The Evening Blues - 10-3-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features early rock n roll musician Dale Hawkins. Enjoy!
Dale Hawkins/Roy Buchanan - My Babe
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
News and Opinion
Vladimir Putin has approved the annexation of four territories in eastern Ukraine, whose addition to the Russian Federation now await authorization from Russia’s other branches of government.
The Zelensky government responded to the move by applying to join NATO, only to be immediately shut down by US and NATO officials. Can’t have sacrificial pawns trying to rise above their station on the grand chessboard, after all.
But the empire’s proxy war against Russia continues, and the Ukrainian government has announced its intentions to drive out Russia from all of the Ukrainian territories it has claimed as its own.
“For our plans, [Russia’s annexation] doesn’t matter,” Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Politico, adding that Ukraine will “protect our land using all our forces” and “should liberate all its territories.”
The plan to reclaim territories annexed by Russia will according to Zelensky also include Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.
All this talk about preparing a massive western-backed counter-offensive to recapture annexed territories from Russia — whose ranks are being reinforced with an additional 300,000 reservists — comes as Putin suggests that nuclear weapons may be used to protect what Moscow considers parts of Russia. Russia, like the United States, is one of the nuclear-armed nations without a No First Use policy.
So we appear to be on a collision course toward a massive escalation between two nuclear-armed powers. The more things escalate the more likely it is that a nuclear weapon may be used, either deliberately or as a result of miscommunication or malfunction as nearly happened many times during the last cold war. Once one nuke is used the odds go up astronomically that a great many more will immediately follow, with variables on this outcome including the location where it detonates and how cool all the relevant heads happen to be at that particular historic moment.
It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the human species has a vested interest in de-escalation and detente right away. Avoiding nuclear war is the single most important agenda in the entire world, without exception. It is the single most important agenda that has ever existed in all of history.
But whenever you advocate for this supremely important agenda in any kind of public forum, you get a bunch of brainwashed empire automatons bleating about “appeasement” and accusing you of supporting a monstrous madman. And they do this because that’s what they were trained to do.
As Noam Chomsky has been pointing out repeatedly, the political/media class have been continually indoctrinating the public with the completely false narrative that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked”. Every time the war comes up the imperial spinmeisters utter that slogan, in much the same way Michael Jackson had a quota for how often MTV hosts were obligated to refer to him as “The King of Pop Michael Jackson” when his name was mentioned.
But what does it mean if the war is “unprovoked”? It means Putin didn’t invade Ukraine because of anything the western empire was doing, so it couldn’t have been prevented by the western empire behaving less aggressively on Russia’s borders. It means Putin necessarily invaded because he is some kind of evil lunatic who loves to commit war crimes, or a megalomaniacal tyrant who wants to conquer the world because he hates freedom and democracy. Which means he will keep attacking and invading other countries unless he can be stopped. Which means the only answer to the Putin problem is more war.
This is why empire apologists get angry at those who advocate the only sane and rational position toward nuclear brinkmanship by calling for de-escalation and detente. It’s because they’ve been aggressively indoctrinated into the belief that war is the only answer.
The moronic narrative that the invasion of Ukraine was “unprovoked” poses a massive obstacle to peace, because if Putin is just attacking and invading countries solely because he’s crazy and evil it means detente is impossible and he won’t stop until he’s decisively crushed. If it’s accepted that the US empire has played no role in provoking Putin’s actions, that means there’s nothing the empire could do to make continued Russian aggression less likely apart from regime change, or at least severely crippling and punishing Russia militarily.
As long as the fact that this war was provoked remains unacknowledged by the side that provoked it, the sane path of de-escalation and detente will look like reckless appeasement of an irrational madman, and aggressive escalations of nuclear brinkmanship will look like sanity. The absurd position that Putin is an irrational actor with some kind of weird sexual fetish for war crimes is a one-way ticket to endlessly escalating war and eventual nuclear annihilation, because it leaves you with no options but continually intensifying military confrontation.
The claim that peace is impossible and Putin must be crushed imperils the whole world. Even to deliver total victory in Ukraine (pushing Russia back to pre-2014 borders) could easily end up costing millions of lives and trillions of dollars and exponentially increase the risk of nuclear war, with no guarantee of success at all. But even if you did push Putin all the way out of Ukraine, what then? He’ll still be a crazy madman who wants to invade countries because he’s evil and hates freedom. The internal logic of your narrative says the attacks on Russia must continue until you get regime change. There’s no stopping point on your line of thinking until there’s a direct hot confrontation between nuclear superpowers.
Be an adult and engage your critical thinking. Does a madman who goes around invading countries solely because he’s evil and hates freedom sound like a real-life human being to you? Or does it sound made up? Like something you’d see in a Hollywood movie? Like something that was concocted by people responsible for controlling the dominant narratives of our society and funneled into your mind using media?
Marvel supervillains have more depth and complexity than the one-dimensional characters the imperial spin machine concocts to represent its official enemies. Thanos was a more believable character with more understandable and nuanced motivations than the propaganda machine’s fictional representation of Putin. That representation has been overlaid on top of the actual government official who you might not necessarily agree with, but can definitely understand and engage in diplomacy and negotiation.
People who believe the empire’s narratives about its official enemies have fewer critical thinking skills than your average Marvel movie viewer. Think. Be a grown up and think. Someone’s benefitting from the aggressively promulgated narrative that peace is impossible and war is the only solution. And that someone isn’t you.
As a military professor for six years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in the 1990s, I often walked past the honor code prominently displayed for all cadets to see. Its message was simple and clear: they were not to tolerate lying, cheating, stealing, or similar dishonorable acts. Yet that’s exactly what the U.S. military and many of America’s senior civilian leaders have been doing from the Vietnam War era to this very day: lying and cooking the books, while cheating and stealing from the American people. And yet the most remarkable thing may be that no honor code turns out to apply to them, so they’ve suffered no consequences for their mendacity and malfeasance. ...
Considering the revelations of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971; the Afghan War papers, first revealed by The Washington Post in 2019; and the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, among other evidence of the lying and deception that led to the invasion and occupation of that country, you’ll excuse me for assuming that, for decades now when it comes to war, “integrity optional” has been the true core value of our senior military leaders and top government officials.
Like many other institutions, the U.S. military carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. After all, despite being funded in a fashion beyond compare and spreading its peculiar brand of destruction around the globe, its system of war hasn’t triumphed in a significant conflict since World War II (with the war in Korea remaining, almost three-quarters of a century later, in a painful and festering stalemate). Even the ending of the Cold War, allegedly won when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, only led to further wanton military adventurism and, finally, defeat at an unsustainable cost — ;more than $8 trillion — in Washington’s ill-fated Global War on Terror. And yet, years later, that military still has a stranglehold on the national budget.
[Lots more at the link. -js]
The now retired philandering moron who inappropriately shared highly classified documents with a journalist providing him with sexual favors hasn't spoken with anybody in a position to direct a military response against Russia, but apparently knows for certain just what the U.S. government would do if Russia used nuclear weapons in the Ukraine:
The US and its allies would destroy Russia’s troops and equipment in Ukraine – as well as sink its Black Sea fleet – if Russian president Vladimir Putin uses nuclear weapons in the country, former CIA director and retired four-star army general David Petraeus warned on Sunday.
Petreaus said that he had not spoken to national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the likely US response to nuclear escalation from Russia, which administration officials have said has been repeatedly communicated to Moscow.
He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a Nato – a collective – effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.” ...
Asked if the use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine would bring America and Nato into the war, Petreaus said that it would not be a situation triggering the alliance’s Article 5, which calls for a collective defense. That is because Ukraine is not part of Nato – nonetheless, a “US and Nato response” would be in order, Petreaus said.
In a sign that the U.S. and its allies believe that the fighting in Ukraine will last years, military officials from more than 40 countries gathered at NATO’s headquarters on Wednesday to discuss how they can ramp up production of arms and ammunition. https://t.co/pfFlog37B0
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) September 28, 2022
Noam Chomsky & Vijay Prashad on Ukraine, Why U.S. Must Negotiate with Russia & What Media Gets Wrong
German media reported on 29 September that Berlin has approved a number of new weapons export deals with Saudi Arabia, in defiance of a 2018 ban over Riyadh’s brutal war in Yemen. In a letter to the Bundestag, the country’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, said that the deals were approved by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just before his recent visit to Saudi Arabia. ...
Germany, whose arms exports to Saudi Arabia stood at around $1.22 billion in 2012, banned exporting weapons to the kingdom in 2018 as part of a broader ban against countries involved in the war on Yemen, despite some exceptions. However, a complete ban was enforced the following year after the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
The weapons export deals come at a time when Germany is scrambling to boost relations with energy exporting countries, as the country faces a major economic catastrophe after losing access to Russian fuel.
Brazil’s presidential race will need to go to a October 30th second round after former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva fell short of the 50%+1 he needed to avoid a run-off with extremist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazilians voted Sunday in a historic presidential election, with leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who led in the pre-election polls, winning but still short of the 50% he needed to avoid a runoff election. ...
With 98.04% of the vote counted at 8:45pm EDT, Lula had 48.02% of the vote to Bolsonaro's 43.55%.
Thousands have gathered in dozens of towns and cities across the UK to register their anger at the cost of living crisis in what organisers describe as the largest wave of simultaneous protests seen in Britain for years.
From Eastbourne to Edinburgh, Newcastle to Norwich, “huge turnouts” were described throughout the UK at protests timed to coincide with the jump in gas and electricity unit prices that will cause bills to soar.
Coordinated between multiple community organisations and trade unions to maximise their impact, Saturday’s protests were staged against a backdrop of the biggest rail strike in Britain for decades. ...
Across the UK reports of householders setting fire to their utility bills emerged, a symbolic gesture promoted by Don’t Pay UK, a grassroots movement that has received almost 200,000 pledges from householders who are prepared to cancel their direct debits if a million Britons commit to not paying.
Progressive demands for congressional action to curb corporate monopoly power were renewed Friday after federal data confirmed that certain heavily consolidated industries are continuing to rake in massive profits while working households struggle under the weight of high prices.
The latest figures from the Bureau for Economic Analysis show that the profits of the U.S. coal and oil industry increased 340% between the first and second quarters of 2022. Companies selling petroleum and coal products made an estimated $49.7 billion in profits from April to June, compared with $11.3 billion from January to March.
Meanwhile, executives in the nation's transportation and warehousing sector enjoyed a nearly 40% increase in profits during the same time period, pocketing $124.4 billion in the second quarter after taking home $89.4 billion over the first three months of the year.
"We've heard directly from executives in the sectors that families depend on—from oil, to auto shops, to airlines—that inflation has been good for business," Rakeen Mabud, chief economist and managing director of policy and research at the Groundwork Collaborative, said in a statement.
"The latest corporate profit data shows their price strategies are bearing fruit," she added.
The Biden Administration’s calls for U.S. refiners to limit their fuel exports would only lead to a more severe crunch overseas which will push crude oil prices and gasoline prices in America higher, U.S. supermajor ExxonMobil has warned.
In August, amid low inventories at home, the Biden Administration urged American refiners to limit their fuel exports, according to a letter U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm had sent to seven big refiners obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
“Given the historic level of U.S. refined product exports, I again urge you to focus in the near term on building inventories in the United States, rather than selling down current stocks and further increasing exports,” Secretary Granholm wrote in the letter, according to the Journal.
Commenting on the Administration’s calls for lower fuel exports, Exxon’s chief executive Darren Woods wrote this week in a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, “Continuing current Gulf Coast exports is essential to efficiently rebalance markets—particularly with diverted Russian supplies.” ...
Referring to low inventories in the United States, Woods wrote in the letter, “Free market incentives remain the most efficient way for the industry to address these problems.”
Spain's leftist coalition government on Thursday announced a series of downwardly redistributive fiscal reforms—including a temporary "solidarity" tax on the nation's 23,000 wealthiest residents—that lawmakers hope will ease the cost-of-living crisis hurting millions of working people.
In 2023 and 2024, the 0.1% of Spanish taxpayers who own more than €3 million ($2.9 million) in assets will be subject to a new wealth tax.
According to The Associated Press: "People with holdings of €3 million to €5 million ($2.9 million to $4.9 million) will be taxed 1.7% and those whose personal worth is €5 million to €10 million ($4.9 million to $9.8 million) will be taxed at 2.1%. Individuals with fortunes above €10 million will pay 3.5%."
This levy on 1 out of every 1,000 citizens, which Finance Minister María Jesús Montero described as a "solidarity" tax, is one of many changes to Spain's upcoming budget that are intended to mitigate economic hardship as the prices of energy, food, and other essential goods continue to soar due to corporate profiteering and the destabilizing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate crisis on global supply chains.
As AP reported: "The government also plans to increase the income tax rate from 26% to 27% for people earning more than €200,000 ($196,000). The capital gains tax for incomes above €300,000 ($294,000) will go up to 28%, an increase of two percentage points."
These measures—agreed upon by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and its junior coalition partner, Unidas Podemos—are expected to raise €3.14 billion ($3.08 billion) over the next two years. The government plans to use this revenue to fund programs that are designed to assist those with modest incomes.
In addition to hiking taxes on its richest citizens, Spain is also poised to offer working people and small businesses more relief by trimming the levies they owe by an estimated €1.9 billion.
"The government plans to reduce the income tax on annual wages of up to €21,000 ($20,584)," AP noted. "Montero said this will benefit some 50% of the workforce given that the average annual salary in Spain is €21,000."
Moreover, the government agreed to slash the sales tax on feminine hygiene products and contraceptives from 10% to 4%.
"We have to make this adjustment at this time to combat the effects of inflation," Montero told reporters. Although the country's inflation rate fell from 10.5% in August to 9% in September as energy prices declined, it remains high.
"There is the need to ask for a greater effort from those who are benefiting from energy prices and interest rates," she added, referring to taxes on utilities and banks that are being prepared.
These changes to Spain's tax code, said Montero, are bound to make it "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."
— Climate Ad Project (@ClimateAd) September 29, 2022
US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) administrator Deanne Criswell asked Americans on Sunday “to make informed decisions” about rebuilding in vulnerable areas hit by natural disasters intensified by climate change.
“People need to understand what their potential risk my be whether it’s along the coast, inland along a riverbed or in tornado alley,” Criswell told CNN’s Face the Nation. “People need to make informed decisions about what their risk is and if they choose to rebuild there they do so in a way that’s going to reduce their threat.” Criswell’s comments came four days after Hurricane Ian devastated barrier islands and coastal communities around Fort Myers Beach, Florida, with estimates for rebuilding running into the tens of billions. ...
The latest natural disaster to hit the US comes after a series of floods, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes, has laid bare the rising costs of devastation associated with a warming climate.
It has been widely reported that only about 18% of Fort Myers residents had purchased flood insurance. “If you live near water or where it rains it can certainly flood, and we have seen that in multiple storms this year,” Criswell said. “If you live near water – anywhere near water – you should certainly purchase flood insurance.”
Insurers say they are anticipating between $28bn and $47bn in claims from what could amount to the costliest Florida storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Boston’s mayor, Michelle Wu, has ordered no new artificial turf to be installed in city parks, making Boston the largest municipality in a small but growing number around the nation to limit use of the product because it contains dangerous chemicals.
All artificial turf is made with toxic PFAS compounds and some is still produced with ground-up tires that can contain heavy metals, benzene, VOCs and other carcinogens that can present a health threat. The material also emits high levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and sheds microplastics and other chemicals into waterways.
“We already know there are toxic chemicals in the products, so why would we continue to utilize them and have children roll around on them when we have a safe alternative, which is natural grass?” asked Sarah Evans, an environmental health professor for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Beyond chemical risks, the fields can act as heat islands that increase playing field temperatures to as much as 93C (200F), Evans noted. National Football League players are pressuring the league to ban artificial turf because of injuries, while the US national soccer teams will only play on natural grass for the same reason.
The federal government estimates 12,000 synthetic turf fields exist in the US, and at least 1,200 more are installed annually. Proponents say they are easier to maintain than grass fields and are not prone to “flooding”, though they do also require significant maintenance. The product is also increasingly used on playgrounds or as alternatives to lawns in drought-plagued regions.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called Friday for a windfall profits tax on oil companies that would go directly back to California residents.
While crude oil prices are down nationally, big oil companies have increased gas prices in California by a record 84 cents per gallon in just the last 10 days.
“Crude oil prices are down but oil and gas companies have jacked up prices at the pump in California. This doesn’t add up,” said Newsom. “I’m calling for a windfall tax to ensure excess oil profits go back to help millions of Californians who are getting ripped off.”
California lawmakers are not due back in session until January 2023, which would be the earliest Californians could see any movement on this.
Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks.
On Friday, the European Union agreed to impose a new windfall profits tax on fossil fuel companies reaping massive profits from the high price of oil and natural gas.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Dale Hawkins - Tornado
Dale Hawkins - Teenage Dolly
Dale Hawkins - Little Pig
Dale Hawkins - La-Do-Dada
Dale Hawkins - Number Nine Train
Dale Hawkins - Little Rain Cloud
Dale Hawkins - Lovin` Bug
Dale Hawkins - Baby Baby
Dale Hawkins - Lifeguard Man
Dale Hawkins - Boogie Chillen'
Dale Hawkins - Susie-Q