The Evening Blues - 7-20-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Joe Carter. Enjoy!
Joe Carter and his Chicago Broomdusters - I'm Worried
"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
They said we need internet censorship because Russians.
They said we need internet censorship because Covid.
They said we need internet censorship because 1/6.
They said we need internet censorship because domestic extremists.
Pretty sure they just want internet censorship.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) July 17, 2021
The weirdest thing about the Biden administration tasking itself with the censorship of “disinformation” on social media is that the United States is the hub of a globe-spanning empire that is built upon a foundation of disinformation, maintained by disinformation, and facilitated by disinformation.
If the propaganda engine of the US-centralized empire ceased actively deceiving the public about the world, it would collapse immediately. There would be mass unrest at home and abroad, status quo politics would be abandoned, alliances and coalitions would crumble, leaders official and unofficial would be ousted, and US unipolar hegemony would end.
The only thing keeping this from happening is the vast amounts of wealth and energy which are poured into continuously deceiving the people of America and its allies about what’s really going on in their nations and political systems, and in the world as a whole.
Getting people believing they live in separate, sovereign nations which function independently from one another, instead of member states within a single undeclared empire which moves as one unit on the international stage.
Getting people believing they control the fate of their nation via the democratic process, when in reality all large-scale politics are scripted puppet shows controlled by a plutocratic class who owns both the politicians and the media outlets which report on them.
Getting people believing they are part of a virtuous rules-based international order which opposes totalitarian regimes to spread freedom and democracy, instead of a tyrannical empire that works to destroy any nation which disobeys its dictates.
And above all, manufacturing the illusion that the oppressive, exploitative imperialist status quo is normal.
It’s not the big, famous lies like those which preceded the invasion of Iraq that make up the bulk of the adhesive holding the empire together, it’s the small, mundane lies we’re fed every single day by the plutocratic media. The ones which distort our worldview by half-truths, spins and omissions designed to normalize a status quo of murder, theft and ecocide.
This normalization happens in the way pundits and politicians treat any attempt to end wars or redress income inequality as freakish extremism and unrealistic fantasy, when in reality it’s the most sane and normal thing in the world and the only thing unrealistic about it is the fact that attempts to advance those agendas are always sabotaged by those same pundits and politicians.
The normalization also happens in the way endless wars, starvation deaths by US sanctions, the looming threat of total extinction via climate collapse or nuclear war, rapidly exacerbating income inequality and increasing tyranny at home and abroad are not treated as newsworthy stories, while celebrity gossip and partisan bickering between AOC and Marjorie Taylor Greene makes headline news. Every day the news media fail to report on the greatest horrors that the empire has unleashed on our world while focusing on vapid trivialities, they help normalize the horrors.
If the mass media actually existed to share important information about the world, the US-backed genocide in Yemen would be front-page news every day instead of something which gets a marginal mention once every few weeks. Every day it isn’t, this outrageous abuse is normalized.
If the mass media actually existed to share important information about the world, the fact that Americans are getting poorer and poorer while billionaires multiply their wealth during the pandemic would be brought front and center to everyone’s attention. Every day it isn’t, this outrageous abuse is normalized.
If the mass media actually existed to share important information about the world, the fact that the US military just spent trillions of dollars on a decades-long occupation of Afghanistan that accomplished nothing besides making horrible people rich would have been a national scandal. Every day it isn’t, this outrageous abuse is normalized.
But the mass media do not exist to share important information about the world. They exist to share important disinformation about the world. If they did not do this, the same US empire which is decrying the spread of disinformation today would collapse into its own footprint.
The US empire is without exception the single most corrupt and destructive force on this planet, and it’s not even close. It is the very last institution on earth that should be in charge of deciding what online content is true and what is “disinformation”. Absolute dead last, without exaggeration.
Depraved institutions which lie constantly and have killed millions and displaced tens of millions just since the turn of this century should not be the Ministry of Truth for the world’s online communication systems. This should be extremely obvious to everyone.
Governments must impose a global moratorium on the international spyware trade or face a world in which no mobile phone is safe from state-sponsored hackers, Edward Snowden has warned in the wake of revelations about the clients of NSO Group. Snowden, who in 2013 blew the whistle on the secret mass surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency, described for-profit malware developers as “an industry that should not exist”.
He made the comments in an interview with the Guardian after the first revelations from the Pegasus project, a journalistic investigation by a consortium of international media organisations into the NSO Group and its clients. ... Snowden said the consortium’s findings illustrated how commercial malware had made it possible for repressive regimes to place vastly more people under the most invasive types of surveillance. For traditional police operations to plant bugs or wiretap a suspect’s phone, law enforcement would need to “break into somebody’s house, or go to their car, or go to their office, and we’d like to think they’ll probably get a warrant”, he said.
But commercial spyware made it cost-efficient for targeted surveillance against vastly more people. “If they can do the same thing from a distance, with little cost and no risk, they begin to do it all the time, against everyone who’s even marginally of interest,” he said. “If you don’t do anything to stop the sale of this technology, it’s not just going to be 50,000 targets. It’s going to be 50 million targets, and it’s going to happen much more quickly than any of us expect.” ...
Snowden said commercial malware such as Pegasus was so powerful that ordinary people could in effect do nothing to stop it. Asked how people could protect themselves, he said: “What can people do to protect themselves from nuclear weapons? “There are certain industries, certain sectors, from which there is no protection, and that’s why we try to limit the proliferation of these technologies. We don’t allow a commercial market in nuclear weapons.” He said the only viable solution to the threat of commercial malware was an international moratorium on its sale. “What the Pegasus project reveals is the NSO Group is really representative of a new malware market, where this is a for-profit business,” he said. “The only reason NSO is doing this is not to save the world, it’s to make money.”
Narendra Modi’s government has been accused of treason and “unforgivable sacrilege” by the political opposition in India following a series of reports by the Pegasus project revealing several journalists, activists and an opposition election strategist had their phone numbers included in a data leak of more than 50,000 numbers that, since 2016, are believed to have been selected as those of persons of interests by government clients of NSO Group. The stories, published in the Guardian and in partner media outlets around the world on Sunday and Monday, revealed details of hundreds of verified Indian phone numbers that appear in leaked records of numbers.
They include two phone numbers belonging to India’s most prominent political opposition figure, Rahul Gandhi, who led the Congress party to defeat in the 2019 elections. The leaked records show his number was selected as a possible target the year before and in the months after the vote. It is not possible to say whether a phone in the leaked data was infiltrated or successfully hacked without forensic analysis. But the investigation confirmed infections by NSO Group’s surveillance software Pegasus, or signs of potential targeting, on phones linked to 10 Indian numbers and on an additional 27 phones around the world.
The surveillance software, which India has never confirmed using, is licensed only to national governments. Analysis of the phone numbers selected for possible surveillance by the NSO client in question indicates that it was predominately used to target Indian numbers including those of critics of the Modi government. In a statement, Congress accused the Modi government of being the “deployer and executor” of a “spying racket”.
Traces of Pegasus – software with the ability to breach a phone, access its contents and turn it into a portable surveillance device – were found on the device of Prashant Kishor, an election strategist who clashed with Modi’s party during a state vote in April. Analysis of his phone showed he had been hacked using Pegasus as recently as the morning of the forensic examination. Kishor told NDTV on Monday: “We used to suspect snooping but never realised hacking, that too from 2017 to 2021. Although I changed my handset five times, as the evidence suggests, hacking continues."
In a move that press freedom advocates said would "ensure journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal government intrusion," the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced new rules limiting federal prosecutors' ability to secretly seize journalists' phone and email records, which were expanded under the Obama and Trump administrations as the government sought to crack down on leaks.
In a memo, Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote that the DOJ "will no longer use compulsory legal process for the purpose of obtaining information from or records of members of the news media acting within the scope of newsgathering activities."
The new rules revise the "balancing test" used by federal prosecutors who want to find out who reporters' sources are; previously, the DOJ has pursued unauthorized disclosures of who reporters spoke to via phone or email—but not the content of the discussions—if they could make the argument that doing so was in the interest of national security.
Prosecutors have been able to seek reporters' phone and email records without alerting news organizations if they believed telling the outlet that doing so could impede the investigation.
Such balancing tests "may fail to properly weigh the important national interest in protecting journalists from compelled disclosure of their sources—sources they need to apprise the American people of the workings of their government," Garland said in the memo.
For that reason, the attorney general released new rules stating the DOJ can only seek journalists' phone and email records only if the reporter is under investigation for activities "not based on or within the scope of newsgathering," or is suspected of being "an agent of a foreign power or a member of a foreign terrorist organization."
Exceptions can also be made when seizure of a reporter's records is deemed "necessary to prevent an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm," the DOJ memo reads. ...
Garland's announcement came weeks after the DOJ said that during the Trump administration, the department had secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post reporters, CNN's Pentagon correspondent, and four journalists at the New York Times, reportedly under the rules put in place by the Obama administration.
The US has led allies in a sharp condemnation of China for “malicious” cyberattacks, including a hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year. The US justice department on Monday charged four Chinese nationals with hacking, as Washington accused Beijing of extortion and threatening national security.
The Microsoft hack affected at least 30,000 US organisations including local governments as well as entities worldwide and was disclosed in March.
Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, accused China of being responsible and said it was part of a “pattern of irresponsible, disruptive and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security”. Blinken added in a statement that China’s “Ministry of State Security (MSS) has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain”. ...
The administration and allied nations also disclosed a range of other cyberthreats from Beijing, including ransomware attacks from government-affiliated hackers that have targeted companies with demands for millions of dollars. The MSS has been using criminal contract hackers, who have engaged in cyber extortion schemes and theft for their own profit, according to a senior US administration official who did not wish to be named.
Pedro Castillo, a rural teacher turned political novice, has become the winner of Peru’s presidential election after the country’s longest electoral count in 40 years. In his first comments as president-elect, he called for national unity. “I ask for effort and sacrifice in the struggle to make this a just and sovereign country,” he said.
Castillo, whose supporters included Peru’s poor and rural citizens, defeated right-wing politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes. Electoral authorities released the final official result on Monday in a televised ceremony, more than a month after the runoff election took place in the South American nation. On Monday night, TV images showed Castillo’s supporters pouring out on to the streets, chanting, “Yes, we could.”
Castillo is set to take office on 28 July for a five-year term as leader of the world’s second largest copper-producing nation.
A 51-year-old former school teacher and the son of peasant farmers, Castillo has pledged to redraft the constitution and raise taxes on mining firms, but has in recent weeks softened his rhetoric and hinted at a more moderate, market-friendly approach. Wielding a pencil the size of a cane, symbol of his Peru Libre party, Castillo popularised the phrase “No more poor in a rich country.” The economy of Peru has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the poverty level to almost one-third of the population and eliminating the gains of a decade. ...
Fujimori said on Monday she was bound by law to recognise the official election result. “I am going to recognise the results because it is what the law and the constitution that I have sworn to defend, mandates. The truth is going to come out anyway,” she said.
Oops. I guess the CIA has a lot of ratfucking to do.
A decade ago, Gabriel Boric was a long-haired 25-year old leading thousands of clamouring students through the streets of the Chilean capital with megaphone in hand, demanding free education for all. Boric was part of a radical generation of student leaders who were catapulted into the spotlight in 2011 during an uprising against the disparities in Chile’s education system.
Those protests radicalized a generation and are now seen as a precursor to the wider outbreak of social unrest which exploded across the country in October 2019.
Now, after two terms in congress, Boric has stormed into Chile’s presidential race, winning more than 60% of the vote to become candidate for the country’s leftwing coalition in November’s election. Boric took more than 1m votes in Sunday’s primary, scoring a decisive victory over the Communist party candidate Daniel Jadue, and vowed to lead the assault on Chile’s Pinochet-era economic model.
“We come from social movements [and] were shaped politically by the struggles which have been building throughout history … If Chile was the birthplace of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave!” he proclaimed, fist raised into the night sky. ...
Meanwhile, the former social development minister and state bank president Sebastián Sichel, fought off competition from a conservative mayor and two other former ministers to win a four-way rightwing primary. Victories for Sichel and Boric suggest that while many Chileans want change after a tumultuous 18 months of protests and quarantines, they were unwilling to look to the extremes on either side of the political spectrum.
With foreign powers weighing in, Haitian officials announced a new prime minister on Monday, in an attempt to resolve a caustic leadership struggle in the wake of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination. Claude Joseph, the prime minister who took control of Haiti’s government immediately after the killing, said he was stepping down in favor of Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon who had been appointed to the position by the president shortly before he was killed. ...
Ever since the assassination on July 7, Haitian politicians have been at loggerheads, grappling for control of the government. And the scramble for power is being heavily influenced — even directed, some Haitians say — by foreign countries, including the United States, which has held enormous sway in Haiti since invading the country more than 100 years ago.
“Haiti has become a baseball being thrown between foreign diplomats,” Joseph Lambert, the president of Haiti’s Senate, said in an interview, adding that pressure from American diplomats was a major factor in the reshuffling of Haiti’s leadership. As Senate president, Mr. Lambert said, he had sought to lead the nation after the president’s death. But, he said, the United States urged him to stand down. “I received calls from certain American diplomats in Haiti,” he added. “Also I received calls from diplomats in the U.S. State Department, who asked me to postpone so we had time to build a larger consensus.”
American officials said they were pushing for a unity government among the various figures claiming leadership of Haiti, with the aim of paving the way for free and fair elections down the road.
Mr. Joseph said he would now become the foreign minister in Mr. Henry’s cabinet.
Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream has announced that it will no longer sell its ice-cream in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the sales are “inconsistent with our values.” The announcement on Monday was one of the highest-profile rebukes by a well-known brand of Israel’s settlements which are regarded as illegal under international law. In a statement posted on the company’s website, the Vermont-based ice-cream maker says it recognises “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” the statement said. “We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the licence agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”
Aida Touma-Sliman, an Israeli lawmaker with the Joint List of Arab parties, wrote on Twitter that Ben & Jerry’s decision Monday was “appropriate and moral”. She added that the “occupied territories are not part of Israel” and that the move is an important step to help pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation. ...
Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, called the decision “a shameful capitulation to antisemitism” and said he would take up the issue with the more than 30 states that have legislation against the BDS movement which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli institutions and businesses.
A rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the US and abroad is fueling fears of a pandemic resurgence and on Monday sent shockwaves through the stock market as the highly contagious Delta variant takes hold – and Joe Biden urged Americans to “please, please get vaccinated”.
The number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to Covid-19 have been rising worryingly in recent days, largely driven by outbreaks in parts of the country with low vaccination rates, as officials have been warning of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. ...
Covid cases are now rising in all 50 US states and some cities are once again considering or already imposing mask mandates. ...
The available vaccines work against the Delta variant, but lab tests have shown them to be less effective than they were against the original form of coronavirus.
And Biden warned that the US recovery hinged on getting the pandemic under control, noting that four states with low vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all new coronavirus infections last week.
US stock markets dropped sharply on Monday as investors worried about the impact of the coronavirus Delta variant on the economic recovery. ...
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 725 points, or 2.1%, after losing 946 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 lost 1.6% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1%.
Last week, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the seven-day average of coronavirus infections had increase nearly 70% in a week, to about 26,300 cases a day.
That news came as cases are rising even in other highly vaccinated nations, including the UK, leading to worries of a broader economic slowdown.
Monday’s selloff was reminiscent of the market losses experienced in the early days of the pandemic, with airlines and travel companies falling hard amid fears of new travel restrictions.
ok man. pic.twitter.com/53aLlA61eD
— Mac (@GoodPoliticGuy) July 19, 2021
Two more Texas lawmakers who left their state to hobble efforts to pass voting restrictions have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising to five the number of infected people in the delegation.
State representative Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio said in a statement he had tested positive. “I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,” he said. “When my Texas House Democratic colleagues and I broke quorum to stop anti-voter legislation, we knew that tactic would come with real personal sacrifice.
“Just as these new variants sweeping the country are more aggressive than ever, the wave of anti-voter legislation in this country is worse than we’ve seen in generations. That’s why, I will continue the fight for voting rights with every single fiber of my being.”
At least seven water protectors from the Indigenous-led movement to stop Enbridge's Line 3 were arrested on Monday while protesting at the Shell River in Minnesota, which the partially completed tar sands pipeline is set to cross in five places.
"Today women and other water protectors from across multiple communities in Minnesota sat together at the Shell River, near Park Rapids, Minnesota, in peaceful prayer to oppose the construction of Line 3," the group Honor the Earth said on Instagram. "These women represent many others who stand in solidarity with the protection of water across Anishinaabe treaty lands."
Honor the Earth executive director Winona LaDuke, one of the Indigenous women leading the fight against Line 3, was among those arrested and zip-tied by officers. According to the group, more than 500 people have been arrested for protesting the Canadian energy company's effort to replace an old pipeline with lower capacity.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has temporarily suspended some surface water-related permits for Line 3 in response to ongoing drought conditions in the state.
As Minnesota-based Bring Me The News reported Monday:
Starting July 15, Enbridge's water sources within the Crow Wing River, St. Louis River, Pine River, and Mississippi River-Brainerd watersheds are suspended. This suspension impacts 10 water sources used in dust control, and 13 water sources used in [hydrostatic testing and horizontal directional drilling].
That includes along the Shell River, where the group Honor the Earth said more than 40 water protectors were on the scene Monday.
Last Thursday, about 200 people—including LaDuke and actor Marisa Tomei—gathered at the Shell River for a "Women for the Rivers" event.
"A society that permits violence on water and violence on women is a society we stand to change," LaDuke said ahead of the gathering last week. "Together on Thursday we will practice treaty rights and rally at the Shell River, where the Enbridge corporation is preparing to drill for the dangerous Line 3 tar sands pipeline—just one of 22 river crossings Line 3 will cross, including the Mississippi River twice! As Enbridge builds Line 3 through Anishinaabe treaty land, we continue to stand strong in our resistance."
The Duluth News Tribune reported that Tomei, during Thursday's event, took aim at President Joe Biden, who ran for office promising to combat the climate emergency.
"It's time to stop playing politics with the future of life on this planet," Tomei said. "If President Biden is serious about climate change, if he's serious about respecting the rights of Indigenous people, and if he's serious about making sure we're on track to have a livable planet then Line 3 must be stopped."
Earlier this month, more than 200 activists, celebrities, Democratic donors, and environmentalists sent a letter demanding that Biden stop Enbridge's pipeline project—like he did with Keystone XL on his first day in office—and to "firmly establish the principle that we will move forward toward real climate solutions."
That letter came after the Biden administration infuriated opponents of Line 3 last month by filing a legal brief in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of the project under former President Donald Trump.
Biden's refusal so far to intervene on Line 3 has not deterred the pipeline's critics from continuing to fight against it in court and on the ground with peaceful acts of civil disobedience that have, at times, halted construction.
Much more at the link:
When Royal Dutch Shell published its annual environmental report in April, it boasted that it was investing heavily in renewable energy. The oil giant committed to installing hundreds of thousands of charging stations for electric vehicles around the world to help offset the harm caused by burning fossil fuels. On the same day, Shell issued a separate report revealing that its single largest donation to political lobby groups last year was made to the American Petroleum Institute, one of the US’s most powerful trade organizations, which drives the oil industry’s relationship with Congress.
Contrary to Shell’s public statements in support of electric vehicles, API’s chief executive, Mike Sommers, has pledged to resist a raft of Joe Biden’s environmental measures, including proposals to fund new charging points in the US. He claims a “rushed transition” to electric vehicles is part of “government action to limit Americans’ transportation choice”.
Shell donated more than $10m to API last year alone. And it’s not just Shell. Most other oil conglomerates are also major funders, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, although they have not made their contributions public. The deep financial ties underscore API’s power and influence across the oil and gas industry, and what politicians describe as the trade group’s defining role in setting major obstacles to new climate policies and legislation.
Critics accuse Shell and other major oil firms of using API as cover for the industry. While companies run publicity campaigns claiming to take the climate emergency seriously, the trade group works behind the scenes in Congress to stall or weaken environmental legislation. Earlier this year, an Exxon lobbyist in Washington was secretly recorded by Greenpeace describing API as the industry’s “whipping boy” to direct public and political criticism away from individual companies.
One of the big weather stories this week in the #West and U.S. will be the elevated and critical #fire weather conditions and widespread chances for isolated dry thunderstorms. Here are the current red flag warnings and fire weather watches in effect across the region. pic.twitter.com/B9IwENzMcL
— National Weather Service (@NWS) July 18, 2021
The enormous Bootleg fire burning in southern Oregon has grown to a third the size of Rhode Island, fuelled by erratic winds and dry lightning, and is just one of 80 large fires burning across 13 US states.
The challenging weather conditions have added to the dangers for the crews in parched Oregon forests who are battling the fire, currently the largest wildfire in the US. The blaze just north of the California state line has grown to 476 square miles and was 25% contained on Monday.
Meteorologists predicted critically dangerous fire weather through at least Monday with lightning possible in California and southern Oregon.
“We are running firefighting operations through the day and all through the night,” said incident commander Joe Hessel in a statement on Monday morning. “This fire is a real challenge, and we are looking at sustained battle for the foreseeable future.”
Thousands were ordered to evacuate, including nearly 2,000 who live in rugged terrain among lakes and wildlife refuges near the fire, which has burned at least 67 homes and 100 outbuildings. Excessive heat has baked the desiccated region, intensifying drought conditions, complicating fire containment efforts and increasing the risks of new ignitions. Officials are also concerned that dry lightning storms over California and the northern Great Basin could spark new fires. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings and fire weather watches from central California to northwest South Dakota.
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) July 19, 2021
A La Niña watch has been issued by @NWSCPC, with development chances increasing during the Northern Hemisphere fall/winter. La Niña can make certain weather patterns more likely during winter in the U.S. More: https://t.co/fvCfVM4HJi pic.twitter.com/GexGVFKRxk
— NOAA NCEI Climate (@NOAANCEIclimate) July 19, 2021
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Joe Carter - Rock Me
Joe Carter & Magic Slim - Soul blues
Joe Carter & Big John Wrencher - Honey Bee
Joe Carter - It Hurts Me Too'
Joe Carter - Hoochie Koochie Man
Joe Carter - I'm Worried
Joe Carter & Kansas City Red - Open Your Heart
Joe Carter - Treat Me the Way You Do
Magic Slim, Joe Carter, Sunnyland Slim - In the Dark
Joe Carter - Dust My Broom