The Evening Blues - 7-15-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features delta blues musician and rock n roll pioneer Ike Turner. Enjoy!
Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm - Matchbox
"We live in an era of organized irresponsibility."
-- Otto Scharmer
News and Opinion
As the world burns, as ecosystems die off, as the insects vanish, as the forests disappear, as soil becomes rapidly less fertile, as extinction takes over, as the oceans gasp for air and become lifeless deserts while continents of plastic form in their waters, it is interesting how often you hear the sentiment that this is the result of some flaw in humanity for which we all share equal guilt.
To hear people talk about it, you’d think we all had some say in the way our society is organized, the way food, goods and energy are distributed, the kinds of vehicles which dominate our civilization, the way our planet is being stripped bare to turn millionaires into billionaires and billionaires into trillionaires.
And of course, we don’t. We’ve never gotten to vote on how corporations behave in our world. We never got a vote on which technologies would be suppressed and which would be subsidized and backed by wars and military scams. We never got a vote on the US war machine becoming the worst polluter of any institution on earth. We never got a vote on whether a tree should be cut down for profit or left standing for the benefit it provides to our ecosystem.
And the things we do get to vote on don’t count because our dominant political systems are owned by corporate elites. And even if they weren’t it wouldn’t matter because those elites use media propaganda to brainwash us at mass scale and manufacture our consent for the ecocidal paradigm that has turned them into modern-day kings.
1. The oceans are being killed.
2. Forests will soon be gone.
3. Fertile soil is disappearing.
4. Megafauna risk extermination.
5. Insects are vanishing.
6. Climate chaos is inevitable.
7. Extinction is now.
8. Plastic is in our blood.
None of this is front page news.
— Ben See (@ClimateBen) March 9, 2019
The kings of today do not live as the kings of old. They don’t sit on thrones publicly issuing decrees to their subjects; they hang out in the background behind the theatrical performance of the officially elected government, quietly funding think tanks and corporate lobbyists, buying up media, bribing politicians with campaign donations, rigging the system, amassing more and more wealth and power, and shaping the fate of our world.
Yet if you ask the wealthy who is to blame for the death of our planet, they’ll tell you it’s the fault of the riff raff for having too many babies. If you ask the billionaire-owned media who is to blame, they’ll tell you it’s your fault because you didn’t go vegan and ride your bike to work.
In our extinction existence of invisible kings and wall-to-wall lies, those with all the wealth and power are completely free of responsibility, while their rank-and-file victims are made to justify their very existence to the system every day and pay through the nose for every misstep. None of the world’s worst people are in prison, and if you tell the police your employer stole your wages you’ll get a very different response than if your employer tells them you stole from the company.
You can get a hefty fine for throwing a paper cup out a window, but corporations can fill the oceans with plastic without ever being told “This is your fault. Fix it.” You can go to jail for smoking a leaf, but corporations can blacken the air at immense profit without ever facing any consequences.
They are living as kings on wealth they made by raping the planet we all live on, whose health we all depend on for survival, and because their mass media propaganda is so successful it hardly ever even occurs to anyone that they should have to pay for it. They take what they want and do as they please, at our expense, for free. They are spoiled little boys with flamethrowers.
The people who are leading us to armageddon are hailed as charitable and industrious job creators. Rob a man for money and they’ll call you a thief. Rob a planet for money and they’ll call you a philanthropist.
This cannot stand. The one area in which we do have power is the fact that there are a lot more of us than there are of them, a fact that secretly terrifies them which they spend vast amounts of energy making sure we never notice ourselves. As folk singer Utah Phillips famously said, “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed. And those who are killing it have names and addresses.”
But this insight does us no good if only a few of us realize it. Until a critical mass of the human collective rises up against these sociopathic ecocidal tyrants, we won’t be able to stop them. But stop them we must, which is why it’s so important to spread awareness of what’s going on and where the blame really lies. All positive changes in human behavior are always preceded by an increase in awareness, whether it be individually or collectively.
And from there, perhaps we can create a healthy world directed not for the greed of the few but for the good of everybody. Where scientific endeavor is poured not into creating billionaires and finding new ways for the war machine to kill people but into ways we can harmoniously collaborate with our natural environment.
If we can’t find some way to pull this off, humanity’s epitaph will read, “In the end it was easier to let them kill the ecosystem than to take away rich people’s rocket money.”
A House panel on Tuesday approved amendments to repeal the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations, the latest move in a push to rein in presidential war powers that has been gaining momentum in recent months.
The House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote both amendments from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to sunset the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) after eight months and to immediately repeal the 2002 AUMF.
The amendments were approved as the committee considered its fiscal year 2021 defense spending bill.
The panel also approved Lee’s amendments the past couple years, but they did not survive negotiations with the Senate.
The Taliban have claimed to have seized control of a crucial border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as their forces continue to rapidly advance in the wake of US troops pulling out, fuelling fears of the conflict spilling into Pakistan.
In one of their most strategic gains yet, on Tuesday night Taliban forces descended on the district of Spin Boldak in Afghanistan, just a few miles from the Pakistan border, and attacked several posts of Afghan troops, who reportedly surrendered immediately.
By the early hours of Wednesday, in a battle that took the lives of at least four Afghan soldiers and injured eight Taliban fighters, Taliban troops had taken full control of the city and the Afghan side of the Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing into Pakistan, one of the most crucial trade and travel routes between the two countries.
Witnesses said Taliban forces had removed the Afghan flag and raised the Taliban flag over the crossing, which is known as Friendship Gate. Images seen by the Guardian show Taliban fighters sitting in the offices of the crossing on the Afghan side with mountains of bank notes they had seized from customs.
The Afghan government maintained its forces had not lost control of the Spin Boldak border, but Pakistan officials confirmed that they had sealed their side of the crossing after heavy fighting had broken out on the Afghan side and no one was allowed through on either side.
Authorities in Haiti say they are seeking a former senator, a fired government official and a convicted cocaine smuggler as suspects in the investigation into the killing of President Jovenel Moïse. A sprawling investigation has so far taken in a quixotic galaxy of alleged actors, including Colombian guns for hire, a US-based Haitian pastor and a Florida-based security firm.
Amid a continuing power struggle and renewed claims that some of those arrested may have been tricked into their involvement, the exact circumstances of Moïse’s killing last week remain murky. The latest suspects are among five fugitives whom Haitian police say are armed and dangerous. Among those being sought is the former senator John Joël Joseph, a well-known Haitian politician and opponent of the Tet Kale party that Moïse belonged to. ...
Police identified another suspect as Joseph Felix Badio. He previously worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and joined the government’s anti-corruption unit in March 2013. The agency issued a statement saying Badio was fired in May following “serious breaches” of unspecified ethical rules, adding that it filed a complaint against him.
A third suspect was identified as Rodolphe Jaar. Jaar uses the alias “Whiskey” and in 2013 was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. At his sentencing hearing in 2015, Jaar’s attorney told the court that Jaar had been a confidential source for the US government for several years before his indictment.
The details of the new suspects emerged as relatives of the Colombian mercenaries killed and arrested in Haiti for their alleged part in the assassination said they had been recruited with a text message telling them of an “American company that needs special forces, commandos with experience, for a job in Central America”. According to the New York Times, the message continued: “We are going to help in the recovery of the country, in terms of its security and democracy … We are going to be pioneers.”
Police have fired teargas to disperse demonstrators in Paris, as thousands of people protested throughout France over new coronavirus restrictions. Protests began in the French capital on Wednesday morning as the annual military parade for the traditional Bastille Day parade was taking place along the famous Champs-Élysées watched by president Emmanuel Macron.
The demonstrators are unhappy at the decision announced on Monday to oblige health workers to get vaccinated and bring in a vaccine health pass for most public places. Unvaccinated people would require, for example, a negative test result to enter restaurants.
Since the announcement a record number of French people booked appointments for Covid-19 jabs.
Throughout Paris some 2,250 people protested, while other demonstrations took place in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpelier, Nantes and elsewhere. The French authorities put the total number of protesters at 19,000.
A cluster of midwestern and southern states have emerged as a new center of Covid-19 outbreaks, as the highly transmissible Delta variant sweeps across poorly vaccinated populations in the US.
The news marks a potentially serious setback for the Biden administration’s attempts to curb and control the pandemic as the Delta variant – which has wreaked havoc in the UK and elsewhere – is starting to spread more widely in America.
It also comes as life in much of the US has started to return to near normal, with many Covid-19 restrictions having been lifted, and as the vaccination program has slowed down.
Rates of Covid-19 cases in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the highest in the country, and their vaccination rates among the lowest. Covid also appears to be gaining ground in the American west.
Even so, overall numbers of new Covid-19 cases are low. New infections are less than one-10th the average daily rate at the height of the pandemic in January, even as they have doubled in the last two weeks.
Big Money gets on the phone and talks to legislators devolving into a hissy fit:
A Congressional Progressive Caucus meeting on Tuesday broke out into a furious argument over the House’s package of antitrust legislation, pitting Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., whose district encompasses a large part of Silicon Valley, against the authors of the series of six bills moving through the chamber. The argument began when Lofgren, one of the most senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and an opponent of the legislation, noted that she had raised an extraordinary amount of money from Silicon Valley companies over the years, but because she ran in a safe blue district, she hadn’t spent any of it on her own campaign since 1996 and instead distributed it widely to other campaigns.
Raising corporate money and spreading it around the caucus is a common tactic deployed by members looking to grow their power. But it is highly unusual to talk openly about the practice on a legislative caucus call. “It’s a pretty shocking thing to say,” one Democrat on the call said.
The debate devolved into unusually personal terms, sources present for the members-only call said. Lofgren argued that the legislation wasn’t just wrongheaded, but also poorly written — considered a cardinal dig on Capitol Hill. Lofgren said that she hadn’t had enough time to review the legislation sufficiently and knocked the unnecessary dead-of-night committee votes, arguing that the approaches the bills take won’t accomplish what could be worthy goals, while doing collateral damage to the economy. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the CPC, eventually cut Lofgren off, and noted that despite representing Seattle, the home of Amazon, she has been willing to take on Big Tech. Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the lead author of much of the legislation, was blunt in his response to Lofgren. “Cicilline lost it,” said one Democrat on the call and, according to multiple sources, he accused Lofgren of merely parroting “industry talking points.” ...
That the arguments made by Lofgren against the legislation are the same as those made by Big Tech is not in dispute. But to question the motivation of those arguments, or the link between those positions and campaign funds, is considered wildly out of bounds on Capitol Hill — something that is not to be spoken out loud.
Joe Biden made the short but significant journey from the White House to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a key meeting to bolster Senate Democrats’ $3.5tn “human infrastructure” plan. The president put in an appearance at the Senate Democratic caucus’s weekly policy lunch, one day after the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announced an agreement on the spending proposal. ...
Biden joined Senate Democrats for the closed-door lunch where he sought their support and discussed strategy for passing both a $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure deal to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, and the larger Democratic package that also addresses environmental measures and the need for stronger social services.
Republicans voiced immediate objections to the plan’s massive size, as did at least one key moderate Democrat whose support would be critical to passage.
In a biannual transparency report published on Wednesday, Twitter revealed that the second half of 2020 was marked by a surge in government demands to delete information shared by reporters and news publishers, an alarming trend for advocates of press freedom.
The social media giant said that in the second half of 2020, "199 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets from around the world were subject to 361 legal demands" to remove content—a 26% increase from the first half of the year.
According to Twitter's report, the platform took down five tweets from verified journalists and news outlets. Of those, four tweets were "withheld" in Brazil and one in France.
India issued 128 removal requests during the second half of last year, the most among countries. India was followed by Turkey (108), Pakistan (52), and Russia (28).
The report noted that "Twitter also received an increase of legal demands including accounts from verified journalists and news outlets from a wider range of jurisdictions, such as Brazil (16), Mexico (9), Thailand (9), Ireland (3), France, (2), Colombia (2), and Venezuela (2)."
Human rights advocates on Wednesday condemned the Biden administration for its "shameful" announcement that amid unrest and economic crises in both Cuba and Haiti, refugees from the Caribbean nations will not be welcomed in the United States.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas—whose own family left Cuba for the U.S. in the early 1960s—said people who attempt to leave Cuba and Haiti via boat will be intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and either turned back or—if they convince U.S. authorities that they have a credible fear of persecution or torture—sent to a third country for resettlement.
"Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States," said Mayorkas.
"The time is never right to attempt migration by sea. To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking," he added, echoing the words of Vice President Kamala Harris in a recent speech discouraging Central Americans from crossing the southern U.S. border as well as immigration officials during the Trump administration.
A coalition of civil rights groups on Wednesday filed a motion in a Florida federal court seeking to block the state's recently enacted anti-protest law—which critics say targets racial justice demonstrators while letting right-wing protesters off the hook.
The ACLU of Florida, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and Community Justice Project (CJP), with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP serving as counsel, filed a motion for preliminary injunction (pdf) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in a bid to block parts of H.B. 1, the so-called "anti-riot" bill introduced in the wake of last year's Black Lives Matter protests and signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.
The injunction was filed on behalf of Dream Defenders, the Black Collective, Chainless Change, Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville.
"Among other things, the law risks criminalizing peaceful protest, shields those who injure or kill protestors (for example by ramming their vehicles into protestors) from civil penalties, discourages people from protesting, and otherwise infringes on First Amendment rights," the organizations filing the motion said in a statement. "The law was passed as a direct response to racial justice protests in 2020, and appears designed to target those who protest against police violence."
Critics argued that H.B. 1's civil legal immunity provision endangers lives and would have protected the neo-Nazi who murdered anti-racism protester Heather Heyer with his car in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.
The same groups that filed Wednesday's motion also sued DeSantis and other state officials in May over H.B. 1.
"This law has changed the landscape for what it means to organize and create safer conditions for our communities in Florida," said Nailah Summers, co-executive director of Dream Defenders, in a statement. "Protest has always been a vital tool for accountability for our public officials. We use protest as a vehicle for change and not only does this law silence our voices, but it puts our lives in danger." ...
Underscoring what critics of H.B. 1 say is the law's discriminatory intent, the editors of the Miami Herald on Tuesday published an editorial decrying the hypocritical leniency shown to Cuban-American demonstrators and their supporters who blocked a Miami expressway on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with anti-government protesters in Cuba.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Police encouraged people to disperse—to no avail." People at "SOS Cuba" demonstrations in Tampa and Orlando also blocked major thoroughfares and ignored police orders to disperse.
There were no arrests reported at the Miami protest. Three men were reportedly arrested in Tampa for assaulting or resisting officers, while one man was reportedly arrested in Orlando for disorderly conduct. There were no reported arrests for violations of H.B. 1.
Addressing DeSantis' dodging of reporters' questions about the uneven application of H.B. 1, the Herald editors wrote: "Honestly, we would have been more impressed if he had just responded: 'Nah, the Miami-Dade demonstrators seeking human rights in Cuba have nothing to fear from my anti-riot law. We created it to subdue Black folks seeking human rights in the United States.'"
After coming up repeatedly during the Democratic mayoral primary, a bill to enfranchise noncitizens in New York City elections appears to be within close reach.
Since 2005, activists in the city have been working to extend the right to vote in local elections to noncitizens. Though there were prior legislative attempts in 2009 and 2013, those efforts never commanded as much political momentum.
But in June, the latest iteration of the bill — reintroduced last winter by New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic — received its 34th co-sponsor, giving it a supermajority on the 51-member council. The legislation, while limited to permanent residents and those with work authorizations — meaning those with Temporary Protected Status or in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — would enfranchise some 900,000 New Yorkers. If passed, the bill would offer a significant boon to a growing national movement around expanding ballot access to immigrants. ...
Advocates say they already have sizable public backing. One poll conducted this year by the left-leaning firm Change Research found 65 percent of respondents supported the measure. Another Change Research poll from last year found support among New Yorkers was higher when voters learned how many immigrants would be impacted by the bill. “It seems like less of a special privilege given to the few as opposed to a large group of people living in New York City,” concluded the pollsters.
The Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, scientists have confirmed for the first time.
The emissions amount to a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to a study. The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink, absorbing the emissions driving the climate crisis, but is now causing its acceleration, researchers said.
Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately set to clear land for beef and soy production. But even without fires, hotter temperatures and droughts mean the south-eastern Amazon has become a source of CO2, rather than a sink.
Growing trees and plants have taken up about a quarter of all fossil fuel emissions since 1960, with the Amazon playing a major role as the largest tropical forest. Losing the Amazon’s power to capture CO2 is a stark warning that slashing emissions from fossil fuels is more urgent than ever, scientists said. ...
The scientists said the discovery that part of the Amazon was emitting carbon even without fires was particularly worrying. They said it was most likely the result of each year’s deforestation and fires making adjacent forests more susceptible the next year. The trees produce much of the region’s rain, so fewer trees means more severe droughts and heatwaves and more tree deaths and fires.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it’s considering drinking water limits for the entire class of PFAS compounds, which public health advocates say are categorically toxic.
The chemicals are used to make products resistant to water, stain and heat, and are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t fully break down or degrade. They are linked to a range of serious health problems such as cancer, liver disease, kidney problems, heart disease, decreased immunity and more.
Though the EPA announcement marks only the beginning of a years-long process, the move is significant because the agency does not place any limits on PFAS in drinking water, and states’ rules limit fewer than 10 types of individual PFAS compounds.
About 9,000 varieties of the chemical exist, and a growing body of scientific research suggests that the entire class is toxic to humans and animals, and accumulates in the environment.
Environmental groups have argued for several years that developing rules for each individual compound is failing to keep the public safe. “With over 1,000 PFAS chemicals approved for use in the United States, a chemical-by-chemical approach to setting drinking water limits would likely take many lifetimes,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with Environmental Working Group.
Seventeen million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into California’s Santa Monica Bay between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, spurring beach closures, as well as criticism of how health officials notified the public about potential safety risks.
The problems came to a head at Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, located in the Playa del Rey area of Los Angeles, on Sunday evening. An “unusual amount of debris” – including construction waste and grease, among other refuse – entered the plant through its sewer lines, said Elena Stern, a senior public information director for the city’s department of public works.
These items, which Hyperion is not designed to process, “just inundated and overwhelmed the system”, clogging the screens which, in turn, caused flooding at the plant. “To avoid having the entire plant shut down, which would have been catastrophic, we had to discharge some of the untreated sewage to alleviate the system,” Stern said.
Raw sewage began to be released around 7.30pm and managers notified state officials just after 8.10pm – with the Los Angeles county public health department showing up on the scene about two and a half hours later. The raw sewage discharge ended at 4.30am on Monday; in total, the discharge constituted about 6% of Hyperion’s daily flow.
The public health department posted an advisory to Twitter at 5.30pm on Monday stating that the El Segundo and Dockweiler Beaches in Los Angeles were closed because of this sewage discharge. Officials advised beachgoers to “stay out of the water until the advisory is removed”.
Worth a click:
A handful of powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans, new analysis reveals. A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that consumer choice is largely an illusion – despite supermarket shelves and fridges brimming with different brands.
In fact, a few powerful transnational companies dominate every link of the food supply chain: from seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers.
The size, power and profits of these mega companies have expanded thanks to political lobbying and weak regulation which enabled a wave of unchecked mergers and acquisitions. This matters because the size and influence of these mega-companies enables them to largely dictate what America’s 2 million farmers grow and how much they are paid, as well as what consumers eat and how much our groceries cost. It also means those who harvest, pack and sell us our food have the least power: at least half of the 10 lowest-paid jobs are in the food industry. Farms and meat processing plants are among the most dangerous and exploitative workplaces in the country.
Overall, only 15 cents of every dollar we spend in the supermarket goes to farmers. The rest goes to processing and marketing our food. ...
For shoppers, it might seem like choices galore at the store, but most of our favorite brands are actually owned by a handful of food giants, including Kraft Heinz, General Mills, Conagra, Unilever and Delmonte.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Ike Turner - Gettin Nasty
Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm - You've Got To Lose
Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm - Night Howler
Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm - Black's Alley
Ike Turners Kings Of Rhythm - (I Know) You Don't Love Me
Ike Turner - She Made My Blood Run Cold
Billy Gayles w/Ike Turners Rhythm Rockers - I'm Tore Up
Jackie Brenston w/Ike Turners Kings Of Rhythm - Much Later
Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm - Rock A Bucket
Ike Turners Kings Of Rhythm - Down & Out
Ike Turners Kings Of Rhythm - Box Top
Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm - So Fine (Live)