The Evening Blues - 10-17-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b saxophone player Big Jay McNeely. Enjoy!
Big Jay McNeely - Nervous Man Nervous
The one indisputable reality of dictatorship is that dissent, insult, and malevolent language do not go unpunished if it is allowed at all.
-- Ferdinand Marcos
News and Opinion
The disappearance and presumed murder of Jamal Khashoggi puts the corrupt relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States in high relief. The two countries have been partners in crime over many years. Together they used jihadist proxies to make wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria that furthered U.S. interests. The brutal Saudi attack on neighboring Yemen could not happen without U.S. diplomatic and logistical support. The Donald Trump presidency has brought the two even closer. The relationship is now a true love affair complete with personal dealings between Saudi royals and the Trumps.
Khashoggi was a member of a prominent Saudi family with strong ties to the royal house. His uncle, Adnan Khashoggi, was an arms dealer involved in the Iran-Contra and BCCI scandals. But Jamal Khashoggi had a parting of the ways with crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the de facto ruler, and he left Saudi Arabia in 2017. He was a long time Saudi spokesman, CIA asset and a Washington Postjournalist. All of those credentials made him an elite insider in the United States too. ... Ordinarily compliant American senators are now going through the motions of asking questions and proposing sanctions or other punishments against the kingdom. Corporate media like the New York Times, Financial Times, CNN and CNBC have dropped out of the Future Investment Initiative meeting which is known as Davos in the desert. The plight of starving Yemenis gets little attention, but a hit job committed openly and without fear of recourse is too much. Liberal sensibilities were offended by the crassness of the act and by the position of the victim.
The outrage is coming long after the Saudis began their war crime against Yemen. They have been bombing and starving that country since 2014 and are responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths. ... These atrocities were not enough to put Saudi Arabia on the list of infamy where it belongs. Barack Obama, darling of the liberal imperialists, was only slightly less subservient to the kingdom than Trump is today. The Yemen attack began during his term in office. He continued the tradition of $100 billion defense deals with the feudal monarchy and made the relationship a top priority. ... Trump differs from Obama and other presidents only in his inability to be diplomatic. When first asked about a possible response to Khashoggi’s disappearance he made it clear that he would do nothing to threaten war contractor profits. In defending the crown prince he mentioned Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed by name as he dismissed any talk of sanctions. ...
Trump again tears away the veneer of U.S. foreign policy. He is not smart enough to hide the dirty dealings. He doesn’t know when to reign in friends and he encourages rash behavior. But that doesn’t really make him worse than his predecessors. He is just less savvy and incapable of behaving within the norms laid down by tradition. The hypocrisy doesn’t end with Trump and Kushner. It can be seen in the corporate media who cover for a war crime against Yemen. They are easily bought off by a prince who opens movie theaters and allows women to drive. But they also know who funds the think tanks and who has the connections with their bosses. They may despise Trump but it isn’t for the reasons they ought to dislike him. They are a party to the hypocrisy, as much as the foreign despots or their presidential partners. There are no heroes in this story. There is only a missing man and corruption in high places in two nations.
Massachussetts Rep. Jim McGovern, the leading Democrat on the powerful House Rules Committee, on Tuesday introduced a bill that threatens to sever the decades-old security relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The bill, which is co-sponsored by six Democrats and two Republicans, is the latest outraged response from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to the disappearance and suspected murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Specifically, McGovern’s bill would ban all arms sales and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia, unless the secretary of state certifies that the Saudi government and its agents “did not order or direct” Khashoggi’s disappearance or killing. It would also suspend the security relationship between the two countries, except to protect or evacuate U.S. citizens and diplomatic personnel in the kingdom. The bill would also require a detailed report from the secretary of state about Khashoggi’s status.
“If the United States stands for anything, we need to stand out loud and foursquare for human rights,” McGovern said in a Friday statement announcing his intent to introduce the legislation. “Our values are our strength, and we cannot be indifferent or complicit when those values are undermined or attacked.” ...
“I’m hearing, on both sides of the aisle, a questioning of the Saudi relationship, more so after the Khashoggi incident than after 9/11,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California who has been highly critical of the Saudi war in Yemen. “It’s the final straw that has broken the U.S.-Saudi relationship.”
Last week, 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators sent Trump a letter invoking the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2016 law that requires the president to make a determination about whether to sanction human rights violators. All but one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signed the letter, which directs Trump not to spare “the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.” (Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the sole committee member who did not sign the letter; he has, however, indicated that he’ll be pushing to stop U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.)
In an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — one of the signatories of the letter, and historically one of the kingdom’s strongest defenders in Washington — called for the crown prince’s removal and said he would “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”
Some areas have been repainted at the Saudi consulate where missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was last seen alive, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said, as investigators prepared to enter the nearby Saudi consul’s house after the diplomat left the country. ... As police vans pulled up outside the consul general’s residence, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, met for crisis talks in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, and his father, King Salman. ...
After a second session of talks with the crown prince over dinner, Pompeo declared himself satisfied that the Saudi monarchy was making a serious effort to find out what happened in the Istanbul consulate. “During each of today’s meetings, the Saudi leadership strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul,” the secretary of state said in a written statement. “My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials.”
Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate. He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo...
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
Later in the day, the US president claimed the Saudi royal family was being treated unfairly in the widespread assumption that it was behind Khashoggi’s disappearance from the Saudi consulate. He compared the case to the treatment of his pick for the supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination survived allegations he committed sexual abuse when a teenager. “Here we go again with you know you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Trump told the Associated Press. “I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned. So we have to find out what happened”.
Later on Tuesday, the New York Times reported that four of the Saudi suspects had links to the security detail of the crown prince, citing social media profiles, leaked records and use of facial recognition software. ... Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican ally of Trump, described the crown prince, known by his initials as MBS, as “toxic” and accused him of ordering Khashoggi’s death. “Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it,” he told Fox News, warning that Congress would “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia” over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump co-signs Saudi Arabia’s Jamal Khashoggi cover-up. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/CClYBSccYq
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 17, 2018
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has denied giving the Saudi regime the “benefit of the doubt” over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and claimed that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was satisfied with Saudi cooperation in the investigation.
But Pompeo made clear that the Trump administration would take commercial ties and Saudi cooperation in the attempted isolation of Iran into consideration when formulating a response to Khashoggi’s disappearance and reported murder.
Saudis Dismembered Journalist While He Was Still Alive, Audio Recording Shows - Pompeo gives Saudis a few more days to finalize report on killing
Turkish media has gained access to an audio recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The recording reportedly reveals that Khashoggi was dismembered by the Saudi “interrogation team” while he was still alive.
The seven minute execution, per the report, involved the team cutting him up for several minutes until he died. His body was ultimately said to have been dissolved in acid. The consulate was confirmed to have been repainted in the two weeks since the incident.
Among the details in the recording, the Consulate General Mohammed al-Otaibi objected to the dismembering of Khashoggi, telling them to “do this outside, you’ll get me in trouble.” One of the team told him to “shut up if you want to live when you return to Saudi Arabia.”
Turkey has already searched the consulate, and is planning to inspect the consulate general’s residence next. Otaibi won’t be there either way, as he’s reportedly been sacked, and recalled to Saudi Arabia to face accusations of “violations.”
The alleged killing of the royal court insider turned journalist Jamal Khashoggi has rightly triggered a diplomatic crisis for Saudi Arabia, but it would appear it has not jeopardised any of the multibillion-dollar arms deals between the US, Britain and the House of Saud. Many journalists working on the story, business people pulling out of Saudi conferences and politicians preparing diplomatic responses knew Khashoggi personally. He was a fixture of the thinktank circuit and a habitué of elite London and Washington parties. His former colleagues feel genuine empathy for Khashoggi over his apparently grisly end, because it requires little imagination for them to put themselves in his shoes.
Yet these influencers appear to have a blind spot for the more routine victims of unchecked Saudi aggression. Unlike Khashoggi, the thousands of Yemeni civilians who been blown up by the Saudi royal air force do not write for the Washington Post. Reports of an airstrike claiming the lives of at least 20 members of a wedding party, or 40 children killed when a Saudi bomb hit their school bus, may prompt a story in a national newspaper and perhaps a handwringing statement expressing “concern” by a foreign minister. But real political action does not follow.
The deaths are instead explained away. Saudi Arabia is fighting for the legitimate government of Yemen. Ancient sectarian strife is causing the conflict. Saudi is acting in self-defence. “Our coalition,” as Conservative MP Crispin Blunt put it, is “trying to do the job of the international community”. These talking points, at best fallacious, are often designed to whitewash the internalisation of a war in which Britain – through its ongoing supply of arms, technicians and military personnel – is an active participant.
The violence enacted by Saudi Arabia on the people of Yemen springs from the same source as the violence allegedly used against Khashoggi in the Turkish embassy. Both are colossal, tragic, strategic errors involving the deployment of unimaginable violence in a vain attempt to cow the imagined enemies of the Kingdom. ... If the alleged assassination of one man can unify the world against Saudi aggression, why not the preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis? Over the coming months we should keep in mind what an international pursuit of justice for the victims of criminal violence can achieve.
Israel says its fighter jets have struck 20 targets in the Gaza Strip, killing one Palestinian and injuring eight others. According to Gaza's Health Ministry, Naji Ahmad al-Zaneen, 25, was killed in the attack in northern Gaza early on Wednesday.
Among the wounded are six children who were on their way to school in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.
Palestinian sources said several rockets fired by Israeli warplanes targeted sites south of Gaza City, while another blast rocked the central region of the Gaza Strip. A powerful explosion also rocked Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
The Israeli army stated that it carried out air raids in response to a rocket that hit a home in Beersheba in southern Israel, causing damage but no injuries.
The US and China have shrugged off rules and constraints that have kept their 21st-century global rivalry in check, opening the way for an escalating conflict on many fronts that neither side appears willing or able to stop. Chinese officials have accused Washington of starting a new cold war, but the jostling between the two powers has already shown its potential to turn hot through accident or miscalculation, if action is not taken to defuse tensions.
Within the past few weeks, as a trade war loomed between the two countries, US and Chinese warships came within yards of colliding in the South China Sea. And the FBI set a trap in Belgium for a senior Chinese intelligence official and had him extradited to the US, provoking fury in Beijing. Washington has meanwhile significantly ramped up its bellicose rhetoric portraying China as a dangerous adversary. In a UN security council meeting last month Donald Trump accused Beijing – without citing evidence – of seeking to oust him through interference in US elections.
A few days later, his vice-president, Mike Pence, expanded on the accusation, saying China was pursuing a “whole-of-government approach” including “coercive” methods to interfere in US domestic politics to bring to power “a different US president”. Pence, like the president, did not supply evidence for the claim. ...
China is no longer just challenging the US at trade negotiating tables and in the shadows of cyber espionage. Its armed forces are pushing its zone of influence out into the Pacific, seizing control of disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea, building military outposts on them and claiming the waters around them. The US and its allies have sought to defy those claims and keep international sea lanes open by sending their navies on “freedom-of-navigation” patrols. In the past, the Chinese navy has observed these patrols and warned the ships to stay away from the newly colonised islands. On 30 November, however, Beijing tried something different and a lot more risky. As the destroyer USS Decatur was sailing through the Spratly Island chain, a Chinese warship overtook it and abruptly cut in front of it, coming within 45 yards, and forcing the Decatur to make an emergency turn to avoid collision.
“It’s a big jump in China’s reaction to freedom of navigation operations,” said retired Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, who commanded a US aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific. “What this suggests to me is that Beijing is fed up with freedom of navigation operations and elected to violate the memorandum of understanding that the US and China agreed to three years ago about how they behave when warships are around each other.” ... Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, made it clear last week that the US would not back down.
With nothing but a vague "violation of community standards" note and offering no ability to appeal the decision, Facebook has once again blocked a piece of critical journalism—this time a short documentary video depicting the brutal legacy of Christopher Columbus—from its global online platform. The short video—produced by Double Down News and titled "The true legacy of Christopher Columbus: 'Western Civilisation'"—features author and journalist George Monbiot recounting the infamous European explorer's history of subjugation and brutalization of the Indigenous people he encountered when he arrived in the so-called "New World" in the late 15th Century.
After being up for more than a week, and raking up more than 900,000 views, DNN co-founder Yannis Mendez says the video, "a serious piece of historical journalism," was deleted by Facebook on Tuesday without warning, a specific reason, or any avenue of recourse. In the piece, Mendez explains, Monbiot "recounts the horrors of history in vivid detail. Therefore, at times, we understand the film may have been uncomfortable for some to watch. A number of visuals used, taken from the film 1492 and historical documentary footage, were graphic in nature. Facebook could have opted to put a warning screen on the video, which we would of had no problem with."
As of this writing, the video remains deleted from Facebook—it was originally posted at this link—and its producers have been given no further explanation for why it was taken down. The video remains available on YouTube.
It's certainly not the first time Facebook has blocked political sites or censored historical content it perceived as offensive or graphic. Last week, as Common Dreams reported, a number of sites who claim they operate legitimately and cater to social justice and anti-war audiences say they were swept up in a massive purge that Facebook said was only designed at bad actors.
A day after the treasury department announced the federal budget deficit had reached $779bn, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said popular government programs, not massive tax cuts passed by Republicans last year, were to blame.
Independent analyses have found the tax cuts have caused the deficit to balloon faster than predicted. In an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday, however, McConnell rejected that argument.
Citing federal spending on healthcare and retirement benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid and social security, McConnell said changes to such programs would require cooperation from Democrats. “It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
At the Heart of Global Woes, 157 of World's 200 Richest Entities Are Now Corporations, Not Governments
As corporations in the United States and around the world continue to reap record profits thanks to enormous tax cuts, widespread tax avoidance schemes, and business-friendly trade and investment policies, an analysis by Global Justice Now (GJN) published Wednesday found that the world's most profitable companies are raking in revenue "far in excess of most governments," giving them unprecendented power to influence policy in their favor and skirt accountability.
Measured by 2017 revenue, 69 of the top 100 economic entities in the world are corporations, GJN found in its report, which was released as part of an effort to pressure the U.K. government to advance a binding United Nations treaty that would hold transnational corporations to account for human rights violations. "When it comes to the top 200 entities, the gap between corporations and governments gets even more pronounced: 157 are corporations," GJN notes. "Walmart, Apple, and Shell all accrued more wealth than even fairly rich countries like Russia, Belgium, Sweden."
In a statement accompanying the striking new figures, GJN director Nick Dearden denounced Britain's Tory government for eagerly assisting this "rise in corporate power—through tax structures, trade deals, and even aid programs that help big business." "The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world's problems—like inequality and climate change," Dearden noted. "The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. Yet there are very few ways that citizens can hold these corporations to account for their behavior. Rather, through trade and investment deals, it is corporations which are able to demand that governments do their bidding."
Telecom Lobby Firms Subpoenaed to Lift 'Fog of Fraud and Spam' Surrounding FCC's Net Neutrality Comments
New York law enforcement officials this week issued subpoenas to more than a dozen pro-telecom industry groups as part of an investigation into millions of allegedly fraudulent public comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) website last year as the agency was preparing to repeal net neutrality protections. A vast majority of the 22 million comments are thought to have been fake, according to the office of New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who issued the subpoenas.
"The FCC's public comment process was corrupted by millions of fake comments," Ms. Underwood said in a statement Tuesday. "The law protects New Yorkers from deception and the misuse of their identities. My office will get to the bottom of what happened and hold accountable those responsible for using stolen identities to distort public opinion on net neutrality."
The groups accused of orchestrating a deluge of anti-net neutrality comments include Broadband for America, Century Strategies, and "conservative messaging firm" Media Bridge—which openly wrote in a press release that one of its clients had submitted nearly 800,000 comments to the FCC's website. Open internet defenders Free Press and Fight for the Future have also been subpoenaed, according to the Wall Street Journal—but both support the attorney general's probe.
Millions of the comments submitted to the FCC's website followed a verbatim script expressing support for the telecom industry, or used temporary or duplicate email addresses, according to the New York Times. In addition to the fraudulent comments that flooded the system, Underwood is investigating whether the group or groups responsible for the fake responses also committed mass identity theft, as millions of real Americans' names were assigned to the comments.
Stanford University conducted a study this month finding that only about 800,000 of the comments were unique—meaning not generated by a form or automated script—and out of those, 99.7 percent urged the FCC to uphold net neutrality protections. "With the fog of fraud and spam lifted from the comment corpus, lawmakers and their staff, journalists, interested citizens, and policymakers can use these reports to better understand what Americans actually said about the repeal of net neutrality protections and why 800,000 Americans went further than just signing a petition for a redress of grievances by actually putting their concerns in their own words," wrote Stanford researcher Ryan Singel on Monday.
After a series of violent street clashes between rival political factions, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, is proposing an emergency ordinance that would limit when and where people can demonstrate. For years, political tensions have been simmering in Portland, long viewed as a bastion of First Amendment activity and left-wing activism. But in the wake of yet another violent flare-up between far-right protesters, including Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys, and anti-fascists over the weekend, and after learning that right-wing groups positioned themselves on a rooftop with a “cache of firearms” at an August rally, Mayor Ted Wheeler now seeks to rein things in before they get any worse. ...
Officials also said that during the Aug. 4 free speech rally, police encountered members of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing protest group headed by former Senate candidate Joey Gibson, positioned on the rooftop of the garage with a cache of guns, including “long guns.” Police briefly confiscated the guns but didn’t make arrests, and they returned the guns later on.
Reporters at the press conference asked why the public was only being made aware of this discovery more than two months after the fact, given that it may have informed people’s decision whether to attend future protest events. “Hindsight is always perfect,” Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said. “We’ve pushed out a lot of information regarding our concerns for potential violence, as we receive the information. We push out information as it becomes available to us, and we do the best we can with that.” ...
There’s a deep suspicion among antifascists that Portland police is in bed with groups like Patriot Prayer, and the fact that Police Chief Outlaw withheld information regarding the cache of weapons discovered during the Aug. 4 rally has only inflamed those suspicions. Antifa groups have resurfaced an interview with Outlaw on a conservative talk radio station weeks after the rally, in which she discusses armed leftist protesters who were throwing smoke bombs with no reference to the cache of firearms. “What, really, could be the purpose of a rooftop weapons post except to murder anti-racist protestors if PP judged it necessary?” Rose City Antifa tweeted.
But groups like Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys position themselves as allies of law enforcement, and have been critical of Wheeler, a Democrat, who they say has enabled antifa activity. “Patriot Prayer planned a peaceful demonstration in portland to show their disgust for Ted Wheeler allowing domestic terror group #Antifa to block traffic and cause mayhem,” they tweeted on Saturday. “Like usual, they showed up to silence free speech and start fights. They lost, as usual.”
The giant Donald Trump baby blimp that dogged the US president’s visit to the UK this summer will float above one of the busiest freeway intersections in Los Angeles this weekend to greet Trump supporters and detractors attending a star-studded political conference ahead of November’s midterm elections. The image of Trump dressed only in a diaper and clutching a cell phone in a small baby hand proved such a hit – and such an evident thorn in the president’s side – when it flew over London and Edinburgh in July, that an activist group in the United States has raised funds to purchase six of them.
The Backbone Campaign, based outside Seattle, is now busy exhibiting the helium-filled Trump baby (also known as Diaper Donald) whenever possible around the country. The first made its appearance near Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in August. Another floated over Spokane, Washington, at the beginning of this month to greet Mike Pence on a campaign visit.
The Los Angeles baby is likely to make the biggest impact, since it will be seen by tens of thousands of commuters driving the freeways in and around downtown Los Angeles. The Politicon conference – which aims to do for politics what Comic-Con does for superhero entertainment franchises – will unfold just a few hundred yards away at the LA Convention Center.
'Unreal': Claiming Concerns Over 'Political Activity,' Georgia Officials Order Black Seniors Off Bus Headed for Early Voting
Deepening concerns over widespread voter suppression in Georgia ahead of a closely-watched gubernatorial race, dozens of black senior citizens were forced off a bus that was taking them to vote in the midterm election this week after government officials raised concerns about the trip.
As Think Progress reported, the non-profit group Black Voters Matter had hosted a get-out-the-vote event at a senior center in Louisville, Georgia on Monday, and was preparing to take about 40 senior citizens to the polls on the state's first day of early voting, when the center's director told the riders to exit the bus on the orders of the Jefferson County clerk.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the county clerk had been alerted to the bus trip, which allegedly violated a law banning "political activity" at county-run facilities like the senior center. But according to Brown, there are no laws in majority-black Jefferson County prohibiting third-party groups from transporting voters to polling places.
Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett suggested to the Journal-Constitution that the effort to stop the residents from voting was indeed politically motivated:
The county government considered the event political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans helped organize it, County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement.
"Jefferson County administration felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party," Brett said.
Evans called the incident "discouraging."
"When they're suppressing votes, they're going to come up with any kind of excuse about what your problem is," she told the Journal-Constitution.
While the idea of state-led space travel may yet be decisively revived by China, the new space race in the west is something almost surreally different: a competition between rich, often knowingly “flamboyant” entrepreneurs, whose motivations are open to speculation. ... Tellingly, the roots of a lot of what is happening lie in the thinking of small-state libertarians who hoovered up the work of the US author Ayn Rand, and saw Nasa’s retreat from space exploration as decisive proof of the uselessness of government. A good example is Peter Diamandis, who has worked with Branson on space flight and founded the X Prize Foundation. His first big act was the awarding of $10m to the people who in 2004 took a privately built craft called SpaceShipOne just beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1994, he drafted a charter for early work on private space flight. “Throughout all of history,” he wrote, “the greatest accomplishments of the human race have been instigated and acted upon by the individual or the small group – never have the masses brought about innovation.”
In this vision, it seemed, space travel was to be the preserve of a self-conscious elite largely untroubled by governments and less interested in exploring new frontiers on our behalf than in leaving the rest of us behind. And so, perhaps, it is proving. Blue Origin will reportedly soon be offering brief trips to the edge of space for up to $300,000 a throw. As soon as 2023, SpaceX will transport the Japanese retail tycoon Yusaku Maezawa around the moon, a privilege for which he has paid an undisclosed sum. The US company Axiom Space is working on a private space station it claims will be launched in 2022. The people in charge promise “a microgravity laboratory where educators, scientists and researchers conduct life-improving research”, but the most remarkable part of the plan is a proposal to take “high-worth” individuals into space for eight days, at a cost of $55m each. ...
Meanwhile, an emergency is happening back on boring old planet Earth: the growing crisis of climate change, dramatically highlighted by the recent IPCC report that warned we have no more than 12 years to avoid an ecological catastrophe. Many of the new space entrepreneurs, including Branson and Bezos, are funding some research in this field; Musk’s electric cars are an undoubtedly worthwhile contribution. But if the same people have a shared vision of innumerable private rockets leaving Earth whenever there is enough business, it may be worth bearing in mind the volume of carbon emissions that will entail, and the much-reported view of a California-based rocket engineer called Martin Ross, who says: “We now understand that the climate and ozone impacts of rocket exhaust are completely intertwined.” Besides, an even bigger question surely cries out for an answer: if the Earth is burning, why is so much money being frittered away on sending cars, pop stars and bond traders into orbit?
We may now be faced with a kind of space exploration that doesn’t hold out any of the romantic promise of yesteryear, but simply reflects the kind of terrestrial injustices to which the new spacemen perhaps give far too little thought.
Sea water encroaching on the Everglades will hamper decades of work by a government program to reverse manmade damage to the vast, fragile ecosystem at the tip of Florida, according to a new report published on Wednesday.
The federal, multi-billion-dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, authorized by Congress in 2000, was designed to redirect fresh water, reducing sea water incursion in a long-term effort to bring the tropical wetland ecosystem back to the way it looked in the early 20th century, before influxes of people to southern Florida drained much of it for development. The region, known as the “river of grass,” is less than an hour’s drive from Miami but is home to mangrove forests and cypress swamps housing alligators, orchids, storks and ibises, and threatened species such as the Florida panther. But it has long struggled to recover from water diversions for agriculture, swelling communities and other forms of environmental degradation, such as fertilizer run-off.
Now a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warns that rising global temperatures are also changing the Everglades in ways the state and federal government must consider, including changing rainfall patterns and accelerating sea-level rise. “It is clear that the Greater Everglades of 2050 and beyond will be much different from what was envisioned at the time of the [plan],” the biennial report says. ... Committee chair Bill Boggess said current project plans don’t adequately consider a range of possible sea levels. Sea levels were 3 inches above the 1993 average last year and will continue to go up, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
President Trump has reportedly cancelled a plan proposed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to provide financial support for troubled coal-fired power plant operators, Politico says, quoting four unnamed sources familiar with the matter. According to the sources, the President made the decision prompted by opposition from his own advisers.
Last year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a plan for subsidizing coal and nuclear plants for providing base load generation—that is, round-the-clock power, but the plan was rejected by the utility regulators who said they will study the national grid’s resilience to supply interruptions. Many grid operators said they are already factoring in everything that has to do with their grid’s resilience to disruptions.
In June, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it did not see any emergency in the U.S. electricity market that would merit financial aid for coal and nuclear power plants. The stance was announced by the panel regulating the national grid at a Senate hearing. The opinion is likely to undermine efforts by the Trump administration to save non-competitive coal and nuclear power plants on the grounds that they guarantee the grid’s resilience in case of emergency. Now, advisors to the president from the National Security Council and the National Economic Council have also spoken against the plan that has raised the hackles of the oil and gas industry—another priority industry for Trump along with “beautiful, clean coal”.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Big Jay McNeely - Big Jay Shuffle
Big Jay McNeely - Road House Boogie
Big Jay McNeely - Mule Milk
Big Jay McNeely - Teen Age Hop
Big Jay McNeely and Band w/Little Sonny - Back... Shack... Track
Big Jay McNeely - There Is Something On Your Mind
Big Jay McNeely - Wild Wig
Big Jay McNeely - The Deacon's Hop
Big Jay McNeely - Deacon In Minor
Big Jay McNeely - Blow Your Brains Out