The Evening Blues - 3-25-22


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Canned Heat

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues rock band Canned Heat. Enjoy!

Canned Heat - Rollin' and Tumblin'

"One reason you always hear about the genocidal depravity of Adolf Hitler but not King Leopold II is because Hitler did imperialism to white people. Keep that in mind as you watch the disparity between coverage of Ukraine and coverage of other recent military invasions."

-- Caitlin Johnstone

News and Opinion

Yemen Faces 'Unimaginable Suffering' as US-Backed Saudi War Enters Eighth Year

As the Saudi-led war in Yemen enters its eighth year, international humanitarian groups on Thursday expressed concern about the state of crisis gripping Yemenis—reporting that civilian deaths are on the rise, millions are facing severe hunger and malnutrition, and three quarters of the population are in urgent need of humanitarian support.

Oxfam International warned that another year of war would bring "unimaginable suffering to civilians," and "almost two-thirds of Yemenis will go hungry this year unless the warring parties lay down their arms or the international community steps in to fill a massive gap in the appeal budget."

According to the international organization, the Yemen humanitarian response plan is currently 70% underfunded and has left 17 million people facing acute food insecurity, with predictions the number will rise to 19 million by the end of 2022.

"After seven years of war, Yemenis are desperate for peace—instead they are facing yet more death and destruction. Violence and hunger are on the increase once more and millions of people cannot get the basics their families need," said Ferran Puig, Oxfam's country director in Yemen.

The war has caused severe economic shocks throughout Yemen, causing a fuel crisis that has at times seen a 543% price increase in oil, as well as drastic increases for essential items such as food, water, and medicine—making them unaffordable to many.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also further exacerbated Yemen's food crisis, as the country imports 42 percent of its grain from Ukraine, and prices have already started to rise.

In addition to food, water, and healthcare shortages, Yemen's infrastructure has also been ravaged by the war.

"Violence has also severely damaged civilian infrastructure. Despite protection under international humanitarian law, over 25,000 schools have been damaged or destroyed and the number of out of school children has more than doubled since the start of the war—from 900,000 to over 2 million," said the International Rescue Commitee (IRC) in a statement. "The economic crisis means two-thirds of teachers have not been paid in over four years and 10,000 children have been killed or injured since the start of the war. Only 50% of hospitals in Yemen are fully functional, with ever increasing health issues prevalent in the general population."

The humanitarian groups say that civilian deaths and injuries have doubled since the United Nations did not renew the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) in October of last year, a monitoring program that was documenting human rights abuses in Yemen.

"We're now entering the eighth year in which more civilians will be killed with impunity, unless a monitoring mechanism is put in place," Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement Wednesday.

According to the IRC, over 19,000 civilians have been killed or injured from airstrikes alone since the beginning of the conflict in 2015. January of this year saw the most casualties in one month since the war began—with 139 civilian fatalities and 187 civilians injured. Over 300,000 have died as a result of the more than seven years of fighting, and over four million people have been forced to flee from violence over the same time period.

Start of a New Cold War? U.S. Hawks "Want to Jack up the Military Budget, Use Ukraine as an Excuse”

Being This Close To Nuclear War Should Change How We See Things

It’s so surreal how we’re closer to nuclear war than we’ve been since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it’s only continuing to escalate, and yet hardly anyone seems to notice and almost everyone is just going about their lives thinking their usual thoughts and having their usual conversations.

Vladimir Putin has put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert and has issued threats of nuclear retaliation should western powers try to intervene in Russian military operations in Ukraine. The Biden administration’s first Nuclear Posture Review will be out soon and will likely mirror the changes in Russia’s nuclear posture in some ways. The probability is skyrocketing of a mass extinction event which could easily block out the sun for years and starve everyone to death who isn’t lucky enough to be killed quickly in the initial inferno.

A recent New York Times article titled “The Smaller Bombs That Could Turn Ukraine Into a Nuclear War Zone” discusses the danger of Russia using a so-called “tactical” or “low-yield” nuke if the war isn’t going well for Moscow, making the calculation that using one of its much less destructive nuclear weapons might succeed in intimidating its enemies into backing down without resulting in full-blown nuclear war.

An excerpt:

“It feels horrible to talk about these things,” Dr. Kühn said in an interview. “But we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.”

Washington expects more atomic moves from Mr. Putin in the days ahead. Moscow is likely to “increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength” as the war and its consequences weaken Russia, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

A truly sapient life form would read those two paragraphs and immediately say, “Oh well we obviously can’t continue along this trajectory anymore. Let’s negotiate a ceasefire by whatever means necessary and move toward detente as swiftly as possible.” But rather than move to de-escalate, all we’re seeing is continual escalation with increasingly shrill calls to escalate further.

It is worth noting here that experts have been warning for years that these “low-yield” nuclear weapons pose a horrifying threat to our species because of the risk of somebody making the calculation that they could get away with using them, as we see in this 2019 article by James Carroll titled “The Most Dangerous Weapon Ever Rolls Off the Nuclear Assembly Line“. Such warnings just didn’t get much attention before because they were about the United States manufacturing those weapons and did little to amplify Russia hysteria.

It is probably also worth noting that the US has been updating its nuclear arsenal with advancements which make its nuclear-armed rivals more likely to calculate the need for a full-scale nuclear first strike. As R Jeffrey Smith explained last year for The Center for Public Integrity, improvements in the ability to perfectly time a nuke’s detonation make it much more destructive and therefore capable of destroying underground nuclear weapons, which would necessarily make a government like Russia more likely to launch a preemptive strike in a moment of tension to avoid being disarmed by a US strike.

Others worry, however, that those leaders — knowing that many of their protected, land-based weapons and associated command posts could not escape destruction — might be more prone to order their use early in a crisis or conflict, simply to ensure they are not destroyed when incoming warheads arrive, promoting a hair-trigger launch policy that could escalate into a general cataclysm.

Physicist James Acton, who co-directs the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and has written extensively about the need to avert unnecessary conflicts, said that efforts to modernize the nuclear arsenal should be more focused on ensuring the weapons’ safety, security, and reliability, and less on goosing their accuracy.

“If China or Russia believe in a conflict or a crisis that we are going to attack or destroy their nuclear forces and command posts, that gives them an incentive to use nuclear weapons first, or to threaten their use. They have strong incentives to take steps that would further escalate the crisis and create new dangers,” Acton said.

New air- and sea-launched cruise missiles also place Russia on hair-trigger alert, Smith writes:

New air- and sea-launched cruise missiles in particular, [Nuclear Weapons Council chair Andrew Weber] said, are not necessary, and will undermine deterrence because they are stealthy, surprise-attack weapons that will make opponents nervous enough to adopt hair-trigger launch policies. Since they can be deployed with both conventional and nuclear warheads and it’s impossible for opponents to tell the difference, their use could cause unintentional escalation from a conventional to a nuclear war.

And while everyone’s talking about the fear that Putin may make a calculated decision to initiate a nuclear exchange should he feel backed into a corner, at present the primary risk of nuclear war remains what it’s been for about as long as we’ve had these infernal weapons on our planet: that the explicit understanding in Mutually Assured Destruction will be set into motion by a nuke being discharged by either side due to miscommunication, miscalculation, misunderstanding or malfunction, or some combination of these, amid the chaos and confusion of escalating brinkmanship. Which nearly happened many times during the last cold war.

As Nuclear Age Peace Foundation president David Krieger explained back in 2017:

Nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons are currently under the control of nine countries. Each has a complex system of command and control with many possibilities for error, accident or intentional use.

Error could be the result of human or technological factors, or some combination of human and technological interaction. During the more than seven decades of the Nuclear Age, there have been many accidents and close calls that could have resulted in nuclear disaster. The world narrowly escaped a nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Human factors include miscommunications, misinterpretations and psychological issues. Some leaders believe that threatening behavior makes nuclear deterrence more effective, but it could also result in a preventive first-strike launch by the side being threatened. Psychological pathologies among those in control of nuclear weapons could also play a role. Hubris, or extreme arrogance, is another factor of concern.

Technological factors include computer errors that wrongfully show a country is under nuclear attack. Such false warnings have occurred on numerous occasions but, fortunately, human interactions (often against policy and/or orders) have so far kept a false warning from resulting in a mistaken “retaliatory” attack. In times of severe tensions, a technological error could compound the risks, and human actors might decide to initiate a first strike.

As Ray McGovern explains in a new article for Antiwar titled “Will Humans Be the Next ‘Freedom Fries’?“, the early launch detection system Russia relies on for nuclear deterrence is so technologically lagging and prone to error that could easily lead to a nuclear war as the result of a simple mistake. He discusses an instance when Russia’s early detection equipment falsely reported a potential nuclear attack as recently as 1995, when relations between Washington and Moscow were as warm and cozy as they’ve ever been. It seems reasonable to say that a similar incident would have a good chance of being interpreted and responded to in a very different way should it repeat itself in 2022.

McGovern says that launch-to-target time has shrunk so much with the advancement of technology that there are now probably multiple subordinate commanders out in the field with the authority to launch a nuclear strike:

Here’s the thing: the Russians have good reason to be on hair-trigger alert. Their early-warning radar system is so inadequate that there are situations (including those involving innocent rocket launches) under which Russian President Putin would have only a few minutes – if that – to decide whether or not to launch nuclear missiles to destroy the rest of the world – on the suspicion that Russia was under nuclear attack.

“If that”? Yes, launch-to-target time is now so short that it is altogether likely that the authority to launch nuclear weapons is now vested in subordinate commanders “in the field,” so to speak. Readers of Daniel Ellsberg’s Doomsday Machine are aware of how the US actually devolved this authority during the days of the first cold war. I, for one, was shocked to learn that. Worse: today the subordinate commanders might be non-commissioned computers.

“U.S. pundits and strategic experts seem blissfully unaware of how close we all are to being fried in a nuclear strike by Russia,” McGovern writes. ...

I’m always stunned at how, whenever I talk about the way all this brinkmanship is bringing us ever closer to a precipice from which there is no return, people will often tell me “Yeah well if it happens it will be Putin’s fault for starting it.” Like that’s in any way a sane response to our plight. People are so confused and compartmentalized about this issue they seriously think “If nuclear war happens it will be Putin’s fault” is a complete position on this issue.

I always want to shake them and ask them, “If you looked outside right now and saw a mushroom cloud growing in the distance, would the words ‘It was Putin’s fault’ give you any comfort? Or would you, perhaps, wish measures had been taken early on to prevent it from getting to this point?”

Yanis Varoufakis: The West Is "Playing with Fire" If It Pushes Regime Change in Nuclear-Armed Russia

C'mon Zelensky, Azov, have you got it yet? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink ...

Biden warns Russia Nato will respond if Kremlin uses chemical weapons

Joe Biden raised the stakes with Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by warning that Nato would be forced to respond if the Kremlin resorted to using chemical weapons. Speaking in the aftermath of emergency Nato and G7 summits in Brussels, the US president said that any retaliation would be proportional, though he would not confirm that he would insist on military action.

“We would respond,” Biden said, in response to a question about what Nato would do. “We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.” The US wanted to see Russia thrown out of the G20 club of leading economic nations, although Biden complained that wasn’t immediately possible because “Indonesia and others do not agree”. ...

All 30 Nato leaders warned Russia against using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, arguing in a final summit statement that any such use “would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences”. However, again they did not spell out what the response would be. One western official said on Thursday they thought it would be “highly unlikely” that there would be a direct military response even if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine, although any final decision would be driven by the US.

An interesting article worth a click and a full read:

British intelligence operative’s involvement in Ukraine crisis signals false flag attacks ahead

Throughout the Syrian conflict, a self-proclaimed “chemical warrior” named Hamish de Bretton-Gordon was intimately involved in numerous chemical weapons deceptions that sustained the war and ratcheted up pressure for Western military intervention. This February 24, just moments after Russia’s military entered Ukraine, de Bretton-Gordon surfaced again in British media to claim that Russia was preparing a chemical attack on Ukrainian civilians. He has since demanded that Ukrainians be provided with a guide he wrote called, “How To Survive A Chemical Attack.” So who is de Bretton-Gordon, and does his sudden reappearance as an expert voice on the Russia-Ukraine war signal a return to the dangerous US-UK red line policy?

Following months of fevered speculation about an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine, when it finally came to pass on the early morning of February 24th, most were caught entirely by surprise. Media outlets and pundits scrambled to get their stories straight, while Western leaders rushed to construct a cohesive ‘response’. By contrast, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British army veteran identified by UK media as a “former spy,” was in no such muddle. Within just three hours, he had a fiery op-ed prepared for The Guardian, demanding the US and Europe “show their steel in the face of Putin’s aggression.” Warning that Vladimir Putin was “much more willing to face off with NATO” than before, de Bretton-Gordon charged that the West “stood back and watched in Syria,” and “it must not do the same in Ukraine.” ...

de Bretton-Gordon – whose Twitter profile once identified him as a member of 77th Brigade, the British Army’s official psychological warfare division [...] played a pivotal role in promoting and extending the dirty war through the management of information surrounding chemical weapons incidents. As The Grayzone has revealed, the involvement of de Bretton-Gordon in the Syrian conflict dates back to at least 2013, when by his own admission he was engaged in a covert effort to smuggle soil samples out of the opposition-occupied areas. This work would have inevitably placed him in extremely close quarters with jihadist elements raking in Western funding while benefiting from NATO training and weapons.

Contemporary media reports reveal the UK’s MI6 was engaged in a sample-gathering effort in the country at the very time time de Bretton-Gordon was inside Syria, strongly suggesting his linkage to the foreign intelligence agency. One article makes abundantly clear the purpose of the soil-sample exercise was to push the US into intervening by proving government culpability for alleged chemical weapons attacks. Other forms of evidence were also collected on-the-ground by de Bretton-Gordon, and provided to a number of official investigations into chemical attacks. In at least one instance – an OPCW/UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) probe into a purported chemical strike in Talmenes, April 2014 – videos submitted by CBRN Taskforce, a shady organization he founded in Aleppo, were found to show clear signs of falsification.

De Bretton-Gordon threw his chemical weapons expertise into further doubt when he told British media that any common refrigerator could be transformed into a chemical weapon, falsely claiming that R22 refrigerant cylinders contained material for improvised chlorine bombs. ... De Bretton Gordon has gone as far as claiming to a British tabloid that Russia could deploy missiles and hand grenades containing the highly deadly Soviet-era chemical agent Novichok “in any future war with the West.”

Such absurd commentary and subterfuge has done nothing to dent de Bretton-Gordon’s credibility, however. His mainstream profile has only grown over time, with outlets invariably presenting him as a courageous human rights defender risking his life to train local doctors and rescue workers.  ... Now, de Bretton-Gordon has resurfaced at the center of the aggressive push for escalation with a nuclear armed Russia. If his role in Syria is any guide, a series of cynical deceptions could be on the way.

Let's talk about geopolitics

Russia’s stock market rallies in first day of trading since Ukraine war

Moscow’s stock market has rallied after share trading resumed for the first time since being suspended when the Ukraine invasion began nearly a month ago, although the US dismissed Thursday’s limited reopening as a “charade”.

The market initially rose by more than 11% when a limited, shortened trading session got under way on the Moscow Exchange. But the rally lost some momentum, with the Moex index of blue-chip shares ending the day 4.4% higher.

It was its first session since 25 February when trading was halted after sanctions sent Russian equities tumbling.

Energy companies and commodity producers led the gainers, reflecting the rise in gas, oil and raw material prices since the war began, but some companies exposed to the extensive sanctions imposed on Russia fell.

Just 33 of the 50 securities on the rouble-denominated Moex were trading. Stocks that were trading were supported by new restrictions, including a bar on traders short-selling shares they do not own, while foreign investors cannot sell stocks until 1 April.

Biden Says to Expect ‘Real’ Food Shortages Due to Ukraine War

President Joe Biden said that the world will experience food shortages as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and production increases were a subject of discussions at a Group of Seven meeting on Thursday.

“It’s going to be real,” Biden said at a news conference in Brussels. “The price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”

North Korea confirms test of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile yet

North Korea has confirmed that it tested a new, powerful type of intercontinental ballistic missile, marking an end to a self-imposed moratorium on long-range testing in place since 2017 and drawing international condemnation. State media said on Friday that leader Kim Jong-un had directly guided the test of the Hwasong-17 – a “new type” of intercontinental ballistic missile that is North Korea’s biggest to date. He said it was key to deterring nuclear war.

The missile reportedly flew for 1,090km (681 miles) to a maximum altitude of 6,248.5km (3,905 miles) and hit a target in the sea.

Kim was reported to have said that North Korea was preparing for long confrontation with US imperialism and that its strategic force was ready to check and contain any military attempt by the US.

Flight data from the South Korean and Japanese militaries had indicated the missile flew higher and for a longer time than any of North Korea’s previous tests before crashing into the sea west of Japan. It was the first full-capability launch of the nuclear-armed state’s largest missiles since 2017 and represents a significant step in Pyongyang’s development of weapons that might be able to deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the US.

Meet Francia Márquez, the Afro-Colombian Land Defender Running to Be Colombia's First Black VP

Seniors’ Medicare Benefits Are Being Privatized Without Consent

A new Medicare privatization scheme developed under President Donald Trump and now being expanded under President Joe Biden is forcing hundreds of thousands of seniors onto new private Medicare plans without their consent.

The development represents a troubling new dimension in the fight by corporate interests to privatize Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older. Medicare Advantage, which allows for-profit health insurers to offer privatized benefits through Medicare, already results in unexpected costs for routine procedures and wrongful denials of care. Private plans have cost Medicare an astonishing $143 billion since 2008, and are now driving some health insurers’ record profits.

The new Direct Contracting Entity (DCE) program similarly adds a private-sector third party between patients and Medicare services. Medicare allows these intermediary companies to offer unique benefits, like gym membership coverage. But as for-profit operations ranging from private insurers to publicly traded companies to private equity firms, these intermediaries are incentivized to limit the care that patients receive, especially when they are very sick.

While Medicare Advantage patients choose to sign up for private insurance plans, patients are being enrolled in these DCE health care plans without their informed consent. As Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) noted in a January op-ed, “Seniors in traditional Medicare may be ‘auto-aligned’ to a DCE if any primary care physician they’ve visited in the past two years is affiliated with that DCE. That means Medicare automatically searches two years of seniors’ claims history without their full consent to find any visits with a participating DCE provider as the basis for enrollment.” ...

Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) office told The Lever that 350,000 seniors were in DCE plans as of January 2022 — none of whom elected to sign up voluntarily. This latest Medicare privatization scheme was started under the leadership of a Trump official who has since launched his own “entrepreneurial firm focused on building and growing transformational health care companies,” with support from private equity firms. Now, the effort is quietly being expanded by the Biden administration through its new ACO REACH program, under the direction of two former Obama administration officials who have revolved between jobs in government and the corporate health care industry.

Manchin's Daughter & Pfizer CEO PRICE-GOUGED EpiPen, SHUTTERED Competitors: Lawsuit

Californians could see fuel price relief in the form of government rebates

California residents could get free public transit rides and gas rebates under a proposal from the governor to help bring relief as fuel prices in the state reach record highs.

Gavin Newsom’s plan is the latest floated by officials in California, where drivers are paying more for fuel than anywhere else in the country.

US gas prices have started to slowly fall after reaching record levels in recent weeks, surging in part because of pandemic-induced inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But prices in the Golden State have continued to trend upward, and California drivers are now paying an average of $5.88 a gallon, according to AAA.

the horse race

Trump sues Hillary Clinton, alleging ‘plot’ to rig 2016 election against him

Donald Trump has sued Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and other people and entities tied to the investigation of Russian election interference in 2016, claiming that in a bid to rig the election they orchestrated a conspiracy which made Watergate “pale in comparison”. ... Trump beat Clinton for the presidency in 2016. Nonetheless, six years on he alleges she is guilty of “racketeering” and a “conspiracy to commit injurious falsehood”, among other claims. ...

Among those also listed as defendants in the new suit are ex-FBI officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page; the former British spy Christopher Steele, author of a famous dossier on Trump’s links to Moscow; Jake Sullivan, now national security adviser to Joe Biden; and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair.

The suit was filed in US district court in the southern district of Florida, by lawyers from that state and Alina Habba, a New Jersey attorney has represented Trump in failed suits seeking to block investigation of the deadly Capitol riot on 6 January 2021, which Trump fueled with lies about electoral fraud. ... Regardless, Trump’s new lawsuit claims that in the run-up to the 2016 election, “Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot – one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy.

“Acting in concert, the defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.” The suit claims the conspiracy involved “falsifying evidence, deceiving law enforcement and exploiting access to highly-sensitive data sources” in a plot “so outrageous, subversive and incendiary that even the events of Watergate pale in comparison”.

Clinton and her fellow defendants, it claims, “nefariously sought to sway the public’s trust” and “worked together with a single, self-serving purpose: to vilify Donald J Trump”. According to the suit, “the deception, malice, and treachery perpetrated by the defendants has caused significant harm to the American people, and to the plaintiff, Donald J Trump, and they must be held accountable for their heinous acts”. The suit seeks “punitive damages, costs, and such further and other relief as this court may deem just and proper”.

John Fetterman Dubbed “DANGEROUS RADICAL” By Conor Lamb Super PAC, Memo: The Dynamic Must Change

the evening greens

The world’s forests do more than just store carbon, new research finds

The world’s forests play a far greater and more complex role in tackling climate crisis than previously thought, due to their physical effects on global and local temperatures, according to new research. The role of forests as carbon sponges is well established. But comprehensive new data suggests that forests deliver climate benefits well beyond just storing carbon, helping to keep air near and far cool and moist due to the way they physically transform energy and water.

The study, which is the first to pinpoint the non-carbon dioxide benefits of different forests, found that the band of tropical rainforests spanning Latin America, central Africa and south-east Asia generate the most local and global benefits. Researchers from the US and Colombia found that overall forests keep the planet at least half of a degree Celsius cooler when biophysical effects – from chemical compounds to turbulence and the reflection of light – are combined with carbon dioxide.

In the tropics – from Brazil and Guatemala to Chad, Cameroon and Indonesia – the cooling effect is more than one degree. In short, while all forests provide multiple benefits, some are more important than others in keeping the climate stable. “Despite the mounting evidence that forests deliver myriad climate benefits, trees are still viewed just as sticks of carbon by many policymakers in the climate change arena,” said Louis Verchot, principal scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and co-author of the study The Unseen Effects of Deforestation: Biophysical Effects on Climate. “Forests are key to mitigation, but also adaptation.” ...

Researchers found that forests emit chemicals called biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) which create aerosols that reflect incoming energy and form clouds – both are cooling effects. While they also lead to a buildup of two greenhouse gases – ozone and methane – on balance, the cooling outweighs the warming. Deep roots, efficient water use and so-called canopy roughness also enable forests to mitigate the impact of extreme heat.

These physical qualities allow trees to move heat and moisture away from the Earth’s surface where we live, which directly cools the local area and influences cloud formation and rainfall – which has ramifications far away. In the tropics, where forest carbon storage and sequestration rates are highest, the biophysical effects of forests amplify the carbon benefits. In other words, tropical deforestation immediately increases extreme heat locally and decreases regional and local rainfall.

Microplastics found in human blood for first time

Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested.

The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. The impact on health is as yet unknown. But researchers are concerned as microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of early deaths a year.

Huge amounts of plastic waste are dumped in the environment and microplastics now contaminate the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. People were already known to consume the tiny particles via food and water as well as breathing them in, and they have been found in the faeces of babies and adults.

The scientists analysed blood samples from 22 anonymous donors, all healthy adults and found plastic particles in 17. Half the samples contained PET plastic, which is commonly used in drinks bottles, while a third contained polystyrene, used for packaging food and other products. A quarter of the blood samples contained polyethylene, from which plastic carrier bags are made.

“Our study is the first indication that we have polymer particles in our blood – ​it’s a breakthrough result,” said Prof Dick Vethaak, an ecotoxicologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “But we have to extend the research and increase the sample sizes, the number of polymers assessed, etc.” Further studies by a number of groups are already under way, he said.

Also of Interest

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

Russia Counter-Sanctions “Unfriendly Nations” by Requiring Gas Payments in Roubles; Dallas Fed Predicts 2022 Global Recession if Russian Energy Supply Remains Restricted

March of De-Dollarization: Russia Selling In Rubles

What Arab Media Is Saying About Ukraine

John Kiriakou: The US Plea Bargains for Its Crimes of Torture

Emissions, Exceptionalism, and Inequality in World on Fire

Annelle Sheline: Yemen, Our Other War

A Little Night Music

Clarence Gatemouth Brown & Canned Heat - Live at Montreux

John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat - Whiskey And Wimmen'

Canned Heat - Shake 'N Boogie

Canned Heat - A Change Is Gonna Come

Canned Heat - Gamblin' Woman

Canned Heat - Time Was

Canned Heat - Wish You Would

Canned Heat - Same All Over

Canned Heat - Bullfrog Blues

Memphis Slim, Canned Heat, The Memphis Horns - Black Cat Cross My Trail

14 users have voted.


CB's picture

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, and the "international rules-based order" has only one rule, "the u.s. rules."

6 users have voted.
CB's picture

Speech of the Head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy
March 25, 2022

In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief since February 24 this year. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are conducting a special military operation.

Its main goal is to provide assistance to the people of the Lugansk and Donetsk people's republics, who have been subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime for 8 years.

It was impossible to achieve this goal by political means. Kiev has publicly refused to implement the Minsk agreements. The Ukrainian leadership twice in 2014 and 2015 tried to solve the so-called Donbass problem by military means, was defeated, but did not change its plans on resolving conflict by force in the East of the country. According to reliable data, the Armed Forces of Ukraine were completing the preparation of a military operation to take control of the territory of the people's republics.

In these conditions, it was possible to help the Donetsk and Lugansk republics only by providing them with military assistance. Which Russia has done.

There were two possible courses of action.
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will continue to conduct a planned special military operation until the tasks set by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief have been completed.

11 users have voted.
CB's picture


5 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

great weekend....

On Caitlin's quote

As far as being a Nazi in Ukraine goes, better job security
might be found once you get outta Dodge!

12 users have voted.

“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”
— Hannah Arendt

Pluto's Republic's picture


....with Vijay Prashad. Together, they tilt the coverage of this comparatively tiny new war in Ukraine into a vast spiritual dimension. They are observing the cognitive dissonance that has captured human thought in the US, and examining how it paralyzed intellectual inquiry in America and the West. I think this over-arching US psychological phenomenon is the most important story of our time. It will have a tremendous impact on human life around the world, going forward. This phenomenon is actively defining our destiny as a species.

This is exactly what we should be thinking about.

The ensuing crisis of mind this dissonance will cause is really the only thing that can bring about the kind of change we want to see. And, in that sense, it's our only hope in this self-destructive, delusional Empire.

9 users have voted.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

joe shikspack's picture


"the western consciousness lives in the gutter," pretty well sums it up.

it's good to hear that the azov battalion has been defeated. that's a step in the right direction for ukraine.

thanks for the video, have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.
QMS's picture

jamming good
thanks joe!

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


there are a couple of videos of gate jamming with canned heat back then, it's all good stuff.

have a great weekend!

2 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

Got out the rest of the woodchip pile today....finally. Came out of a commercial limb trimming in a nearby cemetery. Been doling it out all winter and found the bottom of the pile at last.

I found it interesting that as China meets with the Afghans, India and Pakistan creating trade and peace deals, NATO meets to make more war. Also learned Olaf Scholz Grandfather was SS, not that it puts direct blame on the grandson, but explains something at least. I've been bewildered why they would snub cheaper more available gas from Russia to appease US delusions.

Well we live in interesting times at least...challenging to keep up with it. Thanks for your coverage and illumination!

9 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture


i've been scratching my head over why (not only germany but) europe has been so willing to cut off its nose to spite its face. i am guessing that the desire to appease the u.s. is not the only thing driving this. i would guess that there is some significant wrangling within the eu over which course of action to take - and that eastern europe is pushing an anti-russian line pretty strenuously.

this is going to be an interesting process to watch.

4 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Hi all, Hey Joe, Hope all are well! Been too busy to stop by... gotta hat tip for Canned Heat though. Smile What a great band they were. A big L.A. favorite, like Spirit and Love. Alan Wilson was from another zone. What a tragedy. That song Time Was is amazing, I hadn't heard it in too many years, what a great beautiful song. It actually had some airplay on L.A. FM radio. Henry Vestine was a great guitarist as well, and he and Wilson really made a great combo together. The bear was another tragedy. That poor band.

Thanks for the great soundscapes Joe! Have a great weekend.

Still looks like winter a way down south here but was 87F today!

4 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


glad you dug the canned heat. wow 87 this early? that's pretty impressive. we got up into the low 60's today with a brisk, raw breeze blowing. things are starting to bloom all over the place, though, so i think that it's officially spring. ms shikspack's daffodils say so at least.

have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

2nd time in 2 days. Gotta love that.

Of course lots of our troops have been in Ukraine for years because we have been training them. The Washington national guard just left before Russia went in. Then of course Eric the bloodthirsty Prince has been there for years too. I’d love to see him get kitted out and sent to the front line.

Well it’s going to be 80 here this weekend. That’s a couple degrees above normal. Like 30 of them. Yuck! Too soon.

Umm…what? Sanctions don’t deter but they will when we leave them on all year?

6 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture


it's just what biden needs, professional correction. send him to the department of corrections. Smile

4 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

Great band to start the weekend with. Days are definitely longer, but weather is still flukey here. Everything everywhere seems to be going to hell yet things are generally in a holding pattern all the same; it's almost like "wait and see" is no longer an option but some sort of steady state and everything is some kind of loco. Ah well, we'll see what Mañana brings.

be well and have a good one and a fantastic weekend too.

4 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

yeah, we seem to be in something of a holding pattern, but it may just be the calm before the storm. alternately, we may be sliding down the tubes so slowly at the moment that we aren't noticing.

anyway, have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

1 user has voted.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

lotlizard's picture

2 users have voted.

@lotlizard for the stupidity emanating from Texas.

2 users have voted.