The Evening Blues - 7-2-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Detroit blues guitarist Louis "Mr. Bo" Collins. Enjoy!
Louis "Mr. Bo" Collins - Born In The Country
"There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond this there is great unrest."
-- Julian Barnes
News and Opinion
If some of the nation’s wealthiest residents were planning on a quiet, leisurely retreat to their Hamptons estates ahead of the July Fourth weekend, they’re off to a bad start. A caravan of 200 protesters — some of them armed with plastic pitchforks — showed up outside the Long Island vacation homes of Michael Bloomberg and other wealthy investors Wednesday to decry the nation's rising income inequality, which has only gotten worse since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The activists drove in from New York City and targeted the seaside destination where many rich New Yorkers stayed during the coronavirus crisis, to argue that their plight is being ignored.
“Tax the rich, not the poor!” protesters chanted outside the 22,000-square-foot, $20 million mansion of former NYC mayor and presidential candidate Bloomberg. (He owns several other properties, so it’s unclear whether he was home.) ...
Protesters included members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, New York Communities for Change, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and others. They’re hoping that Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes higher taxes on New York's wealthiest residents to pad the state’s budget and avoid cuts to services that could help the poor during a downturned economy, according to Nascimento.
To make their point heard, they also planned to head to the homes of Stephen Ross, a billionaire real estate developer; Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group, a massive real estate investment firm; and Daniel Loeb, the billionaire behind the hedge fund Third Point. ... Similar protests, organized by groups including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, will also take place across California later Wednesday, at the homes of real estate magnates and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla.
Sanders Files Amendments to Force Pentagon to Pass Clean Audit, Require Mass Production of Free Masks for All
Sen. Bernie Sanders late Tuesday filed a slate of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act aiming to force the Pentagon to pass an independent audit, require the federal government to mass-produce and deliver free masks to everyone in the U.S., and bar funding for the Saudi-led assault on Yemen.
The amendments came in addition to the Vermont senator's plan to slash the Senate's proposed $740.5 billion Pentagon budget by 10% and redirect the savings toward funding healthcare, housing, education, and jobs in impoverished U.S. communities.
"A major reason why there is so much waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon is the fact that the Defense Department remains the only federal agency in America that hasn't been able to pass an independent audit," Sanders said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. "It is time to hold the Defense Department to the same level of accountability as the rest of the government."
Sanders' amendment (pdf)—introduced alongside Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah)—would require the Pentagon to pass a clean audit by fiscal year 2025 and would penalize Defense Department agencies that fail to pass an audit by forcing them to return a portion of their budgets to the Treasury.
The Vermont senator also filed an NDAA amendment (pdf) that would use the Defense Production Act to mass-produce and distribute five free face masks per month to every person in the U.S. through the Postal Service—a proposal Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, endorsed during a Senate hearing earlier Tuesday.
The National Security Agency strongly dissented from other intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia paid bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, according to people familiar with the matter.
The disclosure of the dissent by the NSA, which specializes in electronic eavesdropping, comes as the White House has played down the revelations, saying that the information wasn’t verified and that intelligence officials didn’t agree on it.
Because of that, President Trump was never personally briefed on the threat, the White House said, although a key lawmaker said the information apparently was included in written intelligence materials prepared for Mr. Trump.
The people familiar with the dissent by the NSA either declined or were unable to say why the agency differed from others—including the Central Intelligence Agency—about the strength of the intelligence showing operatives with Russia’s GRU intelligence agency paid bounties to the insurgent Taliban movement to kill Americans.
Seattle police turned out in force on Wednesday at the city’s “occupied” protest zone, tore down demonstrators’ encampments and used bicycles to herd the protesters after the mayor ordered the area cleared following two fatal shootings in less than two weeks.
The move came after Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, issued an emergency executive order for protesters to vacate the area and declaring the gathering an “unlawful assembly”.
Television images showed police, many in riot gear, confronting dozens of protesters at the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (Chop) zone that was set up near downtown following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Wearing helmets and wielding batons and rifles, officers converged on the area at dawn. Officers stood shoulder-to-shoulder on several streets while others created a makeshift fence with their bicycles, using it to push protesters back away from the center of the zone. ...
At least 23 people had been arrested within a few hours as police worked to clear the area also dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (Chaz) by protesters and others who gathered there amid nationwide demonstrations and a reckoning over police reform, race relations and inequality.
Forty-five years. That’s how long Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis, two New York City lawyers, may spend in federal prison after throwing what authorities described as a Molotov cocktail into an empty New York Police Department car in the middle of an anti-police violence protest in late May. Over the last week, both Rahman, 31, and Mattis, 32, have pleaded not guilty to seven federal charges, including arson and use of explosives. One of those charges is usually seen in cases of gang violence or terrorism, according Rahman’s lawyer, a former federal prosecutor.
Rahman and Mattis aren’t the only two facing federal charges in connection with the protests that erupted in late May after the police killing of George Floyd: VICE News has identified more than 70 cases where federal prosecutors filed criminal complaints in connection to the protests, including many where defendants have been charged with interfering with “interstate commerce” in some way — which lets federal prosecutors tackle a case rather than letting local enforcement handle it.
These cases represent an unusually harsh wave of federal prosecution for the kind of civil disturbances that career prosecutors say would normally be handled by more local jurisdictions. President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has used tools developed to fight terrorists against those who stand accused of violence that has infrequently accompanied demonstrations against police brutality. And these charges can come with lengthy prison terms. ...
When it comes to choosing which cases to pursue and which charges to apply, federal prosecutors have broad discretion. But usually, they don’t consider individual cases of vandalism, defacing property, or even rioting to be worthy of federal charges — or on par with terrorist acts, as the Trump administration has suggested. “Those are traditionally treated as state crimes or normal federal crimes,” said Patrick Cotter, a former prosecutor from the Eastern District of New York. “The politics of the defendants certainly sound like they are playing a role in the DOJ decisions as to who to target. That, of course, is improper in the most profound sense. But not surprising for this DOJ.”
And it appears the DOJ is just getting started. On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the Department of Justice “has arrested over 100 anarchists on charges of rioting and destruction of federal property,” and that the FBI has more than 200 ongoing investigations into what she called “domestic terrorism.”
A 75-year-old protester who was knocked to the ground earlier this month by police in Buffalo was released from the hospital on Tuesday, according to his lawyer.
Kelly Zarcone, a lawyer representing Martin Gugino, said her client was released from the hospital Tuesday and will be recovering at an undisclosed location to ensure his privacy.
“I was able to see Martin today and he looks great. He can walk with a little help and his condition will continue to improve with rest and time,” Zarcone said in a statement.
Removing 'Unjust Barrier' to Asylum, Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump Rule Forcing Refugees to Seek Safety Elsewhere
Immigrant rights advocates applauded a Trump-appointed federal judge's rebuke to the White House on Wednesday as the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. blocked the administration's anti-asylum rule targeting Central Americans.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly on Tuesday evening ruled against President Donald Trump's "third-country requirement," which was imposed last summer and required asylum seekers to first apply for humanitarian aid in other countries they travel through before reaching the southern U.S. border.
The administration failed to provide justification for the rule or to explain how it was in the public interest when it bypassed the Administrative Procedure Act and introduced the restriction, Kelly said.
Additionally, the judge criticized the administration for using as its reasoning for the rule a single Washington Post article from October 2018. The article suggested that more asylum-seekers arrived at the border with children after the president signed an executive order ending his policy of separating families in June 2018.
"This newspaper article alone does not provide good cause to bypass notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures for the reasons cited by Defendants," wrote Kelly. "The article lacks any data suggesting that the number of asylum seekers increased at all during this time—only that more asylum seekers brought children with them."
The legal advocacy group RAICES, which along with Human Rights First and the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition represented the plaintiffs in the case, called the ruling a "huge win" for refugees. ...
Kelly further ruled against the Trump administration's request for a stay on the rule pending an expected appeal from the federal government, saying he saw "no reason" to grant the request.
Kelly's decision represented a final judgement against the administration's policy, the judge said, unlike an earlier ruling from U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar. Tigar last September imposed a preliminary injunction on the rule, citing a "mountain" of evidence that refugees cannot safely seek asylum in Mexico. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily allowed the administration to move forward with enforcing the restriction after that ruling was handed down.
The anti-government “boogaloo” movement just got a huge kick in the teeth from Facebook, where it’s been trying to build support for its violent aspiration of a civil war.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced it has designated a core online network of boogaloo adherents as a “dangerous organization.” The social media giant also conducted a “strategic network disruption” of the boogaloo online infrastructure, removing 220 accounts, 28 pages, 106 groups, and 95 Instagram accounts that Facebook determined were part of this core boogaloo network.
The platform also removed 400 additional groups and over 100 other pages for hosting content affiliated with the core boogaloo network.
A spokesperson for Facebook said that the large-scale removal would hopefully make it harder for adherents of the movement, often known as Boogaloo Bois, to rebuild their community.
The federal government has failed to include intellectual property and pricing protections in at least four contracts for drugs to combat Covid-19. Legal safeguards meant to ensure that products developed with federal funds are affordable and widely available were missing from the contracts, which are worth more than $1 billion and were released along with other documents last week in response to freedom of information requests. The omissions make it more likely that potentially lifesaving treatments and vaccines may be priced out of reach, even as the spiraling financial and health crises increase the need for affordable drugs.
Standard federal contracts ensure that inventions developed with government funding are available to the public “on reasonable terms.” But the four agreements for Covid-19-related products — three of which were made by a division of the Department of Health and Human Services known as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and one of which was made with the Department of Defense — notably omitted the phrase “on reasonable terms.” The government contracts with pharmaceutical companies Janssen, Regeneron, Genentech, and Ology Bioservices also limit the government’s patent rights to the products being developed for Covid-19, even though they are using taxpayer dollars to do so.
The details of the contracts, which were released to the nonprofit advocacy group Knowledge Ecology International, come as another pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, announced pricing for its Covid-19 therapy, remdesivir. That drug, which was developed with at least $79 million in federal funding, will cost private insurers $520 for a single vial, hundreds of times its production cost, which researchers at the University of Liverpool have estimated at 93 cents per dose.
In an open letter on pricing released Monday, Gilead chair and CEO Daniel O’Day said that “we approached this with the aim of helping as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible and in the most responsible way” and noted that in “normal circumstances,” the company would set the price according to the value a drug provides. Based on a study that shows that the hospital stays of patients who take remdesivir are four days shorter on average than those who didn’t take the drug, Gilead estimated that value to be $12,000. But, given its low production cost, Gilead could profit from remdesivir even if it was priced at just $1 a day, according to an analysis by Public Citizen. Instead the drug, which was rolled out with the help of the Trump administration, will cost insurers between $3,120 for a five-day course of treatment and $5,720 for a 10-day course.
Big Pharma Trade Group Blasted as 'Morally Bankrupt' for Suing to Block Minnesota Insulin Affordability Law
A Big Pharma trade group is under fire for filing a federal lawsuit late Tuesday against Minnesota's Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act mere hours before it took effect.
State Sen. Matt Little, a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), decried the move as "morally bankrupt" and "devoid of humanity." In a Tuesday night tweet, Little also vowed: "I will spend my entire life fighting these soulless companies. No one should get sick or die from an inability to afford life-sustaining insulin."
The law in question is named for an uninsured 26-year-old diabetic who died in 2017 of complications from rationing his insulin because he couldn't afford the medicine and related supplies after aging off his mother's health insurance. After state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure, DFL Gov. Tim Walz signed it into law this April.
As MPR News explains:
Under the law, people with diabetes who can't afford the essential medicine will be able to get 30-day supplies with no more than a $35 copay. A separate income-based program is established for those with needs that extend beyond that.
Drug makers are required to participate. If they don't, they would face a series of escalating fines.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The drug industry group claims the measure is unconstitutional, arguing in the complaint (pdf) that "a state cannot simply commandeer private property to achieve its public policy goals."
An PhRMA spokesperson told Brian Bakst of MPR News that "we are not seeking an emergency ruling to block the law from going into effect, but we think the law is unconstitutional and that the court should strike it down after it hears our challenge."
The advocacy group Public Citizen noted the tragic death of the law's namesake and denounced PhRMA's suit as "beyond unconscionable."
Donald Trump has said he believes the coronavirus will “just disappear”, one day after the US recorded more than 44,000 new cases, a new all-time daily high. Eight states reported new single-day highs of freshly diagnosed cases on Tuesday, and the dire numbers follow a warning by the public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci that the US is “going in the wrong direction” and infections could more than double, to reach 100,000 cases a day.
In an interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, Trump was asked whether he really believes, as he has stated previously, that the virus will simply disappear. “I do. I do,” the president said. “Yeah sure. At some point. And I think we’re going to have a vaccine very soon too.”
“We’re headed back in a very strong fashion ... And I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus,” he added. “I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope.”
Trump has faced fierce criticism for downplaying the risks of the virus, and for his refusal to promote simple safety measures such as wearing a mask. Asked about this on Wednesday, he said he “thinks masks are good” but said he does not believe making masks mandatory across the country was necessary.
A chicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June. Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedly condemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.
“We don’t have a lot of space at work. We are shoulder to shoulder,” said one worker, who declined to be identified, during a recent union call. “I’m afraid to go to work, but I have to go.”
The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said. ...
It is just one example of the currently taut relationship between public health and the economy in North Carolina, as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rises. North Carolina is one of the largest pork and poultry producing states in the US, exporting roughly $1.25bn in hogs, chickens and turkeys every year. Health departments in rural parts of the state, areas that often lean on large meatpacking or food processing facilities as primary sources of employment, have so far been tight-lipped about Covid-19 outbreaks in those plants.
In late April, while outbreaks began emerging at meat processing plants across the country, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing the facilities to remain open. That same month, the US exported a record amount of pork to China, despite industry claims of a domestic shortage. Since the pandemic began, more than 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 116 have died, according to a tally by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, though the true number is likely higher.
Donald Trump should not carry out his planned 3 July visit to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota because it represents a safety risk in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and is an insult to Native Americans on whose stolen land it was built, the president of the Oglala Sioux tribal council has said. Several Native American groups are planning protests for Trump’s controversial trip to the 79-year-old stone monument carved into the Black Hills that is set to include the first fireworks display at the site since 2009 and an air force flypast.
“Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,” the Oglala Sioux president, Julian Bear Runner, in an interview with the Guardian.
“It’s going to cause an uproar if he comes here. People are going to want to exercise their first amendment rights to protest and we do not want to see anyone get hurt or the lands be destroyed,” Bear Runner said.
Trump’s visit to the huge site that commemorates four US presidents was a violation of the historic treaties that the US government had signed with Native Americans that were meant to govern the sacred Black Hills, the Oglala tribal president said, adding that Trump should have asked permission for the trip from the seven Sioux tribal governments. “The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he’s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and I have to tell him he doesn’t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time,” Bear Runner said.
The 1868 treaty acknowledged Sioux sovereignty over the Black Hills in perpetuity but after gold was discovered in the area the federal government forced the Sioux to relinquish this part of their reservation. In 1980, the US supreme court ruled that tribal lands covered by the treaty had been taken from the Sioux illegally.
The Untold History of Mount Rushmore: A KKK Sympathizer Built Monument on Sacred Lakota Land
President Donald Trump is drawing a line in the sand: Either U.S. military bases named after Confederate generals keep their monikers, or he’s vetoing the entire defense spending bill for this year.
On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke in favor of an amendment she proposed last month to the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act that would rename military installations named after people who voluntarily fought for the Confederacy, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Lee in Virginia. ...
Late Tuesday night, Trump responded by saying he’d rather veto the entire bill than allow the bases to be renamed. He then retweeted his own tweet on Wednesday morning, just to make sure everyone saw it. “I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!” Trump said.
The fight sets up a clash not just between Trump and the Democrats but also between him and other members of his party. Rep. Don Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general, has introduced a similar proposal in the House, telling NPR last month: “Now is the time to embrace our values 'that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.'"
“I’m not wedded to the idea that those names of those military installations are eternal,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the number-two Republican in the Senate, told the Washington Post last month. ...
“I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate base-naming,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s in the bill. It has bipartisan support. It will stay in the bill.”
Sunrise Movement Says Wins by Corporate Democrats Like McGrath and Hickenlooper Must Be 'Moment of Reckoning' for Progressives
After a pair of U.S. Senate candidates backed by the Sunrise Movement was defeated by more corporate-friendly centrists in recent Democratic primary races, the youth-led climate group's political director expressed hope Wednesday that the losses would serve as "a moment of reckoning for the progressive movement, and that all of us reflect on what we can do to build power and take advantage of these races going forward."
"I'm not going to say these races are important moral victories that mean we need to work harder next time; the truth is, these races were ours for the taking and progressives blew it," the movement's Evan Weber said in a statement. "These were not races that progressives could afford to sit out, but too many organizations did."
Sunrise had endorsed former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who was beat Tuesday by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. They were competing to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November.
The movement had also supported Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker. After all the votes of last week's election were tallied, he was defeated by Amy McGrath, who will face off against GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"The final results show we could have won," Weber said Wednesday. "Despite being outspent by almost $20 million in Kentucky, and 7-to-1 in Colorado, we fell only just short. These were winnable races if more organizations decided to prioritize them."
He further warned of the potential electoral and political consequences of these two losses, explaining:
Voters are tired of cookie cutter Democrats who pretend they're Republicans and who listen to consultants and donors, instead of working people. When voters learn they have a choice and hear about our candidates, they want to vote for people like Charles and Andrew. These candidates need us to have their backs and help them get the resources they need to spread their message.
That didn't happen in time for Charles and Andrew, and because of that, Democrats' chances of flipping the Senate seats in Colorado and Kentucky just went way down. That makes everything else we're fighting for a lot harder, from a Green New Deal to Medicare for All.
Weber urged U.S. progressives to get "serious" about matching the party establishment's discipline while also acknowledging that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which works to elect party members to the upper chamber, "is not an easy beast to take on."
When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) "decides to anoint somebody, he pulls out all the stops, and puts so much money in their bank account that they don't even know what to do with it," Weber said, referencing the DSCC's support for the victors in Colorado and Kentucky.
"We've proven in these races that we don't need to match their spending dollar for dollar if we run candidates who better speak to the electorate," Weber added, "but we will keep losing these races if we don't come in early enough to make a difference, if we refuse to support movement candidates together when they make the brave, difficult choice to step up and run for office without bank accounts full of cash."
Despite the recent defeats, Sunrise celebrated victories in New York last week when first-term Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the lead House sponsor of the Green New Deal, swept her primary race in the 14th Congressional District and former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman won his race in the 17th District.
Sunrise has endorsed Dr. Arati Kreibich—a city council member and neuroscientist who is facing off against right-wing Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey's 5th District on July 7—as well as Mike Siegel, a civil rights attorney and former public school teacher who will take on Pritesh Gandhi in Texas' 10th District on July 14.
The movement is also supporting other progressives in upcoming Democratic primaries, including Alex Morse's challenge to Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) on September 1 as well as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), whose election is on August 4, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the lead sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution in the upper chamber, whose primary fight against Rep. Joe Kennedy III is on September 1.
Barbara Ransby on the Biden Problem: Social Movements Must Defeat Trump & Also Hold Dems Accountable
The Biden campaign has a new Spanish-language ad out claiming that President Trump is cut from the same cloth as leftist leaders Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Nicolas Maduro. This is not the first time the Biden campaign has done this, with the same comparison made to Spanish-speaking voters in Florida ads last month.
The hashtag #ComradeTrump is trending on Twitter as of this writing because a well-funded Super PAC run by never-Trump Republicans put out an appallingly stupid viral video featuring footage of Trump splashed with red hammer-and-sickle symbols interspersed with images of Soviet leaders while an English-captioned narrator gushes about Mother Russia’s support for “Comrade Trump” in Russian. As of this writing the video has over two million views on Twitter alone.
This tactic of negatively associating Trump with communism and socialism, combined with the consistent pattern of attacking the president for being insufficiently warlike, would only work if it was directed at the members of a reactionary, jingoistic right-wing political ideology. And it does work, because that’s exactly the ideology of the Democratic Party.
Trump, meanwhile, appears to have positioned his entire 2020 campaign around portraying his right-wing opponent as far left, spending the last month tweeting absurd statements like:
- “Not only will Sleepy Joe Biden DEFUND THE POLICE, but he will DEFUND OUR MILITARY! He has no choice, the Dems are controlled by the Radical Left.”
- “Sleepy Joe Biden will be (already is) pulled all the way Left.”
- “Sleepy Joe Biden refuses to leave his basement “sanctuary’ and tell his Radical Left BOSSES that they are heading in the wrong direction.”
You’ve also got cartoonist/MAGA thought leader Scott Adams promoting the increasingly common belief there’s going to be some kind of American Great Purge of Republicans by the radical left Democratic Party, claiming that “If Biden is elected, there’s a good chance you will be dead within the year. Republicans will be hunted.”
Yes Republicans, your very mainstream status quo ideology which challenges power in no meaningful way whatsoever is going to literally get you all murdered.
So one of the innumerable insane developments of 2020 is that both of America’s mainstream political parties are using different strategies to attack one another as being far-left extremists, which is absolutely bizarre since by global standards they are both very much right-wing parties. Neither party even has any interest in the basic social safety nets that are the norm in other developed nations, let alone wealth redistribution to end economic inequality, and are both as far as you can possibly get from having actual leftist goals like ending capitalism and worker ownership of the means of production.
Whenever I say this I always get Republican victims of the incredible shrinking Overton window sputtering in confusion and outrage because they believe people like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are far far far far far left communists.
This is of course a total propaganda construct. Both parties work to advance the interests of oligarchs, war profiteers and imperialist government agencies in more or less exactly the same way; all they did was shift the spectrum of acceptable debate to issues which powerful capitalists do not care about like gay marriage and unisex public toilets. So now mainstream “conservatives” think leftism means having pink hair and mainstream “liberals” think Trump supporters are useful idiots of the Kremlin, but in terms of actually challenging actual power there’s not a bee’s dick of difference between them.
This dynamic of attacking one another from the right and accusing the other party of being far left of course continues to move the US political spectrum further and further right while killing the possibility of any leftward movement, and that is of course by design.
Noam Chomsky once said that “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum,” and you really couldn’t ask for a clearer illustration of this than the American political uniparty. People are encouraged by establishment narrative managers to squabble about inconsequential nonsense on the periphery with fever pitch intensity, and to never even think about addressing dynamics which would actually inconvenience the powerful like ending militarism, government opacity, or plutocracy.
The Democratic and Republican parties can’t even rightly be called different ideologies; sure they behave a bit differently in the same way a boxer uses his left jab and right cross in different ways, but just like a boxer’s fists they are both used to advance the exact same agenda. In the case of the boxer it’s knocking his opponent senseless, and in the case of the uniparty it’s advancing the interests of oligarchy and imperialism.
That old saying that both parties are just two wings on the same bird is true, but it’s a weird mutant bird with two right wings.
More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”. A cluster of elephant deaths was first reported in the Okavango Delta in early May, with 169 individuals dead by the end of the month. By mid June, the number had more than doubled, with 70% of the deaths clustered around waterholes, according to local sources who wish to remain anonymous.
“This is a mass die-off on a level that hasn’t been seen in a very, very long time. Outside of drought, I don’t know of a die-off that has been this significant,” said Dr Niall McCann, the director of conservation at UK-based charity National Park Rescue.
The Botswana government has not yet tested samples so there is no information on what is causing the deaths or whether they could pose a risk to human health. The two main possibilities are poisoning or an unknown pathogen. Anthrax – initially considered the most likely cause – has been ruled out. ...
Local witnesses say some elephants were seen walking around in circles, which is an indication of neurological impairment. “If you look at the carcasses, some of them have fallen straight on their face, indicating they died very quickly. Others are obviously dying more slowly, like the ones that are wandering around. So it’s very difficult to say what this toxin is,” said McCann. Elephants of all ages and both sexes have been dying, local reports found. Several live elephants appeared weak and emaciated, suggesting more will die in the coming weeks. The true number of deaths is likely to be even higher because carcasses can be difficult to spot, say conservationists.
House Democrats unveiled a sweeping plan for climate action Tuesday that embraces much of the ambition of the Green New Deal, while avoiding the use of the name and steering clear of calls for abrupt bans on fossil fuel development.
Instead, the package of more than 120 pieces of legislation seeks to drive a transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, achieved by reaching into every corner of the U.S. economy with new investments, standards and incentives favoring clean energy, jobs creation, lands protection and environmental justice. ...
"This climate proposal inexplicably and inexcusably fails to call for a halt to the extraction of fossil fuels," said Mitch Jones, policy director of Food & Water Action. "It is simply not an adequate attempt to deal with the crisis we actually face."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Mr. Bo - Until The Day I Die
Mr. Bo & His Blues Boys - If Trouble was Money
Mr. Bo - Early In The Morning
Mr Bo and his Blue Boys - Baby Your Hair Looks Bad
Mr. Bo & His Blues Boys - Lost Love Affair
Mr Bo - Heartache & Troubles
Mr. Bo - Plenty Fire Below
Mr Bo - The Things You Put Me Through
Mr Bo - Detroit, Michigan