The Evening Blues - 5-25-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Boogie woogie piano player Pete Johnson. Enjoy!
Pete Johnson - Rocket Boogie
"The mythology of the Reagan presidency is that he induced the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring it into unsustainable military spending and wars: should there come a point when we think about applying that lesson to ourselves?"
-- Glenn Greenwald
News and Opinion
Greenwald, worth a full read at the link:
The House of Representatives, on May 10, approved President Biden's $33 billion package for the war in Ukraine, and then, on its own initiative, added $7 billion on top of it. That brought the new war spending authorization to $40 billion, on top of the $14 billion already spent just 10 weeks into this war, which U.S. officials predict will last years, not months. The House vote in favor was 368-57. All 57 NO votes were from GOP House members. All House Democrats, including the Squad, voted YES.
A similar scene occurred when the Senate, “moving quickly and with little debate,” overwhelmingly approved the same war package. All eleven NO votes were from Senate Republicans. All Senate Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), voted in favor, seemingly in direct contradiction to Sanders’ February 8 op-ed in The Guardian warning of the severe dangers of bipartisan escalation of the war. Efforts by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to delay passage of the bill so that some safeguards and accountability measures could be included regarding where the money was going and for what purposes it would be used were met with scorn, particularly from Paul's fellow Kentucky GOP Senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who condemned Paul as an “isolationist.” Following the Senate vote, a jet was used to fly the bill across the world to President Biden in South Korea, where he signed it into law.
But the lack of any safeguards over the destination of the money and weapons prompted close to two dozen House Republicans, led by Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM), to send a letter to the Biden White House on Monday demanding greater specificity and assurances about legal requirements on how weapons are used. The letter urges a public reckoning on the dangers of the U.S.'s bankrolling of the war in Ukraine: “We write today to express grave concern about the lack of oversight and accountability for the money and weapons recently approved by Congress for Ukraine,” it began.
"The aid package approved by Congress provides unprecedented funding for a foreign conflict in which the United States is not fighting, while there have been no significant hearings or substantive briefings on the use of the money and weapons being provided at taxpayer expense." The lawmakers raised the prospect of sophisticated weaponry falling into the hands of terrorist organizations, citing a documented history of illicit arms-trafficking within Ukraine, a market which is one of the largest in Europe:
"According to a 2017 Small Arms Survey briefing on arms trafficking, over 300,000 small arms disappeared from Ukraine between 2013 and 2015 and only 13 percent were recovered. Criminal networks, corrupt officials, and underpaid military personnel can make a profitable business from the sale of arms from Ukrainian military stockpiles. For example, in 2019, the Ukrainian Security Service uncovered a plot by Ukrainian soldiers to sell 40 RGD-5 grenades, 15 grenade launchers, 30 grenade detonators, and 2,454 rounds of ammunition for 75,000 Ukrainian hryvnia or around $2,900."
Indeed, the relentlessly war-supporting CNN last month acknowledged that “the US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine.” Biden officials admitted the “risk that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places.” About the heavy weaponry the Biden White House had originally said it wouldn't send, only to change its mind, a senior official briefing reporters said: “I couldn't tell you where they are in Ukraine and whether the Ukrainians are using them at this point.” ...
As escalating gas prices and the soaring costs of consumer goods place greater and greater strain on the American worker, the Republican lawmakers signing onto this letter highlighted the strange logic behind the bipartisan position that enormous sums of money must be spent on a war in a country in which the U.S., as former president Barack Obama long maintained, has no vital interest, all while Americas are asked to endure shortages and economic downturn at home. "The American people did not elect us to pour their hard-earned money into a conflict halfway around the world with little ability to track the end use of weapons or their effectiveness,” they argued.
Biden’s HAWKISH Vow To Protect Taiwan Will End With DEAD Americans & US At Risk: Lt Col Daniel Davis
US Senator Joe Manchin said at the World Economic Forum on Monday that he opposes any kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia.
Manchin, who at the moment is one of the most powerful elected officials in Washington, added that only the complete forcible ejection of Russia from all of Ukraine is acceptable, that the war should ideally be used to remove Putin from power, and that he and the strategists he talks to see this war as an “opportunity”.
“I am totally committed, as one person, to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically with some kind of a treaty; I don’t think that is where we are and where we should be,” Manchin said.
“I mean basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin,” Manchin added when asked what he meant by a win for Ukraine.
Joe Manchin, speaking today at the World Economic Forum, rejects the idea that the Ukraine war should ever be resolved with "some type of a treaty." Instead demands fighting "to the end," until total victory -- which includes "getting rid of Putin" pic.twitter.com/wPj8qfsF1P
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 24, 2022
Manchin clarified that he did not mean pushing Putin back to “pre-February”, ostensibly meaning with Russia still controlling the largely Moscow–loyal Crimea and supporting separatist territories in the Donbass, but with Kyiv fully reclaiming all parts of the nation.
“Oh no, I think Ukraine is determined to take their country back,” Manchin said when asked to clarify, further clarifying that he wants his call for regime change in Russia to be carried out by “the Russian people.”
“I believe strongly that I have never seen, and the people I talk strategically have never seen, an opportunity more than this, to do what needs to be done,” Manchin later added. “And Ukraine has the determination to do it. We should have the commitment to support it.”
Manchin’s comments fit in perfectly with what we know about the US-centralized empire’s real agendas in Ukraine.
Earlier this month Ukrainian media reported that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on behalf of NATO powers that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.”
Last month US Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the goal in this war is not peace in Ukraine or the mere military defeat of Russia but to actually weaken Russia as a nation, saying “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”
Last week The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is developing plans to “further choke Russia’s oil revenues with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy.”
Just the other day Ukraine’s military intelligence chief announced that the mission has already creeped forward from the goal of defeating the Russian invaders to reclaiming the Crimean territory which was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014.
Two months ago Biden himself acknowledged what the real game is here with an open call for regime change, saying of Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Statements from the Biden administration in fact indicate that they expect this war to drag on for a long time, making it abundantly clear that a swift end to minimize the death and destruction is not just uninteresting but undesirable for the US empire.
This is not a proxy war with peace as an option anywhere within sight. It’s not about saving Ukrainian lives. It’s not even about beating Russia in Ukraine. It’s about achieving regime change in Moscow, no matter how many lives need to be destroyed in the process.
Peace is not on the menu.
This war could easily have been prevented with a little diplomacy and reasonable compromise. As the University of Ottawa’s Ivan Katchanovski recently explained to The Maple, “an agreement in which Ukraine promised to remain a neutral country and the fulfilment of the Minsk accords could have stopped Putin’s invasion.”
We know now that the US intelligence cartel had good visibility into what the Kremlin had planned for Ukraine, so they would have known exactly what could have been done to prevent the invasion. They knowingly chose to do none of those things, because the goal was to provoke this war the entire time and then weaponize it against Moscow.
That’s why the Biden administration has been hindering diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to this war, why it has refused to provide Ukraine with any kind of diplomatic negotiating power regarding the possible rollback of sanctions and other US measures to help secure peace, and why Washington’s top diplomats have consistently been conspicuously absent from any kind of dialogue with their counterparts in Moscow.
Empire spinmeisters and their propagandized victims like to claim that Ukrainian forces are fighting for “peace” in Ukraine. The other day Kyiv Independent’s Illia Ponomarenko, who has called the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion his “brothers in arms,” tweeted this:
Good god, I want peace in Ukraine by Christmas time.
Fireworks and joy in the snowy streets of Kyiv. Patriotic music, strangers hugging each other at the Maidan, “merry Christmas, war is over.”
That would be just awesome, don’t you guys think so?
— Illia Ponomarenko (@IAPonomarenko) May 21, 2022
But anyone who understands this war knows this is ridiculous. Peace is not the goal in Ukraine. Most of the Ukrainians doing the fighting surely believe they are fighting for peace in their homeland, and peace is surely their intention, but that’s not something the empire will allow if the empire gets any say in the matter.
Even if Ukraine does somehow avoid being used as cannon fodder to draw Moscow into a long and costly slog as US officials have admitted was done in both Afghanistan and in Syria, and even if they do somehow manage to deliver a crushing and conclusive defeat to Moscow in the near term (which is far less probable than the western media would have you believe), that wouldn’t be the end of the war. The war would just change shape as the empire and its proxies go on the offensive against Moscow.
This war does not end with Russia being driven from Ukraine, it ends with regime change and the balkanization of the Russian Federation. Really it doesn’t end until the rise of China has been stopped and US unipolar hegemony secured. Or when the empire collapses. Or when we all die in a nuclear holocaust.
All forward motion in this war has nothing but violence as far as the eye can see on its trajectory into the future. No matter how much wealth and war machinery you pour into this conflict, that trajectory of death and destruction will just keep stretching out to the horizon. As Chris Hedges recently explained, war is the only path the empire has left open to itself.
I’ve seen some cute kids in my time, but nobody’s as adorable as people who think the US pours weapons into foreign nations in order to achieve peace.
— Todd McKenzie (@ToddEBear) May 24, 2022
Britain is again putting itself at the forefront of NATO’s escalation of the war with Russia over Ukraine. On Monday the Times reported, “Britain is in discussion with allies about sending warships to the Black Sea to protect freighters carrying Ukrainian grain.” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has discussed the plans with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. He explained that participating countries “could provide ships or planes that would be stationed in the Black Sea and provide maritime passage for the grain ships to leave Odessa’s port and reach the Bosphorus in Turkey”. ...
These plans are already in motion. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Monday that Washington would be supplying Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, via a deal with Denmark. The Daily Mail reports that “a handful” of countries are willing to do the same, according to US officials and congressional sources.
Earlier this month, former senior NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis wrote for Bloomberg on May 6, “It’s worth considering an escort system for Ukrainian (and other national) merchant ships that want to go in and out of Odesa … The vast Black Sea is mostly international waters. Nato warships are free to travel nearly wherever they want, including into Ukraine’s territorial waters and its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Conceding those waters to Russia makes no sense. Instead, look for them to become the next major front in the Ukraine war.” ...
Sidharth Kaushal of the Royal United Services Institute military think tank told the Financial Times, “To maintain a functional convoy system, you’d have to have a huge western fleet stationed in the Mediterranean to rotate through the Black Sea” and risk “escalatory confrontation with Russian warships”. ... Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba bellicosely announced the war plans being discussed behind the scenes, saying of the Russian presence in the Black Sea that there was “a military solution to this: defeat Russia.” He continued, “If we receive even more military support, we’ll be able to throw them back… defeat the Black Sea fleet and unblock the passage for vessels.”
Hoary old commie-hater makes vitriolic speech to oligarchs, demands more war as first priority. Surprise!
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to be the “beginning of the third world war” that could spell the end of civilisation, the veteran philanthropist and former financier George Soros has warned. In a ferocious attack on Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Soros warned that autocratic regimes were in the ascendant and the global economy was heading for a depression.
Soros, who has become a hate figure for the hard right in the US, also heavily criticised the former German chancellor Angela Merkel for cosying up to Moscow and Beijing.
With the mood in Davos already downbeat due to the war in Ukraine, Soros ramped up the gloomy rhetoric to new heights. “The invasion may have been the beginning of the third world war and our civilisation may not survive it,” he said. ...
“While the war rages, the fight against climate change has to take second place. Yet the experts tell us that we have already fallen far behind, and climate change is on the verge of becoming irreversible. That could be the end of our civilisation.
“Therefore, we must mobilise all our resources to bring the war to an early end. The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilisation is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That’s the bottom line.”
The U.S. Administration is considering imposing secondary sanctions on buyers of Russian oil as a means to deprive Putin of oil revenues and undermine Russia’s position as an energy export powerhouse in the long term, the New York Times reported on Thursday, quoting current and former U.S. officials.
Secondary sanctions that are being studied would mean that the U.S. would block buyers of Russian oil from doing business in America or with American and European companies, much like the U.S. tried to do with Iran when the Trump Administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in 2018.
The Biden Administration is also considering additional measures such as a price cap on Russian oil, NYT says.
The U.S. Administration is wary of trying to take a large chunk of Russian oil exports off the market because oil prices would soar to record highs, further exacerbating the inflation and record-high gasoline prices for said Administration ahead of the November elections while raising oil revenues for Putin.
Therefore, the U.S. is looking to convince countries to reduce and eventually phase out imports of Russian oil, U.S. officials tell NYT.
The ruble’s rebound has left it more than 30 percent stronger against the dollar than it was before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The ruble’s blistering rebound picked up pace on Monday, ratcheting up pressure on Russia to ease a key capital-flow control that’s underpinned the currency’s recovery.
With the gains now threatening to hurt budget revenue and exporters, a decision to cut the share of hard-currency earnings that exporters convert into rubles could come as early as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter. The mandated proportion could be reduced to 50% from 80% currently, the people said, who requested anonymity because the details of the plan aren’t public. ...
The restrictions, combined with a collapse in imports amid the sweeping sanctions the US and its allies imposed on Russia, all but eradicated demand for foreign currency just as supply surged thanks to high prices for largely unsanctioned energy exports.
The Economy Ministry said late Monday that the ruble’s appreciation is reaching a peak and capital flows and imports will adapt, taking pressure off the rate, Tass reported.
A full “lifting of capital controls would return the ruble to the range of 70-80 versus the dollar that would be much more comfortable for the economy,” said Tatiana Orlova of Oxford Economics. “This level of the FX rate is already included in prices. Therefore, the return to this range would not fuel inflation.”
A pledge by Turkey’s president to cut all ties with the Greek prime minister – and a suggestion that Kyriakos Mitsotakis was dishonourable and lacking character – has raised fears of renewed tensions between the two Nato members. Calling off talks between the countries, Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Mitsotakis of deliberately antagonising Turkey when he addressed the US Congress during a visit last week to Washington.
“This year we were supposed to have a strategic council meeting,” Erdogan said in a televised address on Monday. “From now on there is no one called Mitsotakis in my book. I will never accept meeting him because we [only] walk on the same path as politicians who keep their promises, who have character and who are honourable.” The decision to freeze Greek-Turkish contact ends what many had hoped would be a period of détente between the perennial foes after Mitsotakis held talks with Erdogan in Istanbul in March. ...
“We had agreed not to include third countries in our disputes,” he said. “Despite this, last week, he had a visit to the US and talked at the Congress and warned them not to give F-16s [fighter planes] to us.”
Making the historic 17 May address, the Greek leader stopped short of mentioning Turkey by name but warned Washington of the perils involved in fomenting instability in the region if arms purchasing agreements were adopted. ... “The last thing that Nato needs at a time when our focus is on helping Ukraine defeat Russia’s aggression is another source of instability on Nato’s south-east flank,” Mitsotakis told Congress. ...
Washington’s growing desire to see Greece as a “reliable” partner – expanding its military presence in the country and signing a mutual defence accord unprecedented in scope with Athens – has irked Ankara, analysts say, noting Erdogan’s unpredictability. On Monday, the Turkish leader raised the issue, saying: “At this moment there are 10 bases in Greece. What is the reason? Who are they threatening? For what reason are these bases being built in Greece?”
North Korea fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast early on Wednesday, Seoul’s military has said, just one day after President Joe Biden wrapped up his first Asia visit as US leader. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it had “detected at around 0600 (2100 GMT), 0637 and 0642 the firings of ballistic missiles launched from Sunan area.” ...
The Wednesday launches are the latest in a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests by Pyongyang this year, including test-firing intercontinental ballistic missiles at full range for the first time since 2017. The latest apparent test comes after Biden left South Korea on Sunday following a trip carried out amid concerns that Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong-un, could carry out a nuclear test while Biden was in the region.
While in South Korea, Biden joined Yoon for talks, including discussing expanded military exercises to counter Kim’s sabre rattling.
Democratic leaders of three U.S. congressional caucuses and a task force on Tuesday sent a letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to swiftly bring a bill that would expand and strengthen Social Security to the floor for a vote.
The chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus—made up of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—joined with top members of the Task Force on Aging and Families (TFAF) for the effort.
"We know how important H.R. 5723—the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust—is to all Americans but particularly seniors and people of color," states the letter to Pelosi (D-Calif), which promotes legislation introduced last October by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.).
Welcoming the development in a statement Tuesday, Larson said that "increasing Social Security benefits would uplift everyone but would be especially impactful for people of color in our country, as they are more likely to rely on these benefits."
"I'm honored Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust has the support of the Tri-Caucus and the Task Force on Aging and Families because they know what some of our nation's most vulnerable need," he added. "We will continue working together to bring this bill for a vote so we can deliver the improved benefits our nation's beneficiaries need now!"
The lawmakers' letter to Pelosi highlights that "importantly, H.R. 5723 not only expands benefits both across-the-board and in targeted ways, it cuts Social Security's projected shortfall by more than half."
"The modest benefits Social Security currently provides are a lifeline for many of our constituents. Whether they be retired seniors, disabled veterans, or children who've lost a parent—millions rely on Social Security," the letter explains. "Yet we know from our witness testimony and town halls that parents and grandparents often must choose between putting food on the table for their children or keeping a roof over their heads."
President Joe Biden "has called Social Security a 'sacred trust,'" the letter notes, arguing that not only is improving the program "wise policy and winning politics," but also "it is Congress' responsibility to ensure that Social Security's benefits are protected and improved. It's time we deliver."
In addition to having over 200 co-sponsors, the bill is backed by advocacy organizations, including Social Security Works.
"Social Security provides crucial economic security for all Americans," said the group's president, Nancy Altman, Tuesday. "These benefits are particularly vital for people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and others who have faced discrimination. We need to expand Social Security's modest benefits so that everyone in America can enjoy a secure retirement, no matter where they are from, who they love, or what they look like."
"We stand with House Democrats in the CBC, CHC, CAPAC, and TFAF in support of Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust," she said. "It's time to get every House member on the record by holding a floor vote on the bill, prior to November, so voters know where their representatives stand."
Exactly two years after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden on Wednesday is expected to unveil an executive order aimed at reforming federal policing standards and pushing state and local law enforcement agencies to improve their policies as well.
Civil rights groups on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism regarding the upcoming order, which has reportedly changed since a draft document was leaked earlier this year and garnered criticism from police groups.
According to the New York Times, the order will direct federal agencies to revise their use-of-force policies, create a national registry of officers who have been fired for misconduct, restrict the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies, and use grants to incentivize police departments to reform their chokehold and no-knock warrant policies.
The expected signing of the executive order will follow the first update to the U.S. Department of Justice's use-of-force policy in 18 years, which was announced Monday and requires federal agents to intervene if they see their colleagues using excessive force.
"The devil is in the details" regarding implementation of Biden's order, Udi Ofer, deputy national political director of the ACLU, said Tuesday.
"We have seen jurisdictions with strong standards where officers still resort to the use of deadly force, so just having these words on paper will not be enough," Ofer told the Times. "The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives."
Ofer noted that the president is taking executive action eight months after the U.S. Senate failed to pass a sweeping police reform bill which would have banned police chokeholds and eliminated qualified immunity—which protects police from liability in misconduct lawsuits—among other reforms.
The draft order which was leaked earlier this year included language allowing federal agents to use deadly force "as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative, in other words only when necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death" and using grants to encourage state and local police to adopt the same reform.
The White House worked closely with the DOJ and police groups following the draft leak, which had prompted police to threaten to end their support for the executive action.
Since the leak, the president has garnered criticism from civil liberties and civil rights groups for his approach to the national debate over redirecting police funding to other spending on education, housing, and other community needs that have been shown to increase public safety.
In his State of the Union address in March, Biden said lawmakers must "fund the police," even though most U.S. cities increased the percentage of their budgets which went to policing in 2021 following protests over Floyd's murder.
Earlier this month, Biden also outraged police reform advocates when he urged states to spend unused Covid-19 relief funds on policing.
On Tuesday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said that while Biden's executive order "cannot address America's policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to... we've got to do everything we can."
Canada’s governor general has described the country’s residential schools as places of unimaginable cruelty, in a eulogy to honour the thousands of Indigenous children who died while attending the institutions. “Today, we make ourselves heard across the country. Although it is hard, we are telling Canadians and the world about our wounds and pain,” Mary Simon, the Queen’s representative in Canada, told hundreds gathered on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian residential school.
A year ago, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of nearly 200 possible unmarked graves on the grounds. The announcement sent shockwaves through the country, prompting the federal government to establish a national holiday and promise millions of dollars to other Indigenous nations launching their own investigations.
Simon, the country’s first Indigenous governor-general, toured the grounds of the former school on Monday to commemorate the traditional end of the mourning period for Le Estcwicwéy̓ – the missing children. Meeting with survivors and community members, Simon nonetheless recognized that many were still grieving.
“At this residential school and others like it across the country, churches and governments eradicated Indigenous languages and identity through corrupt policies. They took away our stories,” she said. “It’s unimaginable that a place of learning was so cruel. It’s inexcusable that people could commit these atrocities, or that people could stand silent as they were committed.”
Donald Trump’s onetime attorney Rudy Giuliani testified to the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack at length on Friday but declined to discuss the involvement of congressional Republicans in efforts to overturn the 2020 election result, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The move by Giuliani to refuse to give insight into Republican involvement could mean his appearance only marginally advanced the inquiry into his ploy to have the then vice-president, Mike Pence, unlawfully keep Trump in office after he lost to Joe Biden.
However, he did potentially pique the committee’s interest by discussing two notable meetings at the White House involving Trump that took place just weeks before the Capitol insurrection.
Giuliani asserted privilege and the work-product doctrine to decline to respond when asked to detail the roles played by House and Senate Republicans in the scheme to stop Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory on 6 January 2021, the sources said.
After weeks of allegations that multiple Republicans running for governor in Michigan submitted fraudulent signatures to get on the ballot, the state Bureau of Elections on Monday confirmed what one journalist called "wholesale fraud" involving five GOP candidates.
"For all the Michigan GOP's feigned outrage over 'election integrity,' several of their candidates seem very comfortable with using shady, underhanded tactics to get on the ballot," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, in an apparent reference to 2020.
Though President Joe Biden won Michigan by over 150,000 votes, the state was included in former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the election was stolen. Trump and others unsuccessfully pressured the Board of State Canvassers to refuse to certify the results.
While Michael Brown withdrew from the gubernatorial race after Monday's revelation, the Board of State Canvassers—made up of two Democrats and two Republicans—will vote Thursday on whether to disqualify Donna Brandenburg, James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Michael Markey Jr.
Factoring in thousands of fraudulent entries, those five Republicans fell short of the necessary 15,000 signatures, according to the Bureau of Elections. The candidates, who were also required to have 100 names from each of at least half of the state's congressional districts, were allowed to submit 30,000 signatures in total.
If they are all disqualified from participating in the August 2 primary, the five remaining contenders will be Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, Kevin Rinke, and Garrett Soldano. The winner will face off against the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in November.
"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants, including the self-proclaimed quality guru who apparently didn't check the quality of his own signatures and the former police chief who seems to have brought corruption with him from his days at [the Detroit Police Department]," said Scott, referring to Johnson and Craig. "I hope the Michigan Republican Party will live up to their big talk about integrity, respect our election laws, and hold their own accountable when the board of canvassers meet this week."
The Massachusetts high court on Tuesday ruled that the US’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, must face a trial over accusations that it lied about the climate crisis and covered up the fossil fuel industry’s role in worsening environmental devastation.
Exxon claimed the case brought by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, was politically motived and amounted to an attempt to prevent the company from exercising its free speech rights. But the state’s supreme judicial court unanimously dismissed the claim in the latest blow to the oil industry’s attempts to head off a wave of lawsuits across the country over its part in causing global heating.
Healey’s lawsuit accuses Exxon of breaking the state’s consumer protection laws with a decades-long cover-up of what it knew about the impact on the climate of burning fossil fuels. The state also says the company deceived investors about the risks to its business posed by global heating. Exxon claimed the lawsuit was in breach of legislation against what are known as strategic lawsuits against public participation, or Slapps, used by wealthy individuals and corporations to silence critics. The Massachusetts court ruled that anti-Slapp laws do not apply to government cases. ...
In March, a federal court also refused to put a block on the state’s legal action and ruled that Exxon was obliged to turn over documents to investigators.
The oil industry suffered another defeat on Monday when a federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit by Rhode Island against 21 fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, BP and Shell, can go ahead in state court. Fossil fuel companies are attempting to move cases into what they regard as the more friendly forum of federal courts.
Cutting methane sharply now is crucial, as focusing on carbon dioxide alone will not be enough to keep rising temperatures within livable limits, scientists have warned. CO2 is the greenhouse gas most responsible for heating the planet, with most of it coming from the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, it has been the major focus of international efforts to prevent climate breakdown.
However, other greenhouse gases also have a sizeable warming effect, and if we ignore them we will fail to keep temperatures within globally accepted limits, according to research published on Monday.
The study found that . But cutting methane and other “short-lived climate pollutants” (SLCPs) such as soot would reduce the global heating effect in the near term, thus giving the world “a fighting chance” of staving off climate catastrophe, the scientists said. Methane warming effect is as much as 80 times that of C02, although it quickly degrades in the atmosphere.
Prof Durwood Zaelke, the president of the Washington-based Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), and co-author of the paper, said cutting methane offered a quick way to reduce global heating while the world pursued longer term cuts in CO2. ... Zaelke called on European governments to stipulate that any gas they import to replace supplies from Russia should come from sources with low rates of methane leaks. “This is the fastest and most promising way to protect the planet while we decarbonise,” he said.
Plugging the methane leaks from oil and gas operations, including shale wells, and stopping harmful practices such as venting or flaring the gas, is not only technically feasible but can also be highly profitable at today’s gas prices. Dr Gabrielle Dreyfus, chief scientist for the IGSD, and lead author of the paper, said: “This is an optimistic message, as we have low or no-cost strategies available, with no or low-cost interventions, that can slow global warming in the critical near-term.”
Mexican experts have said that 35% more monarch
butterflies arrived this year to spend the winter in mountaintop forests, compared with the previous season. Experts say the rise may reflect the butterflies’ ability to adapt to more extreme bouts of heat or drought by varying the date when they leave Mexico.
The government commission for natural protected areas said the butterflies’ population covered 2.84 hectares (7 acres) this year, compared with 2.1 hectares last year. The annual butterfly count does not calculate the individual number of butterflies, but rather the number of acres they cover when they clump together on tree boughs.
Each year the monarchs return to the United States and Canada on an annual migration that is threatened by loss of the milkweed their caterpillars feed on north of the border, and deforestation in Mexico. Gloria Tavera, the regional director of Mexico’s commission for national protected areas, said on Monday that logging in the butterflies’ wintering ground rose by about 4.5% this year, to 13.9 hectares.
However, fewer trees were lost to fire, drought or plant diseases and pests. So overall tree loss in the 2021-22 season was 18.8 hectares, down from 20.2 hectares in the 2020-21 season.
The butterflies traditionally arrive in the mountaintop pine and fir forests west of Mexico City in late October and the start of November. They normally leave for the US and Canada in March. But Tavera said that last year was unusual, because the monarchs began leaving in February; that allowed them to get out before drought and heat hit just north of the border in April and May. “They are beginning to adapt to extreme climate conditions,” Tavera said.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Pete Johnson and Joe Turner - Roll 'Em Pete
Pete Johnson - Let 'Em Jump
Pete Johnson - Death Ray Boogie
Joe Turner & Pete Johnson - That's All Right Baby
Pete Johnson's Band - Stomp
Pete Johnson - Kaycee Feeling
Pete Johnson - Blues On The Downbeat
Pete Johnson - Pete's Lonesome Blues
Pete Johnson and his Boogie Woogie Boys - Baby Look At You
Pete Johnson - Kaycee On My Mind
Pete Johnson - Dive Bomber