The Evening Blues - 8-28-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Enjoy!
James Brown - I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On
"You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot kill a revolution."
-- Fred Hampton
News and Opinion
When Tucker Carlson set off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday — by describing a 17-year-old Trump supporter who opened fire on protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, killing two, as a well-meaning kid who decided he “had to maintain order” in the Democrat-run state because “no one else would” — the Fox News host was surfacing an idea that had already spread widely on the far-right. “The chaos that began with the first George Floyd protests on Memorial Day has reached its inevitable and bloody conclusion,” Carlson told viewers tuning in for his buildup to the Republican National Convention, which had featured, on its first night, two speakers lionized for threatening to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters outside their mansion in St. Louis.
When Trump glorifies one, we inevitably get the other.
If you don’t see how uplifting the McCloskeys emboldens people like Kyle Rittenhouse then you’re not paying attention. pic.twitter.com/lwpPRPYjAo
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) August 26, 2020
“Last night, three people were shot on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Two of them have died. Police say they’ve charged a 17-year-old with murder,” Carlson reported, without revealing that the suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, was not the anti-fascist radical his viewers might have been led to expect, but a conservative vigilante who had posted video from the front row of a Trump rally in January, and written “BLUE LIVES MATTER” and “Trump 2020″ on his TikTok bio, as Buzzfeed first reported.
In Carlson’s telling, the moral of the story was not that Rittenhouse — who was photographed and caught on video from multiple angles shooting three men — had provoked trouble by responding to a militia group’s Facebook call for “patriots willing to take up arms and defend” the city from “evil thugs,” but that he was something closer to a victim, prodded to fill a vacuum by the misrule of the city’s Democratic mayor, John Antaramian, and the state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers. “Kenosha has devolved into anarchy because the authorities in charge of the city abandoned it,” Carlson told Fox viewers unaware that the city had not, in fact, collapsed into chaos just because they were being shown isolated scenes of violence on a loop.
“People in charge, from the governor of Wisconsin on down, refused to enforce the law. They stood back and they watched Kenosha burn,” Carlson claimed, oblivious to the fact that video recorded by witnesses to Tuesday’s events showed Rittenhouse and other heavily armed young vigilantes had spent most of the night standing close to armored police vehicles outside a business they appointed themselves to guard.
White supremacist groups have infiltrated US law enforcement agencies in every region of the country over the last two decades, according to a new report about the ties between police and far-right vigilante groups. In a timely new analysis, Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.
The report notes that over the years, police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
Police in Sacramento, California, in 2018 worked with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists, including some who had been stabbed, according to records. And just this summer, German writes, an Orange county sheriff’s deputy and a Chicago policeman were caught wearing far-right militia logos; an Olympia, Washington, officer was photographed posing with a militia group; and Philadelphia police officers were filmed standing by while armed mobs attacked protesters and journalists.
The exact scale of ties between law enforcement and militias is hard to determine, German told the Guardian. “Nobody is collecting the data and nobody is actively looking for these law enforcement officers,” he said. Officers’ racist activities are often known within their departments and generally result in punishment or termination following public scandals, the report notes. Few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups. If police officers are disciplined, the measures often lead to protracted litigation.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois who was arrested in connection with the shootings of three protesters in Wisconsin earlier this week, has been charged with six criminal counts, according to the criminal complaint disclosed on Thursday.
The charges filed by prosecutors against Rittenhouse in Kenosha county include first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum and first degree intentional homicide in the death of Anthony Huber, according to the complaint.
Rosenbaum had a two-year-old daughter, according to local reports, while Huber leaves behind a stepdaughter. A third man, 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz, was injured in the shooting but survived.
Rittenhouse would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, the most serious crime in Wisconsin. He also faces one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
Rittenhouse was also charged with possession of dangerous weapon by someone under the age of 18. Authorities allege Rittenhouse used a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle – a popular style of rifle with many American gun owners and the gun of choice for young male perpetrators of some of America’s most infamous mass murders, including the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Under Wisconsin law, Rittenhouse, who is 17, was too young to legally posses the rifle he was alleged to have been carrying at the protests.
“Why was Jacob Blake seen as a deadly threat for a theoretical gun, while this gunman, who had already shot people, was arrested the next day and treated like a human being whose life matters?”
More on the police shooting of Jacob Blake & protests in Kenosha: pic.twitter.com/cQAU5fkDsg
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) August 27, 2020
ACLU Demands Resignation of Top Cops in Kenosha for Racism & Brutal Response to Jacob Blake Protests
National ACLU alongside its state chapter in Wisconsin on Thursday called for the local sheriff, chief of police, and mayor of Kenosha to immediately tender their resignations, arguing the top law enforcement officials and city leader have failed in their duties in terms of the killing by shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday and their handling of subsequent protests in the city that culminated in the killing of two Black Lives Matter demonstrators allegedly carried out by an underage militia-style vigilante armed with an AR-15 assault weapon overnight Tuesday.
In what the ACLU said was done in consultation with "organizers on the ground," the civil liberties group condemned Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth for their handling of events in recent days—both in word and deed—and urged Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian to have the pair removed if they do not step down from their posts voluntarily. At the same time, the ACLU said Antaramian should also resign. ...
According to a statement by the ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin:
Sheriff David Beth's deputies not only fraternized with white supremacist counter-protesters on Tuesday, but allowed the shooter to leave as people yelled that he was the shooter. The sheriff excused this by saying his deputies may not have paid attention to the gunman because there were many distractions, including "screaming” and "hollering," people running, police vehicles idling, "nonstop radio traffic," and that "in situations that are high stress, you have such an incredible tunnel vision." Sheriff Beth was also criticized last year after calling for five people of color who had been arrested for shoplifting to be put into warehouses "where we put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset."
During the Kenosha Police Department's first press conference in response to the Blake shooting and subsequent murders committed at protests, Police Chief Daniel Miskinis blamed the unidentified victims in Tuesday night's shooting for their own deaths, saying the violence was the result of the "persons" involved violating curfew.
Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said resignations were the best course of action.
"The ACLU strongly condemns Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Miskinis' response to both the attempted murder of Jacob Blake and the protests demanding justice for him," said Ott. "Their actions uphold and defend white supremacy, while demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their first amendment rights and speaking out against police violence. The only way to rectify these actions is for both Sheriff Beth and Police Chief Daniel Miskinis to immediately tender their resignations."
Prosecutors and lawmakers in several states have responded to mass protests against police brutality by charging demonstrators with committing felonies, including terrorism charges. The trend of criminalizing protest has been on the uptick since the 2016 protests against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, during and after which numerous states upped charges for protests “near critical infrastructure” as felonies. Since 2016, 14 states have enacted new laws to restrict the right to peaceful assembly, according to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks related state and federal legislation. But in the wake of the nationwide movement in support of Black lives, numerous states have increased the severity of criminal penalties for protesters along political lines and are prosecuting them more aggressively, as demonstrations continue with no sign of slowing down.
Just last week, following more than 60 days of demonstrations outside the State Capitol, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a law that made it a felony to participate in some types of protests, including camping out overnight on state property. Charges for the same activity were previously classified as a misdemeanor. In Tennessee, people convicted of felonies lose their voting rights — making the new law a tool for disenfranchisement.
Earlier this month, police in Muscatine, Iowa, apprehended two people they say were attempting to drive a vehicle into the city Public Safety Building and got stuck on a planter. They charged both men with numerous counts, including terrorism. That follows an Oklahoma district attorney’s pursuit of terrorism charges against five young people, including three teenagers and two people in their 20s. The fourth-term prosecutor also threw felony charges at numerous other people in relation to protests and damage to local and police property in late May.
The terrorism charges reveal a “false equivalency between people who kill, and people who commit acts of property damage,” said Kate Chatfield, policy director at the Justice Collaborative, a policy and media organization focused on mass criminalization and incarceration. “Maybe not a great thing.” “To say that the power of the state will be wielded in this way against political enemies is incredibly frightening,” Chatfield said, drawing a parallel to the post-9/11 era, when many people who had never committed an act of violence were prosecuted for terrorism. “Let’s not ignore the fact that we have a history of this in this country. A very recent history. And a continuing history, unfortunately.”
Sick bastards proliferate in the Failed State of America.
Fundraisers, messages of support and celebratory memes for the alleged Kenosha, Wisconsin, mass shooter are being shared widely on Facebook and Instagram, despite the company’s assurance on Wednesday that it was working to enforce its policy banning content that “praises, supports, or represents” mass shooters.
One fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was shared more than 17,700 times on Facebook, including by 291 public groups and pages with more than 3.9m aggregate followers, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data analytics tool. A second fundraiser garnered 1,698 shares on the platform, including by an additional 17 pages and groups with nearly 400,000 followers. ...
Facebook designated the shooting a “mass shooting” – a ruling that invokes the company’s ban on praise, support, or representation of a mass shooter or the shooting itself, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. And yet those types of posts continue to be spread widely on the platform, according to a Guardian analysis of CrowdTangle data.
Hundreds of Facebook posts and memes featuring the phrase “Free Kyle” or “Free Kyle Rittenhouse” had garnered more than 70,000 interactions as of Thursday morning. Many of the posts include stills captured from videos of Rittenhouse carrying his assault rifle before, during and after the shooting. One meme posted on Wednesday afternoon by the page “All About Trump 2020”, which has more than 32,000 followers, shows Rittenhouse with his arm raised in the air and includes the caption, “3 commies down”.
Dozens of similar “Free Kyle” memes were also attracting significant support and engagement on Instagram, where they had been liked nearly 60,000 times. The Instagram hashtags #KyleRittenhouseIsAHero and #KyleRittenhouseDidNothingWrong revealed hundreds of pro-shooter memes and posts.
Krystal and Saagar: Unemployment Over A Million, Protestors Build Guillotine In Front Of Bezos House
One million people filed for unemployment benefits last week in the US as the coronavirus pandemic continued to take a historic toll on the job market.
It was the second week in a row that claims passed the million mark after briefly dipping below that figure in early August.
New applications for unemployment have remained stubbornly high for months even as the number of coronavirus cases are declining. At about 1m claims a week they are five times as high as the average 200,000 weekly claims before the pandemic.
In the week ending 22 August just over 1m claims were filed, 98,000 fewer than the previous week.
After new reporting late Wednesday indicated that abrupt and what experts characterized as dangerously unsound changes to the CDC's Covid-19 testing guidelines were directed by the highest levels of the Trump administration, lawmakers demanded answers and sounded alarm bells over the White House's ongoing politicization of America's public health agencies.
CNN and Politico both reported Wednesday that top Trump administration officials were behind the CDC's decision to stop advising Covid-19 tests for all people who have potentially been exposed to the virus, which has infected nearly six million people and killed more than 179,000 in the United States.
The new guidelines, published on the CDC website Monday, state that people who have been in close contact with someone infected by Covid-19 "do not necessarily need a test" if they don't show symptoms. The CDC, led by Trump appointee Dr. Robert Redfield, did not present evidence justifying the changes.
Citing an anonymous federal health official close to the decision, CNN reported that the "sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration." CNN also first reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was undergoing surgery when the CDC guidance changes were discussed by the White House coronavirus task force.
"I was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations," Fauci told CNN. "I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is."
Germany has called for naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean to cease in an attempt to defuse tensions between Greece and Turkey that it fears could tip over into “catastrophe”.
Greece and Turkey lay competing claims to the same parts of the eastern Mediterranean sea and are at odds over potentially abundant gas reserves and maritime rights.
Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, who is trying to mediate between the two countries, said the precondition for talks was an end to military manoeuvres. “For sure the parties will not sit down at the table when warships are facing each other in the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
During shuttle diplomacy between Athens and Ankara this week, Maas said the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean was akin to “playing with fire” where “every little spark can lead to catastrophe”.
Turkey has announced it will hold live-fire military exercises off its southern Mediterranean coast next week, while Greece has staged war games with France, Italy and Cyprus. France announced this month it was reinforcing its military presence in the sea by sending two fighters and a naval frigate.
The United States has blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals it said were part of construction and military efforts in the South China Sea, its first such sanctions move over the disputed strategic waterway.
The US Commerce Department said the companies played a “role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarise the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea”.
Separately, the State Department said it would impose visa restrictions on Chinese individuals “responsible for, or complicit in” such action and those linked to China’s “use of coercion against south-east Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources”.
Worth a full read:
On August 7, the Daily Collegian, the student paper at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, lit a fuse that would explode the sleepy primary race in Massachusetts’ 1st District between Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and incumbent Rep. Richie Neal. The outlines and accusations by now are well known — the College Democrats had disinvited Morse from any events that might be scheduled in the future, on account of what they described as inappropriate attention he was paying to students — and the local press made sure that western Massachusetts readers were kept fully abreast of the accusations. Between August 7 and 13, the Springfield Republican, also known as Masslive, ran, for instance, 16 stories featuring the mayor, all but one focused on the allegations and resulting fallout, according to a review of local media coverage by The Intercept.
Other local outlets followed suit. On August 10, Albany, New York-based NPR affiliate WAMC News devoted 40 minutes to the allegations on the channel’s daily politics program “The Roundtable.” The panel show exhaustively covered the topic, with lobbyist Libby Post, a frequent guest, likening Morse to President Donald Trump and other politicians with sex scandals. “Men have a problem at times with controlling their — keeping it in their pants is the best I can put it — and it becomes a priority over doing their jobs,” said Post.
By August 12, however, The Intercept had discovered that the claims were part of a long-running plan by students to take down the mayor and on August 14 reported that Massachusetts Democrats Chair Gus Bickford and Executive Director Veronica Martinez facilitated the letter’s development, assigning the task to state party attorney Jim Roosevelt and offering the students tips in dealing with the press. While the allegations in the letter had received heavy play on local radio, television, and print media, those later revelations did not, even after the state party was pressured by its rank and file into announcing an internal investigation into its own conduct. On local television, the issue continued to play out as he said, he said, with the unsubstantiated allegations of the college students given a full airing, followed by a denial from Morse. Chyrons in clips reviewed by The Intercept from local stations WWLP, Western Mass News, and CBS 3 emphasized Morse’s “sexual misconduct” and the existence of an “official investigation” into the mayor from both the Holyoke City Council and UMass. The conspiracy angle — the fact that the accusations were part of a long-running scheme by students, with the aid of the state party, to take down the Morse campaign — was barely mentioned.
While the scheme imploded spectacularly, earning a thorough autopsy in the New York Times, it may still have worked. By airing out the allegations so prominently, particularly in the local media, advocates for Neal were able to materially damage Morse, with internal polls showing a spike in the number of voters who held a negative view of the Holyoke mayor — voters who may otherwise have been persuadable as Morse surged into the final month of the campaign. Those voters, if they’ve relied on local media for their news, would have little way of knowing Morse had been vindicated. After The Intercept revealed the scheme, Masslive put the story on the back burner. Of the next 15 stories it published on the race through August 21, just six touched on the fallout from the MassDems revelations. Instead, the Republican covered the race from a number of more traditional angles, focusing on endorsements, issue positions, and polling.
Appealing to Home Depot and Lowe's to be part of the solution to environmental and public health hazards, rather than a contributor to them, more than 65 advocacy groups on Wednesday called on the home improvement giants to take the herbicide Roundup off their shelves and online stores, citing numerous concerns about the product.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen since 2015. While 10 countries have imposed outright bans on the weedkiller since then, and 15 have placed restrictions on its use, the U.S. continues to allow stores to sell Roundup and other products containing glyphosate. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans, despite WHO's finding.
"Regulatory agencies have failed to protect us," Mackenzie Feldman, executive director at Herbicide-Free Campus, said in a statement. "Young people are taking their health into their own hands and demanding that Home Depot and Lowe's remove glyphosate-based herbicides from the shelves. We have sufficient scientific evidence to know the adverse effects these products have on our own bodies, as well as on the environment. It is Home Depot and Lowe's responsibility to protect the many people who still use these products and are unaware of the risks."
Costco and the British home and garden store B&Q have committed to phasing out Roundup, and the groups called on Home Depot and Lowe's to take responsibility for the safety of their customers as well, as they have previously by committing to ending sales of pesticides containing neonicotinoids.
"Home and garden stores can make a significant difference in reducing the use of this toxic product," said Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. "Research shows that homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. It's reckless to sell consumers products linked to cancer when safer organic alternatives exist."
The groups called on the companies to expand sales of organic weed killers that they already sell.
In addition to being linked to cancer, exposure to glyphosate has been connected to high rates of kidney disease, pregnancy complications, endocrine disruption, and Parkinson's disease.
The chemical has also been identified as a primary driver of declines in monarch butterfly and honeybee populations, potentially threatening one in three bites of food for humans.
After Hurricane Laura tore through the area Thursday morning, a chemical leak broke out at a plant near Lake Charles, Louisiana, leading authorities to warn residents against traveling through the affected region as dark smoke flowed out of an industrial building and over Interstate 10.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted that "there is a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area. Residents are advised to shelter in place until further notice and close your doors and windows. Follow the directions of local officials."
"If you are in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area, shelter in place, close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS," the governor added. "There is a chemical fire. Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials."
The local Daily Advertiser reported that a "possible chlorine leak" caused a fire at an industrial plant but authorities have not yet confirmed any details of what sparked the incident, which comes after activists warned of the "environmental nightmare" that could result from the hurricane slamming a region with a high concentration of chemical and fossil fuel plants and infrastructure.
"Facilities like this have been poisoning Gulf communities for decades," tweeted environmentalist Rob Friedman. "During and after storms, who knows how much toxic pollution they're emitting."
"We knew this would happen," said another activist. "Lake Charles and Cameron Parish are petrochemical industry epicenters. The plants, export terminals, refineries, oil tank farms are ticking time bombs every hurricane season. Industry only sees money, not environmental impact, and our leaders are in their pockets."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
James Brown - I Don't Know
James Brown - I'll Go Crazy
James Brown - Blues For My Baby
James Brown - In The Middle
James Brown - I Got The Feelin'
James Brown - Gittin' a Little Hipper
James Brown - My Thang
James Brown - Cold Sweat
James Brown - I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)
James Brown - Get Up Offa That Thing
James Brown - Turn Me Loose I'm Dr Feelgood
James Brown - Get on the Good Foot
James Brown and the Original JB’s (with Bootsy Collins)