The Evening Blues - 11-22-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans soul and blues singer Johnny Adams. Enjoy!
Johnny Adams - Walking On A Tightrope
"Don't get depressed when you read in the press
About world revolution and social unrest
Try not to panic when you switch on the news
And see crooked politicians and the unemployment queues
It's only life it's really fine
So don't you believe all you read in the headlines
Live life, see it through
Carry on, it's all you can do ...
Trendy intellectuals always take action
For every cause that's ever been in fashion
Weekend revolutionaries protest and sing
Because they're dedicated followers of any old thing
They got every solution for every revolution
They live in the slums just like the poor people do
But they'd rather sniff coke instead of glue
Right-wing fascists beat up the blacks
Then they salute the Union Jack
You can't pretend there's nothing wrong
It's not the end, so just carry on"
-- Ray Davies
News and Opinion
The System is Broken: Jacob Blake’s Dad & Uncle on Kyle Rittenhouse Acquittal for Vigilante Killings
Worth a scan:
In essence, the Rittenhouse ruling has created a kind of “stand your ground” law for the whole country. White people now have the apparent right to travel around the country, heavily armed, and use violence to protect the country from whatever and whoever they believe to be threatening to it. Given the feverish paranoia and racism that has captured a sizeable minority of white people in the US these days, this is a recipe for disaster.
In the coming hours and days, many media outlets will eagerly await riots or other potentially violent reactions from the other side – from the anti-racists and progressives of all colors and races who are disturbed by this verdict – and use the existence of those riots, if they occur, to push a misguided “both sides” frame. If there is protest or rioting, don’t expect the police to be as courteous and supportive as they were towards Rittenhouse and his far-right buddies.
The most worrying effect of this verdict may be this: giving rightwing vigilantes a legal precedent to take up arms against anyone they consider a threat – which pretty much runs from anti-fascists to so-called Rinos (Republicans in Name Only) and includes almost all people of color – means it is now open hunting season on progressive protesters.
A group of Iraqi militias has issued a warning that they were prepared to take up arms against the U.S. military presence in Iraq if U.S. troops stayed in the country past the upcoming year's end deadline for combat operations revealed over the summer by President Joe Biden.
In a statement issued Friday and shared with Newsweek, the Iraqi Resistance Coordination Commission, an umbrella of paramilitary groups aligned with the pro-Iran Axis of Resistance opposed to the U.S. footprint in the region, said its members were "closely monitoring the extent of commitment to the outcomes of the so-called strategic dialogue round" that took place between Washington and Baghdad in July.
The message went on to say that the council "did not believe in the seriousness of the occupation and its commitment" to withdrawing combat troops from Iraq according to the established timeline, but was itself "committed to giving the Iraqi negotiator an opportunity to expel the American occupation from our pure land through diplomatic means." But since then, the commission said it had "not yet seen any manifestations of withdrawal despite that only 42 days separate us from 12/31/2021."
"On the contrary, we have observed that the brazen American occupation increased its numbers and equipment in its bases in Iraq," the commission said, "and we even heard official and semi-official statements from officials of the American states of evil about their intention not to withdraw from the country under the pretext that there was a request from Baghdad [not] to do so, at a time when we did not see any response or denial from the Iraqi government about these clumsy statements!" ...
"We affirm that the weapons of the honorable resistance, which have been talked about a lot in the past days, and some insisted on embroiling them in recent political rivalries, will be ready to dismember the occupation as soon as the moment comes and the deadline ends after twelve o'clock in the evening of 12/31/2021," the statement said.
Heh, Politico makes it sound like its a bad thing that the defense bill (NDAA) might not become law on time.
The Senate's $768 billion defense policy bill is on hold until after Thanksgiving after efforts to vote on an array of amendments broke down late Thursday evening under objections from several Republicans.
The roadblock is just the latest delay for the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, which had already languished for months without action despite complaints from both Democrats and Republicans. The impasse dashes the aims of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to finish work on the legislation before the holiday. ...
After days of wrangling over what amendments would receive votes or be included in a bipartisan manager's package, Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) sought to secure votes Thursday evening on 19 amendments from Democrats and Republicans.
But seven Republicans took turns blocking votes because their amendments weren't included — some with little connection to defense policy. ...
Now time is running short for the House and Senate to hammer out a compromise version of the defense bill, which has become law every year for six decades.
“Let there be no mistake – Sunday’s regional and municipal elections in Venezuela are nothing more than a sham,” reads a recent statement authored by Republican US Senators Jim Risch and Michael McCaul. “The illegitimate Maduro regime has taken drastic measures to dismantle or control every independent institution in the country, including hijacking political parties and the National Electoral Council to ensure state-sponsored electoral fraud.”
“Today’s elections in Venezuela are as illegitimate as Maduro’s tyrannical regime,” reads a tweet by Republican Senator Rick Scott. “The Venezuelan people deserve free and democratic elections NOW. The U.S. and all freedom-loving nations must stand up, condemn these sham elections and support the people in their fight for freedom.”
The imperial media are lining up behind the official US government line on Venezuela’s gubernatorial and mayoral elections, with The New York Times assuring us that conditions “are far from freely democratic” and The Washington Post reporting that opposition parties “say the elections have been stacked against them by the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro,” who sees the elections as “a chance to reassert strength while projecting a veneer of legitimacy.”
This level of intrusiveness into Venezuela’s heavily internationally monitored democratic process is typical of what we’ve been seeing from the US political/media class with regard to electoral contests in empire-targeted Latin American nations like Bolivia and Nicaragua. Which is really silly, because the US has no more moral authority over the legitimacy of democratic processes than a totalitarian monarchy like Saudi Arabia.
US elections are of course corrupt and fraudulent, entirely dominated at the federal level by legalized oligarchic bribery in the form of campaign contributions, manipulated primaries, gerrymandering, voter suppression, shutting out third parties, and the worst voting system in the western world.
More than this, though, the United States is also the world’s single most egregious offender when it comes to interfering in foreign elections. As Claire Bernish has observed in The Free Thought Project, the US government’s own data shows that it interfered in no fewer than 81 foreign elections just between the years 1946 and 2000. You’d never know it from the shrieking of the political/media class post-2016, but this would also include brazenly interfering in Russia’s elections in the nineties to ensure the presidency of Washington lackey Boris Yeltsin.
And that’s just election interferences. It doesn’t include more brazen interferences in who governs foreign nations like direct military invasions, staged coups, color revolutions and proxy wars.
As a completely undemocratic country whose government is also far and away the world’s single most aggressive saboteur of democracy, it is fair to say that US institutions are the absolute least qualified to comment on the validity of any nation’s elections on the entire planet.
Everyone would laugh if Saudi Arabia’s psychopathic crown prince Mohammed bin Salman began opining on the quality of various nations’ democratic processes, especially if those criticisms were directed at the so-called liberal democracies of the west. But this same scrutiny of a power structure who has no business commenting on electoral integrity never gets directed at the United States, whose institutions issue such criticisms on a daily basis despite being no more morally qualified to do so than the House of Saud.
If you think about it, Saudi Arabia is nothing other than a more honest version of the United States. Its oligarchs and its official government are the same people, it doesn’t pretend that its warmongering is humanitarian, when it wants to kill a journalist it just dismembers him with a bone saw rather than trying to squeeze him to death with lawfare in a maximum security prison, and it makes no pretense about being a democracy.
The more I observe its behavior on the world stage the more hilarious it gets to see US political and media figures criticizing the democratic parties of foreign nations. It’s like McDonald’s evaluating whether mom and pop restaurants are sufficiently eco-friendly and vegan.
Very silly stuff, mate.
Voters in Chile head to the polls on Sunday in a general election in which the two frontrunners for president offer starkly contrasting visions for the country’s future after two years of street protests and political unrest. Polls suggest that the progressive former student leader Gabriel Boric, 35, and the far-right candidate, José Antonio Kast, are neck-and-neck ahead of five other candidates – though neither seems likely to cross the 50% threshold needed to avoid a December runoff.
Boric, who shot to prominence during Chile’s 2011 education protests, has promised to “bury” Chile’s past as a cradle of neoliberalism imposed under the dictator Gen Augusto Pinochet, and pledges to build a fairer Chile marked by inclusivity, diversity and liberal social values.
Kast, 55, is a staunch Catholic who opposes abortion and rails against the “gay lobby” – and a proud supporter of the Pinochet dictatorship. A perennial fringe figure in Chilean politics, he has earned support among those who believe Chile needs a firm hand on the rudder after its most turbulent period in decades. ...
The country has tumbled through two years of protests, which began when millions took to the streets in 2019 to voice their frustration at deep inequalities and Pinochet’s lingering legacy of privatised social services. The demonstrations eventually petered out amid coronavirus quarantines, but they prompted a landmark plebiscite which led to an assembly to rewrite Chile’s constitution, which had been drafted without popular input under Pinochet. ...
If no candidate takes more than half of the vote on Sunday, a run-off next month between the two highest-placed candidates will decide who takes the reins from President Sebastián Piñera in March 2022.
Hate to tell you this AOC, but your fears have already been realized. What happened to that $2000. check? $15 an hour, etc.? You people are useless.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York warned Sunday that congressional Democrats risk depressing turnout in upcoming elections if they further weaken their flagship reconciliation package, which right-wing lawmakers have already stripped of popular programs and cut by roughly $2 trillion overall.
In an interview with the New York Times, Ocasio-Cortez said that "the stakes are really, really high" as the reconciliation bill—known as the Build Back Better Act—heads to the evenly divided Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and other conservative Democrats will have additional opportunities to erode the package's investments in climate action, housing, child care, and other key areas.
"I think that if we pass the Build Back Better Act as the House passed it, that we have a shot to go back to our communities and say we delivered," said the New York Democrat. "But that's not to say that this process has not been demoralizing for a lot of folks, because there were enormous promises made. Not just at the beginning, and not just during the election, but that continued to be made."
"And this is where I have sounded the alarm, because what really dampens turnout is when Democrats make promises that they don't keep," she added. "With the bipartisan infrastructure plan, there's all of these headlines going around. And I understand the political importance of making a victory lap. But I think that the worst and most vulnerable position we could be in is to over-promise and under-deliver."
Speaking of broken Democrat promises and the Build Back Burglary:
In early October, President Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V) reached a deal to expand a tax subsidy for fossil fuel companies and heavy-emitting industries that invest in carbon capture technology in the Build Back Better bill. Weeks later, Biden announced his compromise framework for the legislation, which omitted the Democrats signature climate policy: The Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would provide subsidies to utility companies for switching to renewable energy sources and penalties for those that did not. While this compromise, which will subsidize the fossil fuel companies that are heating up the planet to invest in expensive and speculative carbon capture technology, seems to have come from Manchin, there’s also evidence that the Biden administration appears to share Manchin’s view that carbon capture could provide a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry even as the president claims to be tackling climate change.
In September, as Congress was hammering out the details of the infrastructure package, Biden quietly nominated Brad Crabtree, a coal ally and longtime carbon capture advocate to serve as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. The Wall Street-friendly think tank Third Way was elated at the news that Crabtree would be taking a prominent position within the Biden administration. Crabtree has served as an advisor to the National Coal Council since 2014 and is the Vice President for Fossil Energy at the Great Plains Institute, an opaque pro-fossil fuel group that has been lobbying in DC for funding for carbon capture technology. Crabtree is also the director of the D.C.-based Carbon Capture Coalition, whose members include fossil fuel companies like Shell, NRG Energy, and Valero — and, incidentally, Third Way. ...
With Congress set to allocate more than $8.5 billion to carbon capture in the bipartisan infrastructure bill alone — and with even more generous subsidies promised in the larger Build Back Better spending plan released recently — one of the key positions at the Department of Energy will soon be occupied by a man who shares Manchin’s view that the speculative technology is a way to sustain the fossil fuel industry in a net-zero world.
“With this nomination, Biden is legitimizing a false solution to climate change and locking in needless pollution, warming, and further destabilization of the planet and the people who are harmed by the fossil fuel industry,” Dorothy Slater, senior climate researcher at the Revolving Door Project, an advocacy group which scrutinizes executive branch appointments, told The Daily Poster. “For Biden to put someone like Crabtree in this role is for him to contradict his own goals to address climate change and environmental justice, and sadly is another indication that his climate plan relies on words and empty promises rather than needed action.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is refusing to budge from her vow to uphold the archaic legislative filibuster as congressional Democrats and the White House attempt to chart a path forward for their faltering voting rights agenda amid the GOP's nationwide—and intensifying—assault on the franchise.
In recent months, Senate Republicans have used the 60-vote filibuster rule to block debate on a sweeping pro-democracy bill known as the For the People Act; Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) compromise measure, the Freedom to Vote Act; and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were gutted by the Supreme Court.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted to start debate on the third measure, but the Senate GOP unanimously filibustered the other two, imperiling Democrats' hopes of negating the dozens of voter suppression laws enacted this year by state-level Republicans around the country.
Despite the GOP's continued obstruction of popular voting rights bills, Sinema and Manchin—the most outspoken, but not the only, filibuster defenders in the Senate Democratic caucus—haven't wavered in their support for the 60-vote rule, which progressives have condemned as a relic of the Jim Crow era.
The filibuster can be weakened or abolished with a simple-majority vote, meaning every member of the Senate Democratic caucus and Vice President Kamala Harris—the tie-breaker in the upper chamber—would have to support the move.
But in comments to the Washington Post published Saturday morning, Sinema made clear that she remains unwilling to modify or eliminate the filibuster rule.
President Joe Biden won applause Friday for moving to replace Ron Bloom and John Barger, two members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors who've shown unwavering loyalty to scandal-plagued Postmaster General Louis DeJoy even as he's dramatically worsened mail delivery performance.
But replacing Bloom—a Democrat and the USPS board's current chairman—and Barger, a Republican, is just the first step toward rescuing the mail service from the ongoing right-wing assault, progressive advocates and Democratic lawmakers stressed Friday.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) called Biden's decision to replace Bloom "great news," slamming the outgoing postal board chair as DeJoy's "chief enabler and cheerleader."
"Now fire DeJoy," Pascrell added.
On Friday, Biden nominated former General Services Administration official Daniel Tangherlini and Derek Kan—a Republican and the former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget—to replace Bloom and Barger.
If Biden's picks are confirmed by the Senate, his nominees will have a majority on the nine-member postal board—enough votes to remove DeJoy.
Facebook, now known as Meta, warned the LAPD that its reported practice of setting up fake accounts to surveil users and collect their data on its platforms violates the company’s terms and policies.
In a cease and desist letter to police chief Michel Moore last week, lawyers demanded that the department stop creating “fake (or dummy) Facebook accounts” to “impersonate legitimate users.”
The missive came after internal documents obtained by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice in September showed the LAPD encouraged cops to collect social media account information from suspects and create a “Fictitious Online Persona” to spy on them.
The department also partnered with a third-party network that analyzes social media information to unlock connections between users, according to the documents.
Joe Biden has reportedly been letting allies know he’ll be running for president again in 2024. Amid sliding approval ratings, Biden is reported to be keen to dash any assumption in Democratic circles that he’ll be standing down after a single term and opening the field to hopefuls including Vice-President Kamala Harris.
“The only thing I’ve heard him say is he’s planning on running again. And I’m glad he is,” the Democratic former Connecticut senator Chris Dodd told the Washington Post in an article published Saturday – Biden’s 79th birthday.
According to the newspaper, Biden shared his decision “with a small group of donors” during a virtual fundraiser earlier this month.
Standing in front of the partial ruins of Rome’s Colosseum, Boris Johnson explained that a motive to tackle the climate crisis could be found in the fall of the Roman empire. Then, as now, he argued, the collapse of civilization hinged on the weakness of its borders. “When the Roman empire fell, it was largely as a result of uncontrolled immigration – the empire could no longer control its borders, people came in from the east and all over the place,” the British prime minister said in an interview on the eve of crucial UN climate talks in Scotland. Civilization can go into reverse as well as forwards, as Johnson told it, with Rome’s fate offering grave warning as to what could happen if global heating is not restrained.
This wrapping of ecological disaster with fears of rampant immigration is a narrative that has flourished in far-right fringe movements in Europe and the US and is now spilling into the discourse of mainstream politics. Whatever his intent, Johnson was following a current of rightwing thought that has shifted from outright dismissal of climate change to using its impacts to fortify ideological, and often racist, battle lines. Representatives of this line of thought around the world are, in many cases, echoing eco-fascist ideas that themselves are rooted in an earlier age of blood-and-soil nationalism.
In the US, a lawsuit by the Republican attorney general of Arizona has demanded the building of a border wall to prevent migrants coming from Mexico as these people “directly result in the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”. In Spain, Santiago Abascal, leader of the populist Vox party, has called for a “patriotic” restoration of a “green Spain, clean and prosperous”. In the UK, the far-right British National party has claimed to be the “only true green party” in the country due to its focus on migration. And in Germany, the rightwing populist party Alternative for Germany has tweaked some of its earlier mockery of climate science with a platform that warns “harsh climatic conditions” in Africa and the Middle East will see a “gigantic mass migration towards European countries”, requiring toughened borders.
Meanwhile, France’s National Front, once a bastion of derisive climate denial, has founded a green wing called New Ecology, with Marine Le Pen, president of the party, vowing to create the “world’s leading ecological civilization” with a focus on locally grown foods. ...
Simply ignoring or disparaging the science isn’t the effective political weapon it once was. “We are seeing very, very little climate denialism in conversations on the right now,” said Catherine Fieschi, a political analyst and founder of Counterpoint, who tracks trends in populist discourse. But in place of denial is a growing strain of environmental populism that has attempted to dovetail public alarm over the climate crisis with disdain for ruling elites, longing for a more traditional embrace of nature and kin and calls to banish immigrants behind strong borders.
On a recent November morning, more than 20,000 western monarch butterflies clustered in a grove of eucalyptus, coating the swaying trees like orange lace. Each year up to 30% of the butterfly’s population meets here in Pismo Beach, California, as the insects migrate thousands of miles west for the winter. Just a year ago, this vibrant spectacle had all but disappeared. The monarch population has plummeted in recent years, as the vibrant invertebrates struggled to adapt to habitat loss, climate crisis, and harmful pesticide-use across their western range.
Last year less than 200 arrived at this site in 2020 – the lowest number ever recorded – and less than 2,000 were counted across the California coast. But ahead of the official annual count that takes place around Thanksgiving, early tallies show monarchs may be thriving once again across California. The rise has sparked joy and relief, but the researchers, state park officials, and advocates say that doesn’t mean the species is safe. Even with the exponential increase, the population is still far short of once-normal numbers. It’s still unclear whether the butterflies are making a dramatic comeback or will continue to decline.
“The takeaway is that the migration isn’t gone, which some people really feared last year,” says Emma Pelton, the senior conservation biologist for the Xerces Society, an organization dedicated to protecting pollinators and other invertebrates. Between 4 million and 10 million butterflies once graced the California coasts before dropping to just over a million at the end of the 1990s. In the decades that followed, the population plateaued at about 200,000.
Armed police with water cannons and a low-flying helicopter have faced off against indigenous villagers brandishing sticks and bows in the latest clash over land rights in Paraguay, a country with one of the highest inequalities of land ownership in the world. Videos of Thursday’s confrontation showed officers in riot armour jostling members of the Hugua Po’i community – including children and elderly people – out of their homes and into torrential rain.
Tractors then tore down the thatched wooden cabins and ripped up crops from the surrounding land, which is claimed by a Mennonite soybean farmer. ...
“This is another blow against indigenous peoples,” lamented Mario Rivarola, whose relatives had lived in the village. The surrounding land is valuable, with fertile soil, a river and a paved road on hand. But it also has a spiritual and environmental importance, he said. “The graves of our grandparents are here,” Rivarola explained, adding that the community had returned 10 years ago to occupy their ancestral land. “We want to recover its history and preserve the forest that remains.” ...
At the Cop26 conference in Glasgow earlier this month, western leaders agreed to give indigenous peoples at least $1.7bn to support their crucial role in protecting the world’s carbon-dense forests. ... But a wave of rural evictions in Paraguay this year demonstrates the challenge in converting these agreements into concrete action to halt agribusiness from advancing into Latin America’s surviving forests – and dislodging their inhabitants.
Crews in British Columbia raced to clear debris from motorways and repair dykes as the Canadian province braced for more downpours on Sunday, just days after record rainfall led to the deaths of four people, brought parts of the province to a standstill and sparked shortages of food and fuel.
The western Canadian province declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after parts of the province were pummelled by a phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river”, dumping a month’s worth of rain in two days and causing floods and mudslides that swallowed bridges and stretches of highways, cut off entire towns and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. ...
Provincial officials warned on Saturday that the rough weather was set to continue, with Environment Canada forecasting that a similar weather system was set to bring as much as 150mm of rain and 20cm of snow to parts of northern British Columbia.
The storm was forecast to turn south on Sunday, potentially resulting in heavy rains in some of the storm-affected areas, said the province’s public safety minister, Mike Farnworth. “I urge people to pay close attention to weather warnings, given the unpredictability that comes with climate change,” he added.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Johnny Adams - Body and Fender man
Johnny Adams - Salt of The Earth
Johnny Adams - After All The Good Is Gone
Johnny Adams - Reconsider Me
Johnny Adams - Imitation of Love
Johnny Adams - Fortune Teller
Johnny Adams - One Foot in The Blues
Johnny Adams - This Time I'm Gone For Good
Johnny Adams - Danger Zone
Johnny Adams - Snap Your Fingers