The Evening Blues - 9-13-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues pianist Blind John Davis. Enjoy!
Blind John Davis - Everyday I Have The Blues
"It’s hard to wrap your mind around, because it’s so much more profoundly evil than we’re ever taught to anticipate, but it really is an objective fact that people who make money manufacturing military weapons have a tremendous amount of influence over how and when those weapons are used. A war profiteer can pour money into campaign contributions which incentivize policymakers to push for acts of military interventionism, and pour money into think tanks and lobbying to give those policymakers an excuse to do so. This is all perfectly legal, and it happens constantly."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
The mass media are churning out articles and news segments commemorating the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, many of them featuring adoring retrospectives of their celebrity president’s actions as a US senator that day. Biden’s ceremonial PR tour to New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon can be expected to receive a great deal of coverage as outrage swells over the president’s controversial new nationwide vaccine mandate.
And it’s all just so very, very stupid. This nation which has spent twenty years weeping about its victimization with Bambi-eyed innocence reacted to 9/11 with wars which killed millions and displaced tens of millions and ushered in an unprecedented new era of military expansionism which has funneled trillions of dollars to some of the worst people in the world.
Compared to the horrors the United States unleashed upon the world under the justification of 9/11, 9/11 itself was a family trip to Disneyland. The death and destruction visited upon Iraq alone dwarfs the 2,977 people killed on 9/11 by orders of magnitude; hell, this was true of the death and destruction the US had been inflicting on Iraq even before 9/11.
In a saner, more emotionally intelligent world, it is those deaths that Americans would be focused on this September the 11th.
There’s a great thread being shared around on Twitter right now by someone who found a book full of political cartoons published in the wake of 9/11, and it’s a perfect reminder of just how insane people were being driven by mass media manipulation during that time. The brazen Islamophobia, the flag-waving jingoism, the mawkish histrionics and the government bootlicking contained in those vapid comics are like an emotional time portal back to the lizard brain mentality of that point in history. I especially recommend it to those who are too young to remember how people came to support the monstrous foreign policy decisions made in the aftermath of 9/11.
It’s also an excellent lesson into why it is always best to avoid being swept up in the emotionality of a major event that’s getting a lot of narrative push, no matter how loudly the mass media are shrieking about it and no matter how many of the people around you get swept up in it.
There was no real reason Americans needed to respond to 9/11 with slobbering patriotism and the banging of war drums. It would have made sense for everyone to feel shocked, afraid, angry and sad, but that’s all that would have happened had their minds not been manipulated by the mass media and the Bush administration into believing that the sane response to a terrorist attack is to start launching full-scale regime change invasions of sovereign nations.
Americans could just as easily have felt sad for a bit, and had that be the end of it. Imagine. Imagine what a better world we’d be living in if the public had not consented to wars and had instead just felt their feelings for however long it took to feel them, and had that be that.
Without being told so by solemn-looking pundits and politicians, it never would have occurred to ordinary people that the sane response to an attack by Al Qaeda was to invade and occupy Afghanistan, much less Iraq. People would’ve expected to see the individuals responsible for the attacks captured and brought to justice, just as they’d seen happen with every other terrorist attack in their country, but on their own it would never have occurred to them to think of it as an “act of war” for which wars were an appropriate response.
US had decided to overthrow Taliban regime a month before 9/11.https://t.co/rjIHTBbMj7
— Shahid Raza (@schaheid) June 22, 2021
But wars were planned. The US had already been strategizing to oust the Taliban before 9/11. Donald Rumsfeld was pushing for the Iraq invasion within hours of the planes striking. Further wars were planned within days. The official 9/11 narrative itself was riddled with gaping plot holes. And mass media pundits were fired if they didn’t support the Iraq invasion.
So people were psychologically conditioned by mass-scale propaganda to believe that 9/11 was some unforgivable atrocity so egregious that it could only be paid for by rivers of blood. And that conditioning remains today, as we will see from brainwashed empire pundits weeping their crocodile tears on the 20th anniversary of an event which, compared to the consequences of their government’s retaliation, wasn’t actually a very big deal.
It would have been infinitely better for everyone if America had done nothing, absolutely nothing, in response to 9/11, or better yet if it had left the Middle East altogether to make sure there are no extremist groups wanting them dead due to their actions there. But, again, wars were planned. And the public was psychologically brutalized into accepting them.
This is what we should all remember on 9/11. Not those 2,977 deaths on US soil. As sad as they were, they’ve been grieved more than enough by the general public. Now it’s time to begin addressing the giant stain upon our collective soul that is the vastly greater evils those deaths were exploited to justify.
Worth a click and a full read, here's a snippet to get you started:
Captain Ahab’s obsessive hunt for Moby Dick was driven by the thirst for revenge. The great white whale had maimed Ahab – in soul as well as body. Ahab was consumed by the passion to restore his sense of self, to regain his prowess and make himself whole again, by killing his nemesis – a compulsion that his wooden leg never lets weaken.
America’s “war-on-terror” became its national mission for restoration. The psychic wound of 9/11 is what grieves America; it inflames its collective passion for vengeance. The physical wound is already healed. By now, it must be memorialized in order for the scar to be seen – and America wants it to be seen, and to be felt.
It never did impair its functioning. In that sense, little more than a broken toe. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was genuine fear of a repeat attack – something that we now know never was in the cards. America’s enemy has been emasculated; the great Satan was shot dead in Abbottabad long ago. Only pinpricks at long intervals from within America’s midst draw blood.
Catharsis has eluded the U.S., though. It still seethes with emotions – most below the surface, most of the time. America suffers from the embedded anxiety that is dread, from uneasy feelings of vulnerability, from a seeming lost prowess and control. A society that talks casually about ‘closure’ on almost all occasions cannot find closure on 9/11.
Instead, it has a powerful need to ritualize the fear, to pursue the implacable quest for ultimate security, to perform violent acts of vengeance that neither cure nor satiate: Saddam, Qaddafi, al-Baghdadi, Suleimani. So, America prowls the seven seas hunting for monsters to slay; not Moby Dick himself, but his accessories, accomplices, enablers, facilitators, emulators, sympathizers. Whales of every species, great and small, fall to America’s harpoons. The dead and innocent dolphins far outnumber them. Fortunes of war.
The FBI has released a newly declassified 16-page document related to logistical support provided to two of the Saudi hijackers in the lead-up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The document describes contacts the hijackers had with Saudi associates in the US but offers no evidence the Saudi government was complicit in the plot. ...
The 16 pages were released on Saturday night, hours after Biden attended 9/11 memorial events in New York, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia. Victims’ relatives had earlier objected to Biden’s presence at ceremonial events as long as the documents remained classified.
The heavily redacted record released on Saturday describes a 2015 interview with a person who was applying for US citizenship and years earlier had repeated contacts with Saudi nationals who investigators said provided “significant logistical support” to several of the hijackers.
As people reflect on the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, progressives drew attention to another horrifying event less well-known in the U.S. but referred to elsewhere as "the other 9/11": the bombing of Chile's presidential palace on September 11, 1973 by the nation's armed forces during a right-wing coup supported by Washington and other capitalist regimes.
Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected socialist president, died during the assault on La Moneda in Santiago, which brought to power Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose brutal military junta imposed neoliberalism through deadly force, torture, and the "disappearance" of thousands of leftists. Despite its awareness of Pinochet's human rights abuses, including his execution of political opponents, the U.S. continued to support the pro-market dictator during his bloody, 17-year-long reign.
"On this day in 1973, Salvador Allende's democratically elected socialist government was overthrown in a military coup led by the U.S.-backed fascist Augusto Pinochet," Progressive International, a global coalition of social justice groups fighting for a more egalitarian and sustainable world, said Saturday on social media.
Journalist Alan Macleod pointed out that "Chile would be ruled by a gruesome fascist dictatorship for decades, the scars of which are still very fresh."
"But people in the West," MacLeod argued, "are largely insulated from the realities of empire thanks to a pliant media, which never shows you the effect of the bombs, sanctions, coups, etc."
Progressive International noted that "Allende was elected Chile's first socialist president in 1970 as the candidate of Popular Unity, a socialist-communist coalition. He quickly went to work reorganizing the society he inherited, characterized by poverty and confined by the greed of international corporations."
The organization highlighted some of what the Popular Unity government accomplished during its three years in power:
The Allende government nationalized Chile's foreign-owned copper industry, which was responsible for 75% of exports. Rather than compensate the former owners, Allende sought payment for the unfairly extracted resource. He did not stop with copper.
In its first year, the government nationalized 91 industries, redistributed 5.5 [million] acres of land, granted wage rises to the working class, and built quality homes for the poor.
Allende hoped to build a sovereign, developed, democratic, and humane nation—and one whose foreign policy was built on principles of friendship.
The democratic socialist alternative pursued in Chile, however, "was intolerable to the forces of empire," Progressive International added. "Fearing that Allende would set a good example for other nations to follow, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to 'make the economy scream,'" in an effort to bring down the Popular Unity government.
Other rich and powerful countries also worked to sabotage the Allende administration. As The Guardian reported Friday, declassified government documents verify how the Australian Secret Intelligence Service opened a base in Santiago in 1971 and conducted covert operations alongside the U.S. CIA for 18 months, contributing to the destabilization of Chile's economy that preceded Pinochet's violent overthrow of Popular Unity.
As his offices were being bombarded on September 11, Allende gave his last speech. MacLeod on Saturday shared a clip from John Pilger's 2007 documentary, The War on Democracy, showcasing the former Chilean president's "final words, broadcast to the nation."
"At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the armed forces broke their tradition... victims of the same social sector who today are hoping, with foreign assistance, to reconquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges," said Allende.
"Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny," Allende continued. "Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again and free men will walk through them to construct a better society."
"Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!" he added. "These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain."
If recent events in Chile are any indication, it would appear that Allende's sacrifice was not made in vain.
Last October, as Common Dreams reported, Chileans voted in a 4-to-1 landslide to rewrite the country's right-wing constitution, which was implemented under anti-democratic conditions in 1980 with long-lasting negative repurcussions.
While there have been attempts to curb market fundamentalism in Chile since the post-dictatorship period began in 1990, the neoliberal constitution crafted during the Pinochet era has continued to exacerbate inequalities and put up barriers to egalitarian reform long after the murderous dictator's demise.
Progressives worldwide rejoiced as the nation once deemed the "laboratory" of neoliberalism—where University of Chicago-trained economists experimented with widespread privatization on an unwilling population—had, through a massive popular rebellion against years of austerity, created an opportunity to "bury Pinochet's legacy... and rebuild the country on a truly democratic basis," as political theorist Melany Cruz put it at the time.
Following last year's historic referendum—the product of a decades-long revolt against the denial of guaranteed access to public goods such as water, education, healthcare, pensions, and other necessities—Chileans earlier this year took another major step toward defeating Pinochetismo once and for all.
As Common Dreams reported, Chilean voters in May elected a progressive slate of delegates to the constituent assembly tasked with rewriting Pinochet's constitution.
A large majority of the 155 delegates responsible for reshaping the nation's political framework over the next several months are expected to bring progressive perspectives rather than pro-corporate orthodoxy to the table, giving Chileans—who will be asked next year in another national referendum whether they accept the new constitution—a real shot to turn neoliberalism's birthplace into its graveyard.
Iran has agreed to allow UN nuclear inspectors to install new memory cards into its cameras monitoring the country’s controversial nuclear programme in a move that could keep the inspection process on life support, and even ease a path towards a lifting of US sanctions. Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, struck the deal in Tehran on Sunday after two hours of talks and will report to the IAEA’s board meeting on Monday.
His breakthrough makes it less likely European states and the US will table a motion of censure against Iran that would have been passed to the UN security council.
Grossi had been preparing to report to the IAEA that his ad hoc agreements to monitor the nuclear programme struck in February had in effect collapsed. Iran, now led by a new more hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi after elections in June, had been blocking a visit by Grossi, leaving European states little alternative from their perspective but to censure Iran.
The head of the Iranian atomic energy association, Mohammad Eslami, said he had held constructive talks with Grossi and as a result new memory cards would be installed. The existing cards showing Iranian activity at its main nuclear sites will be kept in Iran under what is described as a joint seal. It has also been agreed the cameras can be serviced. No further details were given in the joint statement apart from that the two sides had reached an agreement on how this was to be done.
Grossi will return to Tehran at a later date for what was described in a joint statement as “high-level consultations with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. The talks will aim to revitalise what had previously been an intrusive inspections process. The Iranian parliament in February, putting pressure on the previous administration led by Hassan Rouhani, had ordered the government to withdraw from the agreement covering the UN inspections.
The Taliban have announced that women in Afghanistan will only be allowed to study at university in gender-segregated classrooms and Islamic dress will be compulsory, stoking fears that a gender apartheid will be imposed on the country under the new regime. ...
Female students will also only be allowed to be taught by women. The higher education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani also said the subjects being taught at universities would be reviewed.
The Taliban have promised their new government will be more representative and respectful of the rights of women and girls – though still within an “Islamic framework” – than when they previously held power between 1996 and 2001. Back then, women were prevented from going to school and work, were not allowed out of the house without a male chaperone, and were forced to comply with draconian laws governing “female virtue”.
The full agenda of the Taliban has still not been announced. Nevertheless, as in the previous regime, there is not a single woman in the cabinet, despite promises of an “inclusive” government, and women have been banned from sports. In a recent interview on the TV channel Tolo News, Taliban spokesman Sayed Zekrullah Hashimi said the role of women was to give birth and raise children, adding that it was “not necessary that women be in the cabinet”.
The US mistakenly targeted and killed an innocent aid worker for an American company in a drone strike in Afghanistan, the New York Times suggested in an investigation into the country’s final military action of the recently concluded 20-year war. The victim, the newspaper said, was 43-year-old Zemari Ahmadi, who died with nine members of his family, including seven children, when a missile from a US air force Reaper drone struck his car as he arrived home from work in a residential neighborhood of Kabul.
US military officials have insisted the targets of the 29 August operation were Islamic State suicide bombers plotting an attack on Kabul airport similar to that which killed 13 American troops helping with evacuations, and more than 170 others three days earlier. The action, Gen Mark Milley, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff, insisted, was a “righteous strike” against Isis-K members who had been observed at points during the day loading what a surveillance team thought to be explosives into the vehicle and visiting a known safe house of the terrorist group.
But the Times’ reporting, compiled from extensive video analysis, interviews with Ahmadi’s colleagues and family, and visits to the scene, casts considerable and potentially devastating doubt on that US official version of events. What the US military observers figured was Ahmadi acting suspiciously, the newspaper said, was him going about his normal business as a worker for the California-based aid group Nutrition and Education International.
His duties that day included dropping off colleagues at various places in Kabul, according to the director of NEI in Afghanistan interviewed by a Times reporter, and the “explosives” in the vehicle were water cartons that Ahmadi filled from a hose at his office and was taking home to his family. “We have nothing to do with terrorism or Isis. We love America. We want to go there,” said the director, who was quoted anonymously because of the danger of being associated with a US company doing business in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post also published its own investigation into the deadly US strike, which reached similar conclusions, including that there was no indication of a second, larger explosion at the residential compound that Milley suggested was evidence of explosives in the back of the Ahmadi’s car. The Post quoted several experts who concluded that the damage captured in images of the aftermath of the strike were consistent only with the explosion of a single Hellfire missile from the drone and subsequent rupture of the car’s fuel tank.
The political sparring match over Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate continued on Sunday with one Republican governor blasting the measure as “counterproductive” and the White House insisting it was necessary to end the coronavirus pandemic. Asa Hutchinson, the governor of Arkansas, added to the growing Republican backlash on NBC’s Meet the Press, telling host Chuck Todd that the president’s directive to make the Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for businesses of greater than 100 employees was “an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority”.
Several other red-state governors, including Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, have threatened to sue the federal government, arguing that Biden was acting unconstitutionally when he imposed the mandate, which will require the Covid-19 vaccine for millions of American workers, health workers and federal employees.
“It really disrupts and divides the country,” Hutchinson said. “It divides our partnership between the federal government and the states and it increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the uptake.”
Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat standing in the way of Joe Biden’s signature $3.5tn spending bill, insisted again on Sunday he would not support the package, declaring the price tag too high and White House efforts to speed its passage too hasty.
The West Virginia senator, who earlier this month urged the administration to “hit the pause button” on the ambitious measure, is the swing vote in a divided 50-50 chamber. Last week, Ronald Klain, the White House chief of staff, said he thought Manchin was “very persuadable”, while Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said the budget reconciliation bill was “full speed ahead”.
But in appearances Sunday on two political talkshows, Manchin reiterated his opposition, telling ABC’s This Week: “I cannot support $3.5tn. If I can’t go home and explain [the bill], I can’t vote for it. ... Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator and Senate budget committee chair who has said $3.5tn was “already the result of a major, major compromise”, urged Manchin to reconsider. ...
“You have an overwhelming majority of working families in America who want us to do this. You have the president, you have over 90% of the people in the House, over 90% of senators,” Sanders said in his own appearance on This Week.
“Is it appropriate for one person to destroy two pieces of legislation? Joe Manchin has the right to get his views heard. He has to sit down with all of us and we’ll work it out. It would really be a terrible, terrible shame for the American people if both bills went down.”
The cloud-based software giant Salesforce is offering to help relocate employees out of Texas following the state’s enactment of its extreme new abortion law.
Referring to the “incredibly personal issues” that the law creates, a message to the company’s entire workforce sent late on Friday said any employee and their family wishing to move elsewhere would receive assistance.
“Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice,” the Salesforce chief executive, Marc Benioff, said in a tweet featuring a CNBC article about the offer, and using a term common in Hawaii for “family”.
In its message to workers, Salesforce, which is headquartered in California, did not directly mention Texas, where about 2,000 of its 56,000 global workers are based, or take a stance on the law. But its intention was clear. “These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us – especially women,” it said.
“We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere. If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family.” The company’s offer appears to be part of a growing corporate backlash against the Texas law, which took effect on 1 September when the US supreme court refused to block it.
An internal investigation by the US Capitol police (USCP) has recommended disciplinary measures against six of its officers for their actions during the 6 January riot, although none will face criminal charges. In a statement, the USCP said its office of professional responsibility had opened 38 separate investigations following the deadly attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump seeking to overturn his election defeat.
Investigators were able to identify officers involved in 26 of the cases, the statement said, and found no evidence of wrongdoing in 20. Of the other six, it said, three are cited for conduct unbecoming, one for failing to comply with directives, one for improper remarks, and one for “improper dissemination of information”.
None of the officers was named, and no specific details of the incidents were released because “internal investigations, including any recommended disciplinary actions, as well as personnel matters are not public information”, the department said, adding that the US attorney’s office did not find evidence that any of its officers had committed a crime.
Top security officials in Congress are expected to reinstall fencing around the Capitol and authorize the use of deadly force ahead of a planned rally by far-right Trump supporters next weekend demanding the release of rioters arrested in connection with the 6 January insurrection.
The officials, however, had no plans so far to request the national guard, and were not pushing for such a request, principally because the threat assessment did not warrant their deployment, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The Justice for J6 rally on 18 September is being organized by the Trump operative Matt Braynard and his organization Look Ahead America. It is being held to demand that the justice department drop charges against nearly 600 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack which the group calls “non-violent protesters”, despite widespread violence and five deaths during the insurrection.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms, Lt Gen Karen Gibson, House sergeant-at-arms, Maj Gen William Walker, and US Capitol police chief, Thomas Manger, are expected to approve fencing to form the backbone of their security response, the sources said. The reinstallation of the 7ft fence as part of a perimeter that could extend to the Capitol reflecting pool will be supplemented by the authorization of US Capitol police officers to use deadly force to protect members of Congress and staff, the sources said.
Ballots were already being cast in California’s gubernatorial recall election when Gavin Newsom, visiting a pop-up clinic in Oakland, once again implored his constituents to get the Covid-19 vaccine. The week before, the governor had visited the site of the devastating Caldor fire, which had threatened the resort town of South Lake Tahoe and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures.
These calamities – a once-in-a-generation health crisis and unprecedented challenges posed drought and extreme weather – were, largely, what gave rise to the recall effort. Having won his seat by a historic margin in 2018, Newsom has found himself in a peculiar position. Still broadly popular in the state, he’s fending off challenges from Republicans and rightwingers who are more out of touch with most residents than the governor at his worst. Extraordinary crises have given rise to an extraordinary recall – one that could trigger extraordinary political upheaval in one of America’s bluest states. ...
Right now, Newsom’s leading challenger is the rabble-rousing rightwing radio host Larry Elder. Other Republicans, including the former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, the assemblyman Kevin Kiley, the businessman John Cox and the Olympian turned reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, have failed to gain traction, and no prominent Democrats are running.
As the 14 September deadline to return ballots creeps closer, Newsom is characterizing voters’ decision between him and his Republican challengers as a “choice about life and death”.
“We’re experiencing extreme weather the likes of which we’ve never experienced in our lifetime,” Newsom said at a rally on Wednesday. “Look what’s going on across this country, look at states that don’t believe in science,” he added, contrasting himself against Elder, who has said that climate science is “crock” and vowed to roll back statewide vaccination and mask mandates. His closing argument in the recall is that maybe he’s made some mistakes – but the alternative is way worse.
Worth a click and a full read. Here's a teaser:
“If you’re sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil [fuel] has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that’s going to clean up the global climate, it won’t clean it up all,” Manchin told CNN after a private meeting with President Joe Biden and his fellow Senate Democrats. “If anything, it would be worse.” Manchin’s claim that climate pollution would be worsened by the elimination of fossil fuels — or by the resolution’s actual, more incremental climate provisions — is highly dubious, if not outright false. What would unquestionably be impacted, however, is Manchin’s own personal wealth.
Though Manchin’s motivations are often ascribed to the conservative, coal-friendly politics of West Virginia, it is also the case that the state’s senior senator is heavily invested in the industry — and owes much of his considerable fortune to it. For decades, Manchin has profited from a series of coal companies that he founded during the 1980s. His son, Joe Manchin IV, has since assumed leadership roles in the firms, and the senator says his ownership is held in a blind trust. Yet between the time he joined the Senate and today, Manchin has personally grossed more than $4.5 million from those firms, according to financial disclosures. He also holds stock options in Enersystems Inc., the larger of the two firms, valued between $1 and $5 million.
Those two companies, Enersystems Inc. and Farmington Resources Inc., the latter of which was created by the rapid merging of two other firms, Manchin’s Transcon and Farmington Energy in 2005. Enersystems purchases low-quality waste coal from mines and resells it to power plants as fuel, while Farmington Resources provides “support activities for mining” and holds coal reserves in the Fairmont area. Over the decades, whether feeding tens of thousands of tons of dirty waste coal into the power plants in northern West Virginia or subjecting workers to unsafe conditions, Manchin’s family coal business has almost entirely avoided public scrutiny. ...
Manchin’s brokerage firm has failed to attract the same attention as the scalped mountains and blackened tap water in the southeast region of the state, where mountaintop removal mining has radically altered the once pristine landscape. But in the northern political enclave of Marion County, Manchin’s businesses are fueling environmental degradation and impacting public health with severe consequences. Farmington is surrounded by some of West Virginia’s oldest mines, dirtiest power plants, and sprawling coal ash dumping grounds. Through these operations Manchin receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue every year.
For the first time, a Type Investigations and Intercept analysis of public records reveals the impact of Manchin’s coal firms. For decades, they have relied on mines and refuse piles cited for dozens of Mine Safety and Health Agency violations, multiple deaths, and wastewater discharging that has poisoned tributaries feeding into the Monongahela River, as hundreds of thousands of tons of carcinogenic coal ash are dumped across Marion County. While Manchin does not own the mines, refuse piles, and power plants that have polluted Marion County, he continues to reap their financial rewards. In tracing the life cycle of Manchin’s coal, from its origin at refuse sites, to the looming plants it powers, down into the water and soil of northern West Virginia, the steep and complex cost of Manchin’s empire begins to take shape.
The US Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect children by ignoring poisons in the environment and focusing on corporate interests, according to a top children’s health official who will testify this week that the agency tried to silence her because of her insistence on stronger preventions against lead poisoning.
“The people of the United States expect the EPA to protect the health of their children, but the EPA is more concerned with protecting the interests of polluting industries,” said Ruth Etzel, former director of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP). The harm being done to children is “irreparable”, she said.
A hearing will be held on 13 September in which several internal EPA communications will be presented as evidence, including an email in which EPA personnel discuss using press inquiries about Etzel as “an opportunity to strike” out against her. Among many witnesses to be called to testify are several former high-level EPA officials.
“I want this to be seen and heard,” Etzel said. “I think we should let some light shine on these dirty tricks.”
Etzel is among five current or former EPA scientists who have recently come forward with allegations that the agency, which is charged with regulating chemicals and other substances that may harm public and environmental health, has become deeply corrupted by corporate and political influence. That outside influence pushes agency scientists to make important assessments in ways that will protect their jobs, rather than protect the public, Etzel said.
The whistleblowers have alleged a range of wrongdoing by the EPA, including using intimidation tactics against the agency’s own scientists to protect the interests of certain industries, even when doing so puts the public at risk. The problems have continued into the Biden administration, according to the allegations.
Harvard will divest itself from holdings in fossil fuels, the university’s president, Lawrence Bacow, announced late on Thursday. Harvard Management Company, which oversees the university’s vast endowment of almost $42bn, has already been reducing its financial exposure to fossil fuels and has no direct investments in companies that explore for or develop further reserves of fossil fuels, Bacow said in a message posted on the university’s website.
The university has legacy investments in a number of private equity funds with holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Those indirect investments constitute less than 2% of the endowment, according to Bacow. The school has not made any new commitments to these limited partnerships since 2019 and has no intention to do so, he added. Bacow said the legacy investments were in “runoff mode” and will end as these partnerships are liquidated.
Harvard has already committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the entire investment portfolio by 2050, he said. “Given the need to decarbonize the economy and our responsibility as fiduciaries to make long-term investment decisions that support our teaching and research mission, we do not believe such investments are prudent,“ he wrote.
The decision follows years of protests from students who have pressed Harvard to divest from fossil fuel companies.
California experienced its hottest summer on record this year as the climate crisis caused deadly heatwaves and intense wildfires in the state and across the American west. Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah – totaling 18.4% of the contiguous US – also endured record hot summers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sixteen other states recorded a top-five warmest summer.
Across the lower 48 states, the average temperature in June, July and August was 76F (24C), 2.6F (1.4C) above average, which slightly exceeds that of the Dust Bowl summer of 1936.
The west faced historic heatwaves this summer, with cities across the typically cool Pacific north-west hitting their highest temperatures on record as a dome of high pressure extended from California through Canada in June. That early summer heatwave killed hundreds of people in Oregon and Washington, and nearly 500 people in Canada’s westernmost province. Experts warned the heat had probably also killed more than 1 billion marine animals along Canada’s Pacific coast.
In the US, the heat strained the power grid and forced schools, businesses, outdoor pools, Covid-19 testing sites and mobile vaccination units to close. A detailed scientific analysis found the heatwave would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Blind John Davis - Run Away Boogie
Blind John Davis - Booze Drinking Benny
Blind John Davis - C.C. Rider
Blind John Davis - My Red
Blind John Davis - I Almost Lost My Mind
Blind John Davis - Everybody Got The Blues
Blind John Davis - No Mail Today
Paul Geremia & Blind John Davis - Don't Lie to Me
George Barnes & Blind John Davis - Got The Blues So Bad
Blind John Davis - My Own Boogie