The Evening Blues - 6-1-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Enjoy!
Dizzy Gillespie - Blues Walk
"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Today in tyranny we’ve got three stories on the rapidly increasing authoritarian abuses in western “free democracies”.
Let’s dig in.
1. Grayzone reporter detained by British counter-terrorism police for doing journalism.
The Grayzone’s Kit Klarenberg was detained by “six anonymous plainclothes counter-terror officers” who “grilled him for over five hours about his reporting” upon returning to Britain on the 17th of May, according to a new report by Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal.
British police detain journalist @KitKlarenberg, interrogate him about The Grayzone
Counter-terror police detained journalist Kit Klarenberg upon his arrival in London and subjected him to a 5 hour interrogation about his political views and reportinghttps://t.co/RmxZGY8efp pic.twitter.com/YftxSR1Cl0
— The Grayzone (@TheGrayzoneNews) May 31, 2023
Blumenthal reports that Klarenberg was asked many questions about The Grayzone and his work with the independent outlet, saying police “seized the journalist’s electronic devices and SD cards, fingerprinted him, took DNA swabs, and photographed him intensively,” threatening him with arrest if he didn’t comply.
Blumenthal writes that the police action was likely a retaliation for Klarenberg’s reporting for the outlet, which has angered British officials and establishment media figures with the inconvenient information it has reported about their behavior:
Klarenberg’s interrogation appears to be London’s way of retaliating for the journalist’s blockbuster reports exposing major British and US intelligence intrigues. In the past year alone, Klarenberg revealed how a cabal of Tory national security hardliners violated the Official Secrets Act to exploit Brexit and install Boris Johnson as prime minister. In October 2022, he earned international headlines with his exposé of British plans to bomb the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian Federation. Then came his report on the CIA’s recruitment of two 9/11 hijackers this April, a viral sensation that generated massive social media attention.
Among Klarenberg’s most consequential exposés was his June 2022 report unmasking British journalist Paul Mason as a UK security state collaborator hellbent on destroying The Grayzone and other media outlets, academics, and activists critical of NATO’s role in Ukraine.
Asserting that Klarenberg did nothing more nefarious than engaging in “the same journalistic practice that the West’s most prominent legacy newspapers, from The New York Times to The Washington Post, depend on to break news themselves,” Blumenthal says it appears that “British authorities did not detain Klarenberg for any legal breaches, but because he reported factual stories that exposed the national security state’s own violations of both domestic and international law, as well as the malign plots of its media lackeys.”
Blumenthal himself was subjected to legal harassment and intimidation in the United States a few years back, arrested and charged with having committed “assault” while reporting on imperial efforts to drive the Venezuelan government out of its embassy in Washington DC. The charges were later dropped.
The Grayzone has been doing some of the best independent reporting in alternative media over the last few years, and should wear its now-evident status as a thorn in the empire’s side with pride.
2. South Australia passes draconian anti-protest law.
Reacting to recent inconvenient demonstrations by environmental activists, the state of South Australia has just rapidly shoved through legislation — without consulting the public — to exponentially increase the penalties for unauthorized protesting. Demonstrators will now face up to three months in jail and fines of $50,000 if they are deemed guilty of the extremely vague offense of “obstructing a public place” with their protesting.
The Human Rights Law Center expresses the following:
South Australia is the latest jurisdiction to impose severe penalties on people for engaging in peaceful protest, joining New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland who have passed anti-protest laws in the last five years. South Australia’s anti-protest laws carry the harshest financial penalties in Australia.
The Bill is excessive and will have a chilling effect on the right to protest in South Australia. The Bill is also potentially unconstitutional and in clear breach of well-established principles of international human rights law.
South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas acted shocked and offended that anyone could possibly think life-altering penalties for vaguely-defined protest activities might have some effect on protest activities, saying, “One of the things that I have found rather disconcerting around some of the commentary on this piece of legislation is that somehow, it curtails or diminishes people’s right to protest, which is simply not true.”
Now would probably be a good time to repeat my periodic reminder that Australia is the only so-called democracy in the world which has no national charter or bill of rights of any kind. A lot of attention went into the Australian government’s authoritarianism when its strict Covid measures were in place, but the fact of the matter is that this country has been diving headlong into tyranny since long before Covid, and continues to do so now that the lockdowns are long over. There simply aren’t enough checks and balances in place to prevent this from happening, and not enough will from the public to fight for them while fighting is still possible.
3. State Department dismisses questions about Ukrainian imprisonment of US citizen for speech crimes.
State Department refuses to say whether it will negotiate with Zelensky for the release of detained U.S. citizen Gonzalo Lira: pic.twitter.com/jTD58XjYnw
— Liam Cosgrove (@cosgrove_iv) May 28, 2023
At a press conference last week the State Department’s new spokesman Matthew Miller flatly brushed off questions about whether the US government was doing anything about the fact that commentator Gonzalo Lira has been arrested and charged with what amount to speech crimes by the Ukrainian government.
Here’s the State Department’s transcript of the exchange:
QUESTION: Thanks. Liam Cosgrove with Epoch Times. So this was a couple weeks ago, but I haven’t seen an official statement on it. A U.S. citizen who is residing in Ukraine has been arrested and that he was a California-born man; he was in the past like a Business Insider contributor, and he had a YouTube channel. He was an outspoken critic of Zelenskyy’s regime. The Ukrainian SBU released a press release saying he was arrested for justifying Putin’s invasion. So ultimately, it added up to speech. And I spoke with Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat, and he said he urges the State Department to engage its authorities to work out some sort of negotiation to get him released. So are you guys aware of this? How do we feel about our allies detaining U.S. citizens for speech abroad?
MR MILLER: So I will say in general that we’re aware of the report. We obviously support the exercise of freedom of speech anywhere in the world, and I’ll leave it at that.
QUESTION: So you guys aren’t working to get him released?
MR MILLER: I’m going to leave my comments where I just left them.
It’s not every day a US spokesperson gets asked a question that’s so inconvenient that they just overtly refuse to answer it without even pretending to provide an explanation for doing so.
Lira, a US citizen, is reportedly facing five to eight years in prison for having “publicly justified the armed aggression of the Russian Federation” and “publicly justified the armed aggression of the Russian Federation,” per the SBU.
Are Americans okay with their government risking a very fast, very radioactive third world war to defend the freedom and democracy of a nation that imprisons US citizens for speech crimes? I guess we’ll never know, because nobody’s asking them.
If western governments need to keep ramping up censorship, propaganda and the persecution of journalists in order to defend western freedom and democracy, is it really freedom and democracy? And, is it worth defending?
Three years after indicting him on espionage and computer intrusion charges, the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to be still seeking more evidence against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported in its Thursday edition that the F.B.I. last week sought an interview in London with Andrew O’Hagan, who worked as a ghostwriter on Assange’s autobiography in 2011.
The London Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism command sent the letter to O’Hagan, which said: “The FBI would like to discuss your experiences with Assange/WikiLeaks …”
O’Hagan told the Herald: “I would not give a witness statement against a fellow journalist being pursued for telling the truth. I would happily go to jail before agreeing in any way to support the American security establishment in this cynical effort.” ...
Assange’s Australian lawyer, Stephen Kenny, told the Herald:
“It appears they are continuing to try to investigate, which I find unusual given the amount of time that has passed since the investigation began.
I would think it is of some concern because we have been working to try to secure an arrangement that would see Julian come home. It would be very unusual if the FBI was trying to gather evidence that could help clear his name.”
Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, told the newspaper: “It shows they understand how weak the charges against Julian are and are trying to strengthen them.”
Kadyrov RU Offensive Starting, Avdeyevka; Ukr Shells Belgorod, Putin Warns; Biden Erdogan Tense Call
The United States has announced a new $300m arms package for Ukraine, including air defense systems and tens of millions of rounds of ammunition – but warned Kyiv that US weaponry should not be used to attack within Russia.
“We have been very clear with the Ukrainians privately – we’ve certainly been clear publicly – that we do not support attacks inside Russia. We do not enable and we do not encourage attacks inside Russia,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
The defense department said the latest shipments will bring the total value of US security assistance to Ukraine to $37.6bn since Russia’s February 2022 launch of the invasion. ...
The assistance also comes after a spate of attacks made in shadowy circumstances on targets inside Russia itself, including an unprecedented barrage of drone attacks on Moscow. ...
Kirby said that despite the growing tensions over the issue, the White House remains confident that Ukraine will keep its promise not to use US-built F-16 warplanes – set to be supplied by European countries – against targets beyond Ukrainian borders.
On Tuesday, Ukraine launched its second drone strike on Moscow to date and the first targeting civilian homes. Eight fixed-wing drones were launched, of which at least one crashed into an apartment building. Tuesday’s attack on the capital city of Russia is a signal that, following last week’s G7 meeting—at which the US announced it would send F-16 fighters—the imperialist powers have decided to bring the war ever more directly into Russian territory.
These attacks are aimed at provoking a retaliatory response by Russia, which could then be used to justify a further escalation by NATO, including the potential entry of NATO troops directly into the conflict. The claims by the United States that it does not “encourage” or “enable” strikes inside of Russia are transparent lies, aimed not at deceiving the Russian government but the American people. Ukraine’s attacks on the Russian capital would have been discussed with and authorized by the United States.
Ukraine has received US authorization in private to carry out strikes inside Russia, the Times of London reported in December. “The Pentagon has given a tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia,” it wrote.
Statements from political figures in the US and its allies implicitly endorsed the attacks. Former congressman Adam Kinzinger, an anti-Trump Republican, wrote: “Hey #Russia. You lost your right to be outraged about a drone attack on Moscow back in Feb 2022. Live by the sword…” UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly said that Ukraine has “the right to project force beyond its borders” and that such attacks are “internationally recognized as being legitimate as part of a nation’s self-defense.”
Last week, a far-right reporter asked Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler whether he opposed attacks inside Russia, to which he replied, “Nope… that’s fair play. … But why should Russia feel that they can invade somebody else? And have total safety at home?”
[One wonders how sanguine Nadler would be about an attack on the United States by (for example) Syria, which the U.S. has illegally invaded and still occupies a large piece of. - js]
Russia does not plan to declare martial law following Tuesday’s large-scale drone strike on Moscow, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has said. The Kremlin’s comments came after several leading Russian officials and pro-war figures urged the president, Vladimir Putin, to respond to the drone attacks by declaring a state of total war.
On Tuesday, Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman head of Chechnya whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine, said the Kremlin should declare martial law nationwide and use all its resources in Ukraine “to sweep away that terrorist gang”.
The Wagner mercenary group chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, similarly said that Moscow had to “mobilise the whole of society right now”.
Hardline nationalists have for weeks called on the Kremlin to announce a new round of mobilisation, a widely unpopular move that the Kremlin has so far chosen to avoid.
Russia's Interior Ministry has put two of Ukraine's top generals, including commander in chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, on a "wanted list", the state-run RIA news agency said on Tuesday.
Also on the list is Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, it said.
The articles they are wanted under have not been specified, RIA reported, citing the ministry's wanted person database.
The UK’s intelligence agencies are facing a rare judicial investigation after a tribunal said it would look into allegations that British spies were complicit in the torture of a prisoner held by the CIA.
The investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) said late last week it would examine a complaint brought by Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a Saudi citizen who was tortured between 2003 and 2006 while detained in a network of secret CIA prisons.
Al-Hawsawi, 54, who is accused by the US of aiding the hijackers behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, has been detained in the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba since 2006.
In its ruling, the IPT – a special judicial body that investigates and hears complaints against the intelligence services – said the allegations in Al-Hawsawi’s case were “of the gravest possible kind”.
IPT investigations are often shrouded in secrecy, but Al-Hawsawi’s lawyers believe it is the first known full investigation by the tribunal in relation to prisoners held in the CIA’s secret detention programme.
Unlike many other UK courts, the IPT can adopt an inquisitorial process to investigate complaints and has unique powers to obtain secret documents from the intelligence agencies.
A former employee of Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera unit spied on female customers for months in 2017 with cameras placed in bedrooms and bathrooms, the Federal Trade Commission said in a court filing on Wednesday when it announced a $5.8m settlement with the company over privacy violations.
Amazon also agreed to pay $25m to settle allegations it violated children’s privacy rights when it failed to delete Alexa recordings at the request of parents and kept them longer than necessary, according to a court filing in federal court in Seattle that outlined a separate settlement.
The FTC settlements are the agency’s latest effort to hold big tech accountable for policies that critics say place profits ahead of privacy. Amazon, which purchased Ring in April 2018, pledged to make some changes in its practices. “While we disagree with the FTC’s claims regarding both Alexa and Ring, and deny violating the law, these settlements put these matters behind us,” Amazon said in a statement.
Alvaro Bedoya, the FTC Commissioner, told Reuters the settlements should send a message to tech companies that their need to collect data was not an excuse to break the law. “This is a very clear signal to them,” he said.
The fines, totaling $30.8m, represent a fraction of Amazon’s $3.2bn first-quarter profit.
The bill has reached the crucial 218 threshold to pass, though members are still voting. Now it’ll advance to the Senate.
The leaders of both parties in Senate have signalled that they want to get the deal passed – though some Republicans may attempt to derail the process with amendments.
This snippet is quoted from Yves' commentary on the article, I found this bit very interesting and a compelling argument:
Various commentators—and members of Congress—have suggested that the President “invoke the 14th Amendment” to declare the debt limit unconstitutional. They’re right to argue that the debt limit is unconstitutional, but the constitutional problem isn’t the 14th Amendment. Instead, it’s Article I of the Constitution, namely Congress’s power to enter into contracts. The tl;dr version is that Congress has a power to make binding commitments for the United States and the President is constitutionally obligated to perform those commitments. If the Treasury lacks the funds, then the President must borrow. No specific authorization is needed. Instead, it is implicit every time Congress appropriates funds to perform a binding commitment.
Relocating the constitutional problem with the debt limit isn’t merely an academic exercise. It has two implications.
First, it changes the nature of the legal debate and puts the administration on much, much firmer legal footing. The 14th Amendment argument is weak because it simply is not a prohibition on defaulting. It’s a prohibition on repudiation, and a default is not a repudiation. An Article I argument reframes the issue as being about the validity of the debt ceiling, rather than the ability to default. In other words, it goes to question of whether the House GOP has holdup power, rather than whether the administration is under some cryptic constitutional limitation that it must affirmatively “invoke.”
Second, it means that the President not only can, but must disregard the debt limit in order to fulfill his own constitutional duty to “Take Care” that the laws are faithfully executed. In other words, breaching the debt limit is not merely an option, but a legal requirement if Treasury is short of funds. Once Congress has appropriated funds, the President must carry out the authorized spending.
The Oklahoma state Supreme Court on Wednesday became the latest state-level court to rebuke Republican legislation passed in recent months to bar residents from accessing abortion care, ruling that two laws signed by GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt are unconstitutional.
The court found that S.B. 1603 and H.B. 4327 both conflict with an earlier ruling in March, when five of the nine justices ruled that the Oklahoma Constitution guarantees the "inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve her life." ...
The ruling by the Oklahoma court on Wednesday was 6-3, with Justice Richard Darby joining the majority due to the precedent set by the March ruling.
S.B. 1603 banned abortion care after the point at which an ultrasound can detect an electronically induced sound from the tissue that will become a fetus' heart—often erroneously referred to as an actual fetal heartbeat by pro-forced pregnancy groups and lawmakers.
H.B. 4327 imposed a near-total ban on abortion care with exceptions for medical emergencies in which a pregnant person's life was at risk and for cases of rape or incest that had been reported to law enforcement.
The family of an 11-year-old boy who was shot and seriously injured by a police officer in Mississippi is filing a federal lawsuit against police and city authorities.
A police officer responding to a 911 call shot Aderrien Murry on 20 May in the city of Indianola, causing the child to suffer a collapsed lung, fractured ribs and a lacerated liver. The boy was released from hospital last Wednesday.
Greg Capers, the officer who shot Aderrien, was placed on paid leave pending an investigation by the Mississippi bureau of investigation.
The family lawsuit alleges police were negligent and used excessive force when responding to a call about a domestic disturbance at the home of Aderrien and his mother, after her former partner turned up at the property.
“If I had not been informed about the case I would not have believed that this could be possible. A trained officer shooting an unarmed 11-year-old?” Carlos Moore, the attorney representing the family, told CNN. “For him to do this, to shoot a boy that obeyed his commands, he came out with his hands up, and get shot in the chest? Unheard of.”
Human activity has pushed the world into the danger zone in seven out of eight newly demarcated indicators of planetary safety and justice, according to a groundbreaking analysis of the Earth’s wellbeing.
Going beyond climate disruption, the report by the Earth Commission group of scientists presents disturbing evidence that our planet faces growing crises of water availability, nutrient loading, ecosystem maintenance and aerosol pollution. These pose threats to the stability of life-support systems and worsen social equality. ...
Prof Johan Rockström, one of the lead authors, said: “It is an attempt to do an interdisciplinary science assessment of the entire people-planet system, which is something we must do given the risks we face.
“We have reached what I call a saturation point where we hit the ceiling of the biophysical capacity of the Earth system to remain in its stable state. We are approaching tipping points, we are seeing more and more permanent damage of life-support systems at the global scale.”
The Earth Commission, which was established by dozens of the world’s leading research institutions, wants the analysis to form the scientific backbone of the next generation of sustainability targets and practices, which extend beyond the current focus on climate to include other indices and environmental justice. It hopes that cities and businesses will adopt the targets as a way to measure the impact of their activities.
The Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, who is running for a US Senate seat next year, implied on Wednesday that a justice department lawsuit over more than $7.5m in unpaid penalties related to mining operations by his family companies was a politically motivated attack.
“I’ve announced as a Republican that I’m running for the US Senate,” Justice told reporters. “The Biden administration is aware of the fact that with a win for the US Senate and everything, we could very well flip the Senate. There’s a lot at stake right now.”
In his Senate run, Justice is seeking to defeat Joe Manchin, the only Democrat in statewide elected office in West Virginia. Democrats hold the US Senate by a narrow majority 51-49. Early polling suggests Justice will storm to victory. On Tuesday, a poll from the East Carolina University put the governor 22 points up.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee directly claimed the suit was politically motivated, accusing Democrats of “weaponising the federal government to attack the family of a Republican Senate candidate”.
The federal lawsuit concerns unpaid penalties related to mining operations, violations that “pose health and safety risks or threaten environmental harm”, the US justice department said. Justice companies owe penalties of approximately $7.6m, the justice department said, on fines initially levied by the Department of the Interior and which the justice department said were “uncontested”. The department said it had filed suit against the governor’s son, James C Justice III, and 13 coal companies he owns or operates.
One of the largest utilities in the US has avoided a trial for a deadly 2020 wildfire that sparked when a tree fell on one of its power lines in rural northern California.
A Shasta county judge on Tuesday dismissed manslaughter and other criminal charges against Pacific Gas and Electric related to the Zogg fire, which killed four people as they tried to flee the fast-moving blaze that destroyed the towns of Igo and Ono.
The trial – a rare occurrence as PG&E has typically settled criminal cases – had been scheduled to start in Shasta county next week, and would have served as a public reckoning for a company that has already paid out billions in damages for wildfires started by its power equipment.
As part of a settlement to avoid a trial, PG&E has agreed to pay $45m to groups focused on rebuilding efforts and a $5m civil penalty, and to continue initiatives to reduce the risk of wildfires.
The district attorney, Stephanie Bridgett, said in an interview with the Guardian that she did not agree with the judge’s decision to drop the charges, but that her office fought for a resolution that would help the community.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Dizzy Gillispie - I'm Hard Of Hearing Mama
Dizzy Gillespie - Shim Sham Shimmy On The St. Louis Blues
Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Mickey Roker, Ray Brown - St James Infirmary
Dizzy Gillespie - Salt Peanuts
Dizzy Gillespie - A Night In Tunisia
Dizzy Gillespie - Oop Bop Sh' Bam
Dizzy Gillespie's Quartet 1981 - School Days
Muddy Waters and Dizzy Gillespie - Kansas City
Dizzy Gillespie - The Bluest Blues
Dizzy Gillespie w/Dirty Dozen Brass Band - Ooh-Pop-A-Dah