The Evening Blues - 12-22-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features an assortment of tunes that I have always meant to post in other contexts but haven't gotten around to it yet. Enjoy!
Mac Rebennack - The Point
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
-- Hannah Arendt
News and Opinion
In an important commentary in The New York Review of Books last March, the anti-Putin Russian dissident Masha Gessen tried to warn U.S. liberals and progressives against putting their anti-Trump eggs in the Russia basket. Gessen felt that the Russiagate gambit would flop, given a lack of smoking-gun evidence and sufficient public interest, particularly among Republicans.
Gessen also worried that the Russia obsession was a deadly diversion from issues that ought to matter more to those claiming to oppose Trump in the name of democracy and the common good: racism, voter suppression (which may well have elected Trump, by the way), health care, plutocracy, police- and prison-state-ism, immigrant rights, economic exploitation and inequality, sexism and environmental ruination—you know, stuff like that. ... Here we are now, half a year later, careening into a dystopian holiday season. With his epically low approval rating of 32 percent, the orange-tinted bad grandpa in the Oval Office has won a viciously regressive tax bill that is widely rejected by the populace. ...
The dismal, dollar-drenched Democrats, the party of “inauthentic opposition,” are hardly more popular than the radically regressive Republicans. Their approval mark was 37 percent in a recent CNN poll, their lowest level in 25 years. Pervasive scorn for the not-so leftmost of the two great capitalist parties is richly appropriate, given its continuing champion role as “the graveyard of social movements” and its long history of serving the nation’s financial, corporate and imperial ruling class. ... As the GOP has moved forward aggressively with this horrific measure (Merry Christmas, One Percent!), the Inauthentic Opposition party, which essentially elected Trump last year (see this remarkable new volume), has continued to blather breathlessly about Russiagate while whining that Trump is not being more “bipartisan.” ...
It’s Christmas time – a season for magical thinking. So let us sing along with that great liberal Russophobe Rachel Mad Dog Maddow: on Dasher, on Dancer, on Rachel, on Mueller! Let us all sleep snug in our beds, while dreams of Trumpeachment dance in our heads. Perhaps MSNBC would like to air a Christmas special starring Vladimir Putin as The Grinch Who Stole Our Glorious Democracy?
The Guardian recently published an amazingly deceitful hit piece on skeptics of the establishment Syria narrative who point to the piles of evidence that the so-called White Helmets are nothing other than a western-backed propaganda firm for the destabilization efforts in Syria.
The piece is simultaneously shocking in the brazen amount of dishonesty a mainstream publication can pack into one little article, and entirely unsurprising in the tactics it uses. It follows a pattern which will be exhaustingly familiar to anyone who engages in online debate against establishment narratives with any regularity: it paints anti-establishment speakers as “Russian propaganda” simply because they advance opinions that run counter to western establishment interests, and cites “experts” to counter those opinions who are considered experts solely because their opinions are endorsed by the mainstream establishment. The message is never attacked, only the messenger, and the attacks are imbued with legitimacy solely because they are pro-establishment.
We saw the exact same tactic used in NPR’s recent hit job on Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight, attacking the show as Russian propaganda solely on the basis that it is aired on RT America despite the fact that everyone involved in its production are Americans who happen to espouse anti-establishment viewpoints. To support their attack NPR brought in neoconservative empire loyalist Julia Ioffe, who last month published a deceitful article in The Atlantic using doctored quotes to make it appear as though WikiLeaks attempted to cover up loyalties to the Russian government in conversations with Donald Trump Jr. Ioffe’s “expertise” was used to legitimize the assertions that Redacted Tonight is Russian propaganda and its staff are “useful idiots” of the Kremlin.
You can read Lee Camp’s brutal beatdown of Ioffe and NPR’s obnoxious smear segment here.
The most ominous danger we face does not come from the eradication of free speech through the obliteration of net neutrality or through Google algorithms that steer people away from dissident, left-wing, progressive or anti-war sites. It does not come from a tax bill that abandons all pretense of fiscal responsibility to enrich corporations and oligarchs and prepares the way to dismantle programs such as Social Security. It does not come from the opening of public land to the mining and fossil fuel industry, the acceleration of ecocide by demolishing environmental regulations, or the destruction of public education. It does not come from the squandering of federal dollars on a bloated military as the country collapses or the use of the systems of domestic security to criminalize dissent. The most ominous danger we face comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations and the press, that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact, helped us distinguish lies from truth and facilitated justice.
Donald Trump and today’s Republican Party represent the last stage in the emergence of corporate totalitarianism. Pillage and oppression are justified by the permanent lie. The permanent lie is different from the falsehoods and half-truths uttered by politicians such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The common political lie these politicians employed was not designed to cancel out reality. It was a form of manipulation. Clinton, when he signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement, promised “NAFTA means jobs, American jobs and good-paying American jobs.” George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq because Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction. But Clinton did not continue to pretend that NAFTA was beneficial to the working class when reality proved otherwise. Bush did not pretend that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction once none were found.
The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that discredits it. It is irrational. Those who speak in the language of truth and fact are attacked as liars, traitors and purveyors of “fake news.” They are banished from the public sphere once totalitarian elites accrue sufficient power, a power now granted to them with the revoking of net neutrality. ... The permanent lie turns political discourse into absurdist theater. Donald Trump, who lies about the size of his inauguration crowd despite photographic evidence, insists that in regard to his personal finances he is “going to get killed” by a tax bill that actually will save him and his heirs over $1 billion. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claims he has a report that proves that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and will not increase the deficit—only there never was a report. Sen. John Cornyn assures us, countering all factual evidence, that “this is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses.”
The permanent lie is the apotheosis of totalitarianism. It no longer matters what is true. It matters only what is “correct.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with troops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday, the first time an American defense chief has visited the U.S. naval outpost since scores of terrorism suspects were imprisoned there in 2002. ... The visit highlights the Trump administration’s evolving approach to the prison and to prosecuting and detaining terrorism suspects.
Since taking office, President Trump appears to have backed off earlier promises to fill Guantanamo with “bad dudes.” His administration has taken little visible action to renew military detentions there or to overcome the hurdles holding up the military commissions that are supposed to try suspects in the 9/11 attacks.
“Guantanamo remains a symbol of torture and illegal and illegitimate detention and trials,” said Raha Wala, director of national security advocacy at Human Rights First. “So it’s unsurprising that the Trump administration is figuring out what prior administrations already knew: Guantanamo is a big headache and an unattractive option compared to detention using normal procedures,” Wala said.
While political leaders including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who visited Guantanamo in July, have voiced support for continuing detentions at Guantanamo, resistance from agencies involved in trying and housing terrorism suspects appears to have helped quash any steps to renew detentions there.
North Korea warned the United States any imposition of a maritime blockade would be an act of war that would push the current standoff towards nuclear confrontation. Discussion of a possible American sea blockade off the Korean Peninsula has emerged in media reports and academic circles in recent weeks, further ratcheting up tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
The threat of nuclear war between the arch enemies has grown more real since US President Donald Trump took office in January. He has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea - demanding it surrender its nuclear and missile programmes.
Pyongyang has baulked at the demand saying it needs a functioning "state nuclear force" to prevent "invasion and plunder" by the United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in neighbouring South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
"The gang of Trump … is driving the situation on the Korean Peninsula more and more close to the brink of war, acting recklessly without any sense of reason," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a Thursday report. "A naval blockade is an act of wanton violation of the sovereignty and dignity of an independent state, and an act of war of aggression which cannot be tolerated."
Heh, now what could possibly go wrong with this?
Not far from the northeastern Zayed Port in Abu Dhabi, in a typical modern Gulf villa framed on one side by an elegant swimming pool, Westerners are teaching Emiratis the tools of modern spycraft. ...
The Emirati recruits [train at a] site about 30 minutes outside downtown Abu Dhabi called “The Academy” — complete with gun ranges, barracks, and driving courses — reminiscent of the CIA’s “Farm” at Camp Peary, a training facility located in southeastern Virginia. The details of the training are contained in an official course schedule reviewed by Foreign Policy and were described by former U.S. intelligence officials who have been involved in the effort. The facilities and courses are part of the United Arab Emirates’ nascent efforts to create a professional intelligence cadre modeled after the West’s.
Former CIA and government officials were drawn to the Gulf nation by the promise of interesting work and, perhaps even more importantly, lucrative careers. “The money was fantastic,” one former employee told FP. “It was $1,000 a day — you could live in a villa or in a five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
The key figure behind this growing intelligence training operation, according to multiple sources, is Larry Sanchez, a former intelligence officer who helped kickstart a controversial partnership between the CIA and the New York Police Department that tried to pre-empt the radicalization of potential terrorists by tracking people — many of them Muslims — in mosques, bookstores, and other places around New York. Sanchez, a veteran of the CIA clandestine services, has been working for the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the past six years to build large pieces of its intelligence services from the ground up, six sources with knowledge of the matter tell FP.
But Sanchez is just one of many former Western security professionals who has made his way to the Gulf nation to provide security training. Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, famously moved to the UAE to create a battalion of foreign troops serving the crown prince, details of which were first revealed by the New York Times in 2011. And Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism czar, is also a longtime top advisor to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi as the CEO of Good Harbor Security Risk Management.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that he would “no longer accept” any peace plan proposed by the United States, instead calling on France and Europe to play a stronger role in peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
His comments on Friday came after the UN general assembly voted overwhelmingly to denounce Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against him.
One Palestinian man was killed and another four were wounded on Friday, during renewed protests over Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.
Washington’s unilateral change of policy on Jerusalem continues to reverberate in the Middle East and European diplomats are pessimistic about the Trump administration’s peace plan which is being prepared behind closed doors and will be presented to both sides in 2018.
“The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it,” Abbas told a joint press conference with the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Spain’s prime minister has defended his handling of the Catalan crisis after the snap election he called in an attempt to settle the secessionist challenge resulted in pro-independence parties holding on to their absolute majority in parliament. Speaking the day after the three Catalan separatist parties won a total of 70 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament, Mariano Rajoy stood by his strategy of taking control of the region in response to an illegal independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.
Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the disastrous poll showing of his conservative People’s party, whose presence in the Catalan parliament was reduced from 11 seats to three, Rajoy replied: “The prime minister accepts responsibility for anything that happens to the People’s party, just as all members of the People’s party across Spain do.” He shrugged off suggestions that his use of article 155 of the Spanish constitution to suspend Catalan autonomy had proved costly and counterproductive. ...
“The negative thing about these results, from my point of view, is that those of us who wanted change haven’t won enough seats to bring that to a successful conclusion,” he said at a press conference in Madrid. He said the separatist bloc had lost two seats since the last regional election and had taken a combined 47.6% of the vote, and thus could not claim to represent all Catalans.
He said the Spanish government would be prepared to collaborate with any Catalan government that observed the law and worked to restore stability, security and social harmony to the region. “Without respect for the law, and without a responsible Catalan government that respects it, it won’t be possible to guarantee security and certainty,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Puigdemont, who fled to Brussels at the end of October, said he was ready to meet Rajoy to find a way out of the crisis, but stipulated that the meeting could not take place in Spain, where he faces arrest on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. ... Rajoy gave short shrift to Puigdemont’s offer, pointedly saying the leader he should meet was Inés Arrimadas, of the Catalan Citizens party, which won 37 seats and 25.4% of the vote. Madrid’s direct rule over Catalonia is due to expire when a new Catalan government is formed. Pressed on whether article 155 could be used if the next regional administration pushed on with a unilateral quest for independence, Rajoy said he would not focus on the “worst possible situation” but added that the law had to be obeyed.
Heh, now there's a giant surprise. Oh lookee, the State Department post-Hillary still can't quit loving the fascist dictatorships "Her" helped put into place.
The state department issued a statement on Friday congratulating Hernández on his victory, but also urged the country’s electoral commission to fully review any challenges to the results.
“The close election results, irregularities identified by the OAS and the EU election observation missions, and strong reactions from Hondurans across the political spectrum underscore the need for a robust national dialogue. A significant long-term effort to heal the political divide in the country and enact much-needed electoral reforms should be undertaken,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Nauert also urged “all sides” to refrain from violence amid unrest that has claimed at least 17 lives – most of whom were protesters killed by security forces.
Once again, Israel is supporting a repressive regime in the Global South, this time in the poor Central American nation of Honduras — and Israeli activists are protesting vigorously.
Just after the November 26 election in Honduras, the results started to show a commanding margin for the pro-democracy opposition — until the vote-tabulating computers mysteriously went down. Many days later, the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, had miraculously gained the lead, and Hondurans poured into the streets in nationwide peaceful demonstrations against the obvious theft. ...
Israel hides its arms exports. But last year, the Honduras regime revealed that it had bought $209 million worth of weapons from Israel, including surveillance drones for the army.
Honduras just repaid Tel Aviv for the weapons sale — by casting one of the only 9 votes against the United Nations resolution condemning the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
More details on the acquittal of the J20 defendants:
... Although the jury had lots of careful discussion over the past three days, a juror who only gave his name as Steve told the media collective Unicorn Riot it was not ultimately a close call. “The prosecution admitted the morning of day one that they would present no evidence that any of the defendants committed any acts of violence or vandalism,” Steve said. “From that point, before the defense ever uttered a sound, it was clear to me that ultimately we would find everyone not guilty.”
The jury’s decision heartened those still facing charges — even as they steeled themselves for more battles ahead. “I think most defendants are feeling vindicated right now,” said one defendant who, still facing charges, asked for anonymity to speak frankly. “What’s frustrating is it took these acquittals to prove to everybody the abuses we’ve endured for a year. From the moment of Trump’s inauguration, we were tortured by police, terrorized by the prosecutors, stalked by the ‘alt-right,’ vilified in the press and alienated from friends and family.” ...
At every step of this prosecution, critics have said, the government has relied on undermining core principles of the American justice system that posit individualized suspicion and individualized punishment. Instead of identifying and arresting the handful of individuals breaking windows, the police indiscriminately arrested a crowd. Instead of individually charging those who engaged in criminal behavior, the state charged some 212 people — holding the entire group responsible for the acts committed by a select few. Yet liberal jurisprudence is supposed to hold as a fundamental value that individuals are responsible for their own concerted acts.
If the prosecution’s theory of the case had prevailed, it would have signaled that anyone who attends a protest at which criminal behavior takes place can be held responsible for that behavior — even if they did nothing but express their beliefs. The acquittal is a vindication of the defendants’ decision to fight the charges as a group and refuse to submit to pleas, which by acknowledging guilt, undermine the message that these charges were politically motivated and unjust from the start.
Beauregard rides again:
President Trump’s Justice Department took another civil rights U-turn Thursday rescinding a 2016 guideline that advised courts against slapping poor people with unnecessary, hefty fines and fees. ...
The fines and fees guidance, put in place in March 2016 by Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, former director of the Office for Access to Justice, was meant to prevent municipalities from issuing tickets and excessive fees to raise city revenue. The guidance to courts in all 50 states came one year after the Justice Department published its scathing investigation into fines and fees abuse in Ferguson, Missouri. That report found a "pattern and practice" of city officials repeatedly targeting black people with tickets for small infractions like jaywalking, and then ratcheting up the fees for partial payment or non payment.
Congress has averted a shutdown of the federal government, narrowly passing a temporary spending bill that will now go to Donald Trump to sign but that will only delay the reckoning for a month and will kick contentious issues such as immigration and healthcare into the new year.
Congress had until midnight on Friday to pass a “continuing resolution” to keep government operations running. The House bill passed by 231-188 and the Senate shortly afterwards by 66-32. The concerted Republican effort will push the deadline back by funding the government through 19 January.
The bill passed mostly on party lines with only 13 Democrats in the House voting to fund the government and only 16 Republicans voting against the resolution. In the Senate, the 60-vote threshold was just passed with the help of Democrats in more conservative states. ...
The spending bill unveiled by House Republicans on Thursday includes a short-term reauthorization of the children’s health insurance program, which provides free or low-cost healthcare to roughly 9 million children annually. It also funds a program that enables veterans to receive healthcare services from community providers rather than within the confines of the Veterans Affairs system.
The bill does not, however, address the future of Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Republicans undermined the Affordable Care Act this week by repealing the law’s individual mandate, which required Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, as part of their tax plan.
Thirty-year-old [Erika] Andiola made national headlines when she was arrested on Capitol Hill last Friday along with a group of Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors who won protections under an Obama-era program rescinded by President Donald Trump. Capitol Police arrested the seven Dreamers, and one ally, after they staged a sit-in outside the offices of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. Andiola and her fellow protestors were on a hunger strike while in jail, and her Facebook post about being detained went viral over the weekend.
The group was demanding that Schumer and Curbelo vote against a must-pass federal spending bill unless it contains a measure known as the DREAM Act, which would bring protections for Dreamers, without any compromises on harsher immigration policies. “Our lives are at stake,” said Andiola, a former presidential campaign staffer for Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in an interview with The Intercept minutes after she left the jail. “Undocumented youth are not bargaining chips.”
In a sign of intra-party tension on the issue, more than a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus followed the Dreamers’ lead and stormed Schumer’s office Thursday afternoon before demanding answers for the delay on measure addressing the Dreamers. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., told Bloomberg that Schumer had agreed more Senate democrats should vote down the bill but said he feared the party being blamed for a government shutdown. “We were very clear: Don’t throw our dreamers under the bus,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., said after the meeting.
On Thursday evening, a day after the Dreamer activists were released, Congress passed a temporary stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The bill merely extends government funding until Jan. 19 and did not include any measures on the Dreamers. Schumer and Curbelo kept their word by voting against the bill, but reports circulated Thursday evening indicating that Schumer had failed to whip his caucus against the bill. Seventeen Democrats voted for the bill in the Senate, allowing the measure to pass without any fix for the Dreamers.
Mick Mulvaney, whose ability to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still an open legal question, told the agency Thursday afternoon that he plans to bring in six loyalists from the Trump administration, according to agency sources, as well as a review of a memo Mulvaney circulated. ...
President Donald Trump named Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB despite the succession plan set up by Congress, which would have the deputy director assume the duties in the case of a vacancy. Leandra English, who was deputy under former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, has challenged Trump’s appointment in court. Mulvaney’s proposal earlier this month to embed political staffers throughout the agency was met with an uproar.
The president won the first round of the legal battle, but the case remains pending, and Trump’s continuing takeover of the agency leaves little room to continue to call it independent. ...
It’s doubtful that major banks would look so favorably on a future Democratic president — say, CFPB founder Elizabeth Warren — weighing in publicly on matters before the powerful agency or installing a Cabinet member as acting director. But the precedent is now set, at least until the courts weigh in.
A watchdog group is vowing to press forward after a federal on Thursday dismissed its lawsuit against President Donald for allegedly violating the Constitution's emoluments clause.
Manhattan-based Judge George Daniels said the plaintiffs lack the necessary legal standing.
The suit was led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which called the ruling "a setback" but said it would "not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation."
Deepak Gupta, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said, "We respectfully disagree with the district court's decision. There is no question that there will be an appeal, and our legal team is in the process of exploring our next steps."
CREW argued (pdf) that Trump's "business interests are creating countless conflicts of interest, as well as unprecedented influence by foreign governments." The suit singled out:
a) leases held by foreign-government-owned entities in New York's Trump Tower; (b) room reservations and the use of venues and other services and goods by foreign governments and diplomats at Defendant's Washington, D.C. hotel; (c) hotel stays, property leases, and other business transactions tied to foreign governments at other domestic and international establishments owned, operated, or licensed by Defendant; (d) payments from foreign-government-owned broadcasters related to rebroadcasts and foreign versions of the television program "The Apprentice" and its spinoffs; and (e) property interests or other business dealings tied to foreign governments in numerous other countries.
Judge Daniels, however, ruled against CREW's argument that the group had been harmed by Trump's actions, and wrote, "As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant's conduct unlawfully infringes on that power."
Some say the world will end in fire, others say ice — but it’s the humidity that’ll do us in, according to a new study.
As the earth warms, temperatures and seas aren’t all that will rise. Very humid days will occur at about double the rate of high-temperature days alone, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in a study published Friday. That, they think, will make parts of the Earth essentially uninhabitable for at least part of the year.
It’s often been suggested (or, at least, hoped) that no matter how much the climate warms, that humans might be able to adapt. But there’s a hard upper limit on that: If the “wet-bulb temperature” — measured by wrapping the bulb of a thermometer in a wet cloth and taking the temperature of the air — exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit (or, 35ºC), humans are pretty much toast. It might seem like an odd way to measure the upper limit of human survivability, but that’s the simplest way to measure how much a human body could theoretically cool itself, assuming a perfectly healthy body. “You rapidly approach a situation where it’s thermodynamically impossible to keep your body cool,” Radley Horton, an associate research professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a co-author of the study, told VICE News.
As humidity increases, so does the wet-bulb temperature. Because we never hit a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit in today’s climate, it’s hard to say what the societal effects would be. But wet-bulb temperatures between 84 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit (29–31ºC) have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world. A wet-bulb temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) was recorded during a heat wave in 2015 in the southeastern coastal Indian state of Andhra Pradesh that killed at least 2,500 people.
The world’s oceans are set for a long overdue boost in the coming days as the United Nations votes for the first time on a planned treaty to protect and regulate the high seas. The waters outside national maritime boundaries – which cover half of the planet’s surface – are currently a free-for-all that has led to devastating overfishing and pollution. But after more than five years of negotiations, UN members are poised to agree to draw up a new rulebook by 2020, which could establish conservation areas, catch quotas and scientific monitoring.
“This is the biggest opportunity to change the status quo we have ever had,” said Will McCallum, the head of oceans at Greenpeace. “It could change everything.” A debate on whether to move ahead with a High Seas Treaty has been tabled before the end of the year at the UN headquarters in New York. The motion is supported by 140 nations, which is more than the two-thirds needed for passage.
“This is great news. This vote could open the way to create a Paris Agreement for the ocean,” said Maria Damanaki, a former European Union Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries who is now working for The Nature Conservancy. “This could be the most important step I have seen in my 30 years working on oceans.” Only 3.5% of the world’s oceans are currently protected. The remainder is increasingly over-exploited and contaminated by pollution, fishing and seabed mining. “There are multiple stressors and they are all getting worse,” said Damaki. ...
If the vote passes as expected, the UN will host four meetings over the next two years to draft the treaty. Ocean activists hope this will lift the subject to the same level as climate and land biodiversity and ultimately result in a legally binding set of regulations. But the scale and scope of a treaty is not yet decided. There are also doubts about how effective it will be given the difficulties of enforcement, which will rely on national governments.
Days before Rudolph and his team set off with Santa’s sleigh on their annual round-the-world dash, a Norwegian reindeer herder has been ordered to put down dozens of their real-life relatives in a controversial cull.
The supreme court in Oslo rejected an appeal by Jovsset Ante Sara, a small reindeer herder from the indigenous Sami community in the Norwegian Arctic, ruling he must comply with an earlier order to cull 41 of his 116-strong herd. Sara, who had twice successfully challenged the order, argued he would be unable to sustain himself and his family with such a small number of reindeer and that the government’s herd reduction policy was an infringement of indigenous rights.
The ministry of agriculture and food has vigorously defended its policy, saying it is necessary to prevent Norway’s estimated 220,000 reindeer overgrazing the fragile tundra landscape of the country’s high north. The court said the order did not violate Sara’s rights, ruling in a majority decision that the reduction policy was “in the interests of the whole reindeer husbandry industry” and regulation was “reasonable and objectively justifiable”.
But Sara’s lawyer, Trond Pedersen Biti, said the ruling did not take the rights of the Sami people into account. “It shows the court does not believe the Sami people can decide on their own destiny,” he said. “The government seems to believe that the reindeer herders do not know best,” Biti said, adding that his client was “obviously disappointed” but had no intention of abandoning his claim and would take it to the European court of human rights.
The case, which has been running since 2014, has become something of a cause célèbre in Norway, setting indigenous and ancestral rights against broader environmental rights and the importance of ecological biodiversity.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Mac Rebennack - Storm Warning
Mac Rebennack - Sahara
Dave "Baby" Cortez - Hurricane
Dave "Baby" Cortez - Hot Cakes
Dave "Baby" Cortez - Gettin' To The Point
Imps - Uh Oh
The Nightmares - GreyHound
Harvey Fuqua - Any Way You Wanta
Johnny & Jackey - Someday We'll Be Together (Original version)
Al Simmons - Old Folks Boogie
Aaron Neville - Over You
Johnny and the Hurricanes - Red River Rock
The Shadows - Apache
Link Wray - Commanche