The Evening Blues - 8-15-22
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This evening's music features blues and gospel singer Reverend Gary Davis. Enjoy!
Rev. Gary Davis - Candyman
"A large amount of empire apologia in 2022 is also built around pretending that provocation just isn’t a thing. That this concept we’ve all lived our entire lives knowing about and understanding is suddenly a freakish and ridiculous invention of Moscow and Beijing.
If I provoke someone into doing something bad, then they’re guilty of doing the bad thing, but I am also guilty of provoking them. This is the plot behind any movie or show with a sneaky or manipulative villain. It’s the subject of entire Shakespearean plays. I’m not saying anything new here. This notion wasn’t just invented.
Most of us learn this as children with siblings kicking the other under the table or whatever to provoke a loud outburst, and we’ve understood it ever since. But in 2022 everyone’s pretending that this extremely basic, kindergarten-level concept is some kind of bizarre alien gibberish."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, immortal Hague fugitive Henry Kissinger says the US is acting in a crazy and irrational way that has brought it to the edge of war with Russia and China:
Mr. Kissinger sees today’s world as verging on a dangerous disequilibrium. “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to,” he says. Could the U.S. manage the two adversaries by triangulating between them, as during the Nixon years? He offers no simple prescription. “You can’t just now say we’re going to split them off and turn them against each other. All you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose.”
On the question of Taiwan, Mr. Kissinger worries that the U.S. and China are maneuvering toward a crisis, and he counsels steadiness on Washington’s part. “The policy that was carried out by both parties has produced and allowed the progress of Taiwan into an autonomous democratic entity and has preserved peace between China and the U.S. for 50 years,” he says. “One should be very careful, therefore, in measures that seem to change the basic structure.”
Mr. Kissinger courted controversy earlier this year by suggesting that incautious policies on the part of the U.S. and NATO may have touched off the crisis in Ukraine. He sees no choice but to take Vladimir Putin’s stated security concerns seriously and believes that it was a mistake for NATO to signal to Ukraine that it might eventually join the alliance: “I thought that Poland—all the traditional Western countries that have been part of Western history—were logical members of NATO,” he says. But Ukraine, in his view, is a collection of territories once appended to Russia, which Russians see as their own, even though “some Ukrainians” do not. Stability would be better served by its acting as a buffer between Russia and the West: “I was in favor of the full independence of Ukraine, but I thought its best role was something like Finland.”
I don’t know about you, but to me this warning is much, much more ominous coming from a bloodsoaked swamp monster than it would be from some anti-imperialist peace activist who was speaking from outside the belly of the imperial machine. This man is a literal war criminal who, as a leading empire manager, helped to unleash unfathomable horrors all around the world the consequences of which are still being felt today.
And as far as you can tell from his own comments, he remains completely unreformed.
“Looking back over his long and often controversial career, however, he is not given to self-criticism,” The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Secor writes.
“I do not torture myself with things we might have done differently,” Kissinger tells her.
So Kissinger remains an unapologetic warmongering psychopath. But if he hasn’t changed as a person, what has? Why is he now cautioning against US aggression and warning that the empire has taken things too far?
Well, if Kissinger hasn’t changed, we can only surmise that it is the US empire itself that has changed. Its behavior is now so insane and illogical that it is making a 99 year-old Henry Kissinger nervous.
Which, if you really think about it, is one of the scariest things you could possibly imagine.
The empire’s departure from the Henry Kissinger iteration of murderous madness to its new form of insanity appears to have begun around the turn of the century, when the influx of neoconservatives into the White House combined with the jingoism which followed 9/11 to usher in an era of interventionism and military expansionism of such brazenness and recklessness that many from the old guard balked.
Kissinger was supportive of the 2003 Iraq invasion, but well before it began he was already saying that he had serious misgivings about the lack of clear thinking and forward planning he was seeing on that front. The neoconservative goal of US planetary hegemony at any cost which led to that invasion (and the planning of many more) has since become the mainstream Beltway consensus perspective on US foreign policy, and it is responsible for the escalations that Kissinger is now warning about.
“The PNAC plan envisions a strategic confrontation with China, and a still greater permanent military presence in every corner of the world,” wrote Michael Parenti in his 2004 book Superpatriotism. “The objective is not just power for its own sake but power to control the world’s natural resources and markets, power to privatize and deregulate the economies of every nation in the world, and power to hoist upon the backs of peoples everywhere — including North America — the blessings of an untrammeled global ‘free market.’ The end goal is to ensure not merely the supremacy of global capitalism as such, but the supremacy of American global capitalism by preventing the emergence of any other potentially competing superpower.”
By “PNAC plan” Parenti means the plans of the neoconservatives behind the notorious Project for the New American Century think tank, whose unipolarist militaristic agendas they explicitly advocated.
Henry Kissinger is warning about the dangers of US warmongering not because he has gotten saner, but because the US war machine has gotten crazier. That we are now hurtling toward confrontations that don’t appear rational to someone who has spent the majority of his life watching the mechanics of empire from inside its inner chambers should concern us all. When you are talking about brinkmanship between major world powers, especially nuclear brinkmanship, the last thing you need is for one of the parties involved to be acting erratically and nonsensically.
We need de-escalation and detente, and we need it yesterday. If you’re too hawkish for Henry Kissinger, you’re too motherfucking hawkish.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said his forces will target Russian soldiers who shoot at or from Europe’s largest nuclear power station, amid warnings that the Kremlin may falsely claim Kyiv has directly struck the critical site.
Zelenskiy said anyone giving orders for attacks on the site or nearby towns and cities should face trial by an international court, as concern about the safety of the nuclear site remained high.
“Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday night.
He called for new sanctions against Russia that would “necessarily block the Russian nuclear industry”, and he argued that “absolutely all officials of the terrorist state, as well as those who help them in this blackmail operation with the nuclear power plant, must be tried by an international court.”
Russian troops captured the station – the biggest nuclear plant in Europe, responsible for up to 20% of Ukraine’s energy needs – early in the war. Two of its six reactors are currently operating and Ukraine has said Russia is trying to reconnect the power plant to occupied Crimea and shut off electricity supply to towns held by Kyiv.
The United Nations' top nuclear official this week warned about the "very alarming" military activity surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility just across the Dnipro River from the southern city of Nikopol. Russian forces seized control of the site—the largest nuclear plant in Europe—in March and are accused of using it as a shield and a base to launch rocket attacks.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, last week called the situation "completely out of control" and is now urging both Ukraine and Russia to halt any fighting near the facility that has "even the smallest potential to jeopardize nuclear safety." ...
Instead of focusing on who is to blame for creating this dire situation, Ukraine, Russia, and the international community need to work together to figure out how to stem the danger of a strike on the plant or its supporting safety systems. So long as this war continues, risks of catastrophic actions, accidents, and escalations will remain, and will threaten people on both sides of the war's continually shifting lines between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia has called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), a facility that Russia has controlled since March. ...
In recent weeks, the ZNPP has come under frequent shelling, and Ukraine is blaming Russia for the attack even though the facility is under Russian control. Moscow denies the accusation and says Ukraine is attacking the plant. Ulyanov said that an IAEA inspection will show who is responsible for the shelling. ...
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Western countries of delaying an IAEA visit to the plant. She said Russia was “sparing no effort” to arrange an IAEA inspection while Ukraine and the West were “doing their utmost not to let it happen.”
Russia has told the United States that diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and could even be broken off if Russia is declared a "state sponsor of terrorism", Tass cited a top official as saying on Friday.
Alexander Darchiyev, head of the North American department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said if the U.S. Senate went through with plans to single out Russia, this would mean Washington had crossed the point of no return, Tass said.
A US congressional delegation has arrived in Taiwan, days after China held military drills around the island in retaliation for the House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. The five-member delegation, led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, will meet President Tsai Ing-wen and attend a banquet hosted by the foreign minister, Joseph Wu, during the visit, according to Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
The American Institute in Taiwan said the US politicians would discuss “US-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains, climate change, and other significant issues of mutual interest”.
Taiwan hailed the delegation’s visit as another sign of warm ties between Taipei and Washington. “The ministry of foreign affairs expresses its sincere welcome [to the delegation],” the ministry said in a statement. “As China is continuing to escalate tensions in the region, the US Congress has again organised a heavyweight delegation to visit Taiwan, showing a friendship that is not afraid of China’s threats and intimidation, and highlighting the US’s strong support towards Taiwan.”
The other members of the delegation are the Democratic members John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal of California and Don Beyer of Virginia, and the Republican representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen from American Samoa, according to the institute.
China’s embassy in Washington said on Sunday that “members of the US Congress should act in consistence with the US government’s one-China policy” and argued the latest congressional visit “once again proves that the US does not want to see stability across the Taiwan strait and has spared no effort to stir up confrontation between the two sides and interfere in China’s internal affairs”.
Come November, San Bernardino county residents will vote to elect school board members, water officials and state representatives – and whether they want the county to look at breaking away from California.
The expansive county east of Los Angeles, home to 2 million people and some of the state’s beloved Joshua trees, isn’t getting the resources it needs to support its residents, county officials argue. This week the board of supervisors moved to add a measure on the November ballot asking residents if they want the county “to study all options to obtain its fair share of state and federal resources, up to and including secession”.
“People pay high taxes and they do not believe their taxes are coming back to their neighborhoods to address the issues they care about,” Supervisor Janice Rutherford said in a meeting earlier this month. “And there is nothing crazy about being angry about those things.” ...
“Proposals like this have a long history in California, going back to the State of Jefferson idea in the 1940s, and the 1859 attempt to request congressional approval to divide the state in two,” said David A Carrillo, the executive director of Berkeley Law’s California Constitution Center. Leaving California and forming a new state would require approval from the state legislature and Congress, a virtually impossible effort, experts such as Carrillo warn.
A former Louisville detective is planning to plead guilty to federal charges filed against her in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, leaving prosecutors on the verge of securing their first conviction in a case that ignited months of racial justice protests in Kentucky’s largest city.
The ex-detective in question, Kelly Goodlett, is one of four white current and former Louisville police officers the US justice department last week charged with civil rights violations in the 2020 shooting death of Taylor, who was Black.
Goodlett, her lawyer Brandon Marshall and justice department attorney Mike Songer said during a virtual court hearing Friday that Goodlett had agreed to plead guilty after being accused of helping falsify a search warrant and writing a false report in the case, according to multiple local and national media reports.
Federal magistrate judge Regina Edwards tentatively set the hearing for Goodlett to enter her guilty plea on 22 August and let her remain out of custody on a $10,000 bond. If convicted as charged at trial, she could face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The terms of Goodlett’s plea deal were not immediately disclosed, but such arrangements often require cooperating with prosecutors in cases against any co-defendants. The three others charged in Taylor’s death – active sergeant Kyle Meany as well as ex-detectives Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison – face more serious charges that can carry up to life in prison upon conviction.
Salman Rushdie’s “road to recovery has begun” but “will be long” after his stabbing in western New York late last week, the novelist’s agent has said. “The injuries are severe,” the agent, Andrew Wylie, said Sunday in an email to the Guardian, alluding to stab wounds that the author suffered to his neck, stomach, eye, chest and thigh two days earlier. “But his condition is headed in the right direction.”
The Indian-born British novelist remained hospitalised Sunday in critical condition, but he had been removed from a ventilator, which allowed him to talk and demonstrate that “his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact,” his son Zafar said in a separate statement. Nonetheless, Zafar Rushdie added that his father’s wounds are “life changing”.
Earlier on Saturday, Hadi Matar, the man suspected in Friday’s attack at a literary festival in upstate New York, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a brief court appearance where he was denied bail. ...
The elder Rushdie had 10 knife injuries: three stab wounds to the right front of his neck, another four to his stomach, one each to his right eye and chest and a cut to his right thigh. He emerged with a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, Wylie said on Friday evening. He was likely to lose the injured eye.
Darin Smith says he remembers January 6 very differently from Liz Cheney and her congressional colleagues investigating the US Capitol riot. “People were singing patriotic songs, the national anthem, hymns,” insists Smith, who was outside the Capitol that day to protest about Donald Trump’s election defeat. “There was a group of grey-haired ladies – the average age had to have been mid-70s – that were praying.”
Nineteen months later, Smith is sitting in a cafe in his home city of Cheyenne in the western state of Wyoming. He condemns the violence that took place inside the Capitol but, despite a mountain of evidence, scoffs at the idea that Trump was responsible. And he is adamant that Cheney, his representative in Congress, should pay a price for her anti-Trump crusade.
The three-term congresswoman may lose her seat in Tuesday’s Republican primary election in Wyoming, the most watched congressional primary of the year. Opinion polls show Cheney trailing Harriet Hageman, conservative lawyer and vehicle of Trump’s vengeance, and defeat for the clarion voice of the January 6 panel will, in many eyes, make her a martyr for American democracy.
It will also signal a tectonic shift in Wyoming, the least populated state in America and one of the most devoutly Republican. Its most consequential political figure is Dick Cheney, vice-president under George W Bush and father of Liz. Last week, in cowboy hat, fleece and gruff tones, he recorded a campaign video for her, excoriating Trump as a “coward” and saying there has never been anyone who is a “greater threat to our republic”.
Victory for Hageman would therefore be widely interpreted as a repudiation of Wyoming’s most venerable political dynasty, evidence that the state Republican party no longer belongs to the Cheneys but to Trump. That would reflect a final national pivot away from the Bush era establishment to the “Make America Great Again” movement – from old school conservatism to far-right populism.
Donald Trump is under criminal investigation for potential violations of the Espionage Act and additional statutes relating to obstruction of justice and destroying federal government records, according to the search warrant executed by FBI agents at the former president’s home on Monday.
The search warrant – the contents of which were confirmed by the Guardian – shows the FBI was seeking evidence about whether the mishandling of classified documents by Trump, including some marked top secret, amounted to a violation of three criminal statutes. Most notably, the search warrant authorized FBI agents to seize materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence to investigate crimes in connection with the Espionage Act, which outlaws the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid an adversary.
The other statutes listed on the warrant include the federal law that makes it a crime to destroy or conceal a document in order to obstruct a government investigation, and the federal law that prohibits the unlawful removal of government documents more generally.
The inclusion of the obstruction statute could be an indication that the justice department is investigating Trump not just over the potentially unlawful retention of records, but also whether he attempted to impede a separate, or wider, criminal inquiry. The disclosures, which came in an attachment to the search warrant, mark a dramatic escalation in the justice department’s criminal inquiries into Trump.
One of the most consequential outcomes of this redistricting cycle has been the continuing decrease in the number of competitive congressional districts. Under new maps, there are just 30 districts that Joe Biden won by less than eight percentage points in 2020 and, likewise, just 30 districts that Donald Trump won by less than eight points.
All told, there are now fewer competitive districts than at any point in the last 52 years. If the good news is that both parties emerged with reasonable opportunities in coming years to win control of a closely divided House, the bad news is that they will fight that battle on the narrowest of terrains under maps artificially engineered to reduce competition.
Though the number of competitive congressional districts in the current House was already small, this redistricting cycle, we saw the percentage of competitive congressional districts fall even further to just 14 percent. This is significant because as a district leans further toward one party or the other, the general election becomes increasingly insignificant while the favored party's primary becomes the real contest. As a result, primary voters can effectively decide which candidate will represent the district in Congress, even though they make up a small fraction of the electorate and are often far more partisan than the average general election voters. Candidates elected in these districts then have little incentive to woo moderate voters in campaigning or legislating, further increasing the House's partisan polarization.
Unsurprisingly, partisan map drawers drove the decrease in competitive districts. In Republican single-party controlled states, the percentage of competitive seats fell from 16 percent of districts before redistricting to just 12 percent after. The decline in competitive seats in Democratic single-party controlled states was even more precipitous, falling from 12 percent to just 6 percent.
Yet these percentage point decreases only tell part of the story: Republicans control the map drawing of far more seats than Democrats do, and although the states controlled by Democratic mapmakers saw a sharper percentage point decrease in competitive seats, the actual number of competitive seats lost in Republican-controlled states is almost triple that of Democratic-controlled ones.
By contrast, states where commissions or courts drew maps either saw the percentage of competitive districts fall only marginally or even increase. Indeed, after the steep decline in competition in single-party controlled states, maps drawn by commissions or courts now account for almost 60 percent of the nation's shrinking number of competitive districts. To be clear, independent commissions like those in Michigan and Colorado differ in important ways from the politician-appointed, bipartisan bodies in states like New Jersey and Montana, but they all require participation from both major political parties. When the commission states are considered together, there is only about a 15 percent decrease in the share of competitive seats, far less than the drop in competition that occurred in states where one party drew the map.
In places, the Loire can now be crossed on foot; France’s longest river has never flowed so slowly. The Rhine is fast becoming impassable to barge traffic. In Italy, the Po is 2 metres lower than normal, crippling crops. Serbia is dredging the Danube. Across Europe, drought is reducing once-mighty rivers to trickles, with potentially dramatic consequences for industry, freight, energy and food production – just as supply shortages and price rises due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine bite.
Driven by climate breakdown, an unusually dry winter and spring followed by record-breaking summer temperatures and repeated heatwaves have left Europe’s essential waterways under-replenished and, increasingly, overheated. With no significant rainfall recorded for almost two months across western, central and southern Europe and none forecast in the near future, meteorologists say the drought could become the continent’s worst in more than 500 years.
“We haven’t analysed fully this year’s event because it is still ongoing,” said Andrea Toreti of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. “There were no other events in the past 500 [years] similar to the drought of 2018. But this year, I think, is worse.” He said there was “a very high risk of dry conditions” continuing over the next three months, adding that without effective mitigation drought intensity and frequency would “increase dramatically over Europe, both in the north and in the south”. ...
While the EU has said boosting waterborne freight by 25% is one of the bloc’s green transition priorities, Germany is now working to divert it to rail and road – although between 40 and 100 trucks are needed to replace a standard barge load. France’s rivers might not be such key freight arteries, but they do serve to cool the nuclear plants that produce 70% of the country’s electricity. As prices hit all-time highs, power giant EDF has been forced to reduce output because of the drought.
In Italy, the flow of the parched Po, Italy’s longest river, has fallen to one-tenth of its usual rate, and water levels are 2 metres below normal. With no sustained rainfall in the region since November, corn and risotto rice production have been hard hit. The Po valley accounts for between 30% and 40% of Italy’s agricultural production, but rice growers in particular have warned that up to 60% of their crop may be lost as paddy fields dry out and are spoiled by seawater sucked in by the low river level.
Driven by the climate crisis, exceedingly rare megafloods will become more common – and more catastrophic – according to a new study that found their likelihood has already doubled in California. The unexpected threat lingers even as browning hillsides, fallowed fields and bathtub ring-laden reservoirs serve as a constant reminder of the drought disaster in the state, which may be woefully unprepared when the coin inevitably flips.
“Societally, from a public policy and climate adaptation infrastructure building perspective we are falling behind,” said Dr Daniel Swain, an author on the study, ARkStorm 2.0: Climate change is increasing the risk of a California megaflood, and a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. ...
Combining climate and high-resolution weather models, the scientists were able to analyze two separate scenarios – the present danger, and a future where risks are amplified by the climate crisis. The approach provides an accurate picture of what’s to come. The researchers found with a high-emissions trajectory, the annual likelihood of a 200-year-event would increase by 683% by 2060. They built on the findings from a 2010 analysis called “ARkStorm,” led by the US Geological Survey with an interdisciplinary team, that concluded a series of severe storms had the potential to pelt the state with enough rainfall to displace millions, impair critical infrastructure and transportation corridors, and cause close to $1tn in economic losses.
The hypothetical event has been referred to as California’s “other Big One”, in reference to a large-magnitude earthquake expected to strike sometime in the future. But this megaflood would rival even the shaking of the earth, exceeding damages “by a considerable margin”, according to the study. Floods are being made worse by wildfires and drought, which change the landscapes and make debris flows more likely when water rises.
California’s floods differ from other parts of the world, and are typically caused by atmospheric rivers – strong storms that dump large amounts of water at once. A long sequence of them, where severe storms hit in quick succession, could quickly overwhelm landscapes and infrastructure. And, while wetting storms were once welcome in the parched state, “atmospheric river storms in a warming climate are likely going to shift from being primarily beneficial to primarily hazardous – that’s a big shift,” Swain said.
Experts have said higher summer temperatures caused by the climate crisis will fuel an increase in cases of potentially deadly skin cancers such as melanoma.
Now medics are warning that the changing climate will cast a long shadow should people spend more time in the sun and have greater exposure to UV radiation. “As a clinician treating patients with melanoma, I am definitely concerned that a sustained trend in hotter summers will lead to more cases of melanoma and more deaths from melanoma,” said Sarah Danson, a professor of medical oncology at the University of Sheffield.
Julia Newton-Bishop, a clinician scientist leading the melanoma research group at the University of Leeds, said: “Melanoma is caused essentially by sunburn, and this weather is so extreme that I am concerned that sunburns will increase and later so will the incidence of melanoma.”
According to data from Cancer Research UK, skin cancer death rates among men in the UK have more than tripled since the 1970s, with increases also recorded among women.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Reverend Gary Davis - If I Had My Way
Rev. Gary Davis - Hesitation Blues
Rev. Gary Davis - Slow Drag / Cincinnati Flow Rag
Blind Gary Davis - Death Don't Have No Mercy
Rev Gary Davis - I Am The Light Of The World
Reverend Gary Davis - Cocaine Blues
Blind Gary Davis - I Heard the Angels Singing
Reverend Gary Davis - I'll Be All Right Some Day
Reverend Gary Davis - You Got To Go Down
Rev. Gary Davis - I'll Fly Away
Reverend Gary Davis - Civil War Parade