Tag Archive for: fuel shortages



SW VA floods leave dozens unaccounted for. Uvalde residents angry over leaked video of school shooting. Sri Lanka: Confusion and chaos reign after reviled president flees without resigning.




SW VA floods leave dozens unaccounted for

Yesterday morning, devastating floods struck Buchanan County, VA, leaving at least 44 people still unaccounted for. So far no deaths have been confirmed. In the community of Pilgrim’s Knob, the flooding was powerful enough to sweep several homes off their foundations. The entire area suffered power outages and other extensive infrastructure damage. In some areas, homes were left with flood marks 11 feet 6 inches off the ground. 

Buchanan is a rural county in southwest Virginia situated in the Appalachian Plateau portion of the Appalachian Mountains. The county is home to about 21,000 people and its county seat Grundy is home to just over 1000.

The “unaccounted for” people have been reported by family members as unreachable. However, cellular and landline telephone service is out in much of the flood-hit area. Rescue and search efforts are ongoing with help from neighboring police and fire departments.

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Uvalde residents express anger over leaked video of school shooting

Citizens of Uvalde, TX, find themselves facing yet another upsetting development and revelation in the aftermath of the May school shooting that left 21 people dead. After fighting for weeks to force the local powers-that-be to release security and body cam footage from the shooting, officials had finally agreed to allow the families to view surveillance footage from the school. A Texas senate panel was to allow family members to view the footage on Sunday. But, before that could happen, the footage was leaked to an Austin newspaper.

Many of the families are upset that the footage found its way into the public sphere after being promised they’d be allowed to see it first. Others are just glad the footage is finally out there after weeks of stonewalling from local officials. The video shows the shooter entering the school and more than a dozen police officers waiting in the hallway for 77 minutes to confront the gunman. The video redacts screams from children, but gunfire is clearly audible throughout.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called the police conduct “one of the most chicken things I’ve seen”.

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Sri Lanka: Confusion and chaos reign after reviled president flees without resigning

Days after tens of thousands of Sri Lankan protesters stormed and occupied the presidential palace, the president they hope to oust has arrived in Singapore after first fleeing to the Maldives. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had pledged to formally resign his position on Wednesday following mass protests of his rule throughout the country. However, Rajapaksa so far has not resigned, and the interim president he left in his place may not be able to get a handle on things.

Sri Lanka has experienced a steep economic decline in the past two years since Rajapaksa took power. The country is essentially bankrupt, unable to meet its staggering $51 billion international debt obligations. In recent weeks, the country has not been able even to import food or fuel. Many families are skipping meals and are unable to obtain enough food at any price. Inflation in the country has topped 54%.

Most blame Rajapaksa’s mismanagement of the country’s finances for the current crisis. Rajapaksa gave the wealthy a huge tax cut and then abruptly banned chemical fertilizers and pesticides. As a result, the country’s crop yields dropped by more than half. Tea is one of the country’s main exports, and this has left Sri Lanka with a major import/export deficit.

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Strippers campaign for nation’s first unionized strip club. Jan. 6: 2 more hearings this week; Bannon agrees to testify. Sri Lankans occupy president’s palace demanding his resignation.



LA strippers campaign for nation’s first unionized strip club

Strippers who formerly worked at LA’s Star Garden strip club have been picketing their former workplace since March. When many strip clubs shut down during the pandemic, many exotic entertainers opened their own online subscription businesses and enjoyed a high degree of autonomy and control. Once clubs reopened, dancers had to once again contend with lax security, stolen wages, and exploitative labor contracts. Two of the dancers at Star Garden were immediately fired when they called for establishing a union. Since then, other Star Garden dancers have walked out and joined in demonstrations outside the club. 

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Click here for a video about the strippers’ union effort (about 7 minutes).


Jan. 6: 2 more hearings this week; Bannon agrees to testify

Over the weekend, the news broke that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, conservative firebrand Steve Bannon, had agreed to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. The committee had previously subpoenaed Bannon, who refused to testify claiming executive privilege. The Justice Department subsequently charged Bannon with contempt. However, according to former Trump attorney Jason Clark, expectations should not be high for Bannon’s intent to cooperate. In an interview with the DOJ, Clark testified that Trump had never invoked executive privilege in Bannon’s case. The DOJ believes that Bannon’s change of heart with regard to testifying may be a ploy to gain sympathy he will soon face in connection with his criminal contempt charges.

2 more Jan. 6 hearings this week

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to hold two more public televised hearings this week. The first will be tomorrow, Tuesday 1 p.m. ET/ noon CT, and will focus on the role of extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in the violence at the Capitol. The hearing will also address inflammatory Trump tweets that the committee maintains were directed at the rioters.

The second hearing will take place Thursday, possible during primetime, though these schedules are subject to change. The committee has not yet announced the subject of Thursday’s hearing.



Sri Lankans occupy president’s palace to demand his resignation

Sri Lanka’s tumultuous recent history includes a bloody 26-year civil war (1983-2009), followed by an authoritarian military dictatorship that has held power up to this day. In 2019, the country began experiencing a sharp economic downturn which has only deepened in the time since. Recently, Sri Lanka has been unable to purchase imported food and fuel, leading to critical shortages. 

Months of protests recently culminated on attacks at the homes of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday. The protesters have since occupied Rajapaksa’s palatial home and say they won’t leave until he formally resigns. 

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Chauvin pleads guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights. Congress votes to raise debt ceiling, averts default. Haiti: Over 60 dead in fuel tanker explosion. 




Chauvin pleads guilty to violating civil rights of George Floyd and a 14-year-old boy

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of George Floyd. He also pleaded guilty to civil rights charges in a second unrelated 2017 incident in which he assaulted a 14-year-old boy. Chauvin hit the boy with flashlight, grabbed him by the throat and knelt on his neck.

A jury convicted Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death earlier this year. Last year, a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes as he slowly expired sparked months of Black Live Matter protests. 

Chauvin initially received a 22 year sentence in Floyd’s murder. By pleading guilty to the federal civil rights charges, Chauvin avoids another trial but will likely have more time added to his sentence. Three other former officers involved in the Floyd case, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Kueng, will face both federal and state trials in 2022.

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Congress votes to raise debt ceiling, averts default

Both the House and Senate have approved a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion. The bill heads to Biden’s desk with just hours to spare to avert a projected default. When Congress approved a smaller rise in October, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen projected that the U.S. would default on its debts around December 15. This would have triggered a historic default with disastrous economic consequences both in the U.S. and abroad.

Democrats were able to pass the bill with a simple majority this time. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says this increase to the debt ceiling means that Congress would not have to wrangle over the debt ceiling again until after the 2022 midterm elections.

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Haiti: Over 60 dead in fuel tanker explosion

A fuel tanker exploded in the city of Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti, killing more than 60 people. The fuel tanker had met with an accident and fuel was pouring out. Some of the dead had been attempting to collect the spilling fuel when it ignited. The blast also seriously injured and burned dozens of people.

Local healthcare facilities have been inundated with wounded and are overwhelmed. There have been severe shortages of basic medical supplies in the country for months. A severe earthquake earlier this year severely taxed the nation’s health system.

To make matters worse, armed gangs patrol the country’s highways, making it difficult or impossible to transport necessary supplies over land. These supply bottlenecks no doubt contributed to the desperation of the victims, who rushed to steal precious fuel from the tanker instead of giving it a wide berth.

Cap-Haïtien mayor Yvrose Pierre says, “We need human resources, and also material resources, namely serum, gauze, and anything that can be used in case of serious burns”.

A similar incident took place in the West African county of Sierra Leone just over a month ago. Scores of people rushed to collect the fuel spilling from a tanker after it was t-boned by another truck. Investigators believed that one of the people collecting the fuel sparked the blaze by scraping a metal spade on the asphalt. That explosion killed about 115 people.

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Judge: Don’t call the people Rittenhouse killed ‘victims’. Build Back Better now down to $1.75 trillion. China fuel shortage deepens U.S. supply chain woes.




Judge: Don’t call the people Rittenhouse shot ‘victims’; ‘looters’, ‘rioters’ OK

During the Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, WI, last year following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, armed militia members descended on the small town. Many, like Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, were from out of state. In the midst of the protests, Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters and seriously wounded a third. Two of the shootings were caught on video, which went viral.

After numerous delays, Rittenhouse’s murder trial is finally getting underway. But the judge in the case has set some unusual rules for the attorneys arguing the case before the jury. Specifically, the judge has forbidden prosecutors from referring to the unarmed people Rittenhouse killed or wounded as ‘victims. However, the judge will allow the defense to refer to the victims as ‘arsonists’, ‘looters’, and ‘rioters’. There is no evidence any of the three people Rittenhouse shot were taking part in any violence whatsoever.

Kenosha police accused of “deputizing” militia members

Meanwhile, the only person to survive being shot by Rittenhouse, Gaige Grosskreutz, is suing the city of Kenosha. Grosskreutz alleges in the suit that Kenosha police essentially ‘deputized’ the militia members and that their perceived support contributed to the violence against protesters.

At the time, numerous videos circulated online of Kenosha police having chummy interactions with the men patrolling their streets with heavy weaponry. Some show police handing out water and food to the protesters. In another, officers can be heard over a police vehicle’s speaker voicing appreciation for the militia men. 

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$3.5 trillion Build Back Better now down to $1.75 trillion

In a rush to get a deal on paper before he leaves for the COP26 conference, Biden has bowed to pressure from conservative Democrats to but back his once-sweeping social safety net and climate mitigation bill from the already much-reduced price tag of $2 trillion to $1.75 trillion.

There are still a few good things in the bill. Universal pre-school will be expanded to 3 and 4-year-olds. Medicare will now cover hearing, but will not cover vision and dental care. Some proposals to reduce the country’s carbon footprint are also to be included.

But the focus for many is what has been left out of the deal. There will be no paid family leave provision. Nor will Medicare and Medicaid have the ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug costs. A provision to make two years of community college tuition free has already been dropped. 

Largely at the behest of coal baron Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), Biden already axed a plan to create financial carrots-and-sticks to push utilities to reduce fossil fuel usage. Biden still says the $500 billion in climate spending is the largest “effort to combat climate change in American history”. However it is doubtful whether it will impress climate activists and other heads of state at COP26.

Will the progressives back it?

A caucus of 40 progressives in the House had previously vowed to vote down the separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill if the Build Back Better plan was not to their liking. Progressives including Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal had already gritted their teeth and publicly signed off on the reduced $2 trillion plan. Their acquiescence likely emboldened conservative holdouts Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) to ask for more cuts.

Now the test is whether the progressives will hold their nose and their tongues and vote for an even further whittled-down proposal. Biden is meeting with them today to press his case.

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Fuel rationing in China will have knock-on effects on U.S. supply chain

Many countries in both Europe and Asia are experiencing fuel shortages amid pandemic supply hiccups. China has now begun rationing diesel and gasoline used to power factories, trucks and ports. Several factories have already had to undergo temporary shutdowns or production slowdowns amid blackouts. Some of China’s busiest ports have also experienced temporary shutdowns due to COVID outbreaks in recent weeks.

This is likely to exacerbate the supply chain woes in the U.S. Despite limited efforts to revamp domestic production, the U.S. still depends heavily on imports from China. China boasts 6 of the world’s 10 busiest ports (7 if you count Hong Kong). Much of the world’s supply chains depend the constant activity at these ports. The reduced capacity of China’s factories and ports are likely to only intensify supply headaches going into the holiday season. 

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