The Evening Blues - 10-12-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Art Neville. Enjoy!
Art Neville - What's Going On
I have visited sweatshops, factories, and crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it. The foundation of society is laid upon a basis of . . . individualism, conquest and exploitation . . . A social order such as this, built upon such wrong and basic principles, is bound to retard the development of all. The output of a cotton mill or a coal mine is considered of greater importance than the production of healthy, happy-hearted and free human beings. We, the people, are not free. Our democracy is but a name."
-- Helen Keller
News and Opinion
It's somehow fitting irony as Indigenous Day approaches on Oct. 11 — once known by another name — that a new Columbus is about to pump oil through Line 3, the last tar sands pipeline. That is the colonial-like corporation Enbridge. ...
In one narrative, the Canadian corporation won. Columbus conquered anew, proof that might and money remain the rulers. Then, there's another. That's the Ballad of the Water Protectors — a movement born in the battles in northern Minnesota and North Dakota, a movement that will grow and transform the economy of the future. ...
We all just recently learned two more blatant things about Enbridge that should give everyone pause — especially our government leaders like Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, whose cowardly silence makes them complicit in this egregious crime. First, after piercing an aquifer in January — an aquifer that is still bleeding 100,000 gallons of water a day — Enbridge covered it up for as long as it could until it was caught and fined $3.3 million by the Department of Natural Resources. This is the kind of people we are dealing with.
We also learned the pipeline isn't even adequately insured. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission required Enbridge to obtain $200 million of "environmental impairment liability" insurance, in addition to general corporate liability coverage of $900 million, and to include the state of Minnesota and several American Indian tribes as additional insureds on its policies. But Enbridge recently submitted a report to the Public Utilities Commission saying it will likely not be able to obtain this insurance "in the near future." ...
Meanwhile, a Code Red has just been issued for the planet in the latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. With this warning, Minnesota's approval of the line, from the Public Utilities Committee to the courts, makes us look like archaic climate crisis co-conspirators. We also look increasingly like a police state, especially in northern Minnesota. The repressive police brutalization of Line 3 opponents using rubber bullets, chemical sprays and "pain compliance" have come to the attention of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for "Violations of Anishinaabe Human Rights from Enbridge's Line 3." ...
Approaching this day for uplifting Indigenous peoples, here's a suggestion. It's time to end conquest and begin survival. Code Red for the environment means that we need to move away from fossil fuels and to organic agriculture, and to local and efficient energy. Fortunately, tribal nations are leading the way in the north. It's time to quit acting like Columbus.
When Abu Zubaydah was apprehended in Pakistan in 2002, the George W. Bush administration falsely characterized him as chief of operations for al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s number three man. For the next four years, the CIA sent Zubaydah to its “black sites” in Thailand and Poland where he was viciously tortured. In 2006, Zubaydah was taken to Guantánamo, where he remains to this day. He has never been charged with a crime.
The torture of Abu Zubaydah is thoroughly documented in the 2014 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact, several of the justices at the October 6 Supreme Court oral argument in United States v. Zubaydah referred to his treatment as “torture.” ...
Nevertheless, the Biden administration told the high court that Zubaydah’s well-known torture is a “state secret” because former CIA Director Mike Pompeo said publicizing it would harm national security. Thus, Solicitor General Brian Fletcher argued, the two contractors who orchestrated Zubaydah’s torture in Poland should not be permitted to testify in a Polish court’s criminal investigation into the treatment of Zubaydah.
But as Justice Elena Kagan said, “At a certain point, it becomes a little farcical, this idea of the assertion of a privilege, doesn’t it? I mean, if everybody knows what you’re asserting privilege on, like, what exactly does this privilege.… It’s not a state secrets privilege anymore.”
“Ultimately, the question in this case is whether torture can be kept secret. In a democracy, the answer to that question has to be no,” attorney Joseph Margulies, who represents Zubaydah, told Truthout. “The state secrets doctrine must never be used to prevent an accounting for torture done in our name. If ‘state secrets’ means ‘protect torture,’ before long we won’t have a state to protect.” ...
This case is a pivotal test of the willingness of the Supreme Court to check and balance the executive when it perpetrates torture and other war crimes in its “war on terror.” In 2016, Margulies said that Abu Zubaydah is “the poster child for the torture program, and that’s why they never want him to be heard from again.”
The impact of an oil spill in the Red Sea from a tanker that is rotting in the water could be far wider than anticipated, with 8 million people losing access to running water and Yemen’s Red Sea fishing stock destroyed within three weeks. Negotiations are under way to offload the estimated 1.1m barrels of crude oil that remains onboard the FSO Safer, which has been deteriorating by the month since it was abandoned in 2017. The vessel contains four times the amount of oil released by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989, and a spill is considered increasingly probable.
The oil will spread well beyond Yemen and cause environmental havoc affecting Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Djibouti, according to the latest modelling, which is unlike previous studies because it examines the impact more than a week after the spill.
Three-way talks between the Houthi rebels, the UN-recognised government of Yemen and the UN have foundered, despite repeated warnings, including at the UN security council, of the impact if the tanker explodes, breaks up or starts leaking. UN officials have been unable to secure guarantees to maintain the vessel, including its rotting hull, which is now overseen by a crew of just seven. ...
The UN has been seeking Houthi permission to inspect the ship, but the Houthis want undertakings that the vessl will also be repaired, an exercise that requires money the UN does not have available.
The United States has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, but refused to give political recognition to the country’s new rulers, the Taliban said on Sunday. The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops at the end of August.
The US statement was less definitive, saying only that the two sides “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people”. ...
The Taliban said the talks held in Doha, Qatar, “went well”, with Washington freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.
Iraqi Journalist: Amid Low Election Turnout, “Iraq’s Streets Littered with the Memories of Our Dead”
Iraqis have turned out in low numbers in a national election, with many boycotting a poll that people feared could reinforce a political system that had failed them. Nationwide turnout at the sixth ballot since the ousting of Saddam Hussein in 2003 was 41%, the electoral commission said. In recent elections, turnout has averaged just over 65%, according to non-profit the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
Earlier, there were fears it would be as low as 25%, with the country’s disillusioned youth and middle classes largely staying home. Ahead of the poll, there were widespread claims that voting for a political class, which is accused of doing little to provide basic services or secure the country’s citizens, would preserve the status quo. ...
The vote was largely seen as a lack of faith in the democratic system introduced after the US invasion. The contest for influence in Iraq’s 329-seat parliament is fought between political blocs who, depending on their performance, have sway over the choice of prime minister, which goes to a Shia nominee, president, ascribed to a Kurd, and the parliamentary speaker, who by convention is a Sunni.
Horse trading for the positions is expected to take many months – a process that is likely to result in ministries again being carved up between blocs. “The election allows a veneer of democracy,” said Munther Mansour, a Baghdad resident. “But nothing that comes afterwards is democratic.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington is urging her fellow congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden to agree on at least $3 trillion in safety-net and climate spending in their emerging reconciliation package, a push that comes as right-wing lawmakers are attempting to water down the package and strip it of key progressive priorities.
"We have the House, Senate, and White House," Jayapal, the chair of the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), tweeted late Sunday. "This is our opportunity to invest in child care, healthcare, climate action, paid leave, education, housing, and our roads."
"We don't have to leave some of these popular things behind," she added. "We can do all of it."
In an interview with the Associated Press late last week, Jayapal argued that Biden's proposed compromise of between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion—down from $3.5 trillion over 10 years in the original Build Back Better plan—is "too low" and said she wants the top-line figure to be closer to $3 trillion. Jayapal and other progressive lawmakers have repeatedly stressed that they view $3.5 trillion in spending as a significant compromise, given that they initially advocated for around $6 trillion. ...
Jayapal's latest comments came as several corporate-backed Democrats are working to pare back their own party's reconciliation package by imposing more strict means-testing on the bill's social and climate programs, slashing billions in funding, and attempting to completely remove benefits that progressives view as essential.
Axios reported last week that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is telling colleagues that they must choose just one out of three proposed investments—the expanded child tax credit, paid family medical leave, or child care subsidies—and cut out the other two. Manchin has also voiced support for total spending of $1.5 trillion, a proposal that—according to the Economic Policy Institute—would support nearly 2 million fewer jobs than the original Build Back Better plan.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), for her part, is reportedly pushing for $100 billion in climate-related cuts from the reconciliation package—an effort that environmentalists immediately rejected as a "cruel and unfathomable" non-starter.
"Sinema is out of touch with her constituents and with what's happening across the globe on climate," Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said in a statement last week. "Maybe if she actually took the time to speak to the people of her state, she'd realize how much their families need her to deliver action on climate."
“The pharmaceutical lobby is very savvy,” Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat from California, said earlier this week. “They pick the one or two people they need to block things, on the relevant committees or at the relevant time.”
“It may differ from Congress to Congress,” explained Khanna, who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We try to get 90-95% [of the caucus]. They are focused not on 90% , but the blockers.”
In the current Congress, Big Pharma appears to have zeroed in on Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat from Arizona, as one of their lead obstructionists to help kill or gut the Democrats’ drug pricing plan. In the 2020 election cycle, pharmaceutical political action committees suddenly funneled more money to her than they did the whole six years she served in the US House.
Pharmaceutical companies can charge up to four times as much in the United States for name-brand pharmaceuticals than in other countries, in part because Congress barred Medicare from using its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices. President Joe Biden and most Democrats support lifting that prohibition in their reconciliation legislation, a move that would save hundreds of billions of dollars – but Sinema has emerged as the party’s most prominent opponent to the plan. ...
But it’s clear now that the pharmaceutical industry has been courting Sinema for some time. Indeed, in March 2021, as pharmaceutical Pac money was flooding into her campaign coffers, drug lobbyists were already bragging to Beltway reporters that they may have found their lead blocker in Sinema.
Dayton Police Dragged Paraplegic Man Clifford Owensby from His Car; NAACP Says Arrest Was “Unlawful”
Nothing fishy here.
Four Maryland police officers will not be charged for fatally shooting a Black man they said fired first during a late-night foot chase in January. No evidence was found that Kwamena Ocran, 24, fired at his pursuers. Nonetheless, a Maryland grand jury declined to charge the officers from the Gaithersburg police department – due to lack of evidence.
The four members of a plainclothes street crimes unit told investigators they saw a “muzzle flash” from a gun aimed at them by Ocran, according to statements released by Montgomery county prosecutors. One officer said he heard a round pass by his head. All four officers fired on Ocran, who was running away. He was hit eight times, including twice in his “left lateral back”, according to a 12-page prosecutors’ report. ...
The subsequent shooting was not recorded on video because Gaithersburg’s plainclothes officers were not required to wear body cameras. Another officer, who was wearing a camera, recorded footage of a gun next to Ocran’s body but investigators could not find physical evidence he had fired it. Crime scene technicians failed to find shell casings from Ocran’s gun in three metal detector sweeps. They were only able to find the 23 shell casings from the officers’ guns, prosecutors said.
Christopher Sandmann, the Howard county deputy state’s attorney, told the Washington Post that while investigators prepped Ocran’s hands for gunshot residue analysis, there was a “mistake or miscommunication” and his hands were not swabbed. According to Sandmann and the Howard county state’s attorney, Rich Gibson, investigators did find gunshot residue on the right sleeve of Ocran, but grand jurors were told by an expert witness it could have been transferred by the officers’ shots.
When the pandemic started last year, countless forms of inequality were exposed – including the millions of American families who don’t have access to laptops or broadband internet. After some delays, schools across the country jumped into action and distributed technology to allow students to learn remotely. The catch? They ended up spying on students. “For their own good”, of course.
According to recent research by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), “86% of teachers reported that, during the pandemic, schools provided tablets, laptops, or Chromebooks to students at twice the rate (43%) prior to the pandemic, an illustration of schools’ attempts to close disparities in digital access.”
The problem is, a lot of those electronics were being used to monitor students, even combing through private chats, emails and documents all in the name of protecting them. More than 80% of surveyed teachers and 77% of surveyed high school students told the CDT that their schools use surveillance software on those devices, and the more reliant students are on those electronics, unable to afford supplementary phones or tablets, the more they are subjected to scrutiny. ...
Thousands of school districts across the United States have installed surveillance software on school-provided devices to monitor their students’ online interactions. ... These programs, such as Bark, Gnosis IQ, Gaggle, and Lightspeed, can cost the schools tens of thousands of dollars to implement, and they can be set up to search for language and online behavior indicating the possibility of violent tendencies, suicidal ideation, drug use, pornography use, or eating disorders.
When Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the decisive vote in 2012 that upheld Barack Obama’s signature achievement in office, the Affordable Care Act, he reportedly did so following a month-long campaign by fellow conservatives to try to get him to join their side. His decision to side with liberal colleagues inspired ire on the right but it also cemented the chief justice’s role as the leader of his own court.
That was then.
Last week, as the supreme court began a new session that will include rulings on abortion, gun rights, and torture, Roberts no longer holds the coveted role of sitting in the court’s ideological center. The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett means Roberts – who has sought to portray himself as an “institutionalist” seeking to protect the court’s legitimacy – no longer has the sole power to cast the deciding vote in any ruling. ...
Legal experts disagree over the voice that will ultimately be seen as driving the majority’s opinions this session, which has been described as “the most important” one the court has faced in “decades”, and likely to be “tumultuous”.
[See article for an assortment of opinion as to which conservative justice(s) will drive the court. - js]
Hundreds of protesters led by Indigenous activists from across the country demonstrated in front of the White House on Monday to demand that Joe Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare the climate crisis a national emergency. The rally marks the start of five days of demonstrations calling for greater attention to climate injustices as Native American leaders and tribal members head to the capital to publicize their demands.
The demonstrations are part of People v Fossil Fuels protests, organized by a coalition of groups known as Build Back Fossil Free, who are urging the Biden administration take further action to reduce carbon-producing fossil fuel projects.
Monday’s demonstrations fell on a federal holiday in the US that until recently was officially dedicated to Christopher Columbus. However, spurred by national calls for racial equity and decolonization, communities across the country have over the years paired or replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The protests were non-violent but dozens of demonstrators were subjected to police use of a long range acoustic device, which emits a piercing sound, according to video footage captured by Indigenous campaigners. The use of the device, ostensibly for crowd control, prompted criticism online with users tweeting, “Why is police force necessary? [They’re] not doing anything!!!!” and “There were less police protecting the capital from traitors,” in reference to the 6 January attacks.
Outside the White House, the words “Expect Us” were spray-painted on the base of a statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president who is infamous for, among other things, leading the violent and lethal repression of Native American peoples in a displacement known as the Trail of Tears. “Expect Us” is part of the phrase “Respect Us, or Expect Us,” which many Indigenous women have been using while demonstrating against the Canadian oil company Enbridge’s $9bn upgrade of an oil pipeline designed to carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to Wisconsin.
Kerry has lots of platitudes to cover for the fact that the U.S. and other world elites have no real intention of responding to the climate crisis in any way that will actually mitigate the damage being done. Kerry is still a useless piece of shit.
The world is poised to make a big leap forward at the UN Cop26 climate summit, with world leaders “sharpening their pencils” to make fresh commitments that could put the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement within reach, John Kerry has said. Kerry, special envoy for climate to Joe Biden, gave an upbeat assessment of the prospects for Cop26, which begins in Glasgow at the end of this month, saying he anticipated “surprising announcements” from key countries.
“The measure of success at Glasgow is we will have the largest, most significant increase in ambition [on cutting emissions] by more countries than everyone ever imagined possible. A much larger group of people are stepping up,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “I know certain countries are working hard right now on what they can achieve.”
Kerry cautioned that there was “still a lot of distance to travel in the next four weeks” and that the progress he anticipated was not yet “signed, sealed and delivered”. That view echoes private soundings the Guardian has taken from the UK hosts, the UN and other key figures.
But he said Cop26 could set the scene for further progress to follow swiftly. “There is not a wall that comes down after Glasgow,” said Kerry. “It is the starting line for the rest of the decade.”
But Kerry, one of the pivotal figures at the talks, also acknowledged the outcome would fall short of a fully fledged deal meeting the aims of the Paris accord, which binds nations to hold global heating to “well below” 2C, with an aspirational limit of 1.5C.
California’s justice department is investigating the spill off the coast of Huntington Beach earlier this month, which sent thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, announced on Monday. ... Bonta said the state’s justice department would work with other state, local, and federal authorities to determine the cause of the spill and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent or minimize the disaster.
Officials have previously said the cause remains under investigation, and they believe the pipeline was probably damaged by a ship’s anchor several months to a year before it ruptured.
Experts have warned the spill probably won’t be the state’s last, with numerous ageing oil rigs offshore.
The US senator Alex Padilla of California said: “It is unacceptable that Californians are once again facing the devastating effects of an offshore oil spill. The trade-off between oil production and environmental harm is simply not one we should be making any longer, especially given how fossil fuel emissions are exacerbating the climate crisis.”
Conservationists in Idaho are speaking out against the “inhumane” killings of eight wolf pups that were part of a pack adopted by a high school since 2003. The killings were discovered after biologists who tracked the pack noticed its den was empty this spring. Obtaining a “mortality list” from the state department of fish and game, conservationists realized that agents from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had killed the pups.
Several Idaho conservation groups sent a letter to the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, requesting that he “immediately suspend the killing of wolf pups on all public lands by the USDA federal agents”.
“There is nothing biologically sound or socially acceptable about killing wolf pups on federal lands, especially when wolves are under significant eradication pressure,” the letter said. “Wolf pups pose no threat to domestic livestock – in Idaho, or anywhere in the western United States.” In response, Jenny Lester Moffitt, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said the USDA wildlife services division “prefers to use non-lethal methods”.
“However, in some situations – such as that in Idaho – it is necessary to use lethal control methods.” According to the USDA, agents “determined that removing juvenile wolves would encourage adult wolves to relocate, thereby reducing the total number of wolves requiring removal”.
Michel Liao, a student at Timberline high, the school which adopted the pack, condemned the killings. “They’re justifying killing these wolf pups as a form of humane management even though these wolf pups pose no danger,” Liao told the Idaho Statesman. “It’s a very dangerous message for the federal government to support the killing of pups that can’t defend themselves.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Art Neville - My Babe
Art Neville - Cha-Dooky-Doo
Art Neville - Hook Line and Sinker
Art Neville - That Old Time Rock'n'Roll
Art Neville - The Dummy
Art Neville - Messed Around & Fell In Love - Unissued Demo Recording
Art Neville - Heartaches
Art Neville - Bella Mae
Art Neville - Another Blues Stringer
Art Neville - Zing Zing