The Evening Blues - 6-4-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features delta blues singer and guitarist Robert Lockwood Jr. Enjoy!
Robert Lockwood, Jr. - King Biscuit Time
“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It's people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.”
News and Opinion
This is a truly outstanding article. I encourage everybody to click the link and read the whole thing.
Here is one thing I can write with an unusual degree of certainty and confidence: Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would not have been charged with the (third-degree) murder of George Floyd had the United States not been teetering on a knife edge of open revolt. Had demonstrators not turned out in massive numbers on the streets and refused to be corralled back home by the threat of police violence, the U.S. legal system would have simply turned a blind eye to Chauvin’s act of extreme brutality, as it has done before over countless similar acts. ...
The success of the modern state, like the monarchies of old, rests on the public’s consent, explicit or otherwise, to its monopoly of violence. As citizens, we give up what was once deemed an inherent or “natural” right to commit violence ourselves and replace it with a social contract in which our representatives legislate supposedly neutral, just laws on our behalf. The state invests the power to enforce those laws in a supposedly disciplined, benevolent police force – there to “protect and serve” – while a dispassionate court system judges suspected violators of those laws. That is the theory, anyway. ... But of course, the state system is not as neutral or dispassionate as it professes, or as most of us assume. Until the struggle for universal suffrage succeeded – a practice that in all Western states can be measured in decades, not centuries – the state was explicitly there to uphold the interests of a wealthy elite, a class of landed gentry and newly emerging industrialists, as well as a professional class that made society run smoothly for the benefit of that elite. What was conceded to the working class was the bare minimum to prevent them from rising up against the privileges enjoyed by the rest of society. ...
Chauvin’s gratuitous and incendiary murder of Floyd – watched by any American with a screen, and with echoes of so many other recent cases of unjustifiable police brutality against black men, women and children – is the latest spark that risks lighting a conflagration. In the heartless, amoral calculations of the state, the timing of Chauvin’s very public act of barbarity could not have been worse. There were already rumblings of discontent over federal and state authorities’ handling of the new virus; fears over the catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy; outrage at the inequity – yet again – of massive bailouts for the biggest corporations but paltry help for ordinary workers; and the social and personal frustrations caused by lockdown. There is also a growing sense that the political class, Republican and Democrat alike, has grown sclerotic and unresponsive to the plight of ordinary Americans – an impression only underscored by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. For all these reasons, and many others, people were ready to take to the streets. Floyd’s murder gave them the push. ...
In these circumstances, Chauvin had to be charged, even if only in the hope of assuaging that anger, of providing a safety valve releasing some of the discontent. But charging Chauvin is no simple matter either. To ensure its survival, the state needs to monopolize violence and internal security, to maintain its exclusive definition of what constitutes order, and to keep the state as a safe territorial platform for business. The alternative is the erosion of the nation-state’s authority, and the possibility of its demise. ... The state needs its police forces loyal and ready to use violence. It cannot afford discontent in the ranks, or that sections of the police corps no longer identify their own interests with the state’s. The state dares not alienate police officers for fear that, when they are needed most, during times of extreme dissent like now, they will not be there – or worse still, that they will have joined the dissenters. ...
Charging Chauvin risks disrupting that system, creating a fault line between the state and the police, one of the state’s most essential agencies. Which is why the charging of a police officer in these circumstances is such an exceptional event, and has been dictated by the current exceptional outpouring of anger. Prosecutors are trying to find a delicate compromise between two conflicting demands: between the need to reassure the police that their violence is always legitimate (carried out “in the line of duty”) and the need to stop the popular wave of anger escalating to a point where the existing order might break down. In these circumstances, Chauvin needs to be charged but with the least serious indictment possible – given the irrefutable evidence presented in the video – in the hope that, once the current wave of anger has subsided, he can be found not guilty; or if found guilty, given a lenient sentence; or if sentenced more harshly, pardoned.
Chauvin’s indictment is like throwing a chewed-dry bone to a hungry dog, from the point of view of the state authorities. It is an act of parsimonious appeasement, designed to curb non-state violence or the threat of such violence. The indictment is not meant to change a police culture – or an establishment one – that presents black men as an inherent threat to order. It will not disrupt regulatory and legal systems that are wedded to the view that (white, conservative) police officers are on the front line defending civilizational values from (black or leftwing) “lawbreakers.” And it will not curtail the state’s commitment to ensuring that the police enjoy impunity over their use of violence.
Barack Obama has given his perfunctory speech about the Black Lives Matter protests taking place in America today, and it was every bit as full of pretty words and empty of actual substance as you’d expect from a president who spent eight years stagnating the progressive movement with empty hope narrative while advancing the same murderous oppressive agendas as his predecessors.
The former president talked about changes that need to be made as though he wasn’t the most powerful politician in America for two full terms, praised the nation’s police officers saying “the vast majority” of them protect and serve the people, and encouraged them to continue making empty gestures of solidarity with the protesters to calm them down.
“I want to acknowledge the folks in law enforcement that share the goals of re-imagining policing,” Obama said. “Because there are folks out there who took their oath to serve your communities to your countries [who] have a tough job, and I know you’re just as outraged about the tragedies in the recent weeks as are many of the protesters. So we’re grateful for the vast majority of you who protect and serve. I’ve been heartened to see those in law enforcement who recognize, ‘Let me march along with these protestors. Let me stand side by side and recognize that I want to be part of the solution,’ and have shown restraint and volunteered and engaged and listened because you’re a vital part of the conversation, and change is going to require everyone’s participation.”
George W Bush also weighed in on the protests, with the “compassionate conservative” who murdered a million Iraqis sending liberals throughout the Twitterverse into fits of ecstasy with his emotional plea for “empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice.”
Establishment narrative managers on both sides of America’s imaginary partisan divide have been saturating the mass media with gushing praise for the two former presidents and their wonderful words of healing and unity, and indeed, the words are quite nice. They will change exactly nothing, but they sound nice.
And that is exactly what a US president’s real job is. Not to end police brutality and systemic racism, not to make changes which benefit the American people, and certainly not to make the world a less violent and murderous place, but to say pretty words which lull the public into a pleasant propaganda-induced coma while the sociopathic oligarchs who really run things rob them blind.
This is not accomplished by tweeting obnoxious things about shooting “thugs” and getting censored by Twitter. It is not accomplished by threatening to implement martial law against the will of the states. It is not accomplished by using the military to brutalize protesters so you can pose in front of a burnt church with an upside-down Bible. It is not accomplished by calling the brother of George Floyd and being curt, uninterested and dismissive. It is not accomplished by first mismanaging a pandemic, then mismanaging a response to an incendiary police murder, then having nothing soothing or sympathetic to say that makes people feel like you’re listening and you care. It is not accomplished by creating an environment which allows photos to circulate of the nation’s capital burning.
And that, right there, is the one and only reason why certain elements of the establishment do not like President Trump.
Whenever I point out the many, many evil establishment agendas that have been advanced by the current US president, I always get Trump supporters asking me “Well if he’s serving the establishment, how come establishment media and politicians attack him so hysterically, huh?”
This is why. At first glance it might seem strange to see Democrats and their aligned media shrieking about Trump with such an unprecedented degree of vitriol, but they aren’t doing this because Trump resists the establishment in any meaningful way on domestic or foreign policy; he provides no significant resistance to toxic establishment agendas at all. The reason there’s been such shrill, hysterical rhetoric about this president from establishment narrative managers is because unlike his predecessors, Trump puts an ugly face on the empire.
People who have dedicated their lives to advancing the interests of the oligarchic empire see Trump as an incompetent manager whose oafish, ham-fisted approach to his role risks drawing attention to the evil things the empire does. The US police force, for example, hasn’t gotten any more brutal or racist since Trump has been in office, he just hasn’t been able to manage events and narratives competently to keep the peasants from waking up and revolting.
Establishment narrative managers understand how to skilfully manipulate public perception without being obvious about it, and they understand how easily an incompetent steward of empire can snap people out of their propaganda trance. They therefore dislike Trump for the same reason a new mother dislikes a noisy neighbor: they’ll wake the baby. They don’t dislike Trump because he does good things, and they certainly don’t dislike Trump because he does bad things. They dislike Trump because he does bad things in a way that startles the people out of their sleep.
That’s the real reason the political/media class has been behaving so weird the last four years. It isn’t because Trump’s not a loyal empire lackey (he is), it isn’t because he’s a Russian secret agent (he’s not), and it isn’t because he’s a uniquely depraved president (he’s not). It’s because he allows people to see the perverse mechanics of a globe-sprawling murderous empire for the sick, evil thing that it actually is. That and nothing more.
Following Trump’s announcement that he would deploy the military to crush protests against police violence throughout the country, the Democrats are working to cover up and downplay Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional coup d’état. Trump has operationalized his efforts to establish a presidential dictatorship, based on the military and the police, through a massive military deployment in Washington, D.C., which is under his direct control. He is also escalating pressure on states to crack down on demonstrations after his threat on Monday to send in the military if they do not respond aggressively enough. ...
In innumerable public statements, Democratic members of Congress, governors and mayors commenting on Trump’s actions ignored the fascistic and authoritarian character of Trump’s actions, focusing instead on declarations that Trump is not being “helpful” in controlling the demonstrations. “Let’s not overreact,” said Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, calling Trump’s statements “bluster.” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was asked if she would request military intervention, replied that this would only be necessary “because they’ve [the Trump administration] thrown a lot more gas on a fire that was burning.” ...
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a 30-minute address on Tuesday full of mournful moralizing. He declared his wish that Trump had read the Bible, as he “could have learned something” and criticized Trump for fomenting “fear and division.”
Biden effectively equated the actions of protestors with the actions of the fascistic president and the police rampage he has incited. “There is no place for violence,” Biden said. “No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses. … Nor is it acceptable for our police, sworn to protect and serve all people, to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.” Biden avoided the central political issue—that the president is engaging in illegal actions and seeking to overthrow the Constitution of the United States.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer issued a perfunctory four-paragraph statement on Trump’s Rose Garden speech which did not include the word “military.” ...
And so here we are, with protests and riots throughout the US. This was a long time coming, and it came because the lords and masters in the US refuse to throw anybody but the rich more than scraps. They funnel gold and caviar to the already wealthy at every opportunity; cat food to everyone else. They beat down anyone who acts uppity, giving cops massive license to be brutal, arming them with military weapons, and having them taught by Israelis whose experience is in beating down Palestinians in the occupied territories: people with no rights, regarded by Israelis as subhuman (no, don’t even pretend otherwise).
The cops see violence and brutality as their right. Any challenge to their authority is met with cruelty and abuse of power. They are fundamentally cowards, because they don’t believe their victims have any right to fight or even talk back. (Their essential cowardice has been proven when they are threatened, and is a weakness which could easily be exploited.) ...
Covid is not going to go away this summer. Multiple states have reopened without getting it even remotely under control. Testing has been reduced, but even so numbers show only minor decreases.
So we have a pandemic, a population nearing 30 percent unemployment, people who can’t pay the rent, and 40 years of impoverishment and brutality.
This summer has been a long time coming, and it’s only starting. Even if this wave of protests is crushed, or dies down, the smart money is that it isn’t the last wave.
And that’s a good thing.
Because as long as your lords and masters know they can only give you scraps and feed themselves at gold plated troughs, that’s how it’ll be. ...
And get ready for that long, hot summer.
ACLU Lawsuit Accuses Police in Minnesota of 'Targeting and Attacking Journalists' Covering George Floyd Protests
The ACLU of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit overnight Tuesday against the city of Minneapolis and local and state law enforcement for "targeting and attacking journalists" covering ongoing protests over police violence toward people of color sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd.
"The power of the people is rooted in the ability of the free press to investigate and report news, especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members," ACLU-MN legal director Teresa Nelson said in a statement announcing the suit Wednesday.
"Police are using violence and threats to undermine that power, and we cannot let that happen," she added. "Public transparency is absolutely necessary for police accountability."
The lawsuit's lead plaintiff is Jared Goyette, a freelance journalist and Minneapolis resident who was shot was shot in the face with a rubber bullet on May 27 while covering local protests for a national publication. The complaint (pdf) says that Goyette "suffered immediate physical injury to his nose and eye and, as a result, had to leave the scene and cease journalistic activities for the evening."
Jared is one of many journalists who were threatened and attacked by police during protests in Minneapolis.
Journalists have been gassed, shot, pepper sprayed, arrested and otherwise targeted and prevented from reporting on police behavior at the protests.
— ACLU of Minnesota (@ACLUMN) June 3, 2020
"Journalists aren't the only victims," Goyette said Wednesday. "Actions like this make protesters, people trying to advocate for change, more vulnerable because journalists provide a witness and police are aware of that. Without journalists there, police or other people in power can feel a sense of impunity that no one will see what's happening anyway. Everyone needs to know people are watching."
Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Robert Kroll, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer, and two John Does are named as plaintiffs in the complaint in both their individual and official capacities.
The suit—filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by ACLU-MN, Fredrikson & Byron P.A., and Apollo Law LLC—seeks damages for injuries sustained by journalists as well as an order declaring that law enforcement's actions against reporters covering the Minnesota protests violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and prohibiting them from continuing the behavior.
Trump’s Secretary of Defense Just Trashed the President’s Plan to Use The Military Against Americans
President Trump’s Secretary of Defense just said he doesn’t support Trump’s bombastic threat to use active-duty military soldiers against U.S. protesters, some of whom have been looting and setting buildings on fire.
The statement represents a stunning rebuke to Trump from one of his own top Cabinet officials, just two days after the president vowed to unleash the armed forces on American streets if governors and mayors couldn’t stop the violent unrest accompanying protests against police brutality.
On Wednesday morning, Defense Secretary Mark Esper dismissed Trump’s warlike bluster as unwarranted by the present situation.
"The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper told a briefing on Wednesday morning. “We are not in one of those situations now."
Donald Trump’s first defence secretary, James Mattis, has delivered a blistering condemnation of the president, accusing him of abusing executive authority in his response to the recent wave of anti-racism protests that have convulsed cities across the US, and calling for him for to be held accountable. Mattis’s broadside breaks a near silence from the ex-Marine general since he resigned in December 2018. He expressed outrage at the militarisation of the administration’s response to mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd. “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” he said.
His statement, published by the Atlantic magazine, came on a day of confusion and discord in the Trump administration over the role of the military. Mattis’s successor as defence secretary, Mark Esper, had contradicted Trump over the president’s threatened invocation of the 1807 Insurrection Act to deploy active duty troops on US streets.
Esper had ordered elite airborne troops, flown to the Washington outskirts on Monday, back to their bases on Wednesday, but then reversed that order hours later after a visit to the White House. ...
Any attempt to use active duty troops, as opposed to the national guard which has already been widely deployed, threatens to split the US military, which is one of the country’s most diverse institutions.
Mattis reflected what is reported to be a widely held view in the armed services, in arguing the protesters were standing up for the constitutional principle of equality under the law, and should be universally supported. “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers,” he said. “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values.”
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the constitution,” Mattis wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens – much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”
Progressives celebrated Wednesday after Philadelphia officials in the early morning removed a statue of racist former mayor Frank Rizzo from in front of the city's Municipal Services Building but made clear that the symbolic gesture, while welcomed, was not a substitute for police reform.
"This is a clear indication that direct action works," activist group Philly for REAL Justice said in a statement posted to Facebook. "And while we are glad that the symbol is removed, we will continue to fight until the white supremacy that allowed Rizzo to come to power in the first place is eradicated."
The statue, Mayor Jim Kenney said on Twitter, "represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long."
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Kenney told reporters that the statue's presence in front of a building where Philadelphians paid their taxes and tickets was understandably offensive and that it had been past time to take it down.
"In hindsight, I wish we had done it earlier," said Kenney.
The Rizzo statue stood in front of the city government building for nearly twenty years before its removal. Rizzo, Philadelphia's 93rd mayor who served from 1972 to 1980, was a racist bigot whose reign of terror in charge of the city targeted black, brown, LGBTQ, and other marginalized residents.
'Should Be Bigger News': Analysis Finds Nearly One Third of Owed Unemployment Benefits Have Not Been Paid
A Bloomberg analysis released Tuesday estimates that nearly a third of the unemployment benefits owed to jobless Americans have not yet been paid out, a finding critics described as a "scandal" deserving of more media attention as millions of people struggle to afford basic expenses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May," Bloomberg reported. "But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims."
That calculation likely understates the total amount of unpaid unemployment benefits, Bloomberg noted, because "it doesn't include the millions of workers around the country still waiting to have claims processed by overloaded systems, or the retroactive benefits owed to some of the 7.8 million people now claiming under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for independent contractors."
HuffPost reporter Arthur Delaney suggested that at least part of the estimated $67 billion in unpaid benefits may be the result of people "getting cut off according to the Trump administration's return-to-work policy."
More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The unprecedented wave of jobless claims in such a short period produced enormous backlogs of unpaid benefits as outdated state and federal systems struggled to cope with the surge in benefit applications.
Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute noted in a blog post last week that more than one in five U.S. workers are currently either receiving unemployment benefits or waiting for approval. Shierholz said "policymakers need to do more" to provide people with financial relief as the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Pretty tepid stuff, Bernie.
As the nationwide uprising catalyzed by the police killing of George Floyd continues to bring hundreds of thousands of Americans into city streets around the U.S., Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging the Democratic leadership to embrace a slate of specific policy proposals aimed at mitigating the intertwined crises of systemic racism and unaccountable brutality by law enforcement.
"I am calling for sweeping policy reforms to protect people—particularly communities of color—who have suffered violence for far too long," the Vermont senator wrote in a letter (pdf) to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday.
Sanders' letter outlines eight policy proposals that the senator says would, if implemented, "contribute greatly to the eradication of police violence in this country."
- Amend federal civil rights laws to allow more effective prosecution of police misconduct by changing the standard from willfulness to recklessness;
- Abolish "qualified immunity," so police officers can be held civilly liable for abuses;
- Prohibit the transfer of offensive military equipment to police departments;
- Strip federal funds from departments that violate civil rights;
- Create a federal model policing program that emphasizes de-escalation, non-lethal force and culturally competent policing in which access to federal funds depends upon the level of reform adopted. As part of this effort to modernize and humanize police departments we need to enhance the recruitment pool by ensuring that the resources are available to pay wages that will attract the top-tier officers we need to do the difficult work of policing;
- Provide funding to states and municipalities to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders to supplement law enforcement, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low-level conflicts to aid police officers;
- Require agencies to make records of police misconduct publicly available;
- Require all jurisdictions that receive federal grant funding to establish independent police conduct review boards that are broadly representative of the community and that have the authority to refer deaths that occur at the hands of police or in police custody to federal authorities for investigation. In addition, the boards would be authorized to report to federal authorities other types of abuses by police including patterns of misconduct. This would be supplemental to current federal authority to commence investigations. Clearly we need to enhance federal funding for such investigations.
"We have got to act boldly to eradicate systemic racism and police violence," Sanders tweeted.
Sanders' proposals come as House and Senate Democrats are beginning to lay the groundwork for a legislative response to Floyd's killing, which sparked mass demonstrations against police brutality and racism across the U.S. and around the world.
It is a week of renewed social crisis in the United States, which means American companies are quickly lining up to pay lip service to the cause. Just like its tech giant competitors at Facebook, Apple, and Google, Amazon tweeted vaguely in favor of the principles of social justice and equitable policing, a predictable and predictably tinny expression of corporate solidarity with “the fight against systemic racism and injustice.” But Amazon is arguably singular among its mega-tech peers in its determination to provide American law enforcement with tools experts say only enable racist policing.
In their rush to appear sympathetic to the rough contours of social justice — while keeping their legal, public relations, and social media teams in agreement — some companies seem to be forgetting what it is they actually do. When Nextdoor, a social network with a well-documented pattern of stoking the worst kinds of racial panic, tweets an image reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” it’s difficult to take seriously. But while Nextdoor is merely content to rationalize and streamline urban and suburban residential paranoia into a tidy algorithmic feed, a growing portion of Amazon’s business, as Wired’s Sidney Fussell noted yesterday, is expanding its public/private video surveillance dragnet across the country with an explicitly “anti-crime” mission.
In 2018, the ACLU published a report showing that Amazon’s “Rekognition” facial recognition software was fundamentally racially biased, disproportionately misidentifying, in ACLU’s test, black members of Congress as people who were arrested and had their mugshot in a police database. ... A report published that same year by an MIT team found, similarly, that Rekognition misclassified darker-skinned women as men 31 percent of the time. The ACLU report added, “People of color are already disproportionately harmed by police practices, and it’s easy to see how Rekognition could exacerbate that.”
It’s difficult to reconcile this reality with a recent tweet from Amazon executive Andy Jassy, chief of Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing division which operates Rekognition:
*What* will it take for us to refuse to accept these unjust killings of black people? How many people must die, how many generations must endure, how much eyewitness video is required? What else do we need? We need better than what we're getting from courts and political leaders.
— Andy Jassy (@ajassy) May 30, 2020
What exactly does it mean to oppose the discriminatory policing of black Americans while simultaneously selling discriminatory tools to the police — or while operating Ring, a surveillance network predicated on the detection and elimination of racially coded “suspicious activity,” which funnels video directly to local police?
Much more detail at link:
Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective wins legal victory in face of hostile Obama-appointed judge & govt prosecution
On the morning of June 3, four U.S. citizens from the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective (EPC) who engaged in a two-week-long standoff with right-wing Venezuelan exile hooligans and members of Juan Guaidó’s coup administration entered a plea agreement with the U.S. government.
The chief Judge for the U.S. District Court District of Columbia, Beryl Howell, sentenced David Paul, Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese, and Adrienne Pine to six months of probation and fines totaling $750 each. Additionally, Judge Howell ordered the four defendants to stay away from the building which formally served as Venezuela’s embassy in Washington D.C., threatening them with 30 day jail terms if they failed to meet the conditions of their probation.
Before sentencing the defendants, Judge Howell delivered an unhinged law-and-order tirade, personally denigrating each of them and declaring her intention to make an example of them in order to prevent future protest actions which challenged U.S. government policy.
The prosecution of the EPC final four resulted in a mistrial in February of this year, when the jurors were unable to reach a verdict. The U.S. government then offered to drop the charges in order to avoid a re-trial. Under the negotiated deal, all four defendants pleaded guilty to a low-level, Class B misdemeanor charge of “incommoding,” which falls under local D.C. jurisdiction, in exchange for the dropping of federal charges which had alleged they interfered with the ability of U.S. authorities to provide protective services on embassy grounds.
Living near active oil and gas wells during pregnancy increases the risk of low-birthweight babies, especially in rural areas, according to the largest study of its kind.
Researchers analysed the records of nearly 3 million births in California to women living within 6.2 miles (10km) of at least one oil or gas well between 2006 and 2015. It is the first such study to look at birth outcomes in rural and urban areas, and to women living near active and inactive oil and gas sites. Proximity to a well and the level of production were found to be significantly associated with poor birth outcomes.
Specifically, the study found that in rural areas, pregnant women residing within 1km of the highest producing wells were 40% more likely to have babies with low birthweights and 20% more likely to have babies who were small for their gestational age compared with people living farther away from wells or near inactive wells only. Even among full-term births, babies born to mothers living close to wells were on average 1.3 ounces (36 grams) smaller than those of their counterparts.
Newborns are deemed to have low birthweight when they weigh less than 5lb and 8oz. It can lead to multiple short-term development issues as small babies often struggle to eat, gain weight and fight infections. Studies also suggest small- and low-birthweight babies are more likely to have medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and intellectual and developmental disabilities in later life.
Vladimir Putin has ordered a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel spilled into a river inside the Arctic Circle. The spill occurred when a fuel reservoir at a power plant near the city of Norilsk collapsed on Friday.
The plant is operated by a division of Nornickel, whose factories in the area have made the city one of the most heavily polluted places on Earth.
During a video conference on Wednesday that was broadcasted on television, Putin lambasted the head of the Nornickel subsidiary that owns the power plant, NTEK, after officials said the company failed to report the incident. ...
Putin said he agreed that a national state of emergency was needed in order to call in more resources for the cleanup effort. Russia’s investigative committee, which deals with major crimes, announced it had launched three criminal investigations into the accident and detained a power plant employee.
Alexei Knizhnikov of the World Wildlife Fund said the environmental group was the one who alerted cleanup specialists after confirming the accident through its sources. “These are huge volumes,” he said. “It was difficult for them to cover it up.”
Global investor network Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return said Wednesday that the novel coronavirus stands to be the "straw that breaks the meat industry's back" as the group released a new report warning that industrial meat production is fueling the risk of future zoonotic pandemics.
"Factory farming is both vulnerable to pandemics and guilty of creating them. It's a self-sabotaging cycle that destroys value and risks lives," Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) founder Jeremy Coller said in a statement launching the new report, Infected Industry.
Using criteria including worker safety, deforestation, animal welfare, and antibiotic stewardship, researchers analyzed the biggest 60 global meat, fish, and dairy companies and found that 44 of them—73%—rated as "high-risk" in FAIRR's new Pandemic Ranking tool.
FAIRR also highlighted how the conditions animals face in industrial operations, like densely packed, poorly ventilated quarters, "create the perfect environment for deadly diseases to mutate and spread rapidly." Other factors contributing to industrial meat production's role in fostering possible future pandemics include humans destroying natural animal habitats to make way for more farms and the industry's heavy reliance upon treating animals with antibiotics—thus giving rise to antimicrobial resistance.
Maria Lettini, executive director of FAIRR, spoke about those conditions, explaing how factory farms are "incubators and reservoirs" of zoonotic diseases in a Wednesday interview with Euronews:
— FAIRR Initiative (@FAIRRInitiative) June 3, 2020
Casualties of the corporate profit-focused approach to animal agriculture in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have already been revealed.
With coronavirus outbreaks shutting down meat processing plants, millions of animals are being culled, often with cruel methods. And, as Animal Welfare Institute's farm animal program director Dena Jones recently noted, "plants that don't treat animals well often don't treat workers well."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Robert Lockwood Jr. & Johny Shines - Lonesome Whistle
Robert Lockwood Jr & The Aces - Early In The Morning
Robert Lockwood Jr & The Aces - Can't Stand the Pain
Robert Lockwood Jr & His Band - Glory For Man
Robert Lockwood Jr & Carey Bell - I'm A Steady Rollin' Man
Robert Lockwood Jr & The Aces - Everyday I Have The Blues
Robert Lockwood, Jr. - Blues And Trouble
Robert Lockwood Jr - I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole
Robert Jr. Lockwood - I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Robert Jr. Lockwood - Mr. Down Child