The Evening Blues - 7-15-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues harmonica player Shakey Jake Harris. Enjoy!
Shakey Jake Harris & The All Stars - Too Hot To Hold, Save Your Money Baby, Respect Me Baby
"If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees."
-- Khalil Gibran
News and Opinion
2020 is the year of Julian Assange’s extradition trials, the Kafkaesque proceedings by which the US government is attempting to imprison the WikiLeaks founder for the rest of his life as punishment for exposing US war crimes. Assange started an innovative leak publishing outlet on the premise that corrupt power can be fought with truth, and corrupt power responded by silencing and jailing him. They’ve proved him right about everything, right in front of everyone.
2020 is the year people began protesting police brutality, and police responded with ferocious and widespread acts of brutality. The massive deluge of video footage from these brutal police responses went viral all over the world. The argument about police brutality culture in the US police state was won clearly and decisively, right in front of everyone.
2020 is the year the most powerful government on earth responded to a pandemic virus with the largest upward transfer of wealth in history, leaving massive global corporations with record-high stocks while killing small businesses and throwing the rank-and-file public to the wolves after handing some of them a paltry $1200, all while failing spectacularly to address the threat of the virus itself. This financial abuse is happening right out in the open, right in front of everyone.
2020 is the year this same government’s electoral process is being exposed in front of everyone for the sham it has always been, as two corrupt racist right-wing warmongering dementia patients who’ve both been accused of rape are placed head-to-head in what will inevitably be the single dumbest presidential race in the nation’s history. Neither of these two men are capable of forming a coherent sentence, and their presidential debates will make them a laughing stock of the whole world, right in front of everybody.
2020 is the year the aforementioned pandemic virus brought more and more awareness to how insane it is that the most powerful nation on earth lacks a normal healthcare system and the basic social safety nets that are afforded to everyone else in every other major country on earth.
2020 is the year increased public consciousness was brought to racism and race relations, as the cultural inertia against actualizing an insight humanity experienced decades ago finally begins to truly fall away. The gaping racial wounds caused by centuries of white supremacism are finally being dragged into the light of consciousness before the people who’ve resisted looking at them because they have benefitted from white supremacism. The ugly things our society has kept hidden from itself are getting brought into the light in front of all of us.
2020 is the year of the raging debate about “cancel culture” as a critical mass of people begin to shove hard against injustices and perceived injustices in the world. Some factions shove hard against things they find objectionable, other factions shove back hard against their shoving, and in the back-and-forth movement long-stuck objects are becoming unstuck as all the commotion shoves more and more previously unconscious dynamics into public awareness.
Everywhere you look, the common thread across all plots and subplots of the story of 2020 is revelation. The movement from the unseen to the seen, from the unconscious to the conscious.
Even the coronavirus itself seems to be doing this to people on an individual level. Over and over again I’m seeing anecdotes from people who’ve been badly stricken with the virus repeating the same thing: that it has made them seriously reevaluate their lives and where they choose to put their energy and attention during their time in this world. People are forced by the way Covid-19 punishes needless movement to sit still with themselves and reflect on just what they’re doing here on this planet. ...
This might just be what it looks like when a thinking animal suddenly finds itself being hurled into expanded consciousness by forces it doesn’t understand and cannot control.
Worth a full read:
Banks will make out with $18 billion in fees for processing small business Paycheck Protection Program relief loans during the pandemic, according to calculations by Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive economic think tank. That’s money taken directly out of the overall $640 billion pot of funding Congress allocated to the program it created as part of the CARES Act. “If we did it through a public institution, there would be [more than] $140 billion left,” Fischer noted, as opposed to the $130 billion still up for grabs. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is releasing an analysis of the government response to the pandemic as soon as this week.
The fees compensate the banks for some of the costs that come with processing loans — call center time to handle business owners’ questions, employee hours spent on processing paperwork for both loan and forgiveness applications — and some of the risk they shoulder if any of the loans they extend end up being fraudulent. But there is no credit risk; if business owners who qualified for PPP loans later default, the Small Business Association takes the hit, not the banks. “Basically it’s free money,” Fischer said. For some banks, this money represents a hefty windfall. New Jersey-based Cross River Bank’s estimated $163 million haul would be more than double its net revenue last year. JPMorgan Chase could make $864 million.
The fact that banks are siphoning money off of the relief program is thanks to the fact that the United States had no existing public infrastructure ready to quickly get money out to struggling businesses when the pandemic hit. Fischer characterized it as “a failure of preparedness,” adding, “We should have invested in better systems.” ... But on top of the fact that the program leaked money to banks, relying on these firms meant an uneven distribution of funds. One study found that areas served by the country’s four largest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America — underperformed in terms of how many businesses got PPP funding. On the flip side, another found that places with large numbers of mid-sized and community banks saw more businesses get PPP loans. That meant that whether a small business received the money it needed to stay afloat depended in large part on the composition of financial institutions in its area. “That’s a really perverse outcome,” Fischer said.
The Trump White House is publicly advocating a massive tax cut for wealthy U.S. investors while simultaneously urging Congress to pare back the expanded unemployment benefits currently serving as a financial lifeline for more than 30 million—and counting—jobless Americans.
In an interview on Fox Business Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said President Donald Trump wants included in the next Covid-19 stimulus package "a payroll tax holiday"—which critics warn is a stealth attack on Social Security—and a reduction in the capital gains tax.
Slashing the capital gains tax is a longtime goal of congressional Republicans and Trump, who last year considered but ultimately abandoned a legally dubious plan to lower the tax with an executive order.
While stressing that formal talks with Congress on the next stimulus package have not yet begun, Kudlow said the administration is also pushing for "reforms" to the $600-per-week boost in unemployment insurance (UI) payments, which he characterized as excessively generous "disincentives" to work.
The benefits are set to expire at the end of the month without action from Congress.
"So the White House position is that we have to cut the incomes of 30 million people who lost their jobs or who lost hours, while also giving a giant tax cut to the biggest corporations and the richest people in the world," tweeted Michael Linden, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive think tank.
"Regarding the 'capital gains holiday,' remember this key stat: 82% of all capital gains tax is paid by the richest 1%," Linden added. "A capital gains tax holiday is a pure giveaway to the rich."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that after previously urging complete expiration of the enhanced unemployment benefits, "Trump administration officials have begun opening the door to accepting a narrower version of what Congress previously approved."
"One potential compromise discussed by Republican lawmakers would involve cutting the unemployment benefit from $600 per week to between $200 and $400 per week and making up at least part of the difference by sending another round of $1,200 stimulus payments," the Post reported.
Trump spokesman Judd Deere told the Post that the White House is open to approving a reduction in the current weekly UI payments but remains opposed to extending the full $600-per-week.
"UI reform is a priority for this White House in any phase four package and we are in ongoing discussions with the Hill," said Deere.
'Something's Gotta Give Here': Urgent Action Demanded as 23 Million US Families Face Possible Eviction by October
A study from the Colorado-based Covid Eviction Defense Project revealed Monday that as many as 23 million families in the U.S. could be evicted by October if the federal government doesn't step in to provide ongoing assistance.
Protections for renters living in units in buildings with federally-backed mortgages were included in the CARES Act in late March, but the moratorium on those evictions is set to expire July 25. The provision applied to only about a fifth of renters in the U.S.; other state and city eviction bans are expiring as well.
A May Census Bureau report revealed that about 20% of Americans—or 13 million people—missed their rent payments that month. An online survey by Apartment List last month showed that 30% of people were unable to pay their rent in June.
With the $600 per week unemployment bonus included in the CARES Act also set to expire at the end of this month—and a one-time $1,200 direct payment for some households long since spent on necessities by many recipients—millions of people aren't expected to be able to pay the back-rent they now owe or their upcoming monthly payments.
Tens of thousands of renters in states including Virginia, North Carolina, and Michigan could face imminent evictions without federal protections in place.
According to Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Michigan currently has a backlog of 75,000 eviction filings. The state's eviction moratorium expires on Thursday.
"This is madness," tweeted Yentel. "We need a national eviction moratorium and rent relief now."
"This is a shocking number," wrote Zach Neumann, founder of the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, of Michigan's backlog.
On Monday, Law360 published a map showing eviction "hotspots" expected to emerge as relief expires, revealing that most states will likely qualify as epicenters of the potential housing insecurity crisis.
Where are the #eviction hotspots? The truth is, every corner of America. @Law360 made us a crystal ball. The darker the shades of red and grey the faster the speed of the approaching avalanche of evictions and homelessness. #RentReliefNow pic.twitter.com/aGtJW0YAnP
— Emily A. Benfer (@emilyabenfer) July 13, 2020
"Something's gotta give here," tweeted Neumann. "People need money or time."
Somethings gotta give here. People need money or time. Maybe that’s further state protections- maybe it’s federal money via HEROES. But without an intervention, we are going to evict thousands of families in a pandemic. This problem isn’t going away. #KeepColoradansHoused https://t.co/P51H8xCcmv
— Zach Neumann (@ZachNeumannCO) July 13, 2020
Congress is currently debating the components of a fifth coronavirus relief bill. The HEROES Act, passed in May by House Democrats, included $100 billion for emergency rental assistance programs, a $75 billion relief fund for homeowners, and extended eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through March 2021. While the package left out a number of key priorities put forward by progressives, Senate Republicans dismissed the bill as a "liberal wish list."
The national parent-led organization ParentsTogether shared the results of a survey on Tuesday showing that 70% of 1,500 respondents said their family is currently "struggling." Forty-five percent said they were concerned about losing their homes without the federal government stepping in to extend protection from evictions.
"When families struggle, kids pay the price and right now, families are drowning," said Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether. "Unless Congress acts immediately, things will only get worse as the extra unemployment checks stop, and evictions start. To protect kids, Congress needs to provide ongoing economic relief [and] a pause in evictions."
Instead of extending unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans affected by COVID-19, the White House launched a tone-deaf #FindSomethingNew campaign aimed at job seekers with nepotistic hire Ivanka Trump and corrupt billionaire Wilbur Ross. https://t.co/fV0KKniit1
— Swing Left (@swingleft) July 14, 2020
Top US public health expert Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday that the global coronavirus outbreak could be as bad as the 1918 flu pandemic, calling that catastrophe “the mother of all pandemics”, which killed more than 50 million people worldwide. Facing increasing attacks from Donald Trump and White House officials, Fauci spoke to Georgetown University students in Washington on Tuesday about the coronavirus pandemic and its risks to young people. ...
Fauci warned students at Georgetown that young people must not be “part of the problem”.
“There is an understandable situation where a young person could say, ‘You know, statistically the chances of my getting into trouble by getting infected are much smaller than an elderly person,’” he said. Many young people, he said, might feel they would “rather be there sipping a margarita in a crowd”, but “to get it under control means you don’t let yourself get infected, and you don’t spread to anybody else”, Fauci said.
He added: “I say that with some trepidation, because I’m not blaming anyone, and I think people do this innocently. They don’t mean to be part of the problem, but inadvertently they are part of the problem.”
It was another instance of the senior public health official, who has been barred from major media appearances in recent weeks, finding other ways to address the public.
Study Shows 5.4 Million Have Lost Insurance Amid Pandemic. Progressives Note Number Under Medicare for All Would Be: 0
Amid the worst public health crisis in a century and a devastating economic downturn that has thrown tens of millions out of work, more than five million people in the U.S. lost their health insurance in just three months this year, shattering the previous record set during the entire annual period from 2008 to 2009.
The estimate by advocacy group Families USA that at least 5.4 million Americans became uninsured between February and May was viewed by progressive activists and lawmakers as the latest evidence of the fundamental brokenness of a privatized system that ties healthcare to employment—and yet another reason Medicare for All is an urgent necessity.
"If we had Medicare for All, nobody would be losing their healthcare," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), lead House sponsor of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, tweeted late Monday in response to the new figures. ...
According to a report (pdf) released Monday by Families USA, massive job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a sharp rise in uninsurance as millions of people were unable to move to alternative sources of coverage such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, Medicaid, or a spouse's employer-provided insurance.
States that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA saw a much larger rise in uninsurance, leaving millions of vulnerable people on the hook for exorbitant healthcare costs.
"These recent increases in the number of uninsured adults are 39% higher than any annual increase ever recorded," Families USA found. "The highest previous increase took place over the one-year period from 2008 to 2009, when 3.9 million nonelderly adults became uninsured."
Nearly half of the newly uninsured, according to the group, live in just five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, and North Carolina.
Despite the alarming spike in the number of uninsured Americans in such a short period, Families USA senior fellow Steve Dorn noted that congressional Covid-19 relief efforts have not even "attempted to restore or preserve comprehensive health insurance."
President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under US law to punish China for what he called “aggressive actions” against the former British colony.
Citing China’s decision to enact a new national security law for Hong Kong, Trump said he signed an executive order that will end the preferential economic treatment Hong Kong has received for years – “no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” he told a news conference.
Acting on a Tuesday deadline, Trump also signed a bill approved by the US Congress to penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new security law.
“Today I signed legislation, and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said.
“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he added.
According to a White House fact sheet, the executive order includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.
After experiencing a huge surge in coronavirus cases, states across the U.S. are being forced to roll back their reopening plans. And bar owners are not happy.
Most recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the shutting of all bars and indoor operations of businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, and more, after a month of allowing bars to operate. And though bar owners in the state haven’t yet put up a challenge to the new closure order, their counterparts in states like Arizona and North Carolina are taking their governors to court over the closures. ...
In North Carolina, where bars have been closed since March, bar owners lost a battle in state court in late June to force North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to allow them to reopen. Cooper has also vetoed bills passed by the Republican-led General Assembly to allow bars to reopen.
“We just want to go to work,” one Pasadena, Texas, bar owner told a local ABC affiliate. “It's not fair that at a restaurant right behind us, I can go sit at their bar and get hammered on margaritas, but I can't come to my club and drink a beer because it's a bar."
Donald Trump, in an interview aired Tuesday, pivoted when asked a question about the police killing of George Floyd, a Black American, which has sparked major national protests, to point out that white people also get killed by law enforcement in the US.
In a controversial moment that had echoes of his comments on white nationalist marchers and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when he said there were “fine people on both sides”, the president did not take the opportunity to talk about the problem of racially-motivated police brutality on Tuesday but switched to talk about white victims.
He then inaccurately argued that white Americans are dying more often at the hands of police than Black Americans. ...
Trump’s claim about more white people being killed by police in the US is misleading. The Guardian’s investigative project The Counted in 2015-2016 that set out to record all people in the US killed by police showed that Black people in America were more than twice as likely to be killed by the police than white people. And in 2016 Black men ages 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers, and they were killed at four times the rate of young white men. ...
Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2018 found that African Americans are 3.5 times as likely to be killed by police compared to white people.
One week after police in Phoenix, Arizona, were caught on camera surrounding a parked car and killing a man inside, a young woman is coming forward with footage of a brutal assault by another officer in the department.
Mariah Valenzuela, 23, was pulled over one night in January for a minor traffic violation. Body-camera footage obtained by the Guardian shows that the officer involved, Michael McGillis, would not tell the unarmed woman why he stopped her, and that seconds after she said she didn’t have ID on her, he tackled and slammed her on to the ground, injuring her head, face, hands and legs. Police footage also documents another officer instructing the policemen on the scene to “cover your ass” in the paperwork.
Following the incident, Valenzuela was taken to jail, accused of resisting arrest and “creating a substantial risk of physical injury” to an officer. She was also cited for DUI even though her blood alcohol content was well below the legal limit.
“He grabbed me and threw me on my car and kept slamming my head,” Valenzuela, a mother of two, said in a recent interview about the officer’s sudden use of force. “I was really afraid. It was dark and there was no one around.”
Valenzuela’s stop was not an isolated incident, attorneys said. Phoenix has had one of the highest rates of police shootings and police killings of civilians, and civil rights leaders say officers rarely face consequences for escalating encounters, brutalizing residents, defaulting to lethal force, and making false claims.
A white man from southern California is facing hate crime and assault charges for allegedly driving into a crowd of Black people after yelling racial slurs at them.
Dennis Wyman, 42, of Redondo Beach, joins a KKK leader and dozens of others in charges linked to the wave of recent car attacks. It’s not clear why the victims were congregating in this case, but the attack bore disturbing similarities to scores of recent incidents targeting Black Lives Matter protesters across the country since George Floyd’s death at the end of May.
Police said that Wyman encountered a group of Black people standing in a hotel parking lot in Torrance, roughly 16 miles southwest of Los Angeles, at about 11.30 p.m. on June 29. Wyman allegedly started to hurl racist insults at the group, before getting in his car and speeding towards them.
One of the individuals in the group, a 50-year-old off-duty security guard, pulled out his handgun and fired several shots at the vehicle before he was hit by the car. By the time police responded to the reports of shots fired, Wyman had allegedly fled. The security guard was taken to hospital where he was treated for “lower extremity injuries.” Wyman was finally located and arrested on July 8.
Since George Floyd was killed by police on May 25, there have been at least 72 car-ramming incidents, according to data compiled by Ari Weil, deputy research director at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats of the University of Chicago. ... Of the 72 incidents, 65 were by civilian drivers and 7 by law enforcement, Weil found. And of the 65 civilians, 30 have been charged.
Much more at the link.
Nationwide protests against racist policing have brought new scrutiny onto big tech companies like Facebook, which is under boycott by advertisers over hate speech directed at people of color, and Amazon, called out for aiding police surveillance. But Microsoft, which has largely escaped criticism, is knee-deep in services for law enforcement, fostering an ecosystem of companies that provide police with software using Microsoft’s cloud and other platforms. The full story of these ties highlights how the tech sector is increasingly entangled in intimate, ongoing relationships with police departments.
Microsoft’s links to law enforcement agencies have been obscured by the company, whose public response to the outrage that followed the murder of George Floyd has focused on facial recognition software. This misdirects attention away from Microsoft’s own mass surveillance platform for cops, the Domain Awareness System, built for the New York Police Department and later expanded to Atlanta, Brazil, and Singapore. It also obscures that Microsoft has partnered with scores of police surveillance vendors who run their products on a “Government Cloud” supplied by the company’s Azure division and that it is pushing platforms to wire police field operations, including drones, robots, and other devices.
With partnership, support, and critical infrastructure provided by Microsoft, a shadow industry of smaller corporations provide mass surveillance to law enforcement agencies. Genetec offers cloud-based CCTV and big data analytics for mass surveillance in major U.S. cities. Veritone provides facial recognition services to law enforcement agencies. And a wide range of partners provide high-tech policing equipment for the Microsoft Advanced Patrol Platform, which turns cop cars into all-seeing surveillance patrols. All of this is conducted together with Microsoft and hosted on the Azure Government Cloud.
Last month, hundreds of Microsoft employees petitioned their CEO, Satya Nadella, to cancel contracts with law enforcement agencies, support Black Lives Matter, and endorse defunding the police. In response, Microsoft ignored the complaint and instead banned sales of its own facial recognition software to police in the United States, directing eyes away from Microsoft’s other contributions to police surveillance. The strategy worked: The press and activists alike praised the move, reinforcing Microsoft’s said position as a moral leader in tech.
Yet it’s not clear how long Microsoft will escape major scrutiny. Policing is increasingly done with active cooperation from tech companies, and Microsoft, along with Amazon and other cloud providers, is one of the major players in this space.
Joe Biden has unveiled a new, more aggressive climate and jobs plan which advisers say he would take to Congress “immediately”, if elected president. The new proposal outlines $2tn for clean energy infrastructure and other climate solutions, to be spent as quickly as possible in the next four years, what would be the Democrat’s first term in office. Last year, he proposed $1.7tn in spending over 10 years.
“Addressing the economic crisis is going to be priority one for a President Biden,” a senior campaign official told reporters. “This will be the legislation he goes up to [Capitol Hill] immediately to get done. The reality is we will be facing a country that will be in dire need of these types of investments that are going to be made here.”
Two crises are converging: a devastated economy and high unemployment that could drag on for years as the nation struggles to gain control of the coronavirus pandemic, and a rapidly closing window to significantly cut heat-trapping emissions and lead on global climate action. Biden unveiled the climate plan, the second part of his “Build Back Better” proposal, in remarks from Delaware on Tuesday afternoon.
“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax’,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s previous claims that the crisis is fake. “When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs’.” In a detailed climate policy speech, Biden said his proposal would create a million jobs in electric vehicle manufacturing, a million in upgrading buildings and a quarter-million cleaning up after extractive industries. Biden said he would give Americans money back for switching to cleaner cars and making their homes more efficient.
He said he was focusing on his first four years as president because “science tells us we have nine years before the damage is irreversible”.
A study released Tuesday by the Oakland Institute details an "unprecedented wave of privatization of natural resources that is underway around the world"—one that is largely being driven by the United States and its allies.
According to the progressive think tank's report (pdf), "Driving Dispossession: The Global Push to Unlock the Economic Potential of Land," governments around the world—particularly in developing countries—are often put under pressure by financial institutions and Western agencies to open up land for so-called "productive use" by miners, agribusiness interests, and other corporate entities intent on exploiting natural resources for profit.
The U.S. in particular, the report says, is a "key player in an unfettered offensive to privatize land around the world."
With deforestation and fossil fuel extraction helping to fuel the climate crisis, governments are being pushed in a direction that's "just the opposite of the drastic shift we need to win the struggle against climate change,” Frederic Mousseau, policy director of the Oakland Institute and lead author of the report, said in a statement.
"Most of the land on our planet, especially in the Global South, is public land or land held under customary tenure systems [and] is seen as an obstacle to exploitation and economic growth," Mousseau said.
The Oakland Institute included in its report six case studies in Ukraine, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil, finding that global land privatization is often directly driven by U.S. interests.
Zambia has been affected by what the Institute calls a recent "surge of American and European startups attempting to apply blockchain technology to land registries," referring to the digital ledger created for Bitcoin.
The Zambian government is partnering with Medici Land Governance (MLG), a blockchain company and subsidiary of the U.S. online retailer Overstock.com, to assist with land registration and titling. According to former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, the use of blockchain "will help unlock trillions of dollars in global mineral reserves that are inaccessible due to unclear land governance systems."
In Sri Lanka, a U.S. government entity known as the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) approved a five-year compact for the country in 2019, offering the Sri Lankan government $480 million to map and digitize public lands in order to "promote land transactions that could stimulate investment and increase its use as an economic asset."
"The proposed MCC compact would shift control of millions of hectares away from the state towards private interests," the report says, and was proposed by a U.S. entity formed in 2002 by Congress with the stated goal of "reducing poverty through growth."
"In practice, poverty alleviation has taken a back seat to promoting private sector growth," the report continues. "This has translated to countries shifting their policies in adherence to a neoliberal economic framework—including the privatization and commodification of land—in exchange for substantial financial grants."
MCC compacts throughout Africa have "allowed investors to acquire land at bargain prices to facilitate large-scale industrial agriculture at the expense of smallholder farmers," the Oakland Institute added.
The study also points to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's aggressive push to assume control of Indigenous territories in the Amazon Rainforest, appointing a member of one the country's most powerful agribusiness families to head the Ministry of Agriculture. Illegal land invasions and massive fires driven by agriculture and mining interests have threatened Indigenous people while contributing to deforestation and the climate crisis.
As the Institute published the report while the Covid-19 pandemic is upending the global economy, the report points out that "returning to normal is not an option."
Instead, the economic crisis "must be used as a catalyst to address the systematic issues surrounding the rampant overexploitation of natural resources that has driven the climate crisis to its current state."
Rather than erasing local governance and negating individual autonomy, governments must instead build systems that incorporate a diversity of ownership and tenure systems, and focus on a development path that serves the people instead of one that takes the land away from them for corporate profits."
Animal farming and fossil fuels have driven global emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane to the highest level on record, putting the world on track for dangerously increased heat levels of 3C to 4C. Since 2000 discharges of the odourless, colourless gas have risen by more than 50m tonnes a year, equivalent to 350m cars or double the total emissions of Germany or France, according to the latest Methane Budget study by a global team of scientists.
The findings, published in Earth System Science Data and Environmental Research Letters, show that more than half of the methane in the atmosphere now comes from human sources. Of this share, ranching, agriculture and landfills account for about two-thirds, while the fossil fuel industry, composed of oil, gas and coal, makes up the rest.
Methane is second only to carbon dioxide in its contribution to global heating; the gas is released in much smaller quantities but is 28 times more powerful at trapping warmth over a 100-year span. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the planet’s atmosphere absorbed almost 600m tonnes of methane, up 9% from the early years of the century when concentrations were relatively stable.
More than 200,000 tonnes of tiny plastic particles are blown from roads into the oceans every year, according to research. The study suggests wind-borne microplastics are a bigger source of ocean pollution than rivers, the route that has attracted most attention to date. The analysis focused on the tiny particles produced by tyres and brake pads as they wear down.
It estimated that 550,000 tonnes of particles smaller than 0.01mm are deposited each year, with almost half ending up in the ocean. More than 80,000 tonnes fall on remote ice- and snow-covered areas and may increase melting as the dark particles absorb the sun’s heat.
Microplastic pollution has polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. The particles can harbour toxic chemicals and harmful microbes and are known to harm some marine creatures. People are also known to consume them via food and water, and to breathe them, But the impact on human health is not yet known.
With their ability to glide silently through snow drifts and vanish into forests, mountain caribou have been called the grey ghosts of western Canada’s alpine region. But in recent years, a steep drop in their population has raised fears the knobby-kneed ungulates may disappear forever. The rapid decline of mountain caribou has alarmed both biologists and government officials and prompted an aggressive response. In 2015, British Columbia placed a bounty on wolves, which the province believed to be a key threat to the ailing herds. The sanctioned cull is estimated to have killed more than a thousand of the apex predators.
But a new study from the University of Alberta suggests that the cull is doing little to save the most vulnerable caribou populations. For decades, the mountain caribou – an ecotype of woodland caribou that once ranged from Alaska down to Montana and Idaho – has suffered catastrophic decline. Biologists have long suspected habitat degradation and increased predation were to blame. In addition to clearcutting forests, human incursions into the hinterlands – by snowmobile and ski trails – have created corridors for wolves to more easily stalk caribou.
Today, roughly 46,800 mountain caribou remain. Both the central and southern mountain ecotypes are considered endangered, with only 1,825 remaining. They now only live in British Columbia after having effectively disappeared from the United States.
In 2019, an influential study suggested that culling wolves and creating fenced refuges for pregnant females could help stem the demise of mountain caribou. ... But after running their own simulations, a team of researchers at the University of Alberta concluded that killing wolves wasn’t saving the caribou in areas where caribou were most vulnerable and at risk. ... In the case of the endangered Wells Grey herd in central British Columbia, which has suffered one of the worst population declines, the researchers found that wolves weren’t even a major predator: bears, cougars and wolverines were far more deadly. ...
“When you remove top level apex predators, like wolves, you see a collapse of ecosystems from insects to riparian areas, to the predator prey relationship to the forest cover itself,” said Ian McAllister, executive director at Pacific Wild, a conservation organisation. “Wolves in every meaning of the word are being used as a scapegoat for government negligence.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Shakey Jake - Roll Your Money Maker
Shakey Jake Harris - Jake`s Blues
Shakey Jake Harris - Still Your Fool
Shakey Jake Harris - My Blues Advice
Magic Sam & Shakey Jake Harris - Call Me if You Need Me
Shakey Jake - Cross My Heart
Shakey Jake - Hey Baby
Shakey Jake - Huffin' and Puffin'
Shakey Jake - Do the Boogie With You