The Evening Blues - 8-3-21
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This evening's music features jazz pianist Mose Allison. Enjoy!
Mose Allison - If you're goin' to the city
“It was not that he was feckless, more that he had simply not been around the day they handed out feck.”
-- Neil Gaiman
News and Opinion
After allowing the federal moratorium on evictions to expire over the weekend, exposing millions of hard-pressed renters to the danger of forcible removal from their homes, loss of their belongings and homelessness, the Biden White House issued a statement Monday afternoon effectively disavowing any responsibility for the vast social misery its actions are helping to cause. The statement issued on “eviction prevention efforts” acknowledges the horrific impact of mass eviction, particularly “given the rising urgency of containing the spread of the Delta variant,” which will run like wildfire through homeless shelters, tent camps and overcrowded apartments where multiple families will live doubled-up and tripled-up.
But while promising that “President Biden is taking further action to prevent Americans from experiencing the heartbreak of eviction,” the actions amount to a laundry list of appeals for other people to do something about the crisis. The statement reads like a satire on indifference thinly disguised by political doubletalk. Biden directs his own White House to discuss with other federal agencies “whether there are any other authorities to take additional actions to stop evictions,” given that the right-wing majority on the US Supreme Court struck down the anti-eviction order which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September, on public health grounds, and extended several times for three-month periods.
He calls on state and local courts to pause eviction proceedings until tenants and landlords can access Emergency Rental Assistance, the federal program established to provide assistance to workers thrown out of their jobs because of the pandemic and unable to pay their rent. Some $47 billion has been appropriated for this program, but only $3 billion has been paid out, largely because of foot-dragging by state and local governments and landlords. Biden calls on state and local governments to stop the foot-dragging, without offering any reason why that should be expected to happen, since it is driven by political resistance among capitalist politicians to do anything to assist tenants against landlords, who comprise a substantial social interest in both parties.
The president calls on landlords to “hold off on evictions for the next 30 days” and even appeals to “utilities providers to work with State and local governments … to avoid cutting off services for those behind in payments due to the pandemic and at risk of eviction.”
Biden, a devout churchgoer, does not include an appeal for Satan to cut off his claws and his tail and for the lion to lie down with the lamb.
Poverty expert & researcher @JuliaRaifman of Boston U tells me re: eviction moratorium:
"The Kavanaugh opinion was premised on rent relief getting out. So the [administration] could have tried to make an argument to make that the justification for extending the moratorium"
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) August 2, 2021
The Democrats' eviction crisis pass the buck circus continues:
The White House said on Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was “unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium” and asked instead that states and local governments put in policies to keep renters in their homes. Mass evictions could potentially worsen the recent spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant but an avalanche of people being made to leave their abodes is feared, as roughly 1.4m households told the Census Bureau they could “very likely” be evicted from their rentals in the next two months.
Another 2.2m say they’re “somewhat likely” to be evicted. The prospect of mass evictions has led to criticism that the Biden administration was slow to address the end of the moratorium, which expired over the weekend.
But the White House says it lacks the authority to extend a national moratorium. That’s largely because the supreme court signaled in a 5-4 vote in late June that it wouldn’t back further extensions, with the conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh writing that Congress would have to act to extend the moratorium.
The Biden administration emphasized in a statement that $46.5bn had been provided to keep renters in their homes, but “too many states and cities have been too slow to act”. It’s still investigating any additional legal options to forestall the evictions, but Biden’s adviser Gene Sperling, who oversees the coronavirus relief plans, put the burden on states and local governments to distribute federal aid and keep people in their homes.
“There is simply no excuse, no place to hide for any state or locality that is failing to accelerate their emergency” rental assistance, he said.
15 million ppl threatened with eviction and all Pelosi and Biden are doing is debating who to blame. You all control the White House and both houses of Congress!!! https://t.co/i31kaSunkV
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) August 2, 2021
Evictions are always horrifying but amidst heat waves, floods & a deadly pandemic? SICK
— Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt) August 2, 2021
Palestinians Reject Israeli Court’s Deal That Would Put Them at “Mercy of Settlers” in Sheikh Jarrah
Palestinian residents of the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah facing forcible eviction from their homes have been offered a compromise deal with Jewish settlers by Israel’s supreme court, in an unexpected development in the high-profile case.
The session on Monday, which was supposed to reach a final decision on whether to accept an appeal from four Palestinian families over eviction orders in the decades-old legal battle, was instead met with a surprise entreaty from the judges for the two sides to accept a “practical solution”. ...
The proposed compromise would allow the 70 Palestinians to remain in their homes as tenants with “protected status” and safeguard them from eviction for “the coming years” while paying an annual fee of 1,500NIS (£335) to the Nahalat Shimon company, a settler organisation that lower courts have declared the rightful owners of the disputed properties. ...
The trade-off is likely to prove unacceptable to the Palestinians, as it would in effect mean agreeing that the land is not rightfully theirs. The stalemated session concluded with an order from the three justices that the Palestinians must submit a list of names of people eligible for protected tenant status within the next seven days.
“There are all kinds of feelings [in Sheikh Jarrah] right now,” Mohammed el-Kurd, a prominent writer and activist from the neighbourhood, said outside the courtroom before the hearing began. “I am furious that my fate is in the hands of settlers, settler establishments, settler courts, settler laws … I don’t have any hope or faith [in this process].”
Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, has blamed the speedy withdrawal of US-led troops for the worsening violence in his country, as government forces battled to prevent provincial cities from falling to the Taliban in a major escalation in fighting.
Taliban fighters assaulted at least three provincial capitals overnight – Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Herat – after a weekend of heavy fighting that resulted in thousands of civilians fleeing the advancing militants.
On Monday, Ghani told parliament that “an imported, hasty” peace process “not only failed to bring peace but created doubt and ambiguity” among Afghans.
In an apparent recognition of the scale of the Taliban advance, Ghani said that his administration would now focus on protecting provincial capitals and major urban areas in the face of a rapid Taliban advance. ...
The loss of Helmand’s capital would be a massive strategic and psychological blow for the government, which pledged to defend provincial capitals at all costs after losing much of the rural countryside to the Taliban over the summer.
The war crimes trial in Sweden of a former Iranian official could reveal further damaging details about the role played in the mass execution of prisoners 30 years ago by Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, barely a week after his inauguration.
Hamid Noury, 60, was charged last week with “war crimes and murder” over the killings of more than 100 armed opponents and political prisoners during the final year of the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. Noury’s trial is due to start on 10 August. He was arrested in Sweden in 2019 while visiting relatives.
Raisi, an ultraconservative who is scheduled to be inaugurated as the Islamic republic’s president on Tuesday, was one of four judges who sat on a secret committee set up in 1988 to interrogate thousands of prisoners. The president-elect has repeatedly denied any responsibility in the death sentences handed down to approximately 5,000 prisoners from armed opposition and leftist groups who human rights groups including Amnesty International say were executed in Iran that year.
Raisi has said he was acting on orders and that the mass killings were justified by a fatwa, or religious ruling, from Iran’s late supreme leader – and the founding father of its revolution – Ayatollah Khomeini. Swedish prosecutors said last week that in July and August 1988 Noury was assistant to the deputy prosecutor of Gohardasht prison, about 12 miles (20km) west of Tehran, where hundreds of prisoners linked to the People’s Mujahedin of Iran were executed.
On Monday, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened Iran and said Israel must take action against the Islamic Republic “right now” over last week’s drone attack on an Israeli-operated ship near Oman. Israel, the US, and the UK have blamed Tehran, but Iran denies the accusation, calling the allegations “baseless.” ...
Neither the US nor Israel have offered any evidence to back up the accusation against Iran. “If they have any evidence to support their baseless claims they should provide them,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in response to the US and UK backing up Israel’s narrative. He also said Iran would “decisively respond to any possible adventurism.” ...
Attacks on commercial shipping are common in the region, and Israel has been behind several attacks on Iranian ships. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had attacked at least a dozen ships that were either Iranian or carrying Iranian fuel since 2019.
Worth a full read:
Israel’s Director of Public Health Stuns TV Viewers with Statement that 50 Percent of New COVID Cases Are Among Fully Vaccinated
As of its most recent July 27 update on COVID vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States carries this statement:
“Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant.”
That statement stands in stark contrast to what the Director of Public Health Services in Israel told television viewers of the CBS program, Face the Nation, on Sunday, reporting that 50 percent of new infections in Israel are from fully vaccinated people.
The Pfizer–BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was the exclusive vaccine used to inoculate the broad population of Israel. It was also one of the two most highly-administered vaccines in the United States, with Moderna’s mRNA vaccine being the other. As of July 12, only 12.8 million people in the U.S. had been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine versus 146 million people in the U.S. that were fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses.
If half the people becoming infected in Israel are fully vaccinated individuals, it stands to reason that the U.S. should be seeing a similar outcome in more heavily populated areas of the U.S. In fact, according to the CDC’s own data, in an outbreak in July in Barnstable County, Massachusetts (Cape Cod) 469 cases were detected among Massachusetts residents, with 74 percent of those fully vaccinated. ...
What Fauci and Alroy-Preis do agree on, at this point in time, is that the vaccine does appear to be protecting the fully-vaccinated from severe disease.
At least 70% of adults in the US have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccination shot, the White House announced on Monday, reaching a target Joe Biden originally said he had hoped to achieve by 4 July.
The administration reported the news in a tweet hailing “Milestone Monday” by Cyrus Shahpar, the government’s Covid-19 data director, who said the seven-day average of people receiving their first dose – 320,000 – was the highest since the Independence Day holiday. ...
The US is seeing an average of 72,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day, higher than last summer’s surge, when vaccines were still in development and new daily cases reached 68,700, according to the CDC. Cases remain a lot lower than the pandemic peak of early January 2021, which saw more than 250,000 new cases a day as vaccines were starting to become more widely available.
On Monday, a state-by-state study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that less than 1% of fully vaccinated people experienced a breakthrough infection, ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.9% in Oklahoma.
US senators have unveiled a nearly $1tn bipartisan infrastructure package after much delay, wrapping up days of painstaking work on the inches-thick bill and launching what is certain to be a lengthy debate over President Joe Biden’s big priority.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was produced Sunday night and clocked in at some 2,700 pages. Senators could begin amending it soon. The final product was not intended to stray from the broad outline senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House.
“We haven’t done a large, bipartisan bill of this nature in a long time,” said Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. He said a final vote could be held “in a matter of days”.
A key part of Biden’s agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of the president’s infrastructure plan. It calls for $550bn in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years. ...
Paying for the package has been a challenge after senators rejected ideas to raise revenue from a new gas tax or other streams. Instead, it is being financed from funding sources that might not pass muster with deficit hawks, including repurposing some $205bn in untapped Covid-19 relief aid, as well as unemployment assistance that was turned back by some states and relying on projected future economic growth.
An officer of the National Labor Relations Board has just ruled that Amazon illegally meddled with the union election in Bessemer, Alabama — and that the election must be re-run.
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) August 2, 2021
Leaders of the national Poor People's Campaign and Rev. Jesse Jackson were among hundreds of people arrested in Washington, D.C. during a direct action Monday led by clergy and low-wage workers from across the country.
The "Moral Monday" event—which follows last week's 27-mile, four-day march in Texas, one of several states where GOP lawmakers have attacked voting rights this year—elevated demands for congressional action to protect ballot access and improve the lives of working people.
Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II said the action was directed at lawmakers including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who are denying Democrats the simple majority necessary to abolish the filibuster and advance key legislation without the GOP.
Much more at the link:
Last summer, as one city after another broke out in protest against the murder of George Floyd, some of the most enduring images were not of the demonstrators, but of the police: decked out in riot gear, aiming automatic weapons at peaceful crowds, and riding around on armored vehicles built for war.
The crackdowns on protesters renewed furious demands to end a suite of federal programs that have put billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons in the hands of local police. President Joe Biden singled out the most infamous of these — the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which transfers weapons and equipment from America’s foreign wars directly to domestic law enforcement agencies — for special condemnation. “Surplus military equipment for law enforcement? They don’t need that,” Biden said last July. “The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into the neighborhood.”
But as calls to demilitarize the police have intensified, so has the belief in countless police departments that they need the tools and weapons of war to police America’s cities and towns. Under a Freedom of Information Act request, HuffPost has exclusively obtained hundreds of letters that local law enforcement agencies wrote to the Department of Defense in 2017 and 2018 making the case to receive an armored vehicle under the 1033 program. ... In response to these requests, the Pentagon has provided thousands of small-town police and sheriff agencies with vehicles built to withstand conditions of war. The 1033 program has also distributed billions of dollars’ worth of helicopters, body armor, night vision equipment, ammunition, rifle sights, machine guns and assault rifles.
Opponents of the 1033 program are becoming fearful that they will never rein it in. Despite his comments last summer, Biden has failed to seize multiple opportunities to reform the Pentagon’s 1033 program. The White House prepared an executive order to limit the program his very first week in office, but Biden never signed it. House Democrats have introduced multiple bills to limit or end the program and openly called on the president to take action on his own, but Biden has remained silent.
A Black civil rights activist who reported that a group of white men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose” at a southern Indiana lake is facing criminal charges more than a year after the confrontation that earlier led to charges against two of the alleged attackers. Vauhxx Booker, a member of the Monroe county human rights commission, was charged with misdemeanor trespass and felony battery for his involvement in last year’s Fourth of July incident at Lake Monroe, according to court documents filed last Friday by a special prosecutor in the case.
Booker condemned the decision, calling it an “outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness”. The Monroe county branch of the NAACP demanded that the charges against Booker be dropped immediately and called for the special prosecutor, Sonia Leerkamp, to resign. “This incident has been a continual case of a victim being re-victimized by the system,” Booker’s legal team said in statement on Monday.
“It is the victim in this assault – Vauhxx Booker – who is being made to pay for having stood his ground against malicious racist name-calling, physical assault, and threats against his life.”
The alleged assault gained national attention last summer when Booker said he called 911 after five men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at the lake just south of Bloomington. He said the men accused him of trespassing on private property and, after he tried to apologize, the situation got physical.
Charles Connor, who was a drummer for Little Richard and other music greats including James Brown and Sam Cooke, has died aged 86. Connor’s daughter, Queenie Connor Sonnefeld, said her father died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday while under hospice care at his home in Glendale, California. She said he had been diagnosed with normal pressure hydrocephalus, a brain disorder that causes fluid buildup. ...
Connor began playing drums at age 12. Three years later, he started his professional career when the singer and pianist Professor Longhair hired him as a last-minute replacement for the 1950 Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
After Connor turned 18, he joined Little Richard’s original road band, the Upsetters. The band appeared in several popular feature films including The Girl Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield, along with Don’t Knock the Rock and Mister Rock and Roll.
During his career, Connor toured with numerous musical greats including James Brown, Jackie Wilson and the original Coasters.
When a legion of Texans descended on their state capitol on Saturday morning, the signs they carried conveyed raw terror about the erosion of their democracy. ... Some had just concluded a days-long, 27-mile march from Georgetown to Austin, praying with their feet in a desperate attempt to safeguard access to the vote. For hours, they withstood blistering heat to rally round a casket – a poetic nod to lawmakers in states across the country they say are trying to bury voting rights. ...
The high-stakes protest mirrored a historic march in 1965, when voting rights advocates risked their lives in Selma, Alabama, before the Voting Rights Act was secured. More than half a century later, a new generation of activists hope to protect and expand on those victories.
“When you get out there and you leave the comfort of your home, and in this case you put on your walking shoes and you cover 30 miles in the middle of the Texas summer in central Texas – you’re saying something through that sacrifice and through that struggle,” former US representative and presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke told the Guardian before participating in the march. ...
Texas Democrats have twice outmanoeuvred attempts to pass sweeping voting bills – first by walking off the state House floor in May, then by fleeing to Washington last month. They have been pushed and bolstered by activists, businesses and regular citizens, who have raised funds, written letters and testified into the night.
Yet voting rights champions can only waylay legislation for so long. And although they gathered at the Texas capitol on Saturday, they were effectively appealing to Washington, where federal voting protections have stalled in the US Senate. “Mr President, the time to act is now,” Rev Dr William J Barber II said. “Let me tell you something you might not be used to hearing from a preacher, but ain’t no need to have power if you’re not gonna use it for good.”
But will it make a difference?
14 days until the Republicans gerrymander the Democrats out of power for a decade.
Congress is in recess.
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) August 2, 2021
More than a decade after the Fourmile Canyon blaze drove even the firefighters out of Gold Hill, blackened hillsides and scorched trees attest to the Colorado mountain town’s close shave with destruction. “Because of the wind and the dryness, it took off,” said Chris Finn, who volunteers as the town’s fire chief when he’s not running the local inn. “That day in 2010, I felt that my business and my house might not be here any more.”
Gold Hill’s few hundred residents fled as the fire moved along the ridge above a town that began life as a mining camp during the 1859 gold rush. The firefighters followed when they could not stop the flames swallowing scores of homes. By the time it was extinguished, the Fourmile blaze had destroyed 169 houses, the most by any wildfire in Colorado history. But that record was broken less than two years later, and then again within days, as the pace of fires picked up. Gold Hill was once again surrounded by flames last year, which saw a record number of wildfires in Colorado. Now, Finn is bracing for another season of record-breaking fires. ...
Gold Hill has received a state grant to thin out the forest around the town in the hope of slowing if not stopping future fires. But that is a fraction of the cost that the surrounding county says it will take to deal with the impact of global heating. Boulder county estimates it will cost taxpayers $100m over the next three decades just to adapt transport and drainage systems to the climate crisis, and reduce the risk from wildfires.
The county government says the bill should be paid by those who drove the crisis – the oil companies that spent decades covering up and misrepresenting the warnings from climate scientists. It is suing the US’s largest oil firm, ExxonMobil, and Suncor, a Canadian company with its US headquarters in Colorado, to require that they “use their vast profits to pay their fair share of what it will cost a community to deal with the problem the companies created”. ...
Exxon and Suncor are alarmed at the prospect of the cases being heard by local jurors with first-hand experience of the impact of global heating in Boulder. The companies are pressing to move the trials out of state courts and into a federal system where laws on deceptive marketing and consumer fraud do not apply. “Their strategy is to say that these cases need to be in federal court because federal jurisdiction applies. Then they will turn around and argue that federal law provides no remedy,” said Marco Simons, general counsel for Earth Rights International. “It is all about a route to dismissing these cases.”
Firefighters made progress battling some of the largest fires burning across the west, but dangers of flare-ups and new ignitions remain amid hot, dry conditions that will bake the parched landscape.
Nine large fires have collectively burned more than 1.8m acres in 12 states, the National Interagency Fire Center reported on Monday morning, including 23 in Montana, some of which have displayed extreme fire behavior.
On Sunday, the agency issued its monthly outlook, forecasting “significant wildland fire potential” with more than 95% of the American west in drought and more than half of the region in the two highest categories of drought conditions, and hotter than normal weather expected to continue into the autumn.
#WildlandFireOutlook: Above normal significant fire potential is forecast to continue through September for much of the Northwest, Northern Rockies, and northern portions of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain Geographic Areas. #FireYear2021 https://t.co/lIEU9iuUtR... pic.twitter.com/aWdfLjcpTm
— National Interagency Fire Center (@NIFC_Fire) August 1, 2021
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Mose Allison - The Seventh Son
Mose Allison - Your Mind is On Vacation
Mose Allison - I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues
Mose Allison - Ever Since The World Ended
Mose Allison - Foolkiller
Mose Allison - Young Man's Blues
Mose Allison - Ask Me Nice
Mose Allison - Lost Mind
Mose Allison - Your Molecular Structure