As human activity causes global temperatures to rise, the world's permafrost is thawing—releasing ancient bacteria and viruses as well as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane that further heat the planet. ... Experts are increasingly concerned about the consequences of thawing permafrost that is located both beneath land and water in the planet's coldest regions. ... The Academic Mstislav Keldysh expedition's research team, led by Semiletov, traveled to an area of the Arctic Ocean known for methane "fountains" to study the effects of permafrost thawing. Around the "powerful" fountain they found east of Bennett Island, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere was more than nine times higher than the global average.
New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how [a] cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet. The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.
The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965. Those identified range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell – to state-owned companies including Saudi Aramco and Gazprom.
Chevron topped the list of the eight investor-owned corporations, followed closely by Exxon, BP and Shell. Together these four global businesses are behind more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions since 1965. Twelve of the top 20 companies are state-owned and together their extractions are responsible for 20% of total emissions in the same period. The leading state-owned polluter is Saudi Aramco, which has produced 4.38% of the global total on its own. ...
The study shows that many of the worst offenders are investor-owned companies that are household names around the world and spend billions of pounds on lobbying governments and portraying themselves as environmentally responsible. A study earlier this year found that the largest five stock-market-listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m each year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.
Here's a list of the companies and the billions of tons of carbon dioxide equivalent they've produced since 1965:
Saudi Aramco 59.26
National Iranian Oil Co 35.66
Royal Dutch Shell 31.95
Coal India 23.12
Petróleos de Venezuela 15.75
Peabody Energy 15.39
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co 13.84
Kuwait Petroleum Corp 13.48
Iraq National Oil Co 12.60
Total SA 12.35
BHP Billiton 9.80
Amid fierce winds and dry conditions, the utility company that services more than a third of California will cut power to an unprecedented swath of the state as a preventive measure against wildfires. And with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) at fault for two of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history in just the past two years, major power shutoffs are set to become a new normal for a state gripped by the climate crisis.
Starting early Wednesday, PG&Ewill shut off power to portions of 34 of the state’s 58 counties, affecting almost 800,000 homes and businesses. The preventive shutoff will not be the first the utility has undertaken this year, but it will be the largest, with parts of Silicon Valley and the coast affected.
“I wish we weren’t in a situation where, in maybe one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world, we are turning power off to large swaths of the population every few weeks,” said Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy program at Stanford University. “But it is better than what we’ve been through, and I very much hope that we get through this fire season without a repeat of 2017 or 2018.” ...
“Is it a huge inconvenience? Yes. Is it going to be dangerous? Yes,” Wara said. “There are lots of risks on the other side. Someone could die because they have a medical device. But it avoids this risk that still exists in the system of igniting catastrophic fire during really dangerous conditions when things can happen so fast that there is no possibility of fire suppressant being effective.”
Wildfires have always been a part of life in California, but not to the level of devastation that required routine major power shutoffs. “There were bad fires in the 20th century, but more or less, there was a power system that worked,” Wara said. “I think what’s different is the weather extremes are much more extreme and that’s a predictable effect of climate change.”
Thick crude oil that has stained hundreds of miles of pristine Brazilian beach in recent weeks probably originated in Venezuela, the Brazilian government has said, in an accusation likely to further strain relations between the two countries. Brazilian authorities have been investigating the growing disaster for more than a month, as the oil has spread to more than 130 beaches across nine states.
On Wednesday, the country’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, told a congressional hearing that a study by the state oil company Petrobras had concluded that the oil “is very likely from Venezuela”. He said that a foreign ship near Brazil’s coastline appeared to have caused the spill “accidentally or not”. Salles said that more than 100 tonnes of oil had already been collected from the coastline since 2 September, but said that the disaster was proving “enormously difficult to contain”.
There was no immediate response from Venezuela, but the Brazilian assertion is likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries. Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president, is a longstanding critic of Venezuela’s embattled leader, Nicolás Maduro, and has close relations with rightwing Venezuelan groups seeking his overthrow.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sonny Boy Williamson - One Way Out
Sonny Boy Williamson - Bring It On Home
Sonny Boy Williamson - Please Forgive
Sonny Boy Williamson - Open Road
Sonny Boy Williamson - From The Bottom
Sonny boy Williamson ll - Pontiac Blues
Sonny Boy Williamson - Mighty Long Time
Sonny Boy Williamson - Checkin' Up On My Baby
Sonny Boy Williamson - Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
Sonny Boy Williamson - Help Me