The Evening Blues - 9-28-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer Billy Wright. Enjoy!
Billy Wright - Hey Little Girl
"The enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution."
-- Sun Tzu
News and Opinion
This would be Joseph Biden, the president of the United States who has been consistently vowing to go to war with the People’s Republic of China if it attacks Taiwan, and whose administration has been pouring billions of dollars into a world-threatening proxy war in Ukraine which it knowingly provoked and from which it has no exit strategy. With this administration’s acceleration toward global conflict on two different fronts, one could easily argue that Biden actually has the least cautious foreign policy of any president in history.
“In the aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s recent nuclear threat and call-up of reservists, it was reassuring for the leader of the free world to be unflinching,” writes the article’s author Kori Schake, who then adds, “Rhetoric aside, the administration has signaled in numerous other ways that Putin’s threats have constrained support for Ukraine.”
As though the possibility of nuclear war should not constrain US proxy warfare in that country. As though the crazy thing is not the US government’s insane nuclear brinkmanship with Russia, but its reluctance to go further.
Schake criticizes the fact that while Biden has been saying a PRC attack on Taiwan would mean a direct US hot war with China, the US military would need far more funding and far greater expansion to be able to win such a war, so it should definitely do those things instead of simply not rushing into World War Three.
“But worse are the real gaps in capability that call into question whether the United States could indeed defend Taiwan,” Schake writes. “The ships, troop numbers, planes and missile defenses in the Pacific are a poor match for China’s capability. The director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has assessed that the threat to Taiwan between now and 2030 is ‘acute,’ yet the defense budget is not geared to providing improved capabilities until the mid-2030s. More broadly, the Biden administration isn’t funding an American military that can adequately carry out our defense commitments, a dangerous posture for a great power. The Democratic-led Congress added $29 billion last year and $45 billion this year to the Department of Defense budget request, a measure of just how inadequate the Biden budget is.”
As Shchake discusses the urgent need to explode the US military budget in order to defend Taiwan, The New York Times neglects to inform us that Schake’s employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has been caught accepting a small fortune from Taiwan’s de facto embassy while churning out materials urging the US government to go to greater lengths to arm Taiwan. In a 2013 article titled “The Secret Foreign Donor Behind the American Enterprise Institute,” The Nation’s Eli Clifton reports that, thanks to a filing error by AEI, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office was found to have been one of the think tank’s top donors in 2009. Had that filing error not been made, we never would have learned this important information about AEI’s glaring conflict of interest in its Taiwan commentary.
AEI is one of the most prominent neoconservative think tanks in the United States, with extensive ties to Bush-era neocons like John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, and the Kristol and Kagan families, and has played a very active role in pushing for more war and militarism in US foreign policy. Dick Cheney sits on its board of trustees, and Mike Pompeo celebrated his one year anniversary as CIA director there.
Schake herself is as intimately interwoven with the military-industrial complex as anyone can possibly be without actually being a literal Raytheon munition. Her resume is a perfect illustration of the life of a revolving door swamp monster, from a stint at the Pentagon, to the university circuit, to the National Security Council, to the US Military Academy, to the State Department, to the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, to the Hoover Institution, to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, to her current gig as director of foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Her entire career is the story of a woman doing everything she can to help get more people killed in military mass slaughter, and being rewarded with wealth and prestige for doing so.
And now here she is being granted space in The New York Times, a news media outlet of unrivaled influence where enemies of US militarism and imperialism are consistently denied a platform, to tell us all that the Biden administration is endangering us not with its insanely reckless hawkishness, but by being too “cautious”.
One of the craziest things happening in the world today is the way westerners are being trained to freak out all the time about Russian propaganda, which barely exists in the west, even as we are hammered every day with extreme aggression by the immensely influential propaganda of the US-centralized empire. You know you are living in a profoundly sick society when the world’s most influential newspaper runs propaganda for World War Three while voices pushing for truth, transparency and peace are marginalized, silenced, shunned, and imprisoned.
Sabotage is the most likely cause of leaks in two Baltic Sea gas pipelines between Russia and Europe, European leaders have said, after seismologists reported explosions around the Nord Stream pipelines. A seismograph on the Danish island of Bornholm, near where the leaks occurred, twice recorded spikes on Monday, the day on which the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines underwent dramatic falls in pressure, the German geological research centre GFZ said. ...
European commission president Ursula Von der Leyen said the leaks were due to “sabotage”, and threatened the “strongest possible response” to any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure. “Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response,” she warned, and urged and investigation to get full clarity on the “events and why”.
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen described them as “deliberate acts”, adding: “We are not talking about an accident.”
US secretary of state Antony Blinken has spoken to Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod about the “apparent sabotage”, said US state department spokesman Ned Price late on Tuesday. “The United States remains united with our allies and partners in our commitment to promoting European energy security,” he said.
Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the leaks were an act of sabotage that “probably marks the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine”. ...
“There are some indications that it is deliberate damage. You have to ask: Who would profit?” one European security source told Reuters.
Russian-backed authorities in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine have reported that a huge majority of voters favor joining Russia as referendums concluded on Tuesday.
Referendums on joining Russia were held in the breakaway Donbas republics of Luhansk and Donetsk and in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. According to Russian-installed election officials, 93% of the ballots cast in the Zaporizhzhia region supported joining Russia, 87% did in Kherson, 98% in Luhansk, and more than 99% in Donetsk.
The referendums have been denounced as “shams” by the West and the US, and NATO have said they will not recognize the territories as Russian. But Russian officials have made clear that they will consider the territories part of Russia and treat attacks on the areas as such.
A US Coast Guard vessel on routine patrol in the Bering Sea off Alaska has reported an encounter with a Chinese guided missile cruiser which was later discovered to be travelling with two other Chinese naval vessels and four Russian Navy ships.
The Renhai CG 101 missile cruiser was observed some 138km (86 miles) north of Alaska’s Kiska Island by the US Coast Guard Cutter Kimball while on a routine patrol on September 19, the coast guard said in a statement on Monday.
Two other Chinese naval vessels and four Russian ships, including a destroyer, were later observed moving “in a single formation with the Renhai as a combined surface action group operating in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)”, the Coast Guard said.
The Hawaii-based Kimball, a 127-metre (418-foot) vessel, said the Chinese and Russian ships later broke their action group formation – which is an arrangement for tactical missions – and dispersed.
The US Coast Guard said in the statement that the Kimball was now operating under the guidelines of Operation Frontier Sentinel, which designates matching “presence with presence” when it comes to “strategic competitors” who are operating in and around US waters.
Germany’s planned exit from nuclear power by the end of this year has been officially delayed in order to shore up energy supplies during an expected shortfall this winter, the economic minister, Robert Habeck, announced on Tuesday.
The decision follows a shortage in supplies of electricity coming from France due to the fact that more than half of its nuclear power stations are offline, Habeck told journalists in Berlin.
He said that the resulting gap in electricity supplies was being “observed with concern”, with Europe’s energy network in danger of being put under too much strain, potentially leading to power cuts. The electricity that Germany is not able to acquire from France is being compensated for with electricity produced by gas-fired power stations in Germany. But this in turn involves using up valuable supplies of gas that Germany is trying to save before winter arrives. ...
Habeck had long resisted calls for the power plants in southern Germany – Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2 – to be extended as Germany coped with the effect of Russia slowing down, and then turning off completely, its gas supply via the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 earlier this month. But his arguments against keeping the plants in operation became increasingly difficult to defend. A majority of Germans, despite being in favour of moving away from nuclear power, has said it is in favour of extending the plants’ use temporarily.
US attempts to bolster ties with Pacific islands have suffered a major blow on the eve of its landmark summit, with Solomon Islands rejecting a draft US agreement, and Micronesian leaders raising serious concerns about “insufficient” financial assistance to the region, leaked documents obtained by the Guardian reveal. Joe Biden is hosting a number of Pacific leaders in Washington for a US-Pacific Islands summit, which starts on Wednesday – the first time that Pacific leaders have been invited to the White House for such a meeting.
The summit is an attempt by the US to strengthen ties with Pacific countries and has been widely seen as a response to China’s growing engagement in the region. However, the US’s offering to the region has sparked consternation among Pacific leaders.
A leaked note, written by the embassy of Solomon Islands in New York, announced the country, which signed a controversial security deal with China in April, would not be endorsing a regional diplomatic agreement being proposed by the US. ...
The proposed declaration is in the process of being negotiated and the US was hoping it would be adopted by Pacific leaders at this week’s summit.
Mohammed bin Salman has been named prime minister of Saudi Arabia in a move that experts said would probably shield the crown prince from a potentially damaging lawsuit in the US in connection to his alleged role in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that King Salman was making an exception to Saudi law and naming his son as prime minister, formally ceding the dual title of king and prime minister he had personally held until now.
The development is not likely to change the balance of power in Saudi Arabia, where the 37-year-old prince is already seen as the de facto ruler of the kingdom and heir to the throne.
But the timing of the decision was seen by critics of the Saudi government as almost certainly linked to a looming court-ordered deadline next week. The Biden administration had been asked by a US judge to weigh in on whether Prince Mohammed ought to be protected by sovereign immunity in a case brought by the fiancee of Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz. Such protection is usually granted to a world leader, such as a prime minister or a king.
The Texas attorney general Ken Paxton ran out of his house and jumped into a truck driven by his wife, a state senator, to avoid being served a subpoena to testify Tuesday in an abortion access case, according to court documents.
A process server wrote in an affidavit that he was attempting to deliver the federal court subpoena Monday at Paxton’s home and ultimately had to leave the document on the ground. He said the Republican avoided him for more than an hour from inside his house, then dashed toward the truck and the couple drove off.
Paxton, who is facing a variety of legal troubles as he seeks to win a third term in November, said he avoided the server out of safety concerns and said the news media should be ashamed for reporting on what happened. ...
Paxton was indicted in 2015 on state securities fraud charges but is yet to face trial amid long delays over where the felony case should be heard and payment for the special prosecutors. The FBI is investigating Paxton over allegations of corruption that eight of Paxton’s own deputies leveled at him two years ago. The Texas state bar has also brought a lawsuit seeking to discipline Paxton for allegedly misleading the US supreme court in his suit seeking to challenge Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Paxton has broadly denied wrongdoing and remained popular among Republican voters. He faces Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza, a first-time candidate and former ACLU attorney, in the November election. “Texans deserve an AG who will uphold the law, not run from it,” Garza wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
The 13th amendment of the US constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. But it contained an exception for “a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. This exception clause has been used to exploit prisoners in the US as workers, paying them nothing to a few dollars a day to perform jobs ranging from prison services to manufacturing or working for private employers where the majority of their pay is deducted for room and board and other expenses by the jurisdictions where they are incarcerated.
A report published by the American Civil Liberties Union in June 2022 found about 800,000 prisoners out of the 1.2 million in state and federal prisons are forced to work, generating a conservative estimate of $11bn annually in goods and services while average wages range from 13 cents to 52 cents per hour. Five states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas – force prisoners to work without pay. The report concluded that the labor conditions of US prisoners violate fundamental human rights to life and dignity.
A campaign to amend the constitution at the federal level and end the exception of the 13th amendment is being promoted by the US representative Nikema Williams and the senator Jeff Merkley. The bill has 175 co-sponsors in the House, 170 Democrats and 5 Republicans, and 14 co-sponsors in the US Senate, but has yet to leave committee for a floor vote in either the House or Senate.
In the meantime the #EndTheException coalition, consisting of more than 80 national organizations, including criminal justice reform, civil rights and labor groups, is leading efforts to pass the abolition amendment at the federal level and through ballot initiatives at the state level. In November voters will decide on whether to remove exception clauses from their state constitutions in Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont. An abolition amendment passed in the California assembly, but failed to receive a Senate vote this year so that it could be on the ballot for voters this November.
The US Senate has voted to advance a funding bill to avert a federal government shutdown, after a tense standoff over a controversial energy-permitting provision proposed by the West Virginia senator Joe Manchin ended with its withdrawal.
A procedural vote on Tuesday to move forward with the funding bill succeeded easily, 72-23, after Democrats announced that the West Virginia senator’s proposal, which faced opposition from both parties, would be stripped from the final legislation. It was clear that, with Manchin’s plan included, Democrats were falling far short of the 60 votes needed to proceed, as most Republicans objected to it.
Without action, government funding will run out at midnight on Friday. If Congress fails to pass a bill by then, it would cause a messy shutdown. With Democrats in control of both chambers, that could generate what many believe would be an avoidable headache just weeks before the crucial midterm elections.
Manchin ultimately conceded but called the removal of his proposal “unfortunate” and said it put America’s energy security “at risk”. ...
The permitting provision would have fast-tracked the process for energy infrastructure, including large fossil fuel projects critics say will undermine climate goals. It would also make it easier for the Mountain Valley pipeline to proceed, a top priority for Manchin long delayed by environmental violations and judicial rulings.
More than 24,000km of new oil pipelines are under development around the world, a distance equivalent to almost twice the Earth’s diameter, a report has revealed. The projects, led by the US, Russia, China and India, are “dramatically at odds with plans to limit global warming to 1.5C or 2C”, the researchers said.
The oil pumped through the pipelines would produce at least 5bn tonnes of CO2 a year if completed, equivalent to the emissions of the US, the world’s second largest polluter. About 40% of the pipelines are already under construction, with the rest in planning. Global carbon emissions must drop by 50% by 2030 to keep on track with internationally agreed targets for limiting global heating.
The developers of the 10,000km of pipelines in construction stand to lose up to $75bn (£70bn) if action on the climate crisis prevents the new pipelines being fully used, according to the analysts at Global Energy Monitor (GEM) who produced the report.
Russia, which is facing oil and gas boycotts from the west over the war in Ukraine and wants to increase exports to India and China, is developing 2,000km of new pipelines. Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa is leading the world in pipeline development, with 2,000km of oil pipelines already under construction and an additional 4,500km proposed. The projects include the controversial East African crude oil pipeline, which will transport oil drilled from a national park in Uganda to an export terminal on the coast of Tanzania.
“For governments endorsing these new pipelines, the report shows an almost deliberate failure to meet climate goals,” said Baird Langenbrunner at GEM. “Despite climate targets threatening to render fossil fuel infrastructure as stranded assets, the world’s biggest consumers of fossil fuels, led by the US and China, are doubling down on oil pipeline expansion.”
Marauding feral pigs have blighted a central suburb in New Zealand’s capital, killing kid goats at an urban farm, intimidating dogs and turning up in residents’ gardens.
The owners of a goat milk farm in the hills of the suburb of Brooklyn, 10 minutes from the centre of Wellington, has lost about 60 kid goats to pigs in the past few months. Often, all that is left of them are gnawed bone fragments and parts of the hooves or head.
“It’s a murder scene,” said Naomi Steenkamp, the farm’s co-owner. “If they find something they like eating, and it is a free feed – like a newborn kid – they are going to keep coming back.”
Wellington City Council has confirmed that the feral pig population in the suburb of Brooklyn – which backs on to farmland and re-generating bush with walking tracks – has been expanding and causing problems for locals.
New Zealand’s feral pig population descended from pigs brought out on colonial ships in the late 1700s. They are now well established across about roughly a third of the country and are known to damage native ecosystems and pastures, kill newborn animals such as lambs and carry bovine tuberculosis.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Billy Wright - Don´t You Want a Man Like Me
Billy Wright - Billy's Boogie Blues
Billy Wright - Blues For My Baby
Billy Wright - Live The Life
Billy Wright - Turn Your Lamps Down Low
Billy Wright - Married Woman's Boogie
Billy Wright - Thinkin´ Blues
Billy Wright - You Satisfy
Billy Wright - After Dark Blues