The Evening Blues - 10-21-21



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Harmonica Slim

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features mostly this Harmonica Slim along with a couple of others who have used that moniker. Enjoy!

Harmonica Slim And Orch. - Thought I Didn't Love You

"Free-market fundamentalism trivializes the concern for public interest. It puts fear and insecurity in the hearts of anxiety-ridden workers. It also makes money-driven, poll-obsessed elected officials deferential to corporate goals of profit – often at the cost of the common good. … The free-market fundamentalism that prevails in the United States today promotes the pervasive sleepwalking of the populace. People see that the false prophets are handsomely rewarded — with money, status and access to more power. … We are experiencing the sad gangsterization of America — an unbridled grasp at power, wealth and status."

-- Cornel West


News and Opinion

Our Future vs. Neoliberalism

Since the 1970s, Western political and corporate leaders have peddled a quasi-religious belief in the power of "free" markets and unbridled capitalism to solve all the world's problems. This new "neoliberal" orthodoxy is a thinly disguised reversion to the systematic injustice of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism, which led to gross inequality and poverty even in wealthy countries, famines that killed tens of millions of people in India and China, and horrific exploitation of the poor and vulnerable worldwide.

For most of the 20th century, Western countries gradually responded to the excesses and injustices of capitalism by using the power of government to redistribute wealth through progressive taxation and a growing public sector, and ensure broad access to public goods like education and healthcare. This led to a gradual expansion of broadly shared prosperity in the United States and Western Europe through a strong public sector that balanced the power of private corporations and their owners.

The steadily growing shared prosperity of the post-WWII years in the West was derailed by a combination of factors, including the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, Nixon's freeze on prices and wages, runaway inflation caused by dropping the gold standard, and then a second oil crisis after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Right-wing politicians led by Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. blamed the power of organized labor and the public sector for the economic crisis. They launched a "neoliberal" counter-revolution to bust unions, shrink and privatize the public sector, cut taxes, deregulate industries and supposedly unleash "the magic of the market." Then they took credit for a return to economic growth that really owed more to the end of the oil crises.

The United States and United Kingdom used their economic, military and media power to spread their neoliberal gospel across the world. Chile's experiment in neoliberalism under Pinochet's military dictatorship became a model for U.S. efforts to roll back the "pink tide" in Latin America. When the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe opened to the West at the end of the Cold War, it was the extreme, neoliberal brand of capitalism that Western economists imposed as "shock therapy" to privatize state-owned enterprises and open countries to Western corporations.

In the United States, the mass media shy away from the word "neoliberalism" to describe the changes in society since the 1980s. They describe its effects in less systemic terms, as globalization, privatization, deregulation, consumerism and so on, without calling attention to their common ideological roots. This allows them to treat its impacts as separate, unconnected problems: poverty and inequality, mass incarceration, environmental degradation, ballooning debt, money in politics, disinvestment in public services, declines in public health, permanent war, and record military spending.

After a generation of systematic neoliberal control, it is now obvious to people all over the world that neoliberalism has utterly failed to solve the world's problems. As many predicted all along, it has just enabled the rich to get much, much richer, while structural and even existential problems remain unsolved.

Even once people have grasped the self-serving, predatory nature of this system that has overtaken their political and economic life, many still fall victim to the demoralization and powerlessness that are among its most insidious products, as they are brainwashed to see themselves only as individuals and consumers, instead of as active and collectively powerful citizens.

In effect, confronting neoliberalism—whether as individuals, groups, communities or countries—requires a two-step process. First, we must understand the nature of the beast that has us and the world in its grip, whatever we choose to call it. Second, we must overcome our own demoralization and powerlessness, and rekindle our collective power as political and economic actors to build the better world we know is possible.

We will see that collective power in the streets and the suites at COP26 in Glasgow, when the world's leaders will gather to confront the reality that neoliberalism has allowed corporate profits to trump a rational response to the devastating impact of fossil fuels on the Earth's climate. Extinction Rebellion and other groups will be in the streets in Glasgow, demanding the long-delayed action that is required to solve the problem, including an end to net carbon emissions by 2025.

While scientists warned us for decades what the result would be, political and business leaders have peddled their neoliberal snake oil to keep filling their coffers at the expense of the future of life on Earth. If we fail to stop them now, living conditions will keep deteriorating for people everywhere, as the natural world our lives depend on is washed out from under our feet, goes up in smoke and, species by species, dies and disappears forever.

The Covid pandemic is another real world case study on the impact of neoliberalism. As the official death toll reaches 5 million and many more deaths go unreported, rich countries are still hoarding vaccines, drug companies are reaping a bonanza of profits from vaccines and new drugs, and the lethal, devastating injustice of the entire neoliberal "market" system is laid bare for the whole world to see. Calls for a "people's vaccine" and "vaccine justice" have been challenging what has now been termed "vaccine apartheid."

In the 1980s, U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher often told the world, "There is no alternative" to the neoliberal order she and President Reagan were unleashing. After only one or two generations, the self-serving insanity they prescribed and the crises it has caused have made it a question of survival for humanity to find alternatives.

Around the world, ordinary people are rising up to demand real change. The people of Iraq, Chile and Bolivia have overcome the incredible traumas inflicted on them to take to the streets in the thousands and demand better government. Americans should likewise demand that our government stop wasting trillions of dollars to militarize the world and destroy countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, and start solving our real problems, here and abroad.

People around the world understand the nature of the problems we face better than we did a generation or even a decade ago. Now we must overcome demoralization and powerlessness in order to act. It helps to understand that the demoralization and powerlessness we may feel are themselves products of this neoliberal system, and that simply overcoming them is a victory in itself.

As we reject the inevitability of neoliberalism and Thatcher's lie that there is no alternative, we must also reject the lie that we are just passive, powerless consumers. As human beings, we have the same collective power that human beings have always had to build a better world for ourselves and our children—and now is the time to harness that power.

Matt Taibbi: Yes, The Deep State Does Exist, And It's LIBERALS Who Are Doing Its Bidding

Heh:

Hackers, Havana Syndrome, And Other Invisible Russian Aggressions That Only The CIA Can See

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is reportedly marking up its hilarious Havana Syndrome Attacks Response Act this week which calls for sanctions upon whoever the president determines is responsible for inflicting US officials with hangover-like symptoms using high tech microwave beams. The condition has not been proven to actually exist in any tangible way and has been commonly attributed to psychogenic illness, Cuban crickets, and actual hangovers.

At the same time, virulent Russiagater Julia Ioffe has published an anonymously-sourced article proclaiming that the Kremlin is responsible for this mysterious alleged ailment.

In an article for Puck News titled “Havana Syndrome: A Cold War Saga in Biden’s Washington“, Ioffe reports that anonymous sources at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center have told her that this strange affliction now has so many victims among US government employees that the facility is at capacity, and that Russia is to blame for it.

Ioffe writes:

“The intelligence community is increasingly convinced that the Russian government is behind these attacks. Russia has extensively studied and invested in the technology, and, in the spring of 2017, just as the attacks in Havana were ramping up, Putin personally pinned a medal on the breast of a young scientist for his advances in using directed energy and microwaves on signals systems and living cells. Russia certainly has the motive: Putin still thinks America is Russia’s biggest enemy and poking the country in the eye is a worthy end in and of itself. Plus, there’s that location data, placing F.S.B. officers in the same Taiwanese hotel where a senior C.I.A. official was hit.

“But there still isn’t enough evidence to make a public declaration. ‘They believe the hypothesis more but don’t have a smoking gun,’ said the person familiar with the investigation.”


To get a sense for the integrity of the sourcing in Ioffe’s report, here’s an actual paragraph from the article with emphasis added by me:

“Burns has also convened a panel of intelligence officials to try to find whoever is behind these attacks. A spokesperson for the Agency told me that the C.I.A. is ‘bringing an intensity and expertise to this issue akin to our efforts to find Bin Laden.’ She added, ‘We will keep doing everything we can to protect our officers.’ People familiar with the inquiry tell me that the political will behind this is palpable. As one source told me, ‘Whereas before you might have said that the folks working on the issue spent half their time trying to convince people that something happened, that kind of distraction has dissipated to a large degree, which is very helpful.’”

This kind of sourcing would make a UK gossip rag blush.

Here’s another delightful bit:

“I think we’re beyond the point of anyone being able to question whether it’s a real thing,” a senior administration official told me.

Ah well if an anonymous government official tells Julia Ioffe that Havana Syndrome is real then hot damn that’s good enough for me.

Apart from anonymous individuals, Ioffe also cites a “retired” CIA officer named Marc Polymeropoulos, who attests that he himself came down with a case of Havana Syndrome that was so bad it forced him to “retire”.

Ioffe writes:

“As we talked, I couldn’t square two things: Marc’s retirement and his age. He had just turned 50, and, by his own account, he had been on the up-and-up at the C.I.A. Why had he left so soon? I asked him… But Marc’s answer surprised me: Havana Syndrome. He told me, off the record, that he had been ‘hit’ while visiting Moscow and that the attack had undermined his health so badly that he physically couldn’t work anymore. A promising career in an organization he loved, and had come of age in, was over.”

Oh wow the “retired” CIA spook had to “retire” because he was afflicted with a condition which just so happens to advance CIA cold war hysteria about a CIA-targeted nation, and how he’s spending his “retirement” telling cold war propagandists about it.

Havana syndrome is a mysterious illness whose symptoms include vertigo, nausea, and billions of dollars in new cold war military spending.

It’s just so interesting how Russia keeps attacking America in unverifiable and invisible ways that only the US intelligence community can see. First it was plot hole-riddled claims that Russian hackers attacked American democracy in 2016, and now it’s invisible microwave beams from secret Kremlin ray guns. Someday soon we may turn on the news to see footage of an empty Capitol Building while a reporter solemnly tells us that it has just been stormed by GRU agents injected with invisibility serum.

I’m old enough to remember when the US war machine needed actual, physical events to justify the advancements of its military agendas, like planes crashing into buildings. Nowadays those agendas are justified by invisible, unverifiable allegations for which the evidence is always classified.

Believing that Kremlin operatives are attacking the brains of US government employees with ray guns which cause mild hangover-like symptoms is no less crazy and baseless than the claims by internet crackpots that the Covid vaccine contains 5G mind control nanobots. Literally the only difference is that one has been endorsed by the mainstream US political/media class while the other has not.

When a poor person says spies are attacking their brain with microwave beams it’s called paranoid schizophrenia. When a US government operative says it, it’s called Havana Syndrome.

Heh, I bet the Chinese can't wait to work with this gibbering lunatic:

Biden’s pick for China ambassador says ‘we cannot trust the Chinese’ on Taiwan

US president Joe Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday said China was aggressive and untrustworthy, insisting that boosting Taiwan’s defences against the threat of Chinese invasion should be a US priority.

Speaking to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which is due to confirm his appointment, Nicholas Burns denounced recent Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, calling them “especially objectionable”.

“We certainly cannot trust the Chinese” on the issue of Taiwan, Burns said. “Our responsibility is to make Taiwan a tough nut to crack.” ...

Burns – a career diplomat who has worked in a number of US administrations, both under Democrats and Republican – did not mince words Wednesday.

He accused the Chinese government of being “an aggressor against India along their long Himalayan border, against Vietnam, the Philippines and others in the South China Sea, against Japan, in the East China Sea.

Politico Requires Journos Push Pro-Israel Propaganda

See if you can spot the fnords. There are lots more of them at the link if you enjoy that sort of thing.

Democrats Pressure Biden on Taiwan

China’s ramped-up saber-rattling over Taiwan has put the Biden administration in a tricky spot: boxed in between moderates and progressives within the Democratic caucus on the best way to respond to Beijing.

The debate has flared up on Capitol Hill between some centrist Democrats, who worry U.S. President Joe Biden faces legal limits to his war powers in the event of a Chinese invasion of the island, and progressives, who are concerned that a more aggressive U.S. policy could push the situation closer to war. The rhetorical fight has intensified after China conducted a record-breaking number of air incursions near Taiwan earlier this month.

At the heart of partisan wrangling is a proposal floated by House Armed Services vice chair Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat, who—in the Washington Post last week—called for giving the Biden administration war-making authorities that would allow the president to declare a snap authorization on the use of force if China invaded the island. Luria’s concerned that Biden doesn’t have the legal authority to defend Taiwan under a law dating back to 1979, which says the United States is able to arm the island against a potential military threat but can’t formally recognize its government. Unlike agreements with Japan and the Philippines, the United States has no obligation to come to Taiwan’s defense.

Biden’s legal limits on war-making conjure a possible nightmare scenario for Luria: China could turn a military exercise, such as its yearly amphibious assault practices, into an all-out invasion of Taiwan, and the White House could be stuck pleading with Congress to respond by authorizing the use of military force. ...

A move to expand the president’s authorities could upset the principle of “strategic ambiguity,” which argues the United States isn’t legally bound to defend Taiwan against Chinese assault—a principle that has held up for more than four decades. ... “A policy of ambiguity may not be the most emotionally satisfying for D.C. hawks, but it’s working,” said Matt Duss, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Given the experience not only of the last four years of a reckless president but of the previous 20 years of endless war, the dangers of creating another open-ended war authorization should be obvious."

Worth a full read:

US Secretary of State backs state of siege in Ecuador

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Ecuador on October 19 to declare US support for the country’s beleaguered President Guillermo Lasso, one day after he imposed a state of emergency (estado de excepción), suspending constitutional rights and deploying heavily armed troops in the streets. Appearing before the media alongside Ecuador’s foreign minister, Mauricio Montalvo, Blinken declared, “In extraordinary moments, democracies require exceptional measures.” Referring directly to Lasso’s imposition of dictatorial measures, Blinken continued, “As I discussed with President Lasso, we understand that, support that, but know as well that these measures, of course, need to be taken pursuant to the constitution.”

Lasso announced the state of emergency on October 18, seizing as his pretext an incident in the coastal city of Guayaquil in which a 13-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire between police and gunmen. While the Ecuadorian president claimed that his state of siege measures are aimed at suppressing crime and drug traffickers, his order allows the suspension of basic democratic rights, including freedom of movement, assembly and association. They have been imposed under conditions in which his presidency has been plunged into deep political crisis.

Lasso, a right-wing multimillionaire ex-Coca Cola executive and banker, was elected president last April in what was seen as an upset victory in a second-round election. His path to power was paved by the failure of the so-called “Pink Tide” government of Rafael Correa, whose limited reforms were eroded with a fall in oil prices. Correa’s hand-picked successor, Lenin Moreno, initiated a sharp turn to the right, ingratiating his administration with US imperialism by expelling WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Ecuador’s embassy in London, turning him over to the British government to face extradition to the US on espionage charges.

Lasso’s party, however, holds only 12 of the 137 seats in the National Assembly, and, even with backing from other rightist parties, he has been unable to force through his free-market agenda. He has sought to impose an IMF-dictated structural adjustment program that includes sharp cuts in social spending, a “labor reform” that would strip workers of job protections, tax cuts for capitalist investors and the lifting of restrictions on mining, oil drilling and foreign control over key sectors of Ecuador’s economy.

Lasso has seen his approval ratings plummet by more than 20 percent since the publication of the so-called Pandora Papers, which exposed his investments in at least 10 offshore shell companies located in Panama, South Dakota and Delaware. Like other heads of state and top officials exposed by the Pandora Papers, Lasso insisted that his offshore holdings were all perfectly legal. The National Assembly, however, has launched an investigation, declaring that the right-wing president “may have breached” a statute that “prohibits candidates and public officials from having their resources or assets in tax havens.” Lasso has boycotted the probe, declaring himself the victim of a foreign conspiracy. ... With growing popular opposition, the declaration of the state of emergency, imposed in the name of combating serious “internal unrest,” is a warning that Lasso intends to rely on naked force to remain in power and impose his right-wing agenda.

Guantanamo: US court rules inmate's detention 'unlawful'

A US federal court has ruled that a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre has been unlawfully kept there, several days after he was cleared to be transferred out of the military prison.

The US court granted the petition for a writ of habeas corpus for Asadullah Haroon Gul, who has been detained without charge by the US since 2007. The decision marks the first time in a decade a Guantanamo detainee's imprisonment has been ruled unlawful.

"We are thrilled for Asad. A federal court has finally affirmed what Asad has known for so long: he should be home with his family, and his detention is unlawful," Mark Maher, Gul's lawyer at Reprieve US, said in a statement.

"This is a landmark ruling. For 20 years, successive US administrations have asserted their right to imprison people indefinitely, without charge or trial. Guantanamo was built on the shakiest of legal foundations, and that has never been more clear than it is today." ...

Still, despite his detention having no legal basis and him being cleared for release, it could take some time before Gul leaves the prison. More than a decade ago, 17 Uyghur men were ordered free, however, they remained at Guantanamo for several years while the US government worked to find countries in which to resettle them.

Backlog of cargo ships at southern California ports reaches an all-time high

The backlog of cargo ships in southern California reached an all-time high this week as a supply chain crisis continues to overwhelm America’s busiest port complex.

On Tuesday more than 100 ships were waiting to unload thousands of containers outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The backlog has seen dozens of ships idling in the waters outside the ports for weeks, and the bottleneck is expected to continue into next year.

The Biden administration has pledged to expand port operations to address the mounting problems amid an overwhelming demand for imported consumer products and a shortage of trucks, drivers and warehouse workers. ...

The Biden administration announced last week that the port of Los Angeles would move to 24/7 operations to ease the backlog and that major companies, including Walmart, FedEx and UPS, would intensify operations to get goods shipped across the US faster. Meanwhile, the port of Long Beach had already been experimenting with a 24/7 pilot program. Union Pacific has expanded to 24/7 rail service at its San Pedro facility.

The White House is also reportedly considering deploying the national guard to help reduce the backlog, CNN reported.

“Dirty Empire”: Sen. Joe Manchin Demands Dems Drop Climate Funding as He Makes Millions from Coal

Dem Plan To NUKE Middle Class Families With Cost Increases

Sinema and Manchin's obstinacy in behalf of the rich has certainly inspired a vast flurry of letter-writing.

Arizona Groups Demand Sinema 'Stop Obstructing' on Medicare Expansion

As Democrats' sweeping Build Back Better package hangs in the balance largely due to a pair of corporate-backed members working to water down their own party's budget reconciliation bill, two dozen Arizona groups joined with Public Citizen on Wednesday to pressure their obstructionist U.S. senator to support keeping various improvements to Medicare in the package.

The diverse coalition sent a letter to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has impeded the upper chamber's passage of a package that would invest $3.5 trillion over a decade in climate action, the care economy, and other top priorities. ...

The policies detailed in the letter are popular both in Arizona and across the nation. Public Policy Polling found earlier this month that 73% of voters across all parties in Sinema's state support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and 79% support using those savings to provide hearing, dental, and vision benefits to people enrolled in the program. ...

The message to the Arizona Democrat came the same day as another letter from over 60 groups calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to deliver on their "long-standing promises" to pass drug price negotiation.

Ilhan Omar Blasts Manchin & Sinema for Siding with Big Pharma, Big Oil & Wall Street in Budget Talks

Krystal Ball: ATROCIOUS Biden Bill must be KILLED at all Costs

Parkland shooter pleads guilty to 17 counts of murder

Nikolas Cruz has pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder for the 2018 shooting massacre at a Florida high school, leaving a jury to decide whether he will be executed for one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

Relatives of the victims who sat in the courtroom and watched the hearing via Zoom shook their heads or broke down in tears as Cruz entered his pleas and later apologized for his crimes. ...

Cruz, 23, entered his plea after answering a long list of questions from circuit judge Elizabeth Scherer aimed at confirming his mental competency. He was charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for those wounded in the attack on 14 February, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, located just outside Fort Lauderdale. ...

Cruz’s attorneys announced his intention to plead guilty during a hearing last week, as they turn their focus to saving him from a death sentence. By having Cruz plead guilty, his attorneys will be able to argue that he took responsibility for his actions. Cruz addressed the court in a statement on Wednesday, saying, “I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day.”



the horse race



Surprise!

Senate Republicans again block sweeping voting rights bill

Senate Republicans again blocked a sweeping voting rights bill on Wednesday, a move that will significantly increase pressure on Democrats to do away with the filibuster, a Senate rule that has stymied the most significant priorities in Congress.

The vote was 49-51 along party lines (Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, switched to vote no at the last minute in a procedural maneuver that will allow him to bring up the bill again for a vote). Because the filibuster requires 60 votes to proceed, Republicans succeeded in blocking the measure.

The bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, would impose significant new guardrails on the American democratic process and amount to the most significant overhaul of US elections in a generation. It would require every state to automatically register voters at motor vehicle agencies, offer 15 consecutive days of early voting and allow anyone to request a mail-in ballot. It would also set new standards to ensure voters are not wrongfully removed from the voter rolls, protect election officials against partisan interference, and set out clear alternatives people who lack ID to vote can use at the polls.

Speaking on the Senate floor after the vote, the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, criticized Republicans for opposing the measure and strongly hinted Democrats would move to change the filibuster rules around voting rights. The right to vote, Schumer said, was unlike other issues the Senate deals with. “It isn’t about regular old politics,” he said.

“Senate Republicans blocking debate today is an implicit endorsement of the horrid new voter suppression and election subversion laws pushed in conservative states across the country,” he added. “What we saw from Republicans today is not how the Senate is supposed to work."

Kim Iversen: Trump’s TRUTH SOCIAL App Takes On Big Tech By Making Itself UNCANCELLABLE

Donald Trump to launch social media platform called Truth Social

Donald Trump has announced plans to launch a social media platform called TRUTH Social that will rolled be out early next year.

The former president, who was banned from Facebook and Twitter earlier this year, says his goal is to rival the tech companies that have denied him the megaphone that was paramount to his rise.

“I’m excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH social and to fight back against big tech,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump announced the news in a press release on Wednesday, saying the platform will be open to “invited users” for a beta launch in November, with plans to make it available to the broader public in the beginning of next year. Truth social will be a product of a new venture called the Trump Media & Technology Group which was created through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. The group said it seeks to become a publicly listed company.



the evening greens


Total Knew About Climate Threat From Fossil Fuels for Decades, But Denied It

Exxon knew. Shell knew. It turns out, Total knew, too.

The French oil major, rebranded to TotalEnergies earlier this year, knew 50 years ago that fossil fuels threatened the global climate and responded by denying science in pursuit of profit, according to research published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Global Environment Change.

The "bombshell" study from three historians—which follows similarly damning exposés of ExxonMobil in 2015 and Royal Dutch Shell in 2017—comes as fossil fuel giants face growing legal efforts around the world to #MakePollutersPay for their significant contributions to the climate emergency.

Based on interviews and company records, the historians found that "Total personnel received warnings of the potential for catastrophic global warming from its products by 1971, became more fully informed of the issue in the 1980s, began promoting doubt regarding the scientific basis for global warming by the late 1980s, and ultimately settled on a position in the late 1990s of publicly accepting climate science while promoting policy delay or policies peripheral to fossil fuel control."

The trio also found that "Exxon, through the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), coordinated an international campaign to dispute climate science and weaken international climate policy, beginning in the 1980s."

Co-author Christophe Bonneuil, a historian at France's National Centre for Scientific Research, told Agence France-Presse that "we thought that only Exxon and the U.S. oil and gas giants were engaged in this kind of duplicity."

"Now we know that French majors also participated in this, at least between 1987 and 1994," Bonneuil said.

Green Groups Applaud Biden Move to Protect Minnesota Watershed

Environmentalists on Wednesday cheered a "huge win" as the Biden administration announced it would pause all new mining activity in an unspoiled region of northern Minnesota pending a lengthy review that could ultimately lead to a 20-year mineral extraction ban.

"The Boundary Waters is too special to be threatened by toxic sulfide-ore copper mining," said the Alaska Wilderness League, praising the administration's "critical step toward permanent protections to safeguard this pristine wilderness."

The U.S. Interior and Agriculture departments issued a joint statement announcing "actions to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed in northeastern Minnesota, a unique natural wonder and one of the jewels of the National Wilderness Preservation System."

The statement continued:

In response to broad concerns about potential impacts of mining on the wilderness area's watershed, fish and wildlife, tribal trust and treaty rights, and the nearly $100 million annual local recreation economy, the administration is initiating consideration of a 20-year withdrawal of key portions of the national forest lands from disposition under the mineral and geothermal leasing laws, which would temporarily prohibit the issuance of new prospecting permits and leases in the area.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will now "initiate a two-year segregation that will prohibit the issuance of new federal mineral leases within 225,378 acres within the Rainy River Watershed," the statement added.

"During this time, the BLM and the Forest Service will seek public comment and conduct a science-based environmental analysis to evaluate the potential impacts of mining on the important natural and cultural resources of the Rainy River Watershed," the agencies said.

‘Tired of broken promises’: climate activists launch hunger strike outside White House

With little more than sun hats, placards and folding chairs, five young activists have begun a hunger strike in front of the White House urging Joe Biden not to abandon his bold climate agenda. The protest came a day after the US president threatened to water down his $3.5tn social and environmental legislation and with Washington’s commitments about to face scrutiny at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The five protesters said they will eat no food and drink only water. They intend to gather in Lafayette Park every day from 8am to 8pm until their demands – which include a civilian climate corps, clean energy performance program and funding for environmental justice – are satisfied. ...

Biden met privately on Tuesday with nearly 20 moderate and progressive Democrats in separate groups as he appeared ready to ditch an ambitious $3.5tn package in favour of a smaller proposal that can win passage in the closely divided Congress. A provision central to Biden’s climate strategy is among those that could be scaled back or eliminated.

Joe Manchin, a conservative senator from coal-rich West Virginia, has made clear that his opposes the Clean Energy Performance Plan, which would see the government impose penalties on electric utilities that fail to meet clean energy benchmarks and provide financial rewards to those that do, in line with Biden’s goal of achieving 80% “clean electricity” by 2030.

The hunger strikers, who have worked with the Sunrise Movement youth group, warned that such concessions would be disastrous for the planet. Ema Govea, from Santa Rosa, California, said: “Joe Biden made these campaign promises and we worked really hard on his campaign and to get him elected so that he could stop the climate crisis on these promises that he made.”

Young climate activists vow to keep fighting despite UN setback

Greta Thunberg and 15 other activists from around the world filed their case accusing Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey of violating their rights to life, health and culture under the convention on the rights of the child by failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would restrict global warming to 1.5C, in accordance with the Paris agreement.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child accepted some of their arguments – including that states are legally responsible for the impact of emissions on children outside their borders and that the young people are victims of anticipated threats to their rights.

But with only weeks to go until the start of vital climate talks at Cop26, the UN body ruled their case was inadmissible and said it would not hear it until they had first taken it to individual national courts – a process that lawyers predict will take years.

The US climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, who was one of the petitioners on the case, said she was shocked and angered by the result. The 16-year-old, who started school striking when she was 13 outside the UN headquarters in New York, predicts it will encourage young activists to be even more vocal at Cop26. ...

The rejection of their case shows, she said, that world leaders are not doing enough to protect children’s rights. “And so that’s why at Cop there’s going to be so many children and these activists there who are going to be pushing our world leaders … because a lot of us are angry and we’re fed up with what has been happening.” She said they would not give up on the case, adding: “The Committee on the Rights of the Child has not heard the last of it from the petitioners.”


Also of Interest

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

China Calls on US to End Dangerous South China Sea Operations

US Deploys B-1 Bombers to Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean for First Time in 15 Years

Israel Approves $1.5 Billion Budget for Potential Attack on Iran

Drone Attacks US Military Base in Southern Syria

Imprisoning Drone Whistleblower In Isolation Unit May Jeopardize US Appeal In Assange Extradition Case

Facebook ‘whistleblower’ Frances Haugen was coached by a coterie of US intelligence insiders

The Havoc Left by Private Equity’s Pioneers

Quebec Declares End to Fossil Fuel Extraction in Province

Too hot to handle: can our bodies withstand global heating?

Think big on climate: the transformation of society in months has been done before

One of Maryland’s escaped zebras dies in illegal trap

Solar storm confirms Vikings settled in North America exactly 1,000 years ago

Billionaire MOCKS Biden For Not Raising His Taxes

Ryan Grim: Kyrsten Sinema Is A ZOMBIE From A DYING Democratic Party

Keiser Report | Are You Prepared?


A Little Night Music

Harmonica Slim - Mary Helen

Harmonica Slim - Going Back Home

Harmonica Slim - Do What You Want To Do

Harmonica Slim - Hard Times

Harmonica Slim - I'll Take Love

Harmonica Slim - Drop Anchor

Harmonica Slim - That's All Right

Harmonica Slim - Woman 'Round My Door

Harmonica Slim - Tin Pan Alley

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Harmonica Slim - You Better Believe It


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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

I sent a petition to my CMs; A pretty-good senior senator, an unobjectionable-milquetoast junior senator, both Team-Achenar, but also my Team-Sirrus "representative" who ran as being "Pro-God, Pro-Guns, Pro-Trump" - this story is about that latter. I would not have been optimistic that she'd do the right thing where neonicotinoids are concerned, BUT her response to me was sort of encouraging:

Thank you for reaching out to me about H.R. 4079, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021. I appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with me, and I welcome the opportunity to respond to them.

This legislation was introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) and has been referred to the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research.

Pollinators, such as bees, are essential to our country’s agriculture industry. More specifically, their labor contributes $18 to $27 billion in pollination related services. I understand the need to protect these essential pollinators from neonicotinoids and other pesticides that could have adverse effects, like population decreases. This legislation seeks to protect pollinators by limiting the use of neonicotinoids and other potentially harmful pesticides until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can research the risks associated with many of these insecticide products that are used on crops.

While I am not on the Committee on Agriculture or Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, I appreciate hearing your concerns regarding this matter and the impacts that you see happening in the agriculture industry, especially within [my state]. As a result, I will keep your thoughts in mind if the Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021 reaches the House floor for a vote.

Now I've read lots of replies like this in my time; mostly just predictable cheap-talk you could make an interesting Bingo (or drinking!) game out of - but Sirrusites in particular aren't shy about telling you when they're not interested in what you say, though of course they couch it in arguments meant to favor their agenda rather than attacking mine.

What she said here? Especially given her "pro-business" laudation of pollinators, this actually gives me some hope.

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8 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

that sounds about as promising a response as you could hope for from a congressworm. good to know that out there people think that pollinators are earning their keep and we don't have to means test their benefits. i've pretty much given up on writing to mine who are all members of team beelzebub.

have a great evening!

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6 users have voted.

Biden has been hard at work.

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10 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

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12 users have voted.

The correct response to someone who supports going to war if China attacks Taiwan is “Are you enlisted?”

The correct response when they inevitably answer “no” is “Then shut the fuck up.”

Caitlin

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

how far we've come since the 19th century when robber baron jay gould said, "i can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

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6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

it appears that the "nothing" in "nothing will fundamentally change" covered a lot more things than anybody thought.

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7 users have voted.

Israel threatens Iran. Ho-hum.

The 20th Century is over and the ground has shifted.

USA/Britain/Israel are in a coma. a time warp. something.

In End of Empire Updates: Barbados has cut the UK loose and is now a sovereign entity.

Good evening, Joe.. Thanks for more news as we witness the great unravelling.

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8 users have voted.

NYCVG

joe shikspack's picture

@NYCVG

it's going to be ugly when the rest of the school unites to smack down the bullies.

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5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

hopes are lost.

Sigh.

Thanks for the blues.

Truth Social? How is that? Trump's truths are social?

Why not Lies Unsocial trumps Trump's Truth Social?.

Enough nuts dropped. Good Night.

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7 users have voted.

mimi

QMS's picture

@mimi

social truth is beyond recognition in this age of hypocrisy.
If anyone is looking to some washed-out game show host
to define truth in a social context, may be better to tune into cnn or fox
or lives of the rich and famous 'reality' show
does anyone actually buy this shite?

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

heh, i suppose that trump is like the besotted fellow at the party who talks far too loud and his "truth" becomes social.

have a great evening!

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7 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

You can't make this shit up!

https://www.reddit.com/r/WayOfTheBern/comments/qcj8av/fun_fact_in_order_...

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13 users have voted.

The correct response to someone who supports going to war if China attacks Taiwan is “Are you enlisted?”

The correct response when they inevitably answer “no” is “Then shut the fuck up.”

Caitlin

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

one of my former co-workers took a vacation in mexico to get some major dental work done. he said that what he saved on the dental work paid for the extra week he spent at a really nice resort there twice over.

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Well color me surprised

Excellent response

The rhetorical fight has intensified after China conducted a record-breaking number of air incursions near Taiwan earlier this month.

Fixed it for y’all…

The USA has conducted a record breaking number of sea incursions near Taiwan and China.

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10 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

that was a great clip in stella moris' tweet. it's good to see that there are a few sane people in elective office in the world.

the grayzone piece is a good read, though it contains few surprises.

have a great evening!

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6 users have voted.

to understand unless you live in the beltway bubble.

Most of it is the fault of Biden and his handlers.

https://theweek.com/politics/1006230/sandbagging-biden

Democrats' months of dithering are sandbagging Biden's popularity
Voters respect decisive leadership. Democrats are flailing.

President Biden's popularity is in bad shape. The FiveThirtyEight poll average has him at 43.5 percent approval, which is approaching former President Donald Trump territory — and more than 10 points down from Biden's peak in March.

But it's also not a coincidence that Biden's peak popularity came after his party quickly passed the huge American Rescue Plan (ARP), or that he's now at a low point after seven months of incomprehensible Democratic dithering in Congress over his Build Back Better agenda. It shows how his party's recent lack of political virtues like confidence, boldness, and aggression has sapped his popularity. Americans like active leadership, and Biden isn't delivering, even by Democrats' generous standard for their own president.

And it's not just me. The Washington Post reports Black activists in Georgia who helped deliver the presidency and the Senate majority to the Democrats are losing their patience. "Black men are pissed off about the nothingness that has happened," W. Mondale Robinson, founder of the Black Male Voter Project, told the Post. "Does it make the work harder? It makes the work damn near impossible."

It makes perfect sense. These folks emptied their wallets and wore out their shoes knocking doors for a party that loudly proclaimed democracy itself was on the line. So far, they have nothing to show for it except a rescue bill less generous than what Trump signed in 2020. The big layup policies that poll at nine to one approval, like allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with despised pharmaceutical companies, are steadily being sliced out of the package by the party's own corporate stooges, like Sinema and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).

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8 users have voted.

@humphrey said "Build Back Butter."

That made just as much sense to me as the original.

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9 users have voted.

NYCVG

joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

the corporate democrats are drowning biden in a vat of his own irrelevance.

perhaps biden will wake up from his nap and put things right, but it seems unlikely.

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

What's the danged deal ?
I thought that Deep State segment was really good. This one is really good too. Here's WSJ article they mentioned: Sinema’s Opposition Stymies Democrats’ Planned Tax-Rate Increases
The US-backed Afghan government: Afghan Officials Admit Driving Luxury Car in London As Country Fell to Taliban
He's a "centrist", he's a "moderate".

Megyn Kelly is good sometimes.

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7 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, so manchin wants to emulate joe lieberman. i guess if biden can't work up the nerve to rein him in, he deserves what he gets.

that segment with megyn kelly was surprisingly good, but i'm sort of glad that our snobby elitist electeds and media elites can't figure out why working people can't stand their sorry asses. if they could figure that out, they could pander better.

thanks for the vids and links, have a good one!

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8 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

allegedly a new mystery hum driving folks in some NE locale crazy, like the Taos Hum, The Windsor Hum, the Auckland hum, the global hum and others. Symptoms are sometimes described in terms not unlike those of the DC syndrome, except that there are no latin rhythms. I forget where this new one is.

Just dropping in to wish you a great weekend. We're heading off waay pre dawn tomorrow for about 12 days, so won't be here to wish you well.

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9 users have voted.

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

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris

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5 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello

and maybe catch a fall warbler or two.

be well and have a good one

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6 users have voted.

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

QMS's picture

@enhydra lutris

Look us up! You have my contact info in the member contact list.
Happy Trails!

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4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

take care, watch out for cuban crickets and have a great time in the escape pod!

see you when you get back.

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Michael Hudson talks with Ben Norton video or transcript. It’s interesting going back to when Nixon took us off the gold standard. I don’t know much about that history and found it interesting.

http://thesaker.is/the-grayzone-super-imperialism-the-economic-strategy-...

Hope you have a fun weekend Joe. Thanks for another week of news and blues. We’re still housebound but I did take a long walk in a furniture store yesterday. Boy did that feel good.

"Need any help?"

Nah I’m just walking thanks." Smile

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8 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

i'm not sure if i posted it or not. i saw it the other day at the grayzone and might have omitted it to post it in a less packed eb. at any rate, hudson is always worth listening to.

going off the gold standard was a big deal, something you could point to as a real turning point. it's certainly debatable whether it was a good idea or not.

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

I thought today was Friday…oh well I’ve said it early for tomorrow. No wonder no one put up Friday photo..glad I didn’t. Gah I guess I’ve got cabin fever. I’ll have a beer for it.

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4 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

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6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

did they mention something about the pottery barn rules?

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6 users have voted.
CB's picture

to protect yourself from those devious Russkis with items readily found in any well stocked kitchen. Caitlin Johnstone gives set-by-step instructions. I suggest you wear it to bed and while showering.

US Officials Can Guard Against Havana Syndrome With This Innovative Home Solution

As the dire threat of Havana Syndrome gains increasingly widespread acknowledgement, the US government employees who’ve been finding themselves targeted by these attacks are desperate for a way to protect themselves from this electromagnetic menace.

Luckily, scientists at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Agency have devised an innovative new solution to this peril which anyone who feels they may be in danger of Kremlin microwave beams can implement using a common and inexpensive household product.
...
So it turns out we here in the free world are a step or two ahead of the Kremlin. Nice try, Mister Putin. You’ve got to wake up pretty early in the morning to make fools out of us.

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11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@CB

i think that i read that it works best if the foil is fashioned into a tapered conical form. Smile

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7 users have voted.

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9 users have voted.