The Evening Blues - 6-9-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues harmonica player Sonny Terry. Enjoy!
Sonny Terry - Whoopin' The Blues
"It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen."
-- George MacDonald
News and Opinion
Twenty-three House Democrats want to know more about the U.S. Justice Department’s secretive role in the now-disgraced Operation Car Wash corruption investigations in Brazil. In a letter on Monday, the group sent Attorney General Merrick Garland a list of questions and expressed concern about the U.S. role in prosecutions “perceived by many in Brazil as a threat to democracy and rule of law.” “It is imperative that Congress receive full and accurate answers regarding our government’s actions — particularly when those actions may have long-lasting effects beyond our shores,” said Rep. Susan Wild, D-Penn., in a statement to The Intercept.
Car Wash targeted a sprawling network of political corruption centered around the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras. U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors’ aggressive tactics greatly weakened Brazil’s once-powerful civil construction and petroleum sectors and led to the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, clearing the way for far-right authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro to win the presidency in 2018. “Whether or not our DOJ was responsible for the wrongful imprisonment of President Silva and paved the way for Bolsonaro, a COVID-denying, climate change-denying, far-right nationalist, to take the presidency must be investigated to the fullest extent and those responsible held accountable,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., one of the congressional letter’s signatories, told The Intercept. ...
The case will be a test of Garland’s stated commitment to the principles of democracy and rule of law. The original Car Wash-Department of Justice collaboration occurred largely during the Obama administration, under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and was promoted by the Justice Department as a model partnership. A top department official told an audience in 2017, “It is hard to imagine a better cooperative relationship in recent history than that of the United States Department of Justice and the Brazilian prosecutors.” ...
In their letter, the members of Congress cite reporting from The Intercept in collaboration with Brazilian news outlet Agência Pública last March, which revealed that exchanges between the Department of Justice and Brazilian prosecutors may not have followed proper protocols. In a 2015 incident, at least 17 U.S. law enforcement officials traveled to the Car Wash task force headquarters in Curitiba, Brazil, for a series of meetings about the investigation, while undertaking efforts to hide the visit from the Brazilian government. Under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that regulates legal collaboration between the two countries, the host government must formally approve law enforcement activity by foreign agents in their country. ...
After this was revealed by The Intercept and Agência Pública, 77 members of Brazil’s Congress sent a letter to their U.S. counterparts, requesting that the Americans “adopt the appropriate legislative measures” and “hold those responsible agents and officials accountable.” Brazilian Rep. Glauber Braga, who organized the Brazilian congressional letter, considers the U.S. role in Operation Car Wash to be an “illegal and criminal interference.” “We cannot accept foreign interference disguised as ‘cooperation’ that aims to facilitate the implementation of an economic program to dismantle the Brazilian economy and harm democratic freedoms within the country,” Braga told The Intercept.
Keiko Fujimori, one of the two candidates fighting vote by vote for the presidency of Peru, has alleged fraud and irregularities in the count of Sunday’s election as her rival, leftist teacher Pedro Castillo, widens a narrow lead. An inter-American observer mission did not report any irregularities and said the ballot passed off correctly, complying with international standards.
With more than 97% of the official vote counted, the hard-left candidate Castillo holds a razor-thin lead of about 0.4% over his far-right opponent, an advantage of about 70,000 votes. But at a late press conference on Monday, Fujimori, 46, claimed there had been a “series of irregularities which worry us and we think it’s important to highlight”.
She accused Castillo’s party, Perú Libre, of using a strategy to “distort and delay the results which reflect the popular will” by challenging ballot tallies that, she alleged, had favoured her party Fuerza Popular. Later on Monday night, Castillo addressed a large crowd of supporters from a balcony in downtown Lima. “We should be respectful of the people’s will,” he shouted through a megaphone. “I will be the first to make sure the will of the Peruvian people is being respected.”
Fujimori’s remarks have attracted criticism from political figures and analysts who have described it as an act of desperation as she appears to be on the verge of losing her third election runoff in 10 years.
“It’s extremely regrettable that when the result is not favourable, that the candidate talks about fraud. It’s terrible,” Fernando Tuesta, a political science professor at Lima’s Pontifical Catholic University, told national radio broadcaster RPP on Monday night. “They have been talking about fraud because they don’t want to respect the result,” he said.
Progressives pushed back forcefully on Tuesday against right-wing Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori's allegations of fraud in Sunday's election, saying there has been no evidence so support such claims.
"There is a clear intention to boycott the popular will," Fujimori asserted at a press conference Monday at which she pointed without evidence to "irregularities" and "signs of fraud."
The allegations of fraud from Keiko Fujimori, a former dictator's daughter, came as voting results showed leftist rival Pedro Castillo with a narrow lead. ...
Fujimori, whom Bloomberg described as a "market favorite," is the daughter of the nation's former dictator, ex-President Alberto Fujimori, currently serving a 25-year sentence in prison for his role in civilian massacres and graft. Keiko Fujimori has said she would pardon her father if elected.
According to The Associated Press:
Voters across Peru, where voting is mandatory, headed to the polls throughout Sunday under a set schedule meant to minimize long lines. No disturbances were reported at voting sites, which even opened in San Miguel del Ene, a remote village in a cocaine-producing area where two weeks ago a massacre ended with 16 people dead.
Pre-election polls indicated the candidates were virtually tied heading into the runoff. In the first round of voting, featuring 18 candidates, neither received more than 20% support and both were strongly opposed by sectors of Peruvian society.
In a statement Tuesday, the Progressive International strongly rejected Fujimori's fraud accusations and urged "patience and vigilance as the final results are counted—especially in the face of fresh attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the democratic process."
"The delegation of the Progressive International has seen no evidence of systemic fraud in the course of the 2021 Peruvian presidential elections. Neither statistical models analyzing results in real time nor our time physical monitoring of this process have revealed any evidence of fraud," the group said.
The impacts of false accusations of election fraud are clear and dangerous, the Progressive International added. The group pointed to examples including U.S. President Donald Trump catalyzing the "revanchist attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to 'stop the steal'" and the 2019 U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia that ousted the democratically elected government of Evo Morales following unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.
"Through a tragic pandemic, a dizzying media campaign, and a severe economic crisis, the Peruvian people have mobilized to exercise their right to popular sovereignty. Our obligation now is to defend it," the Progressive International said.
David Adler, General Coordinator of the Progressive International, added in a tweet Tuesday that as "Castillo's lead has grown, this grim prediction has come to pass: Keiko Fujimori is now making accusations of 'systematic fraud'—and bringing large parts of the mainstream press with her."
The Biden administration is this week taking US imperialism’s offensive against China to new heights on three inter-related fronts, in Europe, the US Congress and Taiwan, one of the most explosive flashpoints of Washington’s increasingly aggressive moves against China. ... This week’s most prominent front is Biden’s maiden trip abroad as president. He is travelling to Europe for G7, NATO and US-EU summits, the central focus of which is to attempt to strong-arm the European capitalist powers into fully aligning behind Washington’s increasingly aggressive sanctions and other economic measures against China.
The Financial Times yesterday noted that Biden spelt out this demand in February when he told the Munich Security Conference that the US, Europe and Asia had to “push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion.” These are code words for systematically blocking rising Chinese capitalism, by every means, including economic sanctions and military action, from ever challenging the global supremacy secured by the US ruling class through victory in World War II. According to the Financial Times, Biden had already lined up the governments of Japan, South Korea and Australia, but now faced his “most delicate task yet—trying to coax a wary Europe to work more closely with Washington on China.” ...
This week’s second front is in the US Senate, where a massive anti-China bill is about to pass. The 1,445-page United States Innovation and Competition bill, co-written by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Todd Young, provides more than $200 billion to fund economic warfare directed primarily against China, but also against other US rivals in Japan and Western Europe. Among other things, the bill opposes international bank loans to China for Belt and Road projects, withholds grant money to US colleges and universities that partner with Chinese government-funded “Confucius Institutes” to teach Chinese language and culture, allocates $600 million to ramp up the US military presence in the South China Sea, and prioritise the defence of Taiwan.
Taiwan is the third front. On Sunday morning, a bipartisan contingent of three US senators traveled there, ostensibly to announce the donation of COVID-19 vaccines to the island, which has experienced a large outbreak of the virus in the past month. In reality, the visit is intended to further undermine the “One China” policy and continue war preparations aimed at the Chinese mainland. ... The trip was not a humanitarian mission. The three senators initially travelled to South Korea for meetings on Friday and Saturday with foreign ministry and defence officials to discuss the US-South Korean military alliance. The stop in Taiwan was a carefully orchestrated part of this same trip, designed to deepen Washington’s military cooperation with allies in the region, which include plans to station US missiles within striking distance of major Chinese cities.
At a recent appearance on Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton took a break from masturbating to drone bombing footage to explain what it is he and his fellow psychopathic warmongers love so much about the hypothesis that Covid-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory.
“I think the American people deserve to know what caused the worst pandemic in a century,” Cotton told the show’s space alien host. “Look, China should be made to pay for their negligence and their deceitfulness at the outset of this pandemic: covering up its origins, not being open about what was happening in that lab in Wuhan.”
“There’s lots of things we could do to impose accountability on China,” Cotton gushed. “We could for instance work their allies to ensure they’re no longer getting sweetheart deals from international financial institutions like the World Bank. We could repeal the permanent most-favored nation status we foolishly gave China 20 years ago. We could cut off visas to Chinese Communist Party officials and their princeling kids who like to come to America to go to school.”
“But if it turns out that the Chinese Communist Party and their labs were responsible for a lab leak that caused this pandemic, just imagine what the American people would demand in terms of accountability; what I said would just scratch the surface,” the senator said. “And the American people would be right to demand that kind of accountability.”
Cotton has been pushing for a “full, impartial investigation into COVID-19 origins, with a special focus on the Wuhan labs,” and he knows full well that there is no mechanism in existence which could carry out such an impartial investigation. There is no reason to believe any investigation into the Wuhan lab would not be heavily biased toward a pro-US narrative and used to manufacture international agendas to smash China, and there is every reason to believe it would be.
Have you ever wondered why the people indicted and detained by the International Criminal Court are always from weaker nations—overwhelmingly African—while far more deadly war criminals like George W Bush and Tony Blair walk free? It’s because “international law” only exists to the extent that there’s an international willingness and ability to enforce it, and the US uses its military and economic might to keep the international community mostly aligned with it. If US allies ever contemplate charging America’s military with war crimes, they are threatened that they’ll wind up on the wrong side of US military protection. If ICC officials ever dare to cast their gaze upon the US government’s behavior, Washington just laughs and sanctions them.
The US actively works to bribe, bully and manipulate international governments into protecting and advancing its interests. When the US was seeking UN authorization for the Gulf War in 1991, Yemen dared to vote against it, after which a member of the US delegation told Yemen’s ambassador, “That’s the most expensive vote you ever cast.” Yemen lost not just 70 million dollars in US foreign aid but also a valuable labor contract with Saudi Arabia, and a million Yemeni immigrants were sent home by America’s Gulf state allies.
Or take the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which began in 1997 as an independent international body working toward the elimination of chemical weapons from the world with great success. That all changed in 2002 when the OPCW Director General, José Bustani, became viewed by the Bush administration as an obstacle to the agenda to manufacture international support for the Iraq invasion. The US threatened to cut off funding for the organization, Undersecretary of State John Bolton threatened Bustani’s kids, and Bustani was sent packing. Now the OPCW is a lackey of the US war machine whose leaders actively manipulate chemical weapons investigations to produce results which align with US imperialist interests.
Hell, look at the first international investigation into the origins of Covid-19, whose findings stayed far away from anything which would turn up the US scientific establishment’s involvement in the controversial gain-of-function experiments at the very Wuhan lab in question. There’s no reason to believe an inquiry focused on the Wuhan lab wouldn’t be rigged to hurt China while leaving the US empire looking clean as a whistle, whether the virus did in fact originate there or not.
None of the people pushing for an investigation of the Wuhan lab seem to have any idea how such an investigation could take place in a fair and impartial way. They just say “We need to get to the bottom of this!” and “We need to find the truth!”, without ever saying who “we” is or how they would be “finding the truth” in a way that is not subject to the manipulations the US government always inserts into international disputes whose outcomes it has a vested interest in. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s even thought about this little wrinkle in their plan, or if they have they haven’t thought very hard.
When I point this out people act like it means I have some sort of aversion to the truth. “So you just don’t want to know where the virus started?” they ask incredulously. It’s not that I don’t want to know, it’s that there’s no possible mechanism which could produce results that I find trustworthy on an international stage which is continually manipulated by the US empire. You’d have to get the US empire to cease behaving in the way it always behaves.
When I ask people how there could possibly be a fair and impartial investigation into the Wuhan lab, they can never answer me. This is because we all know there is no possible scenario under which China or anyone else could trust that the US would not engage in the same kind of manipulations it always does. Beijing would be absolutely insane to open its doors to such an investigation, because it would have no way of preventing the US and its lackeys from manipulating the results and producing a narrative which fully incriminates the Chinese government while leaving Washington innocent.
I don’t know where Covid-19 came from; there are many different theories, some of which cast doubt that the virus originated in China at all. I just know that viruses happen, that there’s no valid reason for them to drive us apart instead of bringing us together, and that the US war machine is inherently untrustworthy.
Tom Cotton is such a disgusting warmonger that a Washington Post columnist once warned that he would be “most likely to start World War III” if he became president. He’s been openly saying for over a year that he plans on making China “pay” for the damage caused by Covid-19, and now he is seizing on the increasing acceptance of the theory that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan laboratory to manufacture a demand for more cold war escalations against Beijing.
There’s a special revulsion among American opponents of rampant US military expansionism for Beltway war hawks who avoided military enlistment in their youth, disdainfully branding them “chickenhawks”, but in my opinion a hawk like Cotton who has seen war firsthand is far worse. Someone who seeks to expand the horrors of war without ever having experienced those horrors is less of a monster than a veteran who experienced those horrors and seeks to create more of them, because they know exactly what they are inflicting upon the world and are choosing to do it anyway.
There’s a quote from the movie Jack Reacher:
“There are four types of people who join the military. For some, it’s family trade. Others are patriots, eager to serve. Next you have those who just need a job. Then there’s the kind who want the legal means of killing other people.”
Tom Cotton’s insatiable appetite for war throughout his entire adult life makes it abundantly obvious that he is the fourth kind.
Not everyone who supports an investigation into the lab leak theory is a warmonger, but warmongers will definitely be happy if they get that investigation. One thing’s for sure: we’re not getting the truth regardless.
San Francisco may have become the first major American city to hit herd immunity to the coronavirus, experts say. San Francisco is still recording a small number of coronavirus cases, about 13.7 per day, said Dr George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at University of California San Francisco, but they don’t appear to be gaining enough of a foothold in the population to trigger wider outbreaks.
“That is what herd immunity looks like,” Rutherford said. “You’re going to have single cases, but they’re not going to propagate out.”
Health officials still lack agreement on exactly what percentage of the population must be immune to Covid-19 to achieve the much-vaunted status of “herd immunity”, when so many people have antibodies against the virus that it can no longer spread widely through the community.
Throughout the pandemic, the vaccination goals to hit herd immunity have been a moving target, a briefing from Yale School of Medicine notes, with experts initially estimating that the virus would have difficulty spreading if 60 to 70% of the population was immune. With several variants in circulation, some of which are more contagious, the estimates have been climbing. Many experts now estimate that herd immunity will be achieved when 80 to 90% of residents have been vaccinated.
San Francisco has been close to that target. Nearly 80% of San Francisco residents eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine have received at least one shot, according to data from the city’s health department, and 68% is fully vaccinated. Asians and Pacific Islanders have even higher vaccination rates than the city average, the stats show, while the Black population lags by about 10%.
The 25 richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk, paid a “true tax rate” of just 3.4% between 2014 and 2018, according to an investigation by ProPublica, despite their collective net worth rising by more than $400bn in the same period. The report by the non-profit news organization exposes the US tax system as income and wealth inequality continues to widen.
ProPublica used Internal Revenue Service data to dive into the tax returns of some of America’s wealthiest and most prominent people. It found that in 2007 Bezos, the founder of Amazon and already a billionaire, paid no federal taxes. In 2011, when he had a net worth of $18bn, he was again able to pay no federal taxes – and even received a $4,000 tax credit for his children. Last year, Bezos’s net worth topped $200bn.
ProPublica created what it called a “true tax rate” for the wealthiest 25 Americans by comparing federal income tax paid between 2014 and 2018 to how their net worth increased on Forbes’ well-regarded rich list over the same period. “The results are stark,” ProPublica wrote. “According to Forbes, those 25 people saw their worth rise a collective $401bn from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6bn in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That’s a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4%.”
By contrast, the median American household paid 14% in federal taxes, ProPublica reported. The top income tax rate is 37% on incomes over $523,600 for single filers, having been reduced from 39.6% under Donald Trump.
In a polarizing decision on Friday night, a federal judge struck down California’s 32-year-old ban on assault weapons, ruling that it violated Americans’ constitutional right to own guns for self protection. In the 94-page decision, Judge Roger Benitez compared an AR-15 rifle to a “Swiss army knife” and falsely claimed that more Californians had died from the Covid-19 vaccine than from mass shootings.
Although the decision has sparked outrage in California, it has the potential to have a much broader national impact. If the case is appealed to the supreme court, the court’s new conservative majority could use the legal battle to rule that banning military-style “assault weapons” is unconstitutional, undermining the Biden administration’s endorsement of a national ban.
California’s longstanding rule prohibits the manufacturing, purchasing, and possession of firearms that are categorized as assault weapons. Judge Benitez, who was nominated to the bench by George W Bush in 2003 and has a history of siding with gun lobbyists on matters such as background checks and magazine capacity limits, found that California’s restrictions violate the second amendment. Among other arguments, he reasons that the state’s goal to prevent mass shootings via the ban puts residents at risk of not having the means to defend themselves against home intruders. ...
The state’s current assault weapon ban will still be in effect until California’s appeals court hands down a final ruling that will apply to the entire state. The judge put in place a 30-day stay – which suspends any implementation – so that the state attorney general, Rob Bonta, can file an appeal. There is a conflicting ruling in the state’s central district court that upheld the state’s current assault weapon restriction, which means the fate of this policy will probably be decided by a panel of judges in the ninth circuit court of appeals.
While the ninth circuit used to be “famously liberal” and would typically reverse any pro-gun rulings by lower courts, the appointment of new judges by Donald Trump has made the appeals court “much more balanced”, making the court’s ruling on the assault weapon ban case less clear, said Adam Winkler, a firearms law expert at the University of California Los Angeles. No matter what the ninth circuit rules, the case could be appealed to the US supreme court, where several conservative justices have signaled their eagerness to revisit second amendment cases.
The progressive New York representative Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez has criticized Vice-President Kamala Harris for saying undocumented migrants from Guatemala should not come to the US. On her first foreign trip as vice-president, Harris visited Guatemala on Monday. At a press conference with Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, the former California senator spoke about investigating corruption and human trafficking in Central America, and described a future where Guatemalans could find “hope at home”.
But she also had a clear message that undocumented Guatemalan migrants would not find solace at the US border under the Biden administration. “I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border,” she said. “Do not come. Do not come.”
Later on Monday, Oscasio-Cortez criticized Harris on Twitter, calling her comments “disappointing to see”.
“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” said the congresswoman, an influential voice on the Democratic left since her upset win in a 2018 primary and widely known as AOC. Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.”
Outraged by Joe Manchin's obstruction of Democratic efforts to protect and expand voting rights and end the Senate filibuster, the faith-led Poor People's Campaign has announced it will lead a Moral Monday demonstration in the West Virginia senator's home state next week.
"It's time to march on his office," Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, said of Manchin, the Senate's most conservative Democrat, in an interview with Religion News Service. "It's time for people of all differences to stand together against him—we call it 'from the hollers in the mountains to the hood.'"
The #PoorPeoplesCampaign is announcing today that on Monday, June 14, we will hold a Moral March on Manchin in West Virginia, led by West Virginians of all colors, creeds, etc. from the hood to the hollers.
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) June 7, 2021
Manchin's positions are wrong, constitutionally inconsistent, historically inaccurate, morally indefensible, economically insane, and politically unacceptable.
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) June 7, 2021
"Thousands upon thousands of people don't agree with [Manchin's] economic position, or his position on voting rights, or his position on the filibuster—and it's time for them to speak up," Barber added.
Pam Garrison, a co-chair of the West Virginia Poor People's Campaign, said she has watched Manchin "talk about compromise, and I wonder, what reality is he in? Is he that delusional, or does he think we're that stupid?"
"We are coming, and I'll tell you what—my fellow Americans are coming with me," said Garrison of next Monday's march. "We are in this together, and we're not taking 'no' for an answer.... We can do better. We deserve better." ...
While Manchin's chimeric quest for Senate unity has left some observers scratching their heads, others say that understanding his unrequited ardor for bipartisanship is as simple as following the money.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group bankrolled by billionaire Charles Koch, has been pressuring Manchin to hold steadfast in his opposition to crucial Democratic agenda items. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the nation's largest lobbying group—has rewarded him and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), another filibuster preservationist who has broken with her party on more votes than any other senator save Manchin—with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
The largest civil disobedience yet against new pipeline construction in Minnesota was met by a furious response — and a cloud of debris. A Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol helicopter descended on the protest against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, kicking up dust and showering demonstrators with sand, in an unusual attempt to disperse the crowd.
“I couldn’t see because it got in my eyes,” said Big Wind, a 28-year-old Northern Arapaho organizer with the anti-pipeline Giniw Collective, who was there when the helicopter swooped over the civil disobedience action. “After it pulled up there were a lot of people who were ducking, who were in the fetal position, just because they didn’t know what was going to happen and were trying to protect themselves from the sand.”
The low-flying federal helicopter is an early signal of how law enforcement in Minnesota will deploy more than a year’s worth of training and preparations against what pipeline opponents have promised will be a summer of resistance. The tactic — which was criticized because of the extremely low flyover — suggests that the multiagency law enforcement coalition overseeing the police response is willing to bend safety standards in order to break up demonstrations.
Authorities later claimed that the helicopter was being used to make an announcement for demonstrators to disperse, but the announcement was inaudible to many demonstration participants. “There were rumors that it was saying something, but I couldn’t hear anything,” said Kate Sugarman, a 60-year-old pipeline opponent who was standing on the public road when the helicopter arrived. “To those of us on the ground it felt like a scary encounter, and it was not a way to easily send a message.” Hours later, police, according to witnesses, used a sound amplification device called a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, at the site to make announcements — raising questions about why the helicopter was necessary at all. ...
The Code of Federal Regulations mandates that “except when necessary for takeoff or landing” aircraft must fly high enough so that if a power unit failed, the aircraft could perform an emergency landing “without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.” In this case, the helicopter was not only flying above a group of people locked to equipment, but also the property and equipment itself, which are considered “critical infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland Security.
Fears of a confrontation between law enforcement and rightwing militia supporters over the control of water in the drought-stricken American west have been sparked by protests at Klamath Falls in Oregon. Protesters affiliated with rightwing anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network are threatening to break a deadlock over water management in the area by unilaterally opening the headgates of a reservoir.
The protest has reawakened memories not only of recent standoffs with federal agencies – including the one led by Bundy in eastern Oregon in 2016 – but a longer history of anti-government agitation in southern Oregon and northern California, stretching back to 2000 and beyond. ...
In May, the federal Bureau of Reclamation announced that there would be no further release of water from the reserves in the Klamath Basin for irrigators downstream, who rely on the Klamath Project water infrastructure along the Oregon-California border. Later in the month, two Oregon irrigators, Grant Knoll and Dan Neilsen, began occupying a piece of land adjacent to the headgates of the main canal which pipes water to downstream farmers and Native American tribal groups, like the Yurok, who depend on the water “flushing” the river for the benefit of salmon hatchlings.
Knoll and Nielsen, along with members of the People’s Rights Network, which has engaged in militant anti-mask protests in neighboring Idaho, began staffing a tent on the property which they dubbed a “water crisis info center”. They also told a number of media outlets that they were prepared to restore the flow of water, even at the price of a confrontation with the federal government, with Knoll telling Jefferson Public Radio last Monday: “We’re going to turn on the water and have a standoff.”
A pair of wildfires burning in Arizona have scorched more than 138,700 acres, with nearly 1,000 firefighters battling to protect communities, power lines and highways.
The Telegraph fire, which is burning near a district called Top-of-the-World, east of Phoenix, remained at 0% containment as of Tuesday morning, while crews made progress on the Mescal fire south-east of Globe, Arizona, now at 23% containment. No deaths or injuries have been reported so far.
“Dry grasses and manzanita brush are burning actively after dark due to night-time downslope winds,” officials said of the Telegraph fire in a Tuesday incident report. The fire swelled to 71,756 acres overnight, even as fire crews worked around the clock, continuing burnout operations and securing areas in the fire footprint. Evacuations are still in effect for several communities south of US 60.
The fires come as Arizona and the rest of the American west are mired in drought, foreshadowing what officials and researchers believe could be another record-breaking season of blazes.
Fueled by gusty winds and temperatures approaching 100F (38C) on Sunday, both fires are believed to be human-caused but the ignitions are still under investigation.
Amid stalled relocation efforts due to the pandemic, parts of southern California have now reportedly become overrun with peacocks. The large birds, which are traditionally known for their vibrant, beautiful tail feathers, have become a nuisance to many residents of the region where they run wild, the Washington Post reported. Spotted across Pasadena and in the San Gabriel Valley, just north-east of Los Angeles, hundreds of peacocks have been seen standing in homeowners’ lawns, on rooftops, and casually sauntering down city sidewalks.
“Urban sprawl caused the problem in southern California. It encroached on their territory, and basically the peacocks stayed in the trees – generations of them. In some places, it’s almost impossible to capture every single one of them,” Dennis Fett, co-founder and director of the Peacock Information Center, told Slate.
In addition to their physical presence, the peacocks have also been a disturbance because of their incessant squawking, sometimes occurring in the early morning and late into the night. “They wake me up at dawn. They sound like babies being tortured through a microphone, a very large microphone. And that is probably the start of my complaints,” Kathleen Tuttle, 68, an East Pasadena resident, told the Post. ...
Some residents enjoy the presence of the peacocks. Peacock devotees often feed the birds, defying anti-feeding mandates in many municipalities. Others, however, detest the feral birds, who, in addition to their loud mating cries, are known to tear up gardens and destroy window shingles.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sonny Terry - Hooray, Hooray, These Women Is Killin' Me
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Blowin' the Fuses
Sonny Terry - Crow Jane Blues
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry - Custard Pie Blues
Sonny Terry - All Alone Blues
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Crawdad Hole
Earl Hooker with Brownie McGhee/Sonny Terry - When I Was Drinkin'
Sonny Terry - Ride and Roll
Sonny & Brownie - Bring out the boogie in me