The Evening Blues - 11-6-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues singer, songwriter and guitarist J.B. Lenoir. Enjoy!
J.B. Lenoir - Round And Round
“The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
-- Douglas Adams
News and Opinion
Over the weekend, the New York Times Magazine published a lengthy and in-depth piece on how U.S. law enforcement has willfully ignored the threat of white supremacist extremism for decades. The author, Janet Reitman, takes an ostensibly deep dive into how law enforcement — particularly federal agencies — has neglected the growth of the violent far right, in part owing to Republican political agenda setting. For a story framed around a “blind spot,” though, the piece itself is hobbled by an egregious case of sightlessness. The Times tells a story about law enforcement failing and struggling to deal with white supremacy. The elephant in the room, unmentioned by Reitman or any of the sources she chose to cite, is that U.S. law enforcement doesn’t do enough about violent racists because as an institution, U.S. law enforcement is violently racist and contains explicit white supremacists in its ranks. ...
It has been well-reported that not only is racism endemic to American police culture, but that, in the exact decades Reitman looks at, white supremacist groups infiltrated law enforcement agencies around the country. Somehow, in Reitman’s interrogation of the FBI dealing with far-right extremism, she fails to mention that the agency itself was internally investigating white supremacist infiltration in law enforcement. “Although these right-wing extremists have posed a growing threat for years,” The Intercept’s Alice Speri reported last year, “federal investigators have been reluctant to publicly address that threat or to point out the movement’s longstanding strategy of infiltrating the law enforcement community.” Speri’s story was based, in part, on a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from 2015, which noted that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”
Speri’s report cited numerous examples from the past decade of white supremacist police activity, including the case of a local sheriff’s department in Los Angeles that was found to have formed a neo-Nazi gang in 1991; a Chicago detective and rumored Ku Klux Klan member who was found to have tortured 120 black men while on duty (before eventually being fired and prosecuted); and cops in Cleveland who scrawled neo-Nazi graffiti in their locker rooms. ...
The least we might expect from the Times story — which, according to the author, took over a year to report — would be for it to include federal agencies’ own admissions of white supremacist infiltration in policing. A true reckoning with law enforcement’s role in American white supremacy would address the dark and unfinished history of policing as a racist institution, from its birth in the slave patrols of the 18th century, to its historic presence in the KKK, to the innumerable instances of racism by the police and the continued threat policing poses to black life. ... Reitman’s Times piece mentions that police have shown a tendency to target Black Lives Matter protesters above neo-Nazis, but declines to mention that Black Lives Matter — the central anti-racist movement of our time — is a movement against racist police brutality. Reitman’s piece reads as if the message of Black Lives Matter — that white supremacy undergirds U.S. policing — has fallen on deaf ears.
What does United States of America stand for nowadays if political division is at an all time high? Is it still the land of the free if America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world? Are we still the home of the brave if we refuse to stand up to injustice, because it would compromise our pocketbook? This disconnection from reality is the definition of psychosis. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, best-selling author, and activist Chris Hedges, has made it his life’s work to highlight this inequity and combat the complacency of the consumerist culture. In a 2010 essay published on Adbusters, Hedges caught the eye of filmmaker Amanda Zackem, when he succinctly spelled out the problems with totalitarian capitalism and corporate power. Those ideas deeply resonated with Zackem and caused her to reach out to Hedges about bringing his essay into the cinematic realm in order to expose them to a larger audience.
“We live in an unbalanced, exploitation-based system and that’s not morally right or just. The issues of totalitarian capitalism and totalitarian corporate power need to be discussed more openly and honestly in our national dialogue,” says Zackem. “To be clear, totalitarian capitalism is not sustainable and should not be intertwined with our government. Most people don’t realize how their consumer choices negatively impact the world – environmentally, socially, culturally, politically, globally.” Without going deep into the trenches, the short documentary illuminates many of these issues. However, with its hard-lined perspective, “American Psychosis” serves as a vital entry point to critically observing, thinking, and acting on the imbalances one sees in society. “I learned long ago that you can’t change anybody unless they want to change themselves. With this in mind, my intention when making this film was to encourage people to begin to think critically about the world we live in as opposed to just going through our daily motions. Most of us aren’t even aware of the oppressive, inequitable systems we are a part of, or if we are, we choose not to look, or not to talk about it, because it is uncomfortable. I want people to question the world we live in, the systems we’ve set up. I want people to self-reflect and take personal responsibility for our current situation. Why do we allow it to continue? What are we afraid of? How can we co-create and help each other live and thrive as individuals and as a community?”
Iranians were bracing themselves for a period of economic hardship on Monday after sweeping US sanctions came into full force, leading Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to describe the situation as “economic war”.
The Iranian economy has been under strain since May, when Donald Trump exited the 2015 nuclear agreement – designed to curb Iran’s nuclear programme – and announced the return of sanctions. His first set of sanctions were reimposed in August. Those measures hit the country’s access to dollars, gold, precious metals and the car-making sector, amid growing street protests. And on Monday Trump unilaterally reimposed further sanctions, despite opposition from the US’s European partners of the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The new sanctions were timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1979 US hostage crisis.
“For ordinary people, sanctions mean unemployment, sanctions mean becoming poor, sanctions mean the scarcity of medicine, the rising price of dollar,” said Akbar Shamsodini, an Iranian businessman in the oil and gas sector who lost his job six months ago as European companies started to pull out of Iran in fear of US sanctions. “By imposing these sanctions, they want to force Iranians to rise up in revolt against their government but in practice, they will only make them flee their country,” he said, adding that ironically it would be Europe that would have to bear the burden of such a mass migration. ...
Rouhani said the US was using the language of “pressure and threats” against the people of Iran. He said Washington was isolated in its anti-Iran stance, except for a few allies, in what appeared to be apparent references to Saudi Arabia and Israel. He said: “The US is proud of backing a regime that kills the people of Palestine every day, putting them under bombing. They are proud of supporting a regime that is killing the people of Yemen every day.”
A special clearing house designed to allow European companies that trade with Iran to bypass newly reimposed US sanctions will be set up in Europe within months, possibly in France or Germany. The clearing house, known as a special purpose vehicle (SPV), is seen as critical to reassuring Tehran that the EU genuinely wishes to reward Iran for signing the 2015 deal on its nuclear programme by expanding business with the country. ...
The Iranian deputy foreign minister, Kazem Sajjadpou, speaking in London, expressed his frustration at the pace with which the SPV is being set up, saying: “What is lacking is both speed and efficiency.” Tehran had been hoping for an announcement at the weekend on the next steps for the SPV, which was announced in principle two months ago. The SPV would serve as a barter exchange neither connected to the US dollar-denominated international financial system nor requiring monetary transfers between EU countries and Iran. An Iranian firm selling into Europe would accumulate credits that could be then used to buy a product from a different European firm.
The three main European signatories to the 2015 deal – France Germany and the UK – are still working through the detailed implications of the US move. Key areas of concern include threats to humanitarian trade and the ability of Iran to access income from those countries granted a waiver to continue purchasing oil from Iran for at least six more months. There has also been speculation that no European country has been willing to act as the host for the SPV, fearing US reprisals.
A pair of blaring headlines appearing in Friday’s edition of the New York Times purported to show that the newspaper had obtained damning new evidence of collusion between WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign and the Russian government to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The latest round of smears appearing in the Times, the journalistic mouthpiece of the Democratic Party and sections of the military-intelligence apparatus opposed to Trump, is aimed at preparing public opinion for an eventual indictment on espionage charges of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, preparations for which are already in full swing. The Times articles appeared amid widespread media speculation that special counsel Robert Mueller could begin handing down indictments soon.
The government of Ecuador, eager to curry favor with Washington, is rapidly moving to expel Assange from its embassy in London, where he has been trapped since he first sought political asylum there in 2012. Assange would be arrested by British police immediately upon setting foot outside the embassy, after which he could be extradited to the United States, where a secret grand jury has reportedly long been convened to hear charges against him. Consortium News reported on Saturday that Assange was the target of a failed break-in two weeks ago, according to Assange’s legal team. While the details of the incident are still unclear, it demonstrates the severity of his situation as well as total abdication by the government of Ecuador of responsibility for Assange’s security, which appears to now be virtually nonexistent. Assange apparently was able to foil the intruder only because he had set a booby-trap in his room.
The incident has been totally unreported in the American press more than two days after the story broke.
Last month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers headed by Democrat Eliot Engel published an open letter to the Ecuadorian government demanding that President Lenin Moreno hand over Assange, branding the WikiLeaks publisher “a dangerous criminal and a threat to global security,” who “should be brought to justice.”
I am sorry to report that Amal Hussain is dead. The 7-year-old, featured in a searing photograph by @tylerhicksphoto, died from malnutrition caused by the Saudi led war against Yemen. “My heart is broken,” her mother said. Amal Hussain, 2011-2018 https://t.co/FQfPmMP6de
— Michael Slackman (@meslackman) November 1, 2018
The United States military is actively fighting in seven Muslim-majority countries; and no one cares. As Americans go to the polls today in a ritual pretense of democracy, they will vote for one of the two major political parties on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to the basic personality of President Donald Trump. The three mainstream networks – from "liberal" MSNBC to "conservative" Fox News – have reported on little else for the last several months. The whole charade is little more than politics-as-entertainment, like some popular sporting event in which the opposing sides wave the flag for the blue team or the red team.
For weeks now, my television, and yours, has been saturated with political commercials for and against local legislative candidates. Some are attack ads focused on corruption and the supposed left or right-wing extremism of the opposing candidate. Others center on taxes, healthcare, and the ostensible "hordes" of immigrants approaching the U.S. in a troublesome caravan. But none, I repeat, none, say a thing about American foreign policy, the nation’s ongoing wars, or the exploding, record defense budget. You see, in 2018, despite being engrossed in the longest war in US history, the citizenry – both on Main Street and Wall Street – display nothing but apathy on the subject of America’s clearly faltering foreign policy.
Why should we be surprised? The de facto "leaders" of both parties – the Chuck Schumers, Joe Bidens, Hillary Clintons and Mitch McConnells of the world – all voted for the 2002 Iraq War resolution, one of the worst foreign policy adventures in American History. Sure, on domestic issues – taxes, healthcare, immigration – there may be some distinction between Republican and Democratic policies; but on the profound issues of war and peace, there is precious little daylight between the two parties. That, right there, is a formula for perpetual war.
'Absolute Fraud': After Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies Championed by Trump, Ryan, and Walker, Foxconn to Import Chinese Workers for Wisconsin Jobs
Wisconsin's Koch-funded Republican Gov. Scott Walker lavished the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn with over four billion in taxpayer subsidies last year in a deal that he claimed would create 13,000 jobs in the state, but that agreement is increasingly looking like a massive con-job amid new reports on Tuesday that Foxconn is planning to bring in Chinese workers to fill spots that the governor insisted would be filled by Wisconsinites.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Foxconn "is considering bringing in personnel from China to help staff a large facility under construction in southern Wisconsin as it struggles to find engineers and other workers in one of the tightest labor markets in the U.S." President Donald Trump and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have both openly championed the Foxconn agreement as a boon for Wisconsin workers. Last year, Trump took credit for convincing Foxconn to build a factory in Wisconsin.
"The company, the Taiwanese supplier to Apple Inc., has been trying to tap Chinese engineers through internal transfers to supplement staffing for the Wisconsin plant," the Journal reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter. "Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is looking to company engineers in China to transfer." While Foxconn issued a statement denying the Journal's reporting, critics of Walker—who is locked in an extremely close race with Democratic challenger Tony Evers—were quick to highlight the company's alleged plans as further evidence that the governor's "deal" with the Taiwanese multinational has been a massive fraud from the start. ...
As the New Yorker's Dan Kaufman noted in a detailed look at the Foxconn deal over the weekend, the agreement—which is rapidly declining in popularity among Wisconsin voters—includes "taxpayer subsidies to the company totaling more than $4.5 billion, the largest subsidy for a foreign corporation in American history."
"Since Wisconsin already exempts manufacturing companies from paying taxes, Foxconn, which generated a hundred and fifty-eight billion dollars in revenue last year, will receive much of this subsidy in direct cash payments from taxpayers," Kaufman observes. "Depending on how many jobs are actually created, taxpayers will be paying between two hundred and twenty thousand dollars and more than a million dollars per job."
Hundreds of armed soldiers have deployed to the US-Mexico border, setting up over 170 miles of razor wire, erecting barricades at border crossing points and staging armed military drills in full view of immigrants waiting to cross. Speaking at a campaign rally Saturday, President Donald Trump said: “We have our military on the border. And I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight.” ... Thousands more soldiers—up to 15,000 in all—are en route to the border. The Pentagon claims 3,500 are already staging at bases near the border, including 1,000 Marines in California. They will be deployed in both uninhabited desert regions and major metropolitan areas such as San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas.
Joe Manchin (West Virginia) said he is open to rescinding the 14th Amendment’s establishment of birthright citizenship. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), who has declared his support for ending birthright citizenship, is running advertisements denouncing immigrants. Claire McCaskill (Missouri) said she supports Trump’s decision to deploy troops to the border “100 percent.” Phil Bredesen (Tennessee) is also campaigning in support of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and warns that the immigrant caravan moving north from Honduras will bring “chaos.” Two other candidates—Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) and John Tester (Montana)—won the endorsement of the fascistic union representing border control agents. Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) echoed Trump when she said in August, “ICE does provide some important functions. ICE is responsible for removing dangerous criminal aliens, aliens who hurt other people by engaging in rape or murder.”
The Democratic Party has explicitly abandoned the slogan to “abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).” Senators Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), who both called for “abolishing ICE” in the spring when Trump began separating child immigrants from their parents, have now pulled back and said they do not support abolishing the agency anymore. NBC News reported that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member and Democratic Party congressional candidate, “despite making ‘Abolish ICE’ a major part of her campaign over the summer, has tweeted about the topic just twice since Sept. 1. A campaign spokesman told NBC News she was unavailable for comment about the issue.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) has maintained total silence on Trump’s fascistic moves against immigrants. ... In a CNN interview on Friday, Sanders was asked twice whether he would defend the immigrant caravan. He responded each time by ignoring the question and pivoting instead to healthcare. ... The New York Times reported that when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was asked about the Democratic Party’s position on Trump’s threat to revoke birthright citizenship, she replied, “Clearly, Republicans will do absolutely anything to divert attention away from their votes to take away Americans’ healthcare.”
Thousands of Central American migrants headed towards Mexico City on Monday after three weeks of walking, pleading for rides and depending on the solidarity of Mexicans of modest means. One group of at least 1,000 caravan participants headed out at daybreak from the town of Córdoba, in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, hoping to hitchhike the remaining 300km, past the towering Pico de Orizaba – Mexico’s highest mountain – to the national capital.
They were following in the footsteps of about 500 marchers who reached Mexico City on Sunday night, where the local government has converted a sports complex into a camp for more than 5,000 people. The caravan’s arrival in Mexico City marks an improbable achievement for the ragtag band of impoverished migrants who set out from Central America with little more than hope, dreams and a few scant possessions on an odyssey toward the US border.
They have hitchhiked about 1,500km, crossing two international borders – despite the barrage of warnings from Donald Trump who has thundered against the caravan as a national security threat ahead of US midterm elections on Tuesday.
Mexico’s government said on Saturday that around 5,000 migrants were still winding their way through the country in at least three caravans; 2,793 have applied for asylum.
The US military declined a draft request from the Department of Homeland Security last month to build housing for detained migrants, during early discussions in the Trump administration about the military’s role on the border, according to officials. By voicing its opposition, the Pentagon helped ensure that its mission was tailored to providing support only to government personnel on the border.
After initial discussions about the issue, there was no mention of troops building migrant housing facilities when the DHS later made a formal request to the Pentagon for help on the border, the officials said.
Trump then said in a speech at the White House last week that he plans to build “massive cities of tents” to detain migrants, who would be held in those facilities indefinitely while the authorities weighs their asylum request. The president thanked the Army Corps of Engineers for their help, without giving details of their activities or specifying whether any tents have yet been erected on military bases to accommodate migrants apprehended after crossing the border. There has been speculation, however, that the huge Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, could be a prime target.
If Democrats reclaim the House on Tuesday night, the progressives in their midst are planning for anything but politics as usual on Capitol Hill. Leaders of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have been laying the groundwork to transform what was described as a one-time “social club” and an “informal coalition” into a more powerful political force pushing the party to the left. “We’ve always had the largest membership within the Democratic caucus, but we kind of had skinny, weak arms,” said CPC chairman Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin. “We didn’t have the muscle to flex because we didn’t have a structure to do that.”
The CPC, which was established by then congressman, now senator Bernie Sanders in response to the rise of liberal centrism in the early 1990s, has 78 members and currently represents more than one-third of the House Democratic caucus. Yet despite a large membership, the caucus has struggled in the past to leverage its numbers in a meaningful way. Pocan said the caucus has become “more sophisticated and more hungry” in recent years. And next year, he predicts, the CPC will be “in a position to be a much more powerful entity” – a posture that could invite high-profile clashes with Democratic leadership.
His caucus will compete for influence with an equally ambitious coalition of moderate Democrats. The groups are already armed with dueling analyses of how the House majority may be won. Moderates argue that a Democratic takeover will come from left-of-center candidates in Republican-leaning and conservative districts – not economic populists in the solidly liberal corners of the country. Progressive are making the case that a majority of the Democrats in competitive House races are running on at least one of plank of their economic platform and that their ideas can resonate in conservative America. ...
Privately some progressives are skeptical that a caucus of its size can be corralled to vote as a bloc and believe the formation of a “sub-caucus” is inevitable. The idea of building a progressive “sub-caucus”, floated by Ocasio-Cortez in an interview earlier this year, would mirror the Freedom Caucus, which was formed by conservative hardliners within the Tea Party movement that upended Republican politics.
Mysterious Facebook group is using Bernie Sanders’ image to get liberals to vote for the Green Party
A Facebook page for a group called “America Progress Now” is running ads online urging progressives to vote for Green Party candidates in seven competitive races in the Midwest. “People of Color NEED Marcia Squier in the Senate to represent them,” one of the ads says, promoting a Green Party candidate in Michigan. “Americans don't have control over our government anymore. We've lost it to greedy, corporate capitalists,” says another, calling for voters to support Ohio Green Party candidate Joe Manchik.
The page features ads with images of prominent progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Problem is, America Progress Now hasn’t registered with the Federal Election Commission, as all groups making independent political expenditures are required to do. Six of the Green Party candidates being promoted by America Progress Now say they have no affiliation with the Facebook page, and most say they’ve never heard of the group.
And there’s no sign of America Progress Now at the address listed on its Facebook page. When we visited 605 E. 132nd St. in the Bronx on Monday morning, none of the tenants we spoke to had ever heard of America Progress Now. The building’s landlord, Stephen Rosenfeld, said in a phone call that he hadn’t not heard of the group either and that no tenants by that name were in his building. After reaching out to America Progress Now, the page removed its Bronx address.
The ads caught the attention of Sanders’ Senate office, which asked Facebook to take the ads down, but so far the company has refused to do so. Two of the ads mention Sanders and one insinuates that he supports voting for third-party candidates. “Bernie Sanders is leading the way,” the ad states. “It's time to send him some allies in Washington. This November, don't vote for a party, vote for Progressive values.”
“We asked Facebook to remove the ad last week because it is clearly a malicious attempt to deceive voters,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis said in a statement. “It is deeply troubling that after Facebook was used in similar ways by foreign actors in 2016 to swing the election, the company still refuses to act to combat deceptive and misleading ads run by anonymous organizations." In an email to a Sanders staff member that was shared with VICE News and ProPublica, Facebook said it had investigated America Progress Now and found no violations of its policies. Facebook said it had verified that America Progress Now is authorized to run ads with “America Progress Now” in its “Paid For by” disclosure.
'Instilling Fear in the 11th Hour': Experts Warn Trump DOJ Poll Monitors Being Sent to Intimidate Voters, Not Protect Them
In a move civil rights groups denounced as a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to intimidate minorities, spread hysteria about non-existent voter fraud, and suppress turnout, the Justice Department announced on Monday that it is dispatching personnel to "monitor" 35 voting locations in 19 states during Tuesday's midterms just as President Donald Trump warned in a tweet that any "illegal voting" will be punished with "maximum criminal penalties."
"We condemn the Justice Department's announcement regarding the deployment of federal observers," Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. "In stark contrast to how these observers have been deployed in the past, Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not have his eyes set on voter suppression and last-minute intimidation but is instead exploiting this moment to push a false narrative about voter fraud."
"At every turn, this Justice Department has failed to take action to enforce the Voting Rights Act and protect the interests of minority voters. And the latest announcement from DOJ makes clear that this is still the case," Clarke continued. "This is a Justice Department that has abandoned its mission and lost its way."
States the Justice Department said it plans to monitor during Tuesday's midterm elections include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, where extremely close and significant races have drawn national attention. In a press release on Monday, the Justice Department provided a full list of counties it plans to watch.
DOJ sending staff to monitor 35 jurisdictions for compliance with voting rights laws — here’s DOJ press release with the list. pic.twitter.com/URs3uM28ZH
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) November 5, 2018
Fox News hosts are now stumping for Trump at rallies — and attacking their co-workers as “fake news”
Sean Hannity said Monday he would not be joining Donald Trump on stage at his final campaign rally in Missouri, despite the president’s team billing him as a “special guest.” Just 12 hours later, the Fox News host was on stage, acting as Trump’s hype-man by insulting real journalists — including his own co-workers — as “fake news.”
Hannity had earlier insisted he would only be at the rally in Cape Girardeau in a journalistic capacity. “I am covering final rally for my show,” he tweeted. “Something I have done in every election in the past.” But as soon as Trump took the podium in Missouri for his third rally of the day, he summoned Hannity to join him. The Fox News host obliged, and immediately attacked his colleagues in the media, parroting one of Trump’s favorite lines. “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news,” he said, referring to a pool of reporters, which included Fox News reporters. Hannity went on to offer an effusive endorsement for Trump: “The one thing that has made and defined your presidency more than anything else: Promises made, promises kept.”
The appearance highlighted the extent to which the right-wing network has acted as a mouthpiece for the White House, dispensing with any pretense of journalistic objectivity to actively stump for Trump ahead of Tuesday’s crucial vote. ... Hannity was not the only Fox News personality on stage; Jeanine Pirro made an appearance to explicitly instruct those gathered to vote Republican. “If you like the America that he is making now, you’ve got to make sure you get out there tomorrow if you haven’t voted yet, everyone you know,” Pirro said. “Get them out there to vote for Donald Trump and all the people who are running for the Republican Party.”
Earlier, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had warmed up the crowd in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, offering ominous warnings about a fifth column imperilling the United States.
Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pasca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.
“The loss of biodiversity is a silent killer,” she told the Guardian. “It’s different from climate change, where people feel the impact in everyday life. With biodiversity, it is not so clear but by the time you feel what is happening, it may be too late.” Pasca Palmer is executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – the world body responsible for maintaining the natural life support systems on which humanity depends. Its members – 195 states and the EU – will meet in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, this month to start discussions on a new framework for managing the world’s ecosystems and wildlife. This will kick off two years of frenetic negotiations, which Pasca Palmer hopes will culminate in an ambitious new global deal at the next conference in Beijing in 2020.
Conservationists are desperate for a biodiversity accord that will carry the same weight as the Paris climate agreement. But so far, this subject has received miserably little attention even though many scientists say it poses at least an equal threat to humanity. The last two major biodiversity agreements – in 2002 and 2010 – have failed to stem the worst loss of life on Earth since the demise of the dinosaurs.
Pasca Palmer says there are glimmers of hope. Several species in Africa and Asia have recovered (though most are in decline) and forest cover in Asia has increased by 2.5% (though it has decreased elsewhere at a faster rate). Marine protected areas have also widened. But overall, she says, the picture is worrying. The already high rates of biodiversity loss from habitat destruction, chemical pollution and invasive species will accelerate in the coming 30 years as a result of climate change and growing human populations. By 2050, Africa is expected to lose 50% of its birds and mammals, and Asian fisheries to completely collapse. The loss of plants and sea life will reduce the Earth’s ability to absorb carbon, creating a vicious cycle.
“The numbers are staggering,” says the former Romanian environment minister. “I hope we aren’t the first species to document our own extinction.”
Worth a full read:
The petrochemical industry anticipates spending a total of over $200 billion on factories, pipelines, and other infrastructure in the U.S. that will rely on shale gas, the American Chemistry Council announced in September. Construction is already underway at many sites. This building spree would dramatically expand the Gulf Coast’s petrochemical corridor (known locally as “Cancer Alley”) — and establish a new plastics and petrochemical belt across states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. If those projects are completed, analysts predict the U.S. would flip from one of the world’s highest-cost producers of plastics and chemicals to one of the cheapest, using raw materials and energy from fracked gas wells in states like Texas, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Those petrochemical plans could have profound consequences for a planet already showing signs of dangerous warming and a cascade of other impacts from climate change. ... The petrochemical and plastics industries are notoriously polluting, not only when it comes to toxic air pollution and plastic waste, but also because of the industry’s significant greenhouse gas footprint — affecting not only the U.S., but the entire world. “The chemical and petrochemical sector is by far the largest industrial energy user, accounting for roughly 10 percent of total worldwide final energy demand and 7 percent of global [greenhouse gas] emissions,” the International Energy Agency reported in 2013. Since then the numbers have crept up, with the IEA finding petrochemicals responsible for an additional percentage point of the world’s total energy consumption in 2017.
Carbon emissions from petrochemical and plastics manufacturing are expected to grow 20 percent by 2030 (in other words, in just over a decade), the IEA concluded in a report released October 5. A few days later, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that by 2030, the world needs to have reduced its greenhouse gas pollution 45 percent from 2010 levels, in order to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to a less-catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The petrochemicals industry has so far drawn relatively little attention from oil and gas analysts and policy makers. “Petrochemicals are one of the key blind spots in the global energy debate, especially given the influence they will exert on future energy trends,” Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said in a statement this month. “In fact,” he added, “our analysis shows they will have a greater influence on the future of oil demand than cars, trucks and aviation.”
The new investments, which will rely on decades of continued fracking in the U.S, offer the oil and gas industry a serious hedge against competition from renewable energy, even in the event that climate policies push fossil fuel energy to the margins.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
J B Lenoir - I'll Die Trying
J B Lenoir - Voodoo Music
J.B. Lenoir - Born Dead
J.B. Lenoir - Slow Down
JB Lenoir - What About Your Daughter
J.B. Lenoir - She Don't Know
J. B. Lenore - Mama Your Daughter Is Going To Miss Me
J.B. Lenoir - Tax Paying Blues
J.B. Lenoir - Feelin' Good
J.B.Lenoir - Alabama Blues