The Evening Blues - 7-27-21



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: James "Thunderbird" Davis

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Texas blues guitarist and singer James "Thunderbird" Davis. Enjoy!

James Davis - Blues Monday

"Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again."

-- Homer


News and Opinion

Hedges: The Collective Suicide Machine

The debacle in Afghanistan, which will unravel into chaos with lightning speed over the next few weeks and ensure the return of the Taliban to power, is one more signpost of the end of the American empire. The two decades of combat, the one trillion dollars we spent, the 100,000 troops deployed to subdue Afghanistan, the high-tech gadgets, artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs and the Global Hawk drones with high-resolution cameras, Special Operations Command composed of elite rangers, SEALs and air commandos, black sites, torture, electronic surveillance, satellites, attack aircraft, mercenary armies, infusions of millions of dollars to buy off and bribe the local elites and train an Afghan army of 350,000 that has never exhibited the will to fight, failed to defeat a guerrilla army of 60,000 that funded itself through opium production and extortion in one of the poorest countries on earth.

Like any empire in terminal decay, no one will be held accountable for the debacle or for the other debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or anywhere else. Not the generals. Not the politicians. Not the CIA and intelligence agencies. Not the diplomats. Not the obsequious courtiers in the press who serve as cheerleaders for war. Not the compliant academics and area specialists. Not the defense industry. Empires at the end are collective suicide machines. The military becomes in late empire unmanageable, unaccountable, and endlessly self-perpetuating, no matter how many fiascos, blunders and defeats it visits upon the carcass of the nation, or how much money it plunders, impoverishing the citizenry and leaving governing institutions and the physical infrastructure decayed.

The human tragedy — at least 801,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan and 37 million have been displaced in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria according to The Watson Institute at Brown University — is reduced to a neglected footnote.

Nearly all the roughly 70 empires during the last four thousand years, including the Greek, Roman, Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, imperial German, imperial Japanese, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Soviet empires, collapsed in the same orgy of military folly. The Roman Republic, at its height, only lasted two centuries. We are set to disintegrate in roughly the same time. This is why, at the start of World War I in Germany, Karl Liebknecht called the German military, which imprisoned and later assassinated him, “the enemy from within.” ...

Historians call the self-defeating military adventurism of late empires “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain attacked Egypt in 1956 in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and was humiliated when it had to withdraw its forces, bolstering the status of Arab nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. “While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” the historian Alfred McCoy writes “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

Chris Hedges | How The Elites Will DISPOSE of Us

Biden and Kadhimi seal agreement to end US combat mission in Iraq

Joe Biden and the Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, have sealed an agreement formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after troops were sent to the country. ... Biden and Kadhimi met in the Oval Office on Monday for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.

“Our role in Iraq will be … to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with Isis as it arises, but we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” Biden told reporters as he and Kadhimi met.

There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of Islamic State. The US role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself. The shift is not expected to have a major impact since the United States has already moved toward focusing on training Iraqi forces. ...

[A] senior administration official would not say how many US troops would remain on the ground in Iraq for advising and training.

Iraqi militias grow in power as Iran’s military strongman proves too weak

On a baking early summer evening last month, Iran’s man in Iraq sat down in Baghdad with a group of militiamen to try to bring calm to the capital’s foreboding streets. Assembled in a room were leaders of the most feared militias in the land, men who had days before taken over a checkpoint leading to the seat of power, and were planning a military parade of their own through the Iraqi capital. Among them sat Esmail Qaani, an Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force – a clandestine group at the apex of the Iranian military’s foreign operations, which had been instrumental in Iraq’s affairs through war, insurrection and now relative peace.

His presence filled formidable boots – those of his predecessor, General Qassem Suleimani, who had ruled the landscape of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon for 15 years until he was killed by a US drone in January 2020. The June gathering was seen by those in the room and others watching from afar as Qaani’s baptism of fire, where he could try to assert his will, just as the man who the assembled guests had called ‘Hajj Qassem” had done at critical junctures like this. According to two of the participants and another briefed on the meeting, Qaani missed his moment.

Qaani’s role had been to convince the militias that it was not in their interests to continue to fire rockets at the US embassy in the Green Zone, or at Erbil airport in northern Iraq, where US forces remain. The groups’ subversive ways had been on bold and increasing display over the first six months of the Biden administration, defying the national army and a government that had staked its mandate on reining them in. Despite the firm tone taken by Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, when he took office 18 months ago, state responses had remained largely rhetorical. The reluctance to take them on had been a testament to the power and influence the militias had accumulated through their bountiful caches of arms and penetration of state institutions. The meeting was a reckoning, which could bring the groups to heel.

“All eyes were on him at the start,” said one of the men in the room. “And they started to look away. By the end of the meeting, they thought they had his measure. And that isn’t good for Iraq. He is not the new Hajj Qassem, that’s for sure.”

In the 18 months since Qaani succeeded Suleimani, his interlocutors and foes have been patiently sizing him up and, at the same time, weighing whether Trump’s impulsive decision to assassinate the most powerful man in Iraq had made the country a more manageable place. “I think the answer to the second question is a ‘no’,” said a senior Iraqi figure. “Iraq is not safer, and the Americans aren’t going to get better outcomes with Qaani, because his capacity to deliver is less. With Suleimani, you knew what you had. And he could control the militias if he wanted to.”

Calls Grow for Biden to Close Guantánamo Military Prison as U.S. Sanctions Cuba over Human Rights

Mideast in turmoil with water and energy shortages amid record heatwave

Amid a record heatwave, water and power shortages have sparked protests and unrest across the Middle East, from Iran to Lebanon. Temperatures in a number of countries have topped 50 degrees Celsius (122°F), including Iran, which hit 51°C (123.8°F), and Iraq, which reached 52°C (125.6°F) this month.

In Lebanon, a major power station was to resume operations on Sunday, two days after it ground to a halt due to a lack of fuel at a time of constant power cuts and economic collapse. ... Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic crises since the 1850s, and the cash-strapped state is struggling to buy enough fuel to keep the lights on. ...

Syria has seen electricity cuts for some 20 hours a day in some areas north of Damascus, residents have complained, according to the Washington Post. In Aleppo, cuts last for eight hours at a time, with just 1.5 hours of power in between, Syria’s al-Watan paper said.

In Iraq, amid the 52 degrees Celsius weather, four southern provinces have been without consistent electricity since earlier this month, including Basra — home to Iraq’s main port.

Iraq — the second-largest producer in the OPEC oil cartel — buys gas and power from neighboring Iran to supply about a third of its power sector, dilapidated by decades of conflict and poor maintenance. But Iran decided to cut supplies to its neighbor earlier this month, saying the Iraqi electricity ministry owes it more than $6 billion in arrears. Iraq says it is unable to pay because of US sanctions on money transfers to Iran, a deep financial crisis compounded by lower oil prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billionaire tycoon named as Lebanese PM as economic crisis bites

After a year-long standoff, Lebanon has named a new prime minister who its feuding factions hope can ward off a total economic collapse and save an estimated 2 million people from the brink of poverty.

Protesters had demanded the selection of a figure removed from the political elite, but the Lebanese parliament instead named a billionaire tycoon, Najib Miqati, who had led the country twice before, with little success, and was accused by a state prosecutor in 2019 of embezzlement – a charge he denies and has described as politically motivated.

The naming of Lebanon’s richest man, who hails from its poorest city, Tripoli, was seized on by many Lebanese people as evidence that the small Mediterranean state is all but ungovernable – unable to reform even to save itself from ruin, and immune to the demands of its citizens.

Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis began in late 2019 and has steadily worsened. Poverty has soared in the past several months as the situation spirals out of control, with dire shortages of medicines, fuel and electricity. The Lebanese pound has lost around 90% of its value to the dollar, driving hyperinflation.

Miqati’s nomination would be the third so far since the government of Hassan Diab resigned in the wake of the massive explosion at Beirut’s port last August. Since then, Diab’s cabinet has acted only in a caretaker capacity, compounding Lebanon’s paralysis further.

“Meant to Intimidate”: Months After Police Raids, Kashmir Human Rights Groups Remain Dormant

On the morning of October 28, 2020, rights activist Parveena Ahanger was startled by the sound of revving engines outside her home in Srinagar, the biggest city in Indian-administered Kashmir. ... It was a raid by India’s counterterrorism task force: the National Investigation Agency, or NIA. Ahanger is the chair of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, a collective known as APDP that she founded in 1994 — four years after her teenage son was arrested by Indian armed forces then disappeared. During the raid, NIA officials confiscated the cellphones of her entire family. The agents later drove Ahanger to her office in Hyderpora, on the outskirts of Srinagar, where they seized documents and hard drives.

That same day, the NIA also raided the offices and homes of several journalists and other nonprofit groups. Among the targets was the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, or JKCCS — a group that documents human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir — and the home of its program coordinator. At both of those locations, too, NIA officials confiscated electronic gadgets and seized several documents. The raids were an escalation in the Indian government’s crackdowns on rights activists, journalists, politicians, and civilians who express dissent and views critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.

The crackdown began in August 2019, when the government unilaterally changed its constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s semiautonomous status. Both India and Pakistan have laid claim to parts of Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947. In Indian-administered Kashmir, there has been an armed uprising against Indian rule since 1989. Just a few days before revoking Kashmir’s special status, the Indian government amended a controversial anti-terror law called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to make it more stringent, allowing the government to jail for six months, without trial or bail, anyone arrested under this law.

Over the last couple years, the police have invoked UAPA frequently to restrain civil liberties. After the raids last October, the NIA said it was acting on information that groups had been using funding from abroad “for secessionist and terrorist activities” in Kashmir, invoking the UAPA. The NIA brought charges against the JKCCS under UAPA, claiming to have “credible information” the organization was involved in secessionist activities and said the investigation was ongoing.

The raids had the effect of stifling the only two groups documenting human rights abuses in the region, whose work has been cited by the United Nations.

“Tired of Waiting”: Cuban Americans Say Biden Broke Promise to Lift Cuba Sanctions & Thaw Relations

Covid cases in US may have been undercounted by 60%, study shows

The number of Covid-19 cases across the US may have been undercounted by as much as 60%, researchers at the University of Washington have found. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds on research which has found the number of reported cases “represents only a fraction of the estimated total number of infections”. It has important implications for how many Americans need to be vaccinated to stop outbreaks. ...

Based on analysis of that data, researchers found as many as 65 million Americans may have been infected. Official tallies put the number at about 33 million. The University of Washington researchers estimated that 60% of all cases were missed, with only one in every 2.3 cases counted in Indiana and Ohio.

On Monday, the Covid case count maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and commonly referred to by media outlets stood at nearly 34.5 million. ...

The findings have important implications for the prospect of reaching herd immunity, the point at which outbreaks end because a virus cannot find new hosts. As of May, scientists believed the herd immunity threshold for Covid-19 to be around 80%, a number that has edged upward with the emergence of highly contagious variants such as Delta. ...

Even with a mass vaccination campaign, the US is unlikely to reach herd immunity this year or perhaps ever, because of highly contagious variants, low vaccine acceptance in some states and because children under 12 are not eligible for vaccines.

DeSantis Under Fire as Florida Now Accounts for 1 in 5 New US Covid Cases

The state of Florida now accounts for one in five new coronavirus infections in the United States, making it the nation's most alarming hot spot as the highly transmissible Delta strain rips through undervaccinated communities and drives a surge in hospitalizations.

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has recorded 73,181 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, the most in the country. Florida also logged the most coronavirus deaths of any U.S. state in the last seven days—319—and hospitalizations are spiking, prompting dire warnings from physicians and calls for public safety measures to stop the spread.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and likely 2024 presidential candidate, has recently taken to mocking such measures; earlier this month, the governor's team launched a new merchandise line that includes a koozie with the quote, "How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?"

Other items take aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a frequent target of right-wing ire. "Don't Fauci My Florida," declares a shirt selling for $21 on a DeSantis campaign website.

While DeSantis has publicly stressed the importance of vaccination in recent days, Florida physicians have attributed the surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the state to the governor's rush to end public health restrictions.

"While hospitals in our state were filling up, DeSantis was shouting about 'Freedom over Faucism,'" said Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based cardiologist and head of the of the Florida chapter of the Committee to Protect Health Care. "If DeSantis were as concerned about stopping Covid-19 spread as he was about coming up with these clever jabs about Dr. Fauci, we might not be in this position."

As the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, epidemiologists argue that "various factors" are behind the Florida crisis, including: "large numbers of unvaccinated people, a relaxation of preventive measures like mask-wearing and social distancing, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, and the congregation of people indoors during hot summer months."

Chad Neilsen, director of accreditation and infection prevention at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville, told the Journal that hospitalizations are surging at a rate "we have not seen before ever." Data collected by Florida epidemiologists shows that recent hospital patients have been skewing younger, with more than half under the age of 60.

David Dayen: Private Equity HIJACKS Infrastructure Plan



the horse race



Krystal Ball: Prepare to see TRUMP back in the White House



the evening greens


Lawyer Found GUILTY In Chevron Show Trial Revealing Corruption

Donziger Slams Criminal Contempt Ruling as 'Message of Intimidation' to Human Rights Lawyers

Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger said Monday that he is a victim of an "obvious travesty of justice" and vowed to appeal after a judge found him guilty on six counts of criminal contempt of court.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska marks the latest development in a case that stems from Donziger's role in securing a historic, multibillion-dollar settlement against Chevron over the oil giant's devastating pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Chevron has not paid any of the 2011 settlement, which the corporation claims was improperly obtained.

While the Ecuadorian Supreme Court upheld the original settlement, Chevron has relentlessly pushed its fraud claims in U.S. court. In 2014, a federal judge with connections to Chevron ruled—based on testimony from a witness who has since admitted to lying—that Donziger was guilty of a "pattern of racketeering activity," a charge he has denied.

Donziger was then ordered to turn over his cell phone and computer to Chevron. When he appealed on the grounds that the devices contained client information, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan hit the attorney with criminal contempt charges that ultimately landed him under house arrest, where he has remained for more than 700 days.

In a statement (pdf) Monday, Donziger characterized Preska's ruling as "the latest attempt by Chevron and its judicial allies to criminalize me and to send a message of intimidation to legitimate human rights lawyers who successfully challenge the major polluters of the fossil fuel industry."

"The decision marks a sad day for the rule of law, for our democracy, and for our planet," Donziger added. "The United States has now become one of those countries where environmental advocates are attacked, put in jail, or even murdered for doing their jobs successfully."

Donziger went on to describe Preska's decision as "the result of a patently unfair trial process that she and Judge Kaplan structured to undermine my defense and to make me appear guilty."

In 2019, after the Southern District of New York declined to take up the case against Donziger, Kaplan appointed a Chevron-connected private law firm to pursue the prosecution. Kaplan then handpicked Preska—previously a member of the Chevron-funded Federalist Society—to preside over the case.

In his statement Monday, Donziger said Preska "let Chevron's own lawyers testify" against him "while protecting them from having to disclose how much Chevron paid them."

"Judge Preska already has detained me in my home for 720 days when the longest sentence ever given for my supposed 'crime' is 90 days of home confinement," Donziger said. "We have a strong appeal and I look forward to the opportunity to brief the appellate court on this obvious travesty of justice. I also repeat my call for Judge Preska to release me immediately so I can return to my human rights work and help those in Ecuador who are suffering and dying because of Chevron's dumping of billions of gallons of cancer-causing toxic waste into the Amazon."

Low-income neighbourhood of Naples produces its own free solar energy

House Dems Ask ExxonMobil Lobbyist to Testify About Climate Misinformation

Three weeks after the publication of secret footage showing current and former ExxonMobil lobbyists boasting about their access to U.S. lawmakers and their work to thwart attempts to combat the climate emergency, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Monday asked one of the men in the video to testify about Big Oil's efforts to "mislead the global public and members of Congress about the dangers of fossil fuels and their role in causing global climate change."

Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Environment Subcommittee Chair Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) sent the letter (pdf) to Keith McCoy, ExxonMobil's senior director of federal relations, noting that the lobbyist was "secretly recorded during a video interview with a reporter at Greenpeace U.K., which was aired by Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom on June 30, 2021."

The letter continues:

During the interview, you said, "Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes." You added, "Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that's true." In the same video, you spoke candidly about ExxonMobil's current public support for a price on carbon as a mere publicity stunt. You asserted that the company does not actually believe such a policy will ever exist. Your statements suggest that in supporting this policy, ExxonMobil is seeking to create the false appearance that it has become more climate friendly.

In a second report on July 1, 2021, Channel 4 News broadcast additional segments from the video interview. During one portion of the interview, you stated that ExxonMobil manufactures per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dangerous "forever chemicals" that can cause serious health problems and persist in the environment. You also compared ExxonMobil's approach to lobbying Members of Congress to fishing. You stated, "I liken it to fishing, right? You know you have bait, you throw that bait out."

"Your statements raise serious concerns about your role in ongoing efforts by ExxonMobil and the fossil fuel industry to spread climate disinformation, including through the use of 'shadow groups,' in order to block action needed to address climate change," the letter states. "Your statements also raise questions about ExxonMobil's operations and the dangerous emissions and pollution the company generates."

Evan Weber, co-founder of the youth-led climate justice group Sunrise Movement, suggested that if McCoy doesn't comply with the lawmakers' request, they could subpoena him.

The lawmakers' letter also notes that "ExxonMobil has had scientific evidence about the danger posed by climate change since at least 1981. Yet for decades, the fossil fuel industry and its allies have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to spread denial and doubt about the harm of its products—undermining the science and preventing serious action on climate change."

"ExxonMobil has played a large role in these decades of climate disinformation," the letter says. "Meanwhile, the United States saw an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, including from the energy sector, between 1990 and 2019. Carbon pollution emissions from fossil fuel combustion accounted for over 92% of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019 and were responsible for most of the increase in emissions from 2009 to 2019 in the United States. The United States has experienced 19 of the warmest years on record since 2000."

Darren Woods, ExxonMobil's chairman and CEO, responded to the publication of the undercover video by attempting to distance his company from McCoy's remarks, calling them "disturbing," "inaccurate," and "entirely inconsistent with our commitment to the environment [and] transparency."

Fossil Free Media director Jamie Henn in turn said that Woods' statement "isn't an apology, it's a cover-up."

"Exxon is in full damage control mode, but I don't think they can cover this one up. The leaked tape wasn't from a random intern, but from their senior director of legislative affairs," Henn told Common Dreams earlier this month. "The idea that he wasn't representing the company's real positions is ludicrous."

Two weeks ago, a pair of reports shed further light on ExxonMobil's efforts to influence Democratic members of Congress and centrist think tanks.

One report, by HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman, reviewed an analysis by the advocacy group Oil Change U.S. of campaign contributions to six Democratic U.S. senators named in the undercover video, revealing they'd collectively raked in nearly $330,000 from lobbyists and political action committees (PACs) affiliated with ExxonMobil.

The other report, by Kate Aronoff of The New Republic, revealed that the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and other think tanks have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from ExxonMobil.

Earlier this month, Khanna told Channel 4 News that Big Oil executives "will have to answer" lawmakers' questions about their lobbying tactics.

"We expect them to voluntarily comply, but let me just say we're prepared to do whatever it takes to have them come in," said Khanna. "They're not going to be able to evade Congress."

Water level in Utah’s Great Salt Lake hits historic low

The water levels at the Great Salt Lake have hit a historic low, a grim milestone for the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River that comes as a megadrought grips the region. On Saturday, the US Geological Survey announced average daily water levels had dropped about an inch below the previous record of 4,191.4ft (1,278 meters) above sea level, which was set in 1963.

The new record comes months earlier than when the lake typically hits its lowest level of the year, indicating water levels could continue to drop even further, said Candice Hasenyager, the deputy director of Utah’s division of water resources.

Receding waters are already affecting a nesting spot for pelicans, which are among the millions of birds dependent on the lake. Sailboats have been hoisted out of the water to keep them from getting stuck in the mud. As more dry lakebed is exposed, arsenic-laced dust blows into the air that millions breathe.

People for years have been diverting water from rivers that flow into the lake to water crops and supply homes. Because the lake is shallow – about 35ft (11 meters) at its deepest point – less water quickly translates to receding shorelines.

Huge “dead zone” forming off the coast of Oregon, Washington

At least 85 wildfires torch 1.5m acres across drought-hit US west

At least 85 active wildfires have torched roughly 1.5m acres across 13 US states, mostly in the west, where the parched landscape has fueled the fast-moving flames and caused extreme fire behavior that has proved difficult to contain.

The figures from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) were reported as the 2021 fire season is already on track to break records set last year, when more than 10.6m acres burned. More than 90% of the west is now officially in drought, according to the NIFC, with recent heatwaves setting numerous records in the Pacific north-west, northern Great Basin, and Northern Rockies.

The Dixie fire has become the largest in California after it exploded in size over the weekend and joined with a separate fire. The Dixie fire has scorched close to 197,500 acres and is 22% contained. Officials reported an initial estimate that 16 homes and other structures have been destroyed, but the actual number is assumed to be higher. ...

The Bootleg fire, the largest wildfire in the west, which has burned more than 409,600 acres in Oregon, has also caused erratic conditions through the weekend, forming a tornado along its eastern perimeter, according to officials. The fire was 53% contained as of Monday morning but it is burning into critically dry timber and shrubs that continue to fuel the flames, with little chance of rain bringing reprieve. Dry lightning is forecast for the area on Monday, but cooler temperatures and higher humidity is also expected to aid in the firefight.

The smoke from the Dixie fire has also complicated efforts to contain the Tamarack fire, another major fire raging in California, but but crews were able to achieve 45% containment by Monday morning. That fire has burned more than 67,700 acres near the California-Nevada border, as conditions continue to be “hot, dry, and unstable” according to officials.



Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Colombian Mercenaries and the Assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

Biden Announces Change of Role in Iraq, But Troops Will Remain

Top US and Chinese Diplomats Hold ‘Frank and Open Discussion’

U.S. - China Talks Point To A Longer Conflict

WhatsApp chief: US allies' national security officials targeted with NSO malware

Debtors’ prisons on the rise as COVID-19 ravages the southern United States

New York continues to subsidize the semiconductor industry, despite years of offshoring and meager job creation.

After Slashing 33% of Workers in 6 Years, Railroads Complain about Labor Shortages, amid Uproar over Slow Shipments

300+ Civil Society Groups Counter-Mobilize Against UN Food Systems Summit

Rationality Is Not A Way Out Of Group Action Problems like Climate Change and Covid

The truth behind corporate climate pledges

Krystal and Saagar: SHOCKING Video Reveals Horrific Treatment Of Electrocuted Frito Lay Worker

Krystal and Saagar: Big Tech COMPILING 'Extremism' Database In Latest January 6th Derangement

Keiser Report | The Outrage Business Model Deflates

Flint Water Cover-Up REVEALED, Snyder And Whitmer Have Failed To Restore CLEAN WATER


A Little Night Music

James Davis - Sing

James 'Thunderbird' Davis & Ron Levy - Come By here

James Davis - Your Turn To Cry

James Davis & The Soul Revivors - Sing A Song

James Davis - Bad Dream

James Davis - Ain't it great

James "Thunderbird" Davis - Hello Sundown

James 'Thunderbird' Davis & Ron Levy - Checkout Time

James "Thunderbird" Davis - When There's No Way Out

James "Thunderbird" Davis - Further On Up The Road


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https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/565121-biden-says-russia-spr...

Biden said Tuesday that he has been briefed on Russian efforts to spread misinformation related to the 2022 midterm elections.

“Look what Russia is already doing already about the 2022 elections and misinformation,” Biden said during the speech at the Office of Director of National Intelligence, referencing information he said was contained in his President’s Daily Brief, or PDB. “It’s a pure violation of our sovereignty.”

Biden said the intelligence community needs to “take on the rampant disinformation that is making it harder and harder for people to assess the facts, be able to make decisions.”

Biden repeatedly referenced Russian President Vladimir Putin during his remarks, suggesting at one point he believes that Russia’s weakened economy makes Putin “more dangerous” in the cyber realm.

The intelligence community previously assessed that Russia sought to interfere in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections on orders from Putin. A report made public earlier this year said Russia acted to boost former President Trump and damage Biden’s candidacy. Russia has denied interfering in U.S. elections.

During his remarks Tuesday, Biden reflected on the evolving and growing threats in the cyber realm. The president revealed that he believes that if the U.S. becomes involved in a war in the future, it will have been triggered by a cyberattack.

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@humphrey may indicate a chink in the armor.

What I mean is that our absurd military budget is justified as "defense" and/or a "deterrent."

Total lies. because the next war cannot be fought with a WWII mentatlity.

Tanks, drones, nuclear subs will be useless if an EMP strike takes out the East or West Coast. Same thing for a cyberattack.

I bet many readers here have read Forstenchen's work. One Second After. The Year After. The Final Day. If not, please read the first book and see what you think.

Forstchen gets how much of the predicting recent fiction favorites about prepping and militias miss. "Patriots" by James Wesley Rawles and "The Army of the Republic" by Stuart Archer Cohen makes sense until you understand that what is coming is something new.

Good Evening, Joe, Humphrey and all of us.

(Chris Hedges has gotten it right for a long time, Joe, so it's nice to see him here regularly. The piece you quoted is exactly how it seems to me. Endtimes for a crumbling empire.)

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NYCVG

joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

heh, you would think that an administration that appears to be so sure of russian interference in our elections might show us some serious evidence. that has never been the case.

i can't believe that people fall for this crap.

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@joe shikspack
Trump's good buddy couldn't pull it off in 2020.

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mimi's picture

thanks for the Hedges pieces.

Survive.

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mimi

joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

have a good one!

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WorldOMeter

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The peak of the winter surge of USA cases and deaths from the virus occurred in mid January, 2021.

Daily New Cases Reported for the rolling seven day average period including January 14:
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242,885
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Deaths:
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3484

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Both numbers began a steep decline for three continuous months, The 7 day average as of April 29:
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New Cases:
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54,477
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Deaths:
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723

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New Cases and Deaths down by about 80% each. The numbers kept improving for two more months. The numbers for the 7 day rolling average as of June 21:

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New Cases:

11,803

.

Deaths:
.
313
.

New cases down another 80%, while deaths were down by about 60%. By any measure a huge improvement from mid January. Whether caused by lockdowns, social distancing, masks, vaccines, or nothing more than dumb luck, things were looking much better and the USA started back toward normalcy.

But, holy shit! Another surge. One of the articles in todays Blues mentions how much worse the current situation is in Florida than at any time during the pandemic. Hmmmm.

.

Most Recent 7 Rolling Average of Cases:
.

54,305 -- almost back up to April 29 level
.

Deaths:
.

266 -- less than in June, less than in April, less than in January, less than any week in 2020 from the last week in March to the end of that year.

.

.

So, what about Florida? The carnage!

They are having more cases this month, but what about fatalities?
.

Peak death toll during the pandemic: 184 per day in August 2020 and 185 in late January of this year.

April peak: 78 per day

May peak: 69 per day

June peak: 41 per day

July peak: 38 per day, up from several days with an average in the 20s.

More cases, fewer deaths. How can that be?

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3 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

joe shikspack's picture

@fire with fire

interesting that the april 29 deaths (11,803) is the same as the new cases for june 21.

More cases, fewer deaths. How can that be?

i can think of two rationales off of the top of my head. first, perhaps we are getting better at treating people with covid. second, i don't know how to put this nicely but, perhaps the disease creamed off the easiest to kill earlier on, leaving an increasingly more resilient population as time goes forward.

i would guess that a smarter guy than me could think of other reasons.

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11 users have voted.

@joe shikspack .

A poor effort at copying numbers over. Will correct it.

Thank you.

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6 users have voted.

I cried when I wrote this song. Sue me if I play too long.

@fire with fire (assume Delta variant) is hitting in countries that did well in the earlier wave. And in those countries the deaths to cases is higher than they experienced before this one. It sees to favor warmer climates and possibly wetter unlike the original that settled into colder climates.

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8 users have voted.
Dawn's Meta's picture

@fire with fire @fire with fire variant is easier to catch and not as deadly. I read several places that the yearly flu deaths are around 10,000.

It would be interesting to see the usual average death rate per week or month so we have some sense of pre COVID rates.

The last evening interview with Fauci is full of holes and ambiguities: He said the Delta variant is a 'new virus'. The injections were designed for the Alpha variant. Therefore we should wear masks again and everyone should get the injections.

Cognitive dissonance strikes deep. Into our lives it must creep.H/T to Rev Jane.

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8 users have voted.

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

@Dawn's Meta

Ok I apologize for the comment title but could not resist it.

For whatever it's worth* I've been reading the same thing about the Delta -- more transmissible but less deadly. Which makes some sense in evolutionary terms, as the more deadly mutations of any virus will tend to burn themselves out more quickly by making their hosts less able to pass the virus to a new host due to either serious illness or death. The less dangerous variants don't keep their hosts down so they get around (yeah, get around round round).

Because of my experience with the government completely fucking up its response to AIDS, leaving us almost entirely on our own to figure it out, and Fauci lying to the nation repeatedly for years about it, I have tuned him out from the beginning of COVID. I will not even look at that man. He killed so many of my friends, and there was never any accountability. I don't understand why anyone old enough to remember the 80s would listen to him, but for months all the brunchers have been just as reckless as the "antivaxxers" they're always whining about. Two sides of the same incredibly stupid and arrogant coin, far as I'm concerned.

Wishing you and the Mister the very best, as always, in these interesting times.
_____
*Mimi: I have spelled out the "fwiw" for you, and of course, in hopes of avoiding the death penalty

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8 users have voted.

@Reverend Jane Ignatowski
and Fauci's unhelpfulness wrt HIV/AIDS, I tuned him out wrt COVID-19. He's always been better at politics to hold/advance his stature than he is at science. That was reinforced by his mostly sycophantic comments/responses to Trump's inanity. Ignoring him and the CDC, I managed to stay two to three months ahead of where they eventually got to (and I'm neither a medical professional nor science major, just layperson who reads some science books and articles.)

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6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Cedar city got 2 inches of rain in 1 hour last night. Lots of flooding into basements. No rain here yet but the storms blew out the smoke so that’s good.

I’m guessing that Caitlin has an essay soon.
Umm what is he talking about?

This is not normal. Unless someone spliced it…

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12 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

good luck with the rain, i hope that it all works out okay. glad to hear that the smoke blew off and you and sam can breathe right, now.

god only knows what biden is babbling about there. he seems to do that sort of thing far too frequently for comfort.

have a great evening!

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9 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@snoopydawg

I’m with China. Fuck the USA's international rules when it persecutes whistleblowers. Except for the ones who lie to congress in order to impeach a president. Fck every person in congress that said they have to protect whistleblowers and that goes double for Adam Schiff! .

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13 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

@snoopydawg his parole is very late in the sentence. 4 years might mean 3 yrs, 7 months, unless the rules chance from now to then
Hale,Donzinger, Assange...justice for all is a joke when there is no justice. Anywhere.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

just put it into tomorrow night's eb. Smile

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7 users have voted.

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Linked at naked capitalism this morning: On the Failings of Political Philosophy
I've been thinking long these lines myself and this is what I mean when I say that there are no systems.

Nevertheless, I am increasingly of the view that the vocabulary at our disposal for describing for political ideas isn’t very good. Perhaps this is because we are stuck with a bunch of “-isms” from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which no longer reflect the modern world. Perhaps there’s some other reason. At any rate, political philosophers have some work to do.

Hey, I'm trying.
Here's some interesting history: Did This French Aristocrat Have a Hand in the Deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Other '60s Icons?
This guy Breteuil doesn't even get a mention in Keef's memoirs.

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11 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

thanks for the links!

is that what "there are no systems" means? essentially that the people that control systems continually change the rules to their own advantage and besides we don't have a good way of describing it because philosophers have failed us by failing to update obsolete terminologies for various ideologies?

that article about breteuil was interesting and ties together some loose ends of previous stories that i had read.

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8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
What I mean is that there is no such thing as a capitalist system. In fact, capitalism whatever that is, is not a system at all. It's more of a free-for-all. Likewise, there's no such thing as a socialist system. Think of the most socialist country you can. I'll bet they still have private property, private enterprise and wage labor. But we're stuck with these inadequate concepts, our thinking constrained by some 19th century fairy-tale. These terms, these "-isms" turn out to be so vague as to be useless, even counter-productive. If I were Jeff Bezos I'd print up a zillion copies of Das Kapital and pass 'em out for free, get all the lefties arguing among themselves about these antiquated concepts instead of doing anything about their plight. That's pretty much what Marxists have been doing for my whole life.

That probably didn't make much sense and there's a lot more I have to say.
I'm still working on it.

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8 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

now we're getting somewhere. Smile

it is clear to me that there are systems, but i agree with you that terminologies to describe them - or an adequate description of the (real) rules by which they operate is absent. (an adequate description of the real rules if articulated honestly would be too embarrassing and perhaps even dangerous for those that operate the system.)

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7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack

Is "Repress the poor by any means possible" a system? How about "An it harm none, do what thou wilt"? Part of the problem, IMHO, is coming up with a definition of "system" that allows not only for change but also mutation and arguably chaos and/or randomness. If we seek metaphors in the physical world I am always drawn to taffy machines and the question of what and where are the included "systems". Surely the continuously forced mechanical repetition of the rotating arms must constitute a system, but what of the taffy as a whole, or any single strand or small chunk thereof?

be well and have a good one

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5 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@Azazello Sounds right to me. Instead we argue about outdated inapplicable ideas.

and stay paralyzed.

Brilliant plan, if there is a plan along these lines.

Free-for-all. Winner take all.

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6 users have voted.

NYCVG

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
to within it. A tribute to the paucity of language. Can any of the isms be defined operationally or algorithmically without including one or more mechanisms for self-modification, and, if they do, are they not inherently unstable due to said mutability. If a "system" is a set of rules, can it include the rule that "all rules are subject to change"?

That is one of the flaws with the very idea of "democracy" If the people merely select their master, they are still in a master-subject relationship. If the master's powers are restricted and constrained does that become anarchic beyond the bound of the mater's power and is there any restraint on what the people may regulate and how and how often and are those restraints mutable? Does the potters union regulate the distribution of ostraca for the annual ceremony? Wink

be well and have a good one

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
That's one of my objections; a system is its rules. I don't think the term "system" is useful to describe economic conditions in a country. It's misleading.
Can a system be mutable ?
That depends. If it's a natural system, no. The rules of the solar system can't be changed. A new input, say a comet passing through, will behave according to the natural physical laws already in place. It will not change them.
Man-made systems, on the other hand, can be changed and they nearly always contain a mechanism for doing that. A legal system can be changed by writing new laws or procedures. Systems of government can be changed, by constitutional amendments for example, or by revolutions.
What we commonly call economic systems, the -isms, aren't really systems at all.

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2 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello

I have a couple more questions there

be well and have a good one

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2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
You're just pulling my taffy now. I'm tryin' to do serious philosophy over here.

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2 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@humphrey

i sure hope that the outrage that donziger's corrupt corporate prosecution has generated is enough to make the wheels of justice turn in donziger's favor.

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11 users have voted.

@joe shikspack This injustice has been going on for so long that it will be a miracle if anything stops it.

Same with Julian. The enemy is dug in and it's hard to see it turning around.

Same with closing Gitmo. Biden released a guy who was one of 11 cleared for release years ago. The gov't claims that no country will take these men. I do not believe that and also will not regain hope when bleats about shutting Gitmo come from DC.

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9 users have voted.

NYCVG

joe shikspack's picture

@NYCVG

yeah. i have more hope for donziger than assange. donziger is man against a corporate goliath, assange is man vs. the empire brain building.

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8 users have voted.

@joe shikspack maybe without a difference? IDK.

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3 users have voted.

NYCVG

Azazello's picture

@humphrey

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4 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

@Azazello I didn't learn much about her in the interview but Marianne was good.

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3 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@humphrey
She has a YouTube channel: The Kim Iversen Show
She's got a libertarian streak and can be provocative at times. She was all in for Tulsi Gabbard in the last election.

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6 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

dystopian's picture

Hey Joe,

Great player, amazing how little he did, and that he didn't get 'picked up' on more. He was really good. Wish I could do that.

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4 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein