The Evening Blues - 9-14-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans jazz bandleader, composer and cornet player King Oliver. Enjoy!
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band - Canal Street Blues
"Three months ago Americans were talking about dismantling the police state. Now they’re talking about fighting each other. The crosshairs are always moved off of actual power structures. Who benefits?"
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Discussing the recent police killing of a self-described anti-fascist suspected of fatally shooting a far-right activist in Portland, Oregon, President Donald Trump openly endorsed extrajudicial executions in a Fox News interview Saturday, declaring that "there has to be retribution."
"I put out, 'When are you going to go get him?' And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him," the president told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, referring to Michael Forest Reinoehl. "This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I'll tell you something—that's the way it has to be. There has to be retribution."
Trump's comments came days after an ordained minister who lives in an apartment complex near where Reinoehl was shot and killed by members of a law enforcement task force earlier this month in Lacey, Washington said it was not at all clear that Reinoehl was armed when police gunned him down.
As the Washington Post reported, the witness alleges that "Reinoehl was clutching a cellphone and eating a gummy worm as he walked to his car... That's when officers opened fire without first announcing themselves or trying to arrest him." The witness account contradicts the law enforcement narrative that Reinoehl "produced a firearm" when officers attempted to arrest him.
In VICE interview before he was killed by police, Reinoehl said he was acting in self-defense late last month when he fatally shot Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer.
Lawmakers and other observers immediately raised alarm at Trump's celebration of the police killing of Reinoehl, which the president explicitly characterized as retaliatory.
"State violence to advance the end of 'retribution' is death squad logic," tweeted Brian Beutler of Crooked Media.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) noted that "extrajudicial killings are something many Republican U.S. senators oppose if they happen outside of the United States."
"But they won't say anything about this," Schatz added. "Every single member of the Senate who talks about the rule of law needs to speak up, or forever hold their peace."
Four police departments in parts of Oregon ravaged by wildfires — propelled by high winds across parched land during hot, dry weather in a changing climate — are pleading with the public to stop calling 911 to pass on unfounded rumors that antifascist political activists have intentionally set the blazes. The false claims have been spread on social networks by supporters of President Donald Trump, who has spent months pretending that antifascists in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to confronting white supremacists are members of an imaginary army of domestic terrorists called Antifa.
Primed by that fear-mongering, the president’s supporters have fallen hard for internet rumors and hoaxes falsely claiming that antifascist arsonists have been caught in the act.
“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires,” the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Roseburg, Oregon wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “THIS IS NOT TRUE! Unfortunately, people are spreading this rumor and it is causing problems.” ... The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in southwestern Oregon was also forced to respond to the spread of rumors on Thursday. “One increasingly problematic issue related to the disastrous fires in Jackson County is the spreading of false information,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. One example is a story circulating that varies about what group is involved as to setting fires and arrests being made. THIS IS NOT TRUE!”
While the authorities in Jackson County have opened an arson investigation into the Almeda Fire, which has caused at least two deaths and destroyed hundreds of homes, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara told The Oregonian, a Portland newspaper, that there was no evidence of any link to antifascist activists. “One thing I can say is that the rumor it was set by Antifa is 100 per cent false information,” the police chief wrote in an email. “We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction.” ...
On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation also issued a statement calling on the public to stop spreading “Misinformation Related to Wildfires.” The FBI’s Portland office wrote that it too has “been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon.”
“With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue,” the bureau said. “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”
The trial of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to determine whether he will be extradited to the United States will resume on Monday morning after the Coronavirus test results for a lawyer representing the U.S. came back negative on Friday.
The Israeli government's demolition of Palestinian homes in the illegally-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has dramatically increased during the coronavirus pandemic despite public health risks, the United Nations said on Friday.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that "Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 13 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C [of the West Bank] and East Jerusalem, displacing 44 and affecting the livelihoods or access to services of 12 others" between August 29 and September 8.
OCHA said that since the start of the pandemic, 393 structures have been demolished. "This represents a 60% increase compared with the monthly average between 2017 and 2019," according to the agency. "The structures demolished or seized over the past six months include 46 inhabited homes that were in place prior to the start of the crisis, leading to the displacement of 299 Palestinians."
Israeli authorities cite Palestinians' lack of required building permits—which are nearly impossible to obtain—as the reason for the demolitions.
There are three categories of Israeli home demolitions: punitive demolitions which follow Palestinian violence against Israelis, administrative demolitions carried out under pretext of code enforcement, and military "clearing operations."
Punitive demolitions have been condemned by both Israeli and international human rights advocates as a form of illegal collective punishment. Home demolitions and removal of Palestinians—often to make living space for Jewish-only settler colonies—have often been called a form of ethnic cleansing, and the settlements have been condemned as a form of apartheid that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called "worse than South Africa."
"The destruction of property in an occupied territory is prohibited under international humanitarian law, unless absolutely necessary for military operations," Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, said Thursday in response to the most recent Israeli demolitions.
"The global pandemic has increased the needs and vulnerabilities of Palestinians who are already trapped in the abnormality of prolonged military occupation," McGoldrick added. "Unlawful demolitions exacerbate these vulnerabilities and must stop immediately."
According to OCHA, the number of Covid-19 cases in Palestine rose by a third to 11,077 during the most recent reporting period (August 29 to September 8), with six more deaths, bringing the territory's total toll to 215 since the pandemic began.
In addition to home demolitions, OCHA also identifies "settler violence," including "physical attacks on Palestinian farmers and vandalism against Palestinian vehicles and olive trees," as a "continuing concern."
States Warn DeJoy-Led Postal Service Is Sending Misinformation About Voting to Millions of Americans
Officials in Colorado, California, and Washington state on Friday were forced to publicly clarify local election procedures and guidelines after the U.S. Postal Service began sending out mailers containing potentially misleading information about the voting process to households across the country.
In a series of tweets late Friday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold raised alarm about the USPS postcard, which includes a checklist advising voters to request mail-in ballots "at least 15 days before Election Day."
"I just found out the USPS is sending this postcard to every household and PO Box in the nation. For states like Colorado where we send ballots to all voters, the information is not just confusing, it's WRONG," Griswold tweeted, posting a photo of the mailer. "Here in Colorado (and also in CA, DC, HI, NJ, NV, OR, UT, WA, and VT) voters don't request ballots because a ballot is mailed to every registered voter. But the USPS is confusing our voters by telling them to request a ballot."
Griswold, a Democrat, said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy "refused" when secretaries of state asked to review a draft of the postcard before it was sent to millions of U.S. voters.
"This may have started off as a well-intentioned effort by USPS, but their refusal to listen to election experts combined with the recent postal slowdown in some parts of the country is beyond suspect," added Griswold, who said she is exploring legal action against the Postal Service. "Confusing voters about mail ballots in the middle of a pandemic is unacceptable. It can undermine confidence in the election and suppress votes. I will do everything in my power to stop USPS from sending misinformation to voters."
"Trump Is Criminality Personified": Rev. William Barber on Protecting the Vote & Mobilizing the Poor
With Integrity of Election at Stake, 14 States Demand Injunction to Stop DeJoy's Sabotage of US Postal Service, Mail-In Voting
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson this week filed a motion to immediately block damaging operational changes made to the U.S. Postal Service by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is currently under investigation for potential conflicts of interest and alleged violations of campaign finance laws.
Ferguson's motion for preliminary injunction (pdf)—filed late Wednesday night in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington—seeks the following:
- Immediately stop the Postal Service's "leave mail behind" policy, where postal trucks are required to leave at specified times, regardless if there is mail still to be loaded;
- Require the Postal Service to continue its longstanding practice of treating all election mail as first class mail, regardless of the paid postage;
- Require the Postal Service to replace, reassemble, or reconnect any removed mail-sorting machines that are needed to ensure timely processing and delivery of election mail; and
- Require the Postal Service to abide by Postmaster General DeJoy's commitment to suspend the recent policy changes that have affected mail service until after the election.
Ferguson is at the forefront of a coalition of 14 states—including key battleground states like Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin—that filed a lawsuit (pdf) on August 18 asserting that DeJoy "unlawfully implemented drastic changes to mail service."
The postmaster general's operational modifications include "eliminating or reducing staff overtime, halting outgoing mail processing at state distribution centers and removing critical mail sorting equipment," all of which "threaten the timely delivery of mail to millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots," the Washington AG's office said in a Thursday statement.
Immediately after Ferguson filed the lawsuit in August, DeJoy "made public commitments that he would halt some—but not all—of" his recent policy changes. Wednesday's motion asks Judge Stanley A. Bastian to stop the changes nationwide. ...
The dramatic mail delays that have taken place during DeJoy's tenure raise serious concerns about how his policy changes could impact voting by mail—a practice which President Donald Trump has baselessly and repeatedly attacked—in the upcoming general election.
According to the AG's office, voter fraud in Washington state—which has permitted elections to be conducted entirely by mail since 2005 and mandated the practice statewide in 2011—is practically nonexistent.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, record numbers of U.S. citizens are requesting absentee ballots.
In Wisconsin, where "around 2 million voters are expected to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail... the Postal Service shut down four sorting machines used at its distribution center in downtown Milwaukee" in June at the behest of the postmaster general, according to Ferguson. The USPS "planned to remove three more before DeJoy temporarily suspended the removal of sorting machines."
According to election officials in Wisconsin, election mail now takes "about a week to arrive to voters in Madison." Such delays increase the likelihood that mailed-in ballots will not reach their destinations before deadlines, threatening to "disenfranchise a large swath of voters, particularly those most vulnerable to Covid-19," the AG's office noted.
"With the national election less than two months away," Ferguson explained, "we are seeking a judicial order protecting this critical government service."
Bastian, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, scheduled a hearing on Ferguson's motion for September 17—next Thursday.
Prior to that hearing, DeJoy's conduct and recent reforms will be subject to an examination of "how his continued leadership could jeopardize the Postal Service and the mail-in voting process for the 2020 election," the office of Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, announced Friday.
The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals. In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump's optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.
CDC officials have fought back against the most sweeping changes, but have increasingly agreed to allow the political officials to review the reports and, in a few cases, compromised on the wording, according to three people familiar with the exchanges. The communications aides’ efforts to change the language in the CDC’s reports have been constant across the summer and continued as recently as Friday afternoon. The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports are authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk. Such reports have historically been published with little fanfare and no political interference, said several longtime health department officials, and have been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation's public health work for decades.
But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department's new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether. Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC's findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.
Caputo's team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that "the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks."
In one clash, an aide to Caputo berated CDC scientists for attempting to use the reports to "hurt the President" in an Aug. 8 email sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials that was widely circulated inside the department and obtained by POLITICO. "CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," appointee Paul Alexander wrote, calling on Redfield to modify two already published reports that Alexander claimed wrongly inflated the risks of coronavirus to children and undermined Trump's push to reopen schools.
As the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States surpassed 6.43 million and the nation's death toll topped 192,600, the federal government's top infectious disease expert warned Friday that life likely won't return to normal until sometime—perhaps late—in 2021.
During a televised interview, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about his comments earlier this week that it may not be safe to attend movie theaters or indoor events until a year after the U.S. has a safe, effective vaccine.
Fauci said that he remains confident the U.S. could have a vaccine for Covid-19 by the end of this year or early next year, "but by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not gonna happen till the mid or end of 2021."
"If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to Covid, it's gonna be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021," Fauci added, referencing the local and state level lockdowns and social distancing practices that have been implemented throughout this year.
A White House adviser, Fauci also disagreed with President Donald Trump's claim during a Thursday press briefing that the United States has "rounded the final turn" in the pandemic. Looking at the statistics, "they're disturbing," Fauci told Mitchell. "We're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000."
The revelation that Donald Trump deliberately downplayed the coronavirus pandemic forced key aides on to desperate defence on Sunday, barely 50 days from the presidential election. Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Jason Miller, a campaign senior adviser, tried to mitigate the damage caused by Trump’s taped confessions to Watergate journalist Bob Woodward, for his book Rage, by playing up the president’s handling of a crisis that has killed more than 190,000 in America.
“The president was calm and steady in a time of unrest and uncertainty,” McDaniel insisted on NBC’s Meet the Press. ... On ABC’s This Week, Miller said Trump had always taken the coronavirus “very seriously” and claimed: “We encourage people very strongly to wear the masks.”
— Ray Brown (@Raybrown1959Ray) September 13, 2020
The majority of attendees at a Trump rally in Nevada on Saturday were neither distanced nor wearing masks. At another rally in North Carolina earlier in the week, the president mocked social distancing as a tool to prevent the spread of infection.
In the summer of 2016, two years before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted Joe Crowley in New York and kicked off a national insurgency in the Democratic Party, progressives in Rhode Island were organizing one of their own. With the help of the Working Families Party, which began in New York City but had been slowly expanding to other states, four progressives ousted incumbent Democrats, including state House Majority Leader John DeSimone, a right-wing Democrat typical of the Rhode Island party establishment. A Jamaican-born teacher, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, beat him by just 21 votes.
Rhode Island’s Democratic Party leadership is famous for its corruption, but also for its grit. DeSimone mounted a write-in campaign in the general election. He fell short there too.
The party establishment has spent the last four years trying to win those seats back, mounting challenges to the 2016 upstarts. This cycle, they found out they had bigger problems, forced to fend off nearly two dozen insurgents challenging establishment politicians. A new organization called the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, founded by veteran Ocean State lefties and built to recruit and provide infrastructure to an entire slate of candidates, fielded 15 candidates for state House and Senate races and teamed up with local Sunrise Movement chapters to run field programs for them. Reclaim Rhode Island, another new group made up of former Bernie Sanders organizers, endorsed an additional four candidates, and one of those campaigns was run by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The Working Families Party also continued its push, endorsing 11 people for office, eight of whom were also backed by Reclaim, the cooperative, or DSA. Of those 22 candidates, a startling 15 won their September 8 primaries in either the House or Senate, including wins against the Senate president pro tempore and the Senate Finance Committee chair.
The most unusual intervention in the primary, from the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, endorsed candidates all the way down to the town council level. Typically, organizations vet candidates for endorsements, and then support their candidacies as much as makes sense and is doable. But the political cooperative not only recruited the candidates but effectively ran their campaigns, providing them with access to data, which is crucial for a campaign, as well as strategic and staff guidance, also critical for first-time, mostly working-class candidates. The cooperative relied heavily on help from local chapters of Sunrise, the youth-led climate movement that is a growing electoral force. Two Sunrise hubs in Providence and South County played a critical role, with more than 10 full-time organizers dedicated to the operation, which generated thousands of volunteer voter contacts.
Progressives owed much of their success to the organizing groups that had sprung up over the last few years, much of it flowing from Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign. Yet despite the work Rhode Island volunteers did for Sanders’s victorious New Hampshire campaign this year, the Vermont senator rebuffed efforts to win an endorsement for Rhode Island candidates running in his mold, sources involved in the attempt said. A Sanders spokesperson declined to comment.
People who dislike Trump are often reluctant to talk about this, but it looks likely that a Biden administration would be more warlike than its predecessor.
In a recent interview with US Department of Defense newspaper Stars and Stripes, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said it’s important to keep troops in the Middle East to fight terrorism, and that it’s likely that America’s bloated military budget will not only remain at its current size but may actually increase under his presidency due to the need to focus on “near peer” threats like China and Russia.
This is not a deviation in messaging from Biden and his crack team of beltway string-pullers, but a continuation of already established patterns. His campaign has been consistently out-hawking Trump on foreign policy by attacking him for insufficient aggression toward Venezuela, China, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and of course Russia, as well as criticizing Trump for not acting like a “wartime president“.
— Antiwar.com (@Antiwarcom) September 12, 2020
In a July interview with Biden foreign policy advisor Anthony Blinken, The Wall Street Journal‘s Walter Russell Mead was told of the campaign’s plan to “tame China, Russia and woke Democrats” using “Cold War-era Democratic policy”, including “a liberal multilateralism—supplemented when absolutely necessary by the American military and a willingness to use it.”
“A Biden administration won’t be looking for a reset, a grand bargain, or anything more than a businesslike relationship with Vladimir Putin,” Mead wrote after the interview. “Democrats haven’t been this hawkish on Russia since the Kennedy administration.”
“While China’s rise and Russia’s turn to the dark side complicate foreign policy, the ideas and institutions of the liberal internationalist order are failing not because the world is fundamentally changing but because the global liberal system has been starved of a critical ingredient in the Trump years: American support,” Mead writes.
Again, these are the positions that Biden Incorporated is campaigning on. Because war is a horrific evil which people naturally abhor, US presidents reliably campaign as doves and govern as hawks; Trump did it, Obama did it, even Bush did it. Biden has paid occasional lip service to the need to end the “forever wars”, including in the aforementioned Stars and Stripes interview, but overall he’s been campaigning for his first term far closer to the militaristic end of the spectrum than any president in recent memory.
This to me spells trouble, and I’m not the only one.
In a Jacobin article titled “Expect More Military ‘Liberal Interventionism’ Under a Joe Biden Presidency“, Derek Davidson and Alex Thurston write that “The liberal establishment is desperate to return a centrist to the White House in November and reestablish the country’s more stable military dominance of the world order, disrupted only briefly by Donald Trump. Joe Biden’s terrible track record on foreign policy — including his championing of war in Iraq — suggests a return to Obama-style strong military interventions abroad.”
In a Japan Times article titled “On foreign policy, Biden is worse than Trump“, Ted Rall contrasts Trump’s relatively dovish campaign trail promises to “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with” against Biden’s consistent attempts to out-hawk the sitting president, noting Biden’s horrible track record on Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia and all Obama’s wars.
But overall Biden’s extensively documented love of war isn’t something people generally want to think about if they despise the current president. Indeed Trump has been a horrible warmonger in his own right, and it’s hard to imagine how Biden couldn’t be at least a slight improvement in some tense areas like Iran and Yemen, to say nothing of his spectacular faceplants and authoritarian abuses at home.
Still it’s hard to look at all the sabre rattling Biden and his team of ventriloquists have been doing on the campaign trail without getting the distinct impression that some major international escalations are being planned.
I don’t point this out to tell Americans to vote for Trump in November; Trump is a ghoul and I’m not going to tell people not to do what they think they need to do in response to his presence. Indeed if wars are planned it seems entirely likely that they will happen regardless of what oligarchic puppet happens to be sitting in the Oval Office after January 20th, just like the escalations that were scheduled to begin against Russia under Hillary Clinton ended up getting rolled out anyway under Trump despite his vocal opposition to them. The war pigs are doubtless planning for any contingency, and it’s very possible they can get around any inertia Trump’s befuddled orneriness might throw in their way.
I mainly point this out to say that wars are planned, and we should plan accordingly. The fact that there’s a nominee spouting hawkish vitriol for one of America’s two oligarchic parties is more a symptom of these preexisting oligarchic agendas than an organically arising phenomenon, so those who love peace and oppose warmongering and world-threatening nuclear escalations should be ready to stand against something very ugly in the near future.
Attacking Joe Biden and seeking to exploit reports that his rival is struggling with Latino voters, Donald Trump boasted on Sunday of receiving “the highly honoured Bay of Pigs Award” from Cuban Americans in the battleground state of Florida. ...
Sleepy Joe Biden has spent 47 years in politics being terrible to Hispanics. Now he is relying on Castro lover Bernie Sanders to help him out. That won’t work! Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban Population!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2020
In his tweet on Sunday, he may have misremembered previous visits to a house in Little Havana, in Miami, which houses a Bay of Pigs museum and library and where survivors of Brigade 2506, the unit which carried out the invasion, gather to talk and remember. Trump visited in 1999, when he was flirting with a run for president on the Reform party ticket. He was given gifts, if not awards: a brigade pin and, the Associated Press reported, “a plaque of the shoulder patch worn during the invasion”.
Environmental reporter Justin Mikulka was unnerved as he scanned through the pages. “A friend had contacted me and said that he had found some documents with my name in them,” Mikulka recalled to The Intercept. “He told me I really had to see them for myself.” Mikulka did see for himself. Descriptions of the journalist and his work were nestled among security reports detailing bloody terrorist attacks and far-right threats, in documents prepared by a private railway industry group and shared with law enforcement. The series of documents suggested that law enforcement was being taught to view him — an author whose work specializes in the hazards of transporting oil by rail — as a possible instigator of criminal activity and a threat to railway safety.
“I knew that the industry was aware of my work and didn’t like it, but the idea that they were privately lumping me in with terrorists to law enforcement is frightening and shocking,” Mikulka said. “To whom were these documents presented? Am I now on security lists, being ranked as a threat to the rail industry? It seems like they couldn’t challenge what I’m saying on a factual basis so they resorted to attacking me like this.”
While not accusing him of being a criminal himself, the documents warned that Mikulka’s writing about the dangers of shipping oil by rail could inspire “criminal activity” in the form of protests that disrupt rail activity. “The effect of this criminal activity is to escalate the very risk that Mikulka professes he wishes to avoid,” one report claimed, noting, “the potential for derailment escalates dramatically when people and objects are present on tracks.”
The reports singling out Mikulka alongside neo-Nazis and radical Islamic terrorists were included in a series of slide presentations prepared by the Association of American Railroads and distributed to member corporations — as well as to law enforcement. Described on its website as “the world’s leading railroad policy, research, standard setting and technology organization,” the AAR is an industry trade group representing the political interests of the railway business in the United States.
Over the last couple of years, Mikulka and his reporting were featured in at least four separate “Railway Awareness Daily Analytic Reports (RADAR).” ... More than two dozen RADAR reports had been stored by two fusion centers, the Maine Information and Analysis Center and the Southeast Florida Fusion Center, along with dozens of additional security reports authored by the AAR. ... The RADAR reports serve as a poignant example of how the private industry group collaborates closely with public law enforcement agencies, assisted by a national network of fusion centers. The intelligence hubs were designed to bring local, state, and federal law enforcement and security agencies together with private businesses to share information about potential threats. The BlueLeaks documents provide a picture of a system capable of transforming a threat to a corporation’s bottom line into a security threat to be addressed by police.
The death toll from wildfires choking the west coast of the US continued to rise on Sunday as authorities feared more bodies were likely to be found in the charred ruins of towns across several states, and politicians lambasted Donald Trump for his response to the escalating crisis.
In Oregon, where emergency managers warned the public to expect “a mass fatality incident”, 40,000 fled their homes, more than half a million were under some level of evacuation order, flames scorched more than a million acres and the state fire marshal was replaced. At least 33 people are known to have died since mid-August, two-thirds in California and 10 in Oregon, with dozens more reported missing, although local reports on Sunday suggested most had since been accounted for.
Firefighters continued to battle almost 100 separate wildfires, including in Washington state, where a child was killed, and in Idaho and Montana. Across all affected states, the fires have consumed 4.6 million acres, CNN reported.
The White House announced that Trump would visit California on Monday for “a briefing”, a move that drew strong criticism from Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles. “He’s going to come out here and probably tell us ‘I’m going to send you rakes’ instead of more help,” Garcetti told CNN’s State of the Union, referring to the president’s claims that wildfires in the state are caused by poor forestry management and not fuelled by the climate crisis.
Trump issued a disaster declaration in August but has been largely quiet about the wildfires since. At a rally in Nevada on Saturday night, he said: “I spoke to the folks in Oregon, Washington … they’ve never had anything like this. But, you know, it is about forest management … and other things, but forest management.”
With hundreds of thousands of Americans forced to evacuate their homes in the western US, Donald Trump hasn’t said a word about the wildfires blazing across multiple states in nearly three weeks. But some national Democratic leaders also have been slow to call attention to the fires in California, Oregon and Washington which have killed more than 20, forced millions to breathe ash from orange-tinted skies that are blocking out the sun, and seen hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes.
Climate activists say the tepid political response, particularly from the Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is yet another sign that US politicians are far from ready to take concrete steps to deal with the realities of climate change, let alone write laws to stop burning fossil fuels in order to slow its effects. ...
Last week, Pelosi barely mentioned the fires, which are ravaging her own home state of California, until Thursday, when she was asked about them on MSNBC and in a weekly press conference. In a 17-minute update for reporters, she spoke of the fires – which are being made worse by human-induced climate change – just briefly before speaking at length about what she sees as Republicans’ failed response to the coronavirus .
When asked if Democrats would pursue major climate change legislation immediately if they win control of Congress and the White House, Pelosi gave a jumbled answer. “Well, we will have … we will have, obviously, hopefully, the Covid pandemic will have subsided – if there’s any thought that the Republicans in Congress will pay attention to science,” she said. “Right now they’re in a place where they don’t believe in science and they don’t like governance. So they don’t want any reason to have to govern, to call for standards to defeat the virus … but the virus, of course – in other words, to open up our schools and our economy – has to be first and foremost. But yes, it will be an early part of the agenda.”
Sanders Delivers Message to Lawmakers Who Claim US Can't Afford Green New Deal: Climate Catastrophe Is 'Much More Expensive'
Sen. Bernie Sanders used a virtual town hall on Saturday to call out his fellow members of Congress who—in the midst of record-shattering heat waves, massively destructive storms, and unprecedented wildfires—continue to insist that a Green New Deal aimed at combating the climate emergency and creating millions of good-paying jobs in the process would be too costly.
"Turn on the TV and you see the West Coast of the United States, some of the most beautiful land in our country, burning," said the Vermont senator. "Hundreds of thousands of acres are burning because of unprecedented climate change and the warming of the planet. Now, there are people out there in Washington, my colleagues in the Senate, they say the Green New Deal is too expensive. We can't afford it."
"Well," Sanders continued, "you tell me the alternative. Tell me the alternative if we're going to be looking at a planet which is burning up, if we're looking at more and more drought and the decline of food production, if you're looking at more and more extreme weather disturbances, hurricanes, and tornadoes, if you're looking at more and more disease... The Green New Deal is not too expensive because the alternative is far, far more dreadful, more destructive, and much more expensive."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
King Oliver & The Savannah Syncopators - Sugar Foot Stomp
King Oliver & His Orchestra - Sweet Like This
King Oliver And His Dixie Syncopators - Black Snake Blues
King Oliver's Jazz Band - Jazzin' Babies Blues
King Oliver - The Trumpet's Prayer
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band - Just Gone (Louis Armstrong's First Record!)
Sara Martin & Clarence Williams and his Orchestra w/King Oliver - Hole In The Wall
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band - Mandy Lee Blues
King Oliver's Jazz Band - Riverside Blues
King Oliver's Jazz Band - Dippermouth Blues