The Evening Blues - 9-12-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Detroit bluesman Eddie Kirkland. Enjoy!
Eddie Kirk(land) - Them Bones
“In our own time we have seen domination spread over the social landscape to a point where it is beyond all human control.... Compared to this stupendous mobilization of materials, of wealth, of human intellect, of human labor for the single goal of domination, all other recent human achievements pale to almost trivial significance. Our art, science, medicine, literature, music and "charitable" acts seem like mere droppings from a table on which gory feasts on the spoils of conquest have engaged the attention of a system whose appetite for rule is utterly unrestrained.”
-- Murray Bookchin
News and Opinion
The UN security council has unanimously ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea, imposing a ban on the country’s textile exports and a ceiling on the country’s imports of crude oil.
The vote for the sanctions, the ninth package of measures imposed by the UN Security Council on Pyongyang since 2006 for its nuclear and missile tests, came as a relief to US diplomats who had feared a Chinese abstention, which would have considerably blunted the impact of the new sanctions.
In late night negotiations on Sunday, the US considerably diluted its initial draft sanctions resolution, which would have imposed a complete oil embargo and a partial naval blockade, in an effort to win support from China and Russia.
The final resolution adopted by the security council on Monday imposed a ban on oil condensates exports to the regime, capped refined petroleum exports at 2m barrels a year – cutting existing export levels by half – and maintaining international exports of crude oil to North Korea at existing levels, about 4m barrels a year. China supplies most of North Korea’s crude.
Nuclear tensions and public apathy are hitting ticket sales for 2018’s Winter Olympics in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang, casting a shadow over what had been billed as the “peace games”. Organisers hope to attract more than a million spectators to the Games in five months’ time. Events will be held 80km (50 miles) from the South’s heavily armed border with North Korea.
But early ticket sales have been disappointing. In the first phase of sales between February and June only 52,000 tickets were sold inside South Korea – less than 7% of the 750,000 seats organisers aim to sell domestically. International sales were stronger, with overseas sport fans buying more than half the targeted 320,000 seats, but the rate is below that of most previous winter Games at this stage of preparations. Online ticket sales began last week.
There is particular concern that so few tickets have been sold in China and Japan, which were expected to account for the bulk of all international sales. Economic ties and tourism have been hit by Chinese anger over Seoul’s deployment of a US missile defence system, while there is growing concern over the safety of Japanese residents and visitors to South Korea.
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said in August there was “no reason for any immediate concern” about tensions on the Korean peninsula. But that was shortly before the regime fired a ballistic missile over Japan and detonated what it claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb.
Hundreds of defectors from Islamic State have massed in Syria’s Idlib province, with many planning to cross the nearby Turkish border and find ways back to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Several dozen former fighters have already made it across the heavily patrolled frontier to towns and cities in Turkey’s south in recent weeks, the Guardian has confirmed. Four Saudi Arabian extremists arrived in a southern Turkish community in early September after paying smugglers $2,000 each for the perilous journey past border guards who have shot dead scores of infiltrators this year alone.
The exodus of fighters from areas controlled by Isis to other parts of Syria and Iraq has continued throughout the past year, as the terror group has lost much of its former heartland to a concerted assault by Iraqi troops, forces allied to the Syrian regime and a US-led air coalition in both countries. However, large numbers of militants and their families are now trying to leave the war-battered states altogether – posing significant challenges to a global intelligence community that, for the most part, views them as a hostile and unmanageable threat, and sees limited scope for their reintegration.
A Saudi national who fled Syria in late August told the Guardian that as many as 300 former Isis members, many of them Saudis, had established a community north of Idlib city, which is now dominated by the al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. “Most want to leave, like me,” said the 26-year-old, who called himself Abu Saad. “A lot of them realise that the group they were with tricked them. Others don’t trust Nusra. There are not many who believe that the people that they were with were on the right path.”
Al-Qaeda is on the rise again in the shadow of the Islamic State group in Syria, 16 years after the jihadists shocked the United States in the September 11, 2001 attacks, experts said Monday. They said that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Sunni group that last month seized control of the northern Syrian city of Idlib, is simply a "rebranding" of Al-Qaeda that is positioning itself as more moderate than the Islamic State in hopes of a resurgence.
Speaking on the current terror threat against the United States at the New America think tank, former White House counterterrorism director Joshua Geltzer and other experts said they expect HTS to take center stage among jihadists as the Islamic State group loses ground on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. HTS is simply a cosmetic name-change for Al-Qaeda, they said. In consolidating control of much of Idlib province, it has eliminated or absorbed rival groups, and is modernizing its propaganda on the web-savvy model of the Islamic State.
The New America report stresses the need to focus on Islamic State as the most dangerous external threat at the moment, while noting that since 9/11 all lethal jihadist attacks in the United States have been by US citizens or permanent residents. But it says Al-Qaeda could resume the role of the foremost threat in the future, gathering followers turned off by the Islamic State's most extreme tactics.
Controversial clerics, Salman al-Ouda and Awad al-Qarni, were reportedly among 20 people arrested by Saudi Arabian security forces.
Al-Ouda posted to his Twitter, which has 14 million follows, that he supported mediation to settle Qatar conflict. "May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people," he wrote. He was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change, according to Saudi rights group AIQST.
Al-Ouda and al-Qarni – who also supports a reconciliation with Qatar – are both known to be critical of the Saudi Arabian government. Additionally, exiled activists have called for demonstrations, on September 15, in opposition to the Kingdom which has been a monarchy since 1932.
The kingdom, which is struggling with falling oil prices, faces criticism over military action against neighboring Yemen, which it launched on March 26. Many also see Riyadh's policies as a major cause of the crises in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.
Reports of the arrests come amid speculation that King Salman intends to abdicate in favor of his son Crown Prince Mohammed. Several unidentified sources and tweets by rights organizations, journalists and others are reporting that former King Fahd's son Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd al Saud is among those arrested.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) released a statement on his Facebook page Monday night criticizing the Senate’s decision to move forward with the 2018 Defense Bill. Paul has called for an amendment that would end the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Afghanistan and Iraq. The senator stands in stark opposition to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“Tonight, the Senate is attempting to move forward with the Defense Bill,” Paul’s statement reads. “I am seeking an amendment to end the AUMF in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“I will object to all procedural motions and amendments unless and until my amendment is made in order and we vote on these wars. An attempt was made to run the clock on the bill overnight,” Paul insisted. “I objected and am now sitting on the floor of the Senate to stop that,” the senator declared. ... On Monday, the Senate voted 89-3 in favor of moving forward, but Paul can hold up the bill for up to 30 hours with his protest. Sen. Paul could potentially sit in the Senate chamber all night.
Senate leaders have agreed not to try to end debate early, and have agreed to four hours of debate under my control to debate these wars.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 12, 2017
Don't read this if you don't want to be pissed off. On the other hand, this should be read in full.
Years Before Charlottesville, Tribes Urged Yellowstone National Park to Change the Names of a War Criminal and a White Supremacist That Defile Sacred Land. We’re Still Waiting.
“America’s first national park should no longer have features named after the proponents and exponents of genocide, as is the case with Hayden Valley and Mount Doane,” the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, which represents every tribe in Montana and Wyoming, declared in a December 2014 resolution that implored federal authorities to change those names. The National Park Service and US Geological Service were and remain unmoved. On Saturday, September 16, leaders from the Blackfoot Confederacy and Great Sioux Nation will be among the tribal leaders gathering at Yellowstone’s gateway in Gardiner, Montana to repeat: Our Land. Their Shame. Change the Names.
“I was the first and last man in [the] Piegan camp January 23, 1870. Greatest slaughter of Indians ever made by U.S. Troops,” Lieutenant Gustavus Cheyney Doane wrote in his 1889 application to become superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. Today, Doane is still celebrated as “the man who discovered Wonderland” for his “pathfinding” role in the 1870 Langford-Washburn Expedition that was instrumental in Yellowstone becoming the world’s first national park, but just seven months before, on January 23, 1870, Doane led the 2nd US Cavalry in what he boasted was that “greatest slaughter of Indians ever made.”
The victims of Company F’s rampage under Doane were the Piikani (Piegan) camped with Chief Heavy Runner on the Marias or Grizzly Bear River. Essentially defenseless as the able-bodied among the smallpox infected village were absent seeking sustenance for the sick, Doane’s berserkers fell upon the sleeping families as the first shards of the day revealed the lodges nestled in the trees on the Big Bend of the Marias. Chief Heavy Runner was the first to die, shot in cold blood as he handed a “good conduct paper” to whom survivors described as “the commanding officer.” And so began what later became known as the “Baker Massacre,” named after Colonel Eugene M. Baker, the expedition commander who was too drunk to descend the river bluffs and participate in the killing.
Baker and his superiors, Lieutenant General Phil Sheridan and General-in-Chief of the Army William T. Sherman, claimed it was a gallant victory, and that the “majority of the killed . . . were warriors,” some 173 they declared, and later protested. Of the army’s official record of 173 victims, US Indian Agent W.A. Pease revealed that only 15 were men of fighting age, the rest were elders, women and children, “None older than twelve years and many of them in their mother’s arms,” reported Pease. Joe Kipp, a guide and witness, counted 217 dead. Piikani oral history remembers many more. After the massacre, Doane subsequently ordered several of his Piikani prisoners be executed with axes. Instead of being court martialed, this war criminal was to have a mountain named in his honor, Mount Doane, which rises on the horizon above Yellowstone Lake in the world’s first national park. ...
Eighteen-years after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden defended slave-holding Confederate plantation owners as “chivalrous and hospitable,” and insisted, “The treatment of the negro was not barbarous, and many seemingly cruel laws were greatly needed as measures of self-protection on the part of the whites.” Where Doane participated in genocide, Hayden advocated for it. “Unless they are localized and made to enter upon agricultural and pastoral pursuits they must ultimately be exterminated,” Hayden wrote of tribal peoples in his US Geological Survey of Wyoming, published by the government in 1872. ... The overwhelming majority of the approximately four-million annual visitors to Yellowstone pass through [a] stunning valley that, shamefully, still carries Hayden’s name. The valley is more a destination than merely a thoroughfare, particularly for those longing to catch a glimpse of a grizzly or a wolf in one of the ever-decreasing settings where these sacred beings cannot be blown away for their heads and hides during the surrounding states’ pay-to-kill trophy hunts.
Vultures circling the wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Irma are closing in on a long-sought prize: the privatizing of the island’s electric utility. Puerto Rico avoided the very worst of the storm, which darted just north of the U.S. territory. But it didn’t escape unscathed. Following a request from Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló, the White House declared a state of emergency. Three people were killed and more than 1 million were left without electricity in the storm’s wake.
The fragile body responsible for that power is the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, whose executive leadership warned ahead of the storm that parts of the island could be left without electricity for up to six months. Thanks to the change in the storm’s path and a crew of dedicated line workers, Prepa, the island’s sole electricity provider, now expects most towns to have their lights back on within two weeks and full power within a month. As of Monday, more than 70 percent of homes had already gotten electricity back.
But once the lights are turned on, Puerto Rican households will face a new threat. ... For struggling governments around the world, privatizing utilities has come to be seen as a kind of get-rich-quick scheme, offering an upfront infusion of cash to underfunded municipalities. Given Prepa’s size and that of its debt — $9 billion — it has been a long-standing target for privatizers, even before Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act last year to help rein in Puerto Rico’s mounting debt crisis. The blackout following Irma just added fuel to the fire. Days before Irma hit, Rosselló emphasized that privatization is firmly on the table, telling the New York Times that Irma “can become an opportunity or another liability.” According to a Friday report from Reorg Research, a trade publication for investors, creditors and members of Puerto Rico’s federally appointed financial oversight board have met with Prepa top brass in recent days to discuss a new “transformation plan” aimed at privatizing major aspects of the power authority. The two anonymous sources for the story claimed that the plan could go so far as “breaking up” Prepa entirely, selling pieces of the utility to various bidders.
Brazilian authorities are investigating reports of a massacre of up to 10 people from an isolated tribe in the Amazon by illegal gold miners. The killings, alleged to have taken place in Javari Valley, are claimed to have been carried out by men working for gold prospectors who dredge illegally in the region’s rivers.
If proven, the murders would confirm that severe budget cuts to Brazil’s indigenous agency are having deadly effects. The agency was forced to close two bases in the same region earlier this year. Investigators face a 12-day boat trip just to reach the area. ...
Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, known as Funai, first sent a team of three to the small town of São Paulo de Olivença after receiving reports that men working for gold prospectors had boasted in a bar of killing a group of eight to 10 indigenous people. ...
Funai has had its budget almost halved this year by the business-friendly government of President Michel Temer. His government recently proposed to reduce the protected area of Amazon forest and has announced plans to allow mining and development in other protected areas.
Cleber Buzatto, executive secretary of the non-profit Indigenous Missionary Council, said cuts to Funai budgets and the closing of bases in areas with isolated tribes increased the risk of attack. “This is a mechanism of encouragement of invasion of territories and makes attacks against isolated Indians more probable,” he said. In June, UN rights experts denounced a surge of killings related to rural land disputes in Brazil this year.
Tesla drivers who fled Hurricane Irma last weekend received an unexpected lesson in modern consumer economics along the way. As they sat on choked highways, some of the electric-car giant’s more keenly priced models suddenly gained an extra 30 or so miles in range thanks to a silent free upgrade.
The move, confirmed by Tesla, followed the request of one Florida driver for a limit on his car’s battery to be lifted. Tesla’s cheaper models, introduced last year, have the same 75KwH battery as its more costly cars, but software limits it to 80% of range. Owners can otherwise buy an upgrade for several thousands of dollars. And because Teslas software updates are online, the company can make the changes with the flick of a virtual switch.
It is, points out economist Alex Tabarrok, an example of price discrimination – in this case, the art of selling superficially worse versions of the same or similar product for less. And it is nothing new. “The only thing that has changed is that companies can now change the offering during the life cycle of the product,” says Dr Georg Tacke, a consumer pricing expert and the chief executive of global consultancy Simon Kucher. “As more software gets into our hardware, the more we are going to see this.”
In the wake of a devastating electoral defeat that left their party in its weakest position in decades, the biggest names in Democratic politics are set to take one large step to the left on Wednesday with a formal endorsement of a single-payer health care system. It will mark the largest support for such a plan in more than a generation. The Medicare for All Act of 2017, a 75-page bill that would transform America’s healthcare system by having the federal government insure everyone, will be introduced at 2 p.m. Wednesday by its author, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. ...
These cosponsors include the most prominent Democrats in the country — who are also keeping their options open for the 2020 presidential race — such Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. ... Some Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, are urging caution in the rush to embrace single payer. “Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told the Washington Post on Tuesday. “None of these things, whether it’s Bernie’s or others can really prevail unless we protect the Affordable Care Act.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will introduce his Medicare for All bill on the Senate floor on Wednesday, a plan that he has said will cost the U.S. $6 trillion less than the current healthcare system. Medicare for All has gained support in recent months among Democrats following Sanders's promotion of the proposal during the 2016 campaign, and the unveiling and subsequent failure of the Republican healthcare plan, which would have eliminated health coverage for up to 32 million Americans.
The following 40 members of the caucus, which includes Maine's independent senator Angus King, have yet to publicly announce their co-sponsorship or official support of the bill:
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
Sen. Martin Heinreich (D-N.M.)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
Gillibrand has said she intends to announce her support for the bill on Wednesday, while Leahy was rumored to be planning a co-sponsorship of the bill. While those who have pledged their public support of the plan are still in a small minority, the fact that Democratic senators appear to feel mounting pressure to back Medicare for All demonstrates the success of the progressive campaign to make universal healthcare part of the Democratic platform.
Twelve years ago, a criminal justice master’s student named Philip Stinson got into an argument with his grad school classmates about how often police officers committed crimes. His peers, many of whom were cops themselves, thought police crime was rare, but Stinson, himself a former cop and attorney, thought the problem was bigger than anyone knew. He bet a pint of ale that he could prove it.
On Tuesday, Stinson made good on his bet with an extensive police crime database offering the most comprehensive look ever at how often American cops are arrested, as well as some early insights into the consequences they face for breaking the laws they’re supposed to enforce. The data set includes 8,006 arrest incidents resulting in 13,623 charges involving 6,596 police officers from 2005 through 2012, with more years of data to come. Nearly half these incidents, Stinson and his research team concluded, were violent.
The data covers 2,830 state, local, and special law enforcement agencies across all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. That’s just a fraction of the approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies and 1.1 million sworn officers in the U.S., so the data set is not comprehensive, but it’s the most extensive and ambitious look at cop crime to date.
Police misconduct — and seeming impunity — has drawn increasing scrutiny in the United States since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Stinson, who is now an associate professor of criminology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a leading expert in the field, has contributed to earlier national efforts to track police misconduct and is the go-to resource for information on police violence.
Late on Sunday, immediately after an “alt-right” Patriot Prayer rally in Vancouver, Washington, a man aggressively reversed a truck towards a crowd of people who had been counter-protesting. Later, the same driver was apprehended by police. The incident came less than a month after the car attack that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, after an alt-right rally which she had protested against.
Video from local journalists showed the truck reversing down the street towards counter-protesters, blaring the Confederate battle song Dixie on a novelty airhorn. The truck, which had been circling the town, was reportedly pelted with water bottles and other missiles.
When the truck, which sported a Confederate battle flag decal as well as American flags, sped through the intersection of West 6th and Washington Streets, it was followed by a motorcyclist who had been seen leaving the Patriot Prayer rally. Both were stopped by police. The motorcyclist tore off his protective gear and made for counter-protesters before he was stopped. The driver of the truck was apprehended and cuffed. Vancouver police reported two arrests.
Protesters claimed that a second truck, white and carrying four passengers – one wearing the black polo-shirt uniform of the “Proud Boys” group, another wearing a Donald Trump cap – was also driving at high speed through the streets, reversing and veering dangerously close to protesters. Greg Liascos, who attended the event, said he saw occupants of the second vehicle “throwing things from the truck” at counter-protesters. Occupants reportedly also used pepper spray. When a plastic bottle and a tennis ball were thrown back, the driver reportedly commenced revving the vehicle and “driving up and reversing down streets” at up to 40mph.
Those incidents were the culmination of protests in Vancouver and just across the Columbia river in Portland, Oregon, which Patriot Prayer organizer Joey Gibson had billed as “peaceful”.
An excellent piece of media criticism from Robert Parry, worth a full read. Here's part of the intro to get you started:
For those of us who have taught journalism or worked as editors, a sign that an article is the product of sloppy or dishonest journalism is that a key point will be declared as flat fact when it is unproven or a point in serious dispute – and it then becomes the foundation for other claims, building a story like a high-rise constructed on sand. This use of speculation as fact is something to guard against particularly in the work of inexperienced or opinionated reporters. But what happens when this sort of unprofessional work tops page one of The New York Times one day as a major “investigative” article and reemerges the next day in even more strident form as a major Times editorial? Are we dealing then with an inept journalist who got carried away with his thesis or are we facing institutional corruption or even a collective madness driven by ideological fervor?
What is stunning about the lede story in last Friday’s print edition of The New York Times is that it offers no real evidence to support its provocative claim that – as the headline states – “To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans” or its subhead: “Flooding Twitter and Facebook, Impostors Helped Fuel Anger in Polarized U.S.” In the old days, this wildly speculative article, which spills over three pages, would have earned an F in a J-school class or gotten a rookie reporter a stern rebuke from a senior editor. But now such unprofessionalism is highlighted by The New York Times, which boasts that it is the standard-setter of American journalism, the nation’s “newspaper of record.”
In this case, it allows reporter Scott Shane to introduce his thesis by citing some Internet accounts that apparently used fake identities, but he ties none of them to the Russian government. Acting like he has minimal familiarity with the Internet – yes, a lot of people do use fake identities – Shane builds his case on the assumption that accounts that cited references to purloined Democratic emails must be somehow from an agent or a bot connected to the Kremlin.
The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, as part of an investigation into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
As part of the probe, Yahoo News has learned, the bureau has obtained a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents — material that could potentially help prosecutors build a case that the news agency played a role in the Russian government “influence campaign” that was waged during last year’s presidential election and, in the view of U.S. intelligence officials, is still ongoing.
The emails were turned over by Andrew Feinberg, the news agency’s former White House correspondent, who had downloaded the material onto his laptop before he was fired in May. He confirmed to Yahoo News that he was questioned for more than two hours on Sept. 1 by an FBI agent and a Justice Department national security lawyer at the bureau’s Washington field office.
Feinberg said the interview was focused on Sputnik’s “internal structure, editorial processes and funding.”
“They wanted to know where did my orders come from and if I ever got any direction from Moscow,” Feinberg told Yahoo News. “They were interested in examples of how I was steered towards covering certain issues.”
Small Caribbean islands smashed by Hurricane Irma are in a state of chaos and rising panic, with unknown numbers of dead and injured and many still missing or stranded almost a week after the storm ripped through the region. Wide areas of the British Virgin Islands have been reduced to rubble, with rats swarming through damaged houses and raw sewage creating a health hazard, as many await evacuation to the larger island of Puerto Rico, to the west, which was less badly hit.
Thousands of islanders are sharing sparse resources and trying to help stranded neighbors, but there have also been reports of looting and armed hold-ups amid the destruction. “It’s absolutely horrific,” said Sarah Thompson, a 38-year-old lawyer and resident of Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). “The island is not fit to live on. Planes and boats are needed to get people off. There was some limited evacuation yesterday, prioritizing those who are injured and most vulnerable, but many are still trying to find a way off the island,” she added. ...
The islands are British overseas territory and the UK government in London has sent a Royal Navy vessel, troops and experts to the region to assist people in the BVI and other territories such as Turks and Caicos and Anguilla. Dutch and French authorities are sending personnel and aid to their overseas territories, such as Saint Martin. Many other islands, such as Barbuda, have seen most of their settlements and infrastructure obliterated.
What the military recognizes and the civilian government does not, is that the biggest security threat, the biggest security threat our species has faced in 10,000 years, is global warming. The military doesn’t call it a hoax. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review calls climate change “an accelerant of instability” and a “threat multiplier.”
In October 2015 a diverse group of experts, including three former Defense Secretaries, said that climate change is “shaping a world that is more unstable, resource-constrained, violent, and disaster-prone.” Africa is a case in point. Andrew Holland writing in Scientific American writes: “In northern Nigeria deforestation, overgrazing and increased heat from global warming have turned what was once productive farmland and savanna into an extension of the Sahara Desert. Lake Chad has lost more than 90 percent of its original size from drought, mismanagement and waste.” The population of already overcrowded Africa is likely to double by 2050 leading to explosive conditions already in evidence.
It is precisely from the chaos of this toxic mix that radical groups like Boko Haram have sprouted. The military knows this. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA said that climate change fueled Syria’s civil war. Deep and long droughts, influenced by climate change, drove hundreds of thousands of people from their farms into cities like Aleppo and Raqqa making fertile breeding ground for ISIS, Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.
The New York Times reports that as pasture land has dried up in places like Kenya violent and murderous battles are being fought just to get grass for the animals. Climate change is a driving factor in all of this. It is a “threat multiplier” and the threats do not stay within the borders of the poorest most affected nations. Despair also goes global and explodes in our streets and in the streets of Europe and elsewhere. ...
Fear is our greatest need: denial our most ingrained and fearsome talent. Acute fear can stoke action. We got scared of small pox and an international effort ended it. We got really scared with the shrinkage of the ozone over Antarctica and we responded internationally. In World War II, the United States transformed its entire economy and its industrial production in a matter of months. The problem is we are not afraid of an incipient apocalypse even as our TV’s blaringly report on it. We have nothing to fear but the absence of fear.
A Storm of Silence: Study Finds Media Is Largely Ignoring Link Between Hurricanes and Climate Change
Following reports that refineries and petrochemical plants released millions of pounds of pollutants because of Hurricane Harvey, which battered Southeast Texas last month, test results published on Monday by the New York Times confirmed concerns that "Houston's floodwaters are tainted with toxins."
The storm's unprecedented "1,000-year flood," triggered by record rainfall generated by the hurricane, left large swaths of the Houston metro area under water. As the region begins its long road to recovery, and residents attempt to regain access to their homes, those who encountered tainted waters during the storm are already experiencing consequences.
Regional medical professionals told the Times they have seen a doubling of skin infections, and "some families in inundated neighborhoods in west Houston said they had developed staph infections and other health problems after wading through waters released from reservoirs that swamped their homes long after other parts of the city had dried out," the paper reports.
Public health experts are urging residents to take precautions.
"Residents attempting to return to flooded homes may have to contend with contaminated water and air because the city's sewer systems overflowed during the floods," Reuters reported Saturday. "Fire chief Samuel Pena said people returning home should wear breathing masks and consider getting tetanus shots."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 40 of 1,219 wastewater treatment plants in the area were not working as of Monday, and Times test results revealed "water flowing down Briarhills Parkway in the Houston Energy Corridor contained Escherichia coli, a measure of fecal contamination, at a level more than four times that considered safe." ...
As the results revealed, sewage contaminents are among many contributors to the tainted waters in Texas. AP reports that "also stirred into the noxious brew are spilled fuel, runoff from waste sites, lawn pesticides, and pollutants from the region's many petroleum refineries and chemical plants."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
hat tip apenultimate:
A Little Night Music
John Lee Hooker and Little Eddie Kirkland - It Hurts Me So
Little Eddie Kirkland - That's All Right
Little Eddie Kirkland - It's Time For Lovin' To Be Done
Eddie Kirk(land) - The Grunt
Eddie Kirk(land) - Monkey Tonight
Eddie Kirk(land) - Hog Killin Time
Eddie Kirk(land) - Every Hour, Every Minute (I Wanna Be With You)
Eddie Kirk(land) - I Need You Baby
Eddie Kirk(land) - I The Hawg pt 1 and 2
Eddie Kirkland - Train Done Gone
Eddie "Blues Man" Kirkland - Have Mercy On Me
Eddie "Blues Man" Kirkland - Chill me baby
Eddie Kirkland - I Love You