The Evening Blues - 6-20-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz and blues organist Jmmy McGriff. Enjoy!
Jimmy McGriff & Hank Crawford Quartet - Everyday I Have The Blues
"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you."
-- Oscar Wilde
News and Opinion
The Albanese government insists it will not conduct “diplomacy by megaphone” as it faces calls to do more to prevent the extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US. On Saturday, the British home secretary, Priti Patel, approved the extradition of Assange to the US, where he is charged with breaching the US Espionage Act and faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted. He has 14 days to appeal the decision.
Supporters of the Australian citizen, including on Labor’s backbench, have urged the new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to do more to pressure the United States to drop the case, which has been running since 2010, when WikiLeaks published a trove of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars along with diplomatic cables.
The minister for employment and workplace relations, Tony Burke, said the government’s view was that the case had gone on too long and that conversations were happening. “We’re not going to conduct diplomacy by megaphone. This case has gone on for far too long. We said that in opposition, we’ve repeated that in government,” Burke told Sky News on Sunday.
“The issue needs to be brought to a close. Australia is not a party to the prosecution that’s happening here [and] each country has its own legal system. The days of diplomacy being conducted and conversations with government being conducted by megaphone, text messages being exposed – that was the way the previous government behaved. We’ve been building constructive relationships again with our allies and they’re conversations that happen government to government.”
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has authorized the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to be tried under the Espionage Act in a case which seeks to set a legal precedent for the prosecution of any publisher or journalist, anywhere in the world, who reports inconvenient truths about the US empire.
Assange’s legal team will appeal the decision, reportedly with arguments that will include the fact that the CIA spied on him and plotted his assassination.
“It will likely be a few days before the (14-day appeal) deadline and the appeal will include new information that we weren’t able to bring before the courts previously. Information on how Julian lawyers were spied on, and how there were plots to kidnap and kill Julian from within the CIA,” Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told Reuters on Friday.
And thank goodness. Assange’s willingness to resist Washington’s extradition attempts benefit us all, from his taking political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 until British police forcibly dragged him out in 2019, to his fighting US prosecutors in the courtroom tooth and claw during his incarceration in Belmarsh Prison.
Assange’s fight against US extradition benefits us not just because the empire’s war against truth harms our entire species and not just because he cannot receive a fair trial under the Espionage Act, but because his refusal to bow down and submit forces the empire to overextend itself into the light and show us all what it’s really made of.
Washington, London and Canberra are colluding to imprison a journalist for telling the truth: the first with its active extradition attempts, the second with its loyal facilitation of those attempts, and the third with its silent complicity in allowing an Australian journalist to be locked up and persecuted for engaging in the practice of journalism. By refusing to lie down and forcing them to come after him, Assange has exposed some harsh realities of which the public has largely been kept unaware.
The fact that London and Canberra are complying so obsequiously with Washington’s agendas, even while their own mainstream media outlets decry the extradition and even while all major human rights and press freedom watchdog groups in the western world say Assange must go free, shows that these are not separate sovereign nations but member states of a single globe-spanning empire centralized around the US government. Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more attention is being brought to this reality.
By standing his ground and fighting them, Assange has also exposed the lie that the so-called free democracies of the western world support the free press and defend human rights. The US, UK and Australia are colluding to extradite a journalist for exposing the truth even as they claim to oppose tyranny and autocracy, even as they claim to support world press freedoms, and even as they loudly decry the dangers of government-sponsored disinformation.
Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, it will always reek of hypocrisy when US presidents like Joe Biden say things like, “The free press is not the enemy of the people — far from it. At your best, you’re guardians of the truth.”
Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, people will always know British prime ministers like Boris Johnson are lying when they say things like, “Media organisations should feel free to bring important facts into the public domain.”
Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, more of us will understand that they are being deceived and manipulated when Australian prime ministers like Anthony Albanese say things like “We need to protect press freedom in law and ensure every Australian can have their voice heard,” and “Don’t prosecute journalists for just doing their jobs.”
Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, US secretaries of state like Antony Blinken will have a much harder time selling their schtick when they say things like “On World Press Freedom Day, the United States continues to advocate for press freedom, the safety of journalists worldwide, and access to information on and offline. A free and independent press ensures the public has access to information. Knowledge is power.”
Because Assange stood his ground and fought them, UK home secretaries like Priti Patel will be seen for the frauds they are when they say things like “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy.”
Extraditing a foreign journalist for exposing your war crimes is as tyrannical an agenda as you could possibly come up with. The US, UK and Australia colluding toward this end shows us that these are member states of a single empire whose only values are domination and control, and that all its posturing about human rights is pure facade. Assange keeps exposing the true face of power.
There is in fact a strong argument to be made that even all these years after the 2010 leaks for which he is currently being prosecuted, Assange is doing his most important work yet. As important as his WikiLeaks publications were and are, none of them exposed the depravity of the empire as much as forcing them to look us in the eye and tell us they’ll extradite a journalist for telling the truth.
Assange accomplished this by planting his feet and saying “No,” even when every other possible option would have been easier and more pleasant. Even when it was hard. Even when it was terrifying. Even when it meant being locked away, silenced, smeared, hated, unable to fight back against his detractors, unable to live a normal life, unable to hold his children, unable even to feel sunlight on his face.
His very life casts light on all the areas where it is most sorely needed. We all owe this man a tremendous debt. The least we can do is try our best to get him free.
Julian Assange’s wife and one of his lawyers on Friday vowed to fight the decision of British Home Secretary Priti Patel to sign an extradition order earlier in the day sending imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to the United States to face trial on espionage and computer intrusion charges.
“This is the outcome that we have been concerned about for the last decade,” Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson told a London press conference. “This decision is a grave threat to freedom of speech, not just for Julian, but for every journalist, editor and media worker.”
She said he faced up to 175 years in a U.S. prison for publishing material for which he has won numerous press awards as well as a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. “This should shock everyone,” she said.
“We are not at the end of the road, we are going to fight this,” Stella Assange, the publisher’s wife, told the press conference. “We are going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.” ...
Assange has been held in London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison since his arrest in April 2019. He has been charged under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information about U.S. government conduct. Stella Assange said the appeal going to the High Court “is setting legal precedent about the scope of press freedom in this country.”
Western leaders have said the war in Ukraine could last for years and will require long-term military support as Russia brought forward reserve forces in an apparent attempt to capture the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk.
“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years,” Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Sunday. “We must not let up in supporting Ukraine.”
The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, echoed Stoltenberg’s comments. “I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war,” he said, adding that it was necessary “to enlist time on Ukraine’s side”.
It came as the new head of the British army said British troops must prepare “to fight in Europe once again”. “There is now a burning imperative to forge an army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle,” Gen Sir Patrick Sanders said, writing to his charges about the challenges they face.
The statements suggest the west believes Ukraine cannot achieve a rapid military breakthrough despite the anticipated arrival of fresh Nato-standard arms, while officials in the country have continued to call for rapid help.
This is an interview with Chomsky, here's a small segment of it:
Barsamian: In the media, and among the political class in the United States, and probably in Europe, there's much moral outrage about Russian barbarity, war crimes, and atrocities. No doubt they are occurring as they do in every war. Don't you find that moral outrage a bit selective though?
Chomsky: The moral outrage is quite in place. There should be moral outrage. But you go to the Global South, they just can't believe what they're seeing. They condemn the war, of course. It's a deplorable crime of aggression. Then they look at the West and say: What are you guys talking about? This is what you do to us all the time.
It's kind of astonishing to see the difference in commentary. So, you read the New York Times and their big thinker, Thomas Friedman. He wrote a column a couple of weeks ago in which he just threw up his hands in despair. He said: What can we do? How can we live in a world that has a war criminal? We've never experienced this since Hitler. There's a war criminal in Russia. We're at a loss as to how to act. We've never imagined the idea that there could be a war criminal anywhere.
When people in the Global South hear this, they don't know whether to crack up in laughter or ridicule. We have war criminals walking all over Washington. Actually, we know how to deal with our war criminals. In fact, it happened on the twentieth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Remember, this was an entirely unprovoked invasion, strongly opposed by world opinion. There was an interview with the perpetrator, George W. Bush, who then went on to invade Iraq, a major war criminal, in the style section of the Washington Post—an interview with, as they described it, this lovable goofy grandpa who was playing with his grandchildren, making jokes, showing off the portraits he painted of famous people he'd met. Just a beautiful, friendly environment.
So, we know how to deal with war criminals. Thomas Friedman is wrong. We deal with them very well.
Or take probably the major war criminal of the modern period, Henry Kissinger. We deal with him not only politely, but with great admiration. This is the man after all who transmitted the order to the Air Force, saying that there should be massive bombing of Cambodia—"anything that flies on anything that moves" was his phrase. I don't know of a comparable example in the archival record of a call for mass genocide. And it was implemented with very intensive bombing of Cambodia. We don't know much about it because we don't investigate our own crimes. But Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, serious historians of Cambodia, have described it. Then there's our role in overthrowing Salvador Allende's government in Chile and instituting a vicious dictatorship there, and on and on. So, we do know how to deal with our war criminals.
Still, Thomas Friedman can't imagine that there's anything like Ukraine. Nor was there any commentary on what he wrote, which means it was regarded as quite reasonable. You can hardly use the word selectivity. It's beyond astonishing. So, yes, the moral outrage is perfectly in place. It's good that Americans are finally beginning to show some outrage about major war crimes committed by someone else.
European Union foreign ministers will discuss ways to free millions of tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s Black Sea port blockade at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
Ukraine is one of the top wheat suppliers globally, but its grain shipments have stalled and more than 20m tonnes have been trapped in silos since Russia’s invaded the country and blocked its ports.
The EU supports efforts by the United Nations to broker a deal to resume Ukraine’s sea exports in return for facilitating Russian food and fertiliser exports, but that would need Moscow’s green light.
Colombia has elected a former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro as president, making him the South American country’s first leftist head of state. Petro beat Rodolfo Hernández, a gaff-prone former mayor of Bucaramanga and business mogul, with 50.47% of the vote in a runoff election on Sunday and will take office in July amid a host of challenges, not least of which is the deepening discontent over inequality and rising costs of living. Hernández had 47.27%, with almost all ballots counted, according to results released by election authorities.
Petro’s election marks a tidal shift for Colombia, a country that has never before had a leftist president, and follows similar victories for the left in Peru, Chile and Honduras. ...
On the agenda for the new leader will be the country’s faltering peace process with the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which was signed in 2016 and formally ended five decades of civil war that killed more than 260,000 people and displaced more than 7 million. The outgoing government of Iván Duque has been accused of slow-walking the accord’s implementation in order to undermine it.
Another headache for Petro will be neighbouring Venezuela, which has been mired in social, political and economic crisis for years. Petro has advocated for a reopening of ties with Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, bucking the Duque government’s policy of isolation.
Petro has also pledged to wean the country off its dependence on fossil fuels, worrying investors.
Emmanuel Macron’s centrist grouping has lost its absolute majority in parliament, amid gains by a new left alliance and a historic surge by the far right, according to projected results in Sunday’s election.
After five years of undisputed control of parliament, the recently re-elected Macron, known for his top-down approach to power, now enters his second term facing uncertainty over how he will deliver domestic policies, such as raising the retirement age and overhauling state benefits. His centrists will need to strike compromises and expand alliances in parliament to be able to push forward his proposals to cut taxes and shake up the welfare system.
Macron’s Ensemble (Together) remains the biggest grouping in parliament, but suffered significant losses in what the media called a “crushing defeat” and an “earthquake”. Political analysts deemed the results a “severe failure” for Macron’s centrist alliance, which missed the absolute majority by a large margin, in contrast to its landslide win five years ago.
Projections by Ipsos pollsters, based on partial results, showed that Macron’s centrists would win about 234 seats – much less than the 289 required for an absolute majority in the National Assembly.
A historic alliance of parties on the left, led by the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s France Unbowed party with the Socialists and the Greens, seemed poised to become the largest opposition group, with about 141 seats. But the most striking result of the night came for Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigration National Rally party, which was forecast to increase its seats from eight in 2017 to about 90 – a historic high for a party that in the past has struggled to make gains in the first-past-the-post parliamentary voting system.
Joe Biden’s treasury secretary Janet Yellen says she expects “the economy to slow” but continued insisting that a full-blown recession is not “at all inevitable”.
Yellen’s remarks on Sunday came days after the US central bank moved to sharply raise interest rates in an effort to contain soaring inflation.
She told ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulous that her financial outlook results from how the economy has “been growing at a very rapid rate, as the economy, as the labor market, has recovered and we have reached full employment”.
“It’s natural now that we expect a transition to steady and stable growth, but I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable,” Yellen added.
Pressed on the issue of inflation, which polls indicate is a top priority for US voters as the midterm elections in November approach, Yellen said inflation causes are global, not local, and those factors are unlikely to diminish immediately.
Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve cordially invite you to develop a new and close-up experience of what the underside of a bus looks like ...
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell recently made it clear that the Federal Reserve’s remedies to combat runaway inflation “will cause some pain”. Powell’s words of caution – references to the unemployment and scarcity that will follow increased interest rates – were echoed elsewhere by prominent economists. Some used Powell’s same euphemism: there will be pain.
The Fed’s recipe to bring prices under control will increase the cost of borrowing money, which is good news for creditors, while heavily indebted households that rely on loans for their daily survival will face higher bills. The cost of borrowing will also increase government expenses for public works and social services, forcing states to further cut their budget, hurting the most precarious parts of society that rely most on these services. Most importantly, as Powell himself has acknowledged, lowering incentives for businesses to invest will produce unemployment.
What Powell does not say is that the “pain” for working-class Americans is not an accident or even an unintended consequence. As economists well know, the very possibility of tackling inflation rests on relieving the upward pressure on prices by diminishing consumer demand. To do so, the Fed will curtail the purchasing power of most citizens – especially those who have the least.
This is not yet the whole story. The implicit message of Powell and fellow economic experts is that workers have had it too good in the post-pandemic recovery. ... [F]or the first time in decades, workers have gained the upper hand in the labor market and companies have been forced to raise wages to keep their employees and attract new staff. Wages and salaries in private industry increased 5% over the 12-month period ending in March, beating a 3% increase during the same period a year before. After decades of stagnation and even reduced pay, the trend has reversed. ... To economists, this sudden inversion of power constitutes a “disorder” in the social relations of production, as rising nominal wages intensify inflationary pressures.
"We are the 140 million poor and low-wealth people, standing together to declare we won't be silent anymore," said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the campaign. "Poverty is a policy choice and we will hold our leaders accountable."
Fellow campaign co-chair Bishop William Barber echoed that message in a speech at the Mass Poor People's and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington, which drew thousands to the nation's capital.
Barber declared that as long as essential workers are treated like they are "expendable" during a public health crisis, as long as federal lawmakers block pandemic relief for families, "as long as we have the stealing of native lands and unjust immigration," and as long as millions of people nationwide face hunger and homelessness, "we won't be silent anymore."
"Let us be clear: We are not simply here for a day," explained Barber, who also highlighted voter suppression efforts and the United States' significant military spending. "This assembly is to declare the full commitment of a fusion coalition."
"Now is the time for a Third Reconstruction. We are the rejected—who've been rejected by the politics of trickle-down economics and rejected by neoliberalism," he continued, sharing the history of the first two reconstructions.
"This is a movement—until children are protected; until sick folk are healed; until low-wage workers are paid; until immigrants are treated fairly; until affordable housing is provided; until the atmosphere, the land, and the water are protected; until saving the world, and diplomacy, and living in peace is more important than blowing up the world," he added, "we won't be silent anymore."
Apple Store workers in Maryland have voted to join a union, becoming the tech giant’s first retail employees to join a labour-force movement as part of a wider trend across US retail, service and tech industries.
Workers voted to unionise on a nearly two-to-one margin and the result, announced on Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board, provides a foothold for a budding movement among Apple retail employees who want a greater voice over wages and policies pertaining to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Employees of more than two dozen of Apple’s 270 US stores have expressed interest in unionizing in recent months, union leaders say.
More than 100 workers in Towson, near Baltimore, voted 65-33 to join the union, known as the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees – AppleCore – that will be part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), an industrial trade union that represents more than 300,000 employees.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to take a fresh look at whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup weedkiller, poses unreasonable risks to humans and the environment.
In a 3-0 decision on Friday, the ninth US circuit court of appeals agreed with several environmental, farmworker and food-safety advocacy groups that the EPA did not adequately consider whether glyphosate causes cancer and threatens endangered species. The litigation began after the EPA reauthorized the use of glyphosate in January 2020.
Groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety and the Rural Coalition, which represents farmworkers, faulted the agency for rubber-stamping glyphosate despite its alleged harms to agriculture, farmers exposed during spraying, and wildlife such as the Monarch butterfly.
Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland wrote for the Pasadena, California-based appeals court that the EPA did not properly justify its findings that glyphosate did not threaten human health and was unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans. She also faulted aspects of the agency’s approval process.
A heatwave struck India and Pakistan in March, bringing the highest temperatures in that month since records began 122 years ago. Scorching weather has continued across the subcontinent, wreaking disaster for millions. Spring was more like midsummer in the US, with soaring temperatures across the country in May. Spain saw the mercury hit 40C in early June as a heatwave swept across Europe, hitting the UK last week.
Scientists have been able quickly to prove that these record-breaking temperatures are no natural occurrence. A study published last month showed that the south Asian heatwave was made 30 times more likely to happen by human influence on the climate.
Vikki Thompson, climate scientist at the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, explained: “Climate change is making heatwaves hotter and last longer around the world. Scientists have shown that many specific heatwaves are more intense because of human-induced climate change. The climate change signal is even detectable in the number of deaths attributed to heatwaves.”
Friederike Otto, senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said heatwaves in Europe alone had increased in frequency by a factor of 100 or more, caused by human actions in pouring greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. “Climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heatwaves: they have increased in frequency, intensity and duration across the world,” she said. ...
Only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will prevent climate chaos. The current heatwaves are happening as the earth has warmed by about 1.2C above pre-industrial levels – nations agreed, at the Cop26 UN climate summit last November, to try not to let them rise by more than 1.5C. Beyond that, the changes to the climate will be too great to overcome with shady trees or white roofs, and at 2C an estimated 1 billion people will suffer extreme heat. “We cannot adapt our way out of the climate crisis,” Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, told the Observer. “If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jimmy McGriff - The Bird Wave
Jimmy McGriff - The Worm
Jimmy McGriff - Kiko
Jimmy McGriff - All About My Girl
Jimmy McGriff - C Jam Blues
Jimmy McGriff - Boston Bust Out
Jimmy McGriff - Turn Blue
Jimmy McGriff - Keep Loose
I’ve Got A Woman
Jimmy Smith & Jimmy McGriff - Honky Tonk