The Evening Blues - 10-16-17
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"We continually discover evidence of police engaging in the surveillance and suppression of social movements, in which there’s no real allegation of criminality. From the suppression of Occupy Wall Street and the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline movement to the surveillance of Black Lives Matter, that’s becoming clearer. These have occurred under both [the Obama and Trump] administrations, but more importantly, they’ve occurred in mostly Democratic cities governed by Democratic mayors with democratically appointed police commissioners. What’s important to them is that politics be channeled into a very narrow conceptualization of liberal electoral politics, and anything that can’t be is fundamentally illegitimate, disruptive, and disorderly, and should be surveilled and, if necessary, suppressed. And the police have always been at the center of that process."
-- Alex S. Vitale
News and Opinion
An excellent book review/interview. Here's a taste to get you started.
Images from the mass protests in St. Louis last month against the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith felt like déjà vu: raised fists, Black Lives Matter signs, swarms of police armed in full riot gear. But this time, as police made arrests on the third night of protests, they began to chant “Whose streets, our streets” — a refrain that, stolen from the voices of protesters, mutated into an unsettling declaration of power, entitlement, and impunity. So far this year, 773 people have been fatally shot by police, according to the Washington Post, while independent databases that include other causes of death by police report tolls above 900. ...
A new book published last week goes beyond the rhetoric of reform to interrogate why we need police at all. In “The End of Policing,” Alex S. Vitale argues that police reforms implemented in the wake of Brown’s death — from diversity initiatives to community policing to body cameras — fail to acknowledge that policing as an institution reinforces race and class inequalities by design. “The suppression of workers and the tight surveillance and micromanagement of black and brown lives have always been at the center of policing,” writes Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College.
Vitale calls for an ideological reframing of policing as an inherently punitive practice that criminalizes the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the U.S. in order to maintain the status quo for white elites. Instead, he writes, people should be given the programs and resources they need to solve problems within communities in ways that do not involve police, courts, or prisons — a path to materializing justice. ...
In a time when the president of the United States openly supports and facilitates aggressive policing, and police officers continue to kill black Americans with impunity, “The End of Policing” is an essential primer to unpack the innate brutality of policing and begin to envision an America free from police violence and control.
A taste of another excellent article:
2006: my first raid in South Baghdad. 2014: watching on YouTube as a New York police officer asphyxiated — murdered — Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner not five miles from my old apartment. Both events shocked the conscience. ... As in Baghdad, so in Baltimore. It’s connected, you see. Scholars, pundits, politicians, most of us in fact like our worlds to remain discretely and comfortably separated. That’s why so few articles, reports, or op-ed columns even think to link police violence at home to our imperial pursuits abroad or the militarization of the policing of urban America to our wars across the Greater Middle East and Africa. I mean, how many profiles of the Black Lives Matter movement even mention America’s 16-year war on terror across huge swaths of the planet? Conversely, can you remember a foreign policy piece that cited Ferguson? I doubt it.
Nonetheless, take a moment to consider the ways in which counterinsurgency abroad and urban policing at home might, in these years, have come to resemble each other and might actually be connected phenomena:
*The degradations involved: So often, both counterinsurgency and urban policing involve countless routine humiliations of a mostly innocent populace. No matter how we’ve cloaked the terms — “partnering,” “advising,” “assisting,” and so on — the American military has acted like an occupier of Iraq and Afghanistan in these years. Those thousands of ubiquitous post-invasion U.S. Army foot and vehicle patrols in both countries tended to highlight the lack of sovereignty of their peoples. Similarly, as long ago as 1966, author James Baldwin recognized that New York City’s ghettoes resembled, in his phrase, “occupied territory.” In that regard, matters have only worsened since. Just ask the black community in Baltimore or for that matter Ferguson, Missouri. It’s hard to deny America’s police are becoming progressively more defiant; just last month St. Louis cops taunted protestors by chanting “whose streets? Our streets,” at a gathering crowd. Pardon me, but since when has it been okay for police to rule America’s streets? Aren’t they there to protect and serve us? Something tells me the exceedingly libertarian Founding Fathers would be appalled by such arrogance.
*The racial and ethnic stereotyping. In Baghdad, many U.S. troops called the locals hajis, ragheads, or worse still, sandniggers. There should be no surprise in that. The frustrations involved in occupation duty and the fear of death inherent in counterinsurgency campaigns lead soldiers to stereotype, and sometimes even hate, the populations they’re (doctrinally) supposed to protect. Ordinary Iraqis or Afghans became the enemy, an “other,” worthy only of racial pejoratives and (sometimes) petty cruelties. Sound familiar? Listen to the private conversations of America’s exasperated urban police, or the occasionally public insults they throw at the population they’re paid to “protect.” I, for one, can’t forget the video of an infuriated white officer taunting Ferguson protestors: “Bring it on, you f**king animals!” Or how about a white Staten Island cop caught on the phone bragging to his girlfriend about how he’d framed a young black man or, in his words, “fried another nigger.” Dehumanization of the enemy, either at home or abroad, is as old as empire itself.
*The searches: Searches, searches, and yet more searches. Back in the day in Iraq — I’m speaking of 2006 and 2007 — we didn’t exactly need a search warrant to look anywhere we pleased. The Iraqi courts, police, and judicial system were then barely operational. We searched houses, shacks, apartments, and high rises for weapons, explosives, or other “contraband.” No family — guilty or innocent (and they were nearly all innocent) — was safe from the small, daily indignities of a military search. Back here in the U.S., a similar phenomenon rules, as it has since the “war on drugs” era of the 1980s. It’s now routine for police SWAT teams to execute rubber-stamped or “no knock” search warrants on suspected drug dealers’ homes (often only for marijuana stashes) with an aggressiveness most soldiers from our distant wars would applaud. Then there are the millions of random, warrantless, body searches on America’s urban, often minority-laden streets. Take New York, for example, where a discriminatory regime of “stop-and-frisk” tactics terrorized blacks and Hispanics for decades. Millions of (mostly) minority youths were halted and searched by New York police officers who had to cite only such opaque explanations as “furtive movements,” or “fits relevant description” — hardly explicit probable cause — to execute such daily indignities. As numerous studies have shown (and a judicial ruling found), such “stop-and-frisk” procedures were discriminatory and likely unconstitutional. ...
What’s global is local. And vice versa. American society is embracing its inner empire. Eventually, its long reach may come for us all.
Noted author Margaret Atwood said Saturday that "it's a moment of turmoil everywhere" and that the election of Donald Trump has brought echoes of 1930s Europe.
"It feels the closest to the 1930s of anything that we have had since that time," she aid from Frankfurt, where she will receive Sunday this year's Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
"People in Europe saw the United States as a beacon of democracy, freedom, openness, and they did not want to believe that anything like that could ever happen there," she said.
"But now, she continued, "times have changed, and, unfortunately it becomes more possible to think in those terms."
The head of the German Book Trade, Heinrich Riethmueller, said the 77-year-old Canadian was receiving the accolade for "political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents."
Rex Tillerson worked on Sunday to reinforce the basic lines of US policy on major international issues such as Iran and North Korea, all while having to combat perceptions that his relationship with Donald Trump has deteriorated to the point the president is, in the words of one Republican senator, “castrating” his secretary of state.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Tillerson said the US wished to remain in the Iran nuclear deal and denied that China was confused about its North Korea policy. Diplomatic manoeuvres would continue over the latter issue, he said, “until the first bomb drops”.
“I checked, I’m fully intact,” Tillerson said.
Iraqi forces have reportedly captured a military base, an airport and oilfields outside the northern city of Kirkuk after the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, ordered the army to “impose security” on the Kurdish-held territory.
Iraqi troops began advancing on the oil city in the early hours of Monday morning amid reports of clashes with the Kurdish peshmerga fighters, the special forces of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Baghdad and the Kurdish region have long been at odds over the fate of Kirkuk, a dispute that has grown more bitter since the Kurds voted for independence last month in a non-binding referendum.
Kirkuk, which participated in the 25 September referendum, has been under the control of Kurdish forces since 2014, when Iraqi forces fled the area as Islamic State jihadists advanced.
Iraqi forces claimed they made rapid progress on Monday, regaining control of the North Oil Company and Baba Gurgur fields as well the K1 military base and an airport east of the city. Thousands of Kirkuk residents were reported to be fleeing the city towards Erbil and Sulaimaniya.
Syria's Foreign Ministry demanded Turkey immediately withdraw its troops Saturday, calling their presence in northwestern Syria a "flagrant aggression."
Turkish troops entered Idlib province Thursday night in an attempt to enforce a so-called "de-escalation zone" that Ankara said was agreed to at the Astana summit with Russia, Iran and Turkey in the Kazakhstan capital in May. But the Syrian government slammed Turkey's incursion and rejected the claim that Turkish troops in Syria could be construed to be in line with the Astana agreement.
"Syria condemns in the strongest terms the incursion of units of the Turkish army in Idlib province, which constitutes a flagrant aggression against the sovereignty and security of Syrian territory," the Foreign Ministry's statement said. It went on to say that "The Turkish aggression is not tied in any way with the understandings that were reached between the guarantor states in the Astana process, but constitutes a violation of these understandings."
Turkey's military said Friday it had begun "activities to establish observation posts on October 12," days after its troops began a reconnaissance mission in Idlib.
President Donald Trump’s new strategy to renegotiate controversial provisions of the Iran nuclear deal relies on a change to a US law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), which was written and passed on a bipartisan basis in 2015. ....
But several other international parties to the nuclear deal – including Britain, France, Germany, the EU and Iran itself – have said that the agreement cannot be altered. On Friday, European powers warned Congress against proceeding with legislation that would seek to impose new terms. And Democrats are listening closely.
For this amendment to pass through Congress, Trump would need to secure 60 votes in the Senate. That would require Democratic votes. But the few Democratic senators who voted against the deal in 2015, when it was up for review before Congress, have already come out harshly criticizing the president’s plan. ...
With 60 votes virtually impossible to achieve in the 100-member Senate based on a total lack of Democratic support, Trump’s strategy got off on Friday to a faulty start. And even some Republicans questioned the wisdom of a plan that so deeply frustrated America’s allies.
In an interview on Australian television aired on Monday night Clinton repeated her claim that the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, colluded with the Russian government in the lead-up to the 2016 US election, describing him as a “nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator”. She alleged that Assange cooperated with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to disrupt the US election and damage her campaign for president.
“WikiLeaks is unfortunately now practically a fully owned subsidiary of Russian intelligence,” Clinton told the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson. Describing Putin as a “dictator”, Clinton said the damaging email leaks that crippled her 2016 candidacy were part of a coordinated operation against her, directed by the Russian government.
“Our intelligence community and other observers of Russia and Putin have said he held a grudge against me because as secretary of state, I stood up against some of his actions, his authoritarianism,” Clinton told the ABC.
The security protocol used to protect the vast majority of wifi connections has been broken, potentially exposing wireless internet traffic to malicious eavesdroppers and attacks, according to the researcher who discovered the weakness.
Mathy Vanhoef, a security expert at Belgian university KU Leuven, discovered the weakness in the wireless security protocol WPA2, and published details of the flaw on Monday morning.
“Attackers can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted,” Vanhoef’s report said. “This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and so on.
Vanhoef emphasised that “the attack works against all modern protected wifi networks. Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites.”
The vulnerability affects a number of operating systems and devices, the report said, including Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys and others.
Spain’s Prime Minister gave Catalonia an ultimatum to clarify their independence stance by Monday. As of Monday morning in Spain, there’s still been no word from any Catalan leader on he matter.
Spanish officials are saying they intend to seize control of Catalonia outright if they get even an “ambiguous” answer about the future of the region, and are demanding that President Carles Puigdemont unconditionally abandon secession. ...
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says that he is prepared to use constitutional authority to place the region under direct rule of the Spanish government, and will revoke their long-standing autonomy.
Issa Amro, a human rights activist who lives in Hebron, has for years worked to end the occupation of the Palestinians and for a peaceful resolution with his Israeli neighbors, first with the Israeli NGO B’Tselem and later with the organization Youth Against Settlements. His activism led both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to arrest him on vague charges of incitement and rioting, something that Amro and the international human rights community find laughable. ...
Amro is due to appear in an Israeli military court on October 22 to face charges of incitement and conducting illegal protests. These courts have a reputation for being notoriously unfair to Palestinians, with a nearly 100 percent conviction rate. ...
Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Code Pink lobbied members of Congress to get involved in Amro’s case, and encouraged the lawmakers to pressure the State Department to make clear to Israel that its American benefactors are closely watching what happens to Amro. ...
In May, four senators — Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, and Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy — sent a letter urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to monitor Amro’s case closely. Over the summer, 34 House Democrats signed onto letters to Tillerson with a similar message.
Here's a taste to get you started on the latest article by Chris Hedges:
The encampments by Native Americans at Standing Rock, N.D., from April 2016 to February 2017 to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline provided the template for future resistance movements. The action was nonviolent. It was sustained. It was highly organized. It was grounded in spiritual, intellectual and communal traditions. And it lit the conscience of the nation.
Native American communities—more than 200 were represented at the Standing Rock encampments, which at times contained up to 10,000 people—called themselves “water protectors.” Day after day, week after week, month after month, the demonstrators endured assaults carried out with armored personnel carriers, rubber bullets, stun guns, tear gas, cannons that shot water laced with chemicals, and sound cannons that can cause permanent hearing loss. Drones hovered overhead. Attack dogs were unleashed on the crowds. Hundreds were arrested, roughed up and held in dank, overcrowded cells. Many were charged with felonies. The press, or at least the press that attempted to report honestly, was harassed and censored, and often reporters were detained or arrested. And mixed in with the water protectors was a small army of infiltrators, spies and agents provocateurs, who often initiated vandalism and rock throwing at law enforcement and singled out anti-pipeline leaders for arrest.
The Democratic administration of Barack Obama did not oppose the pipeline until after the election of Donald Trump, who approved the project in January 2017 soon after he became president. The water protectors failed in their ultimate aim to stop the construction, but if one looks at their stand as a single battle in a long war, Standing Rock was vitally important because it showed us how to resist.
The corporate state, no longer able to peddle a credible ideology, is becoming more overtly totalitarian. It will increasingly silence dissidents out of fear that the truth they speak will spark a contagion. It will, as in China’s system of totalitarian capitalism, use the tools of censorship, blacklisting, infiltration, blackmailing, bribery, public defamation, prison sentences on trumped-up charges and violence. The more discredited the state becomes, the more it will communicate in the language of force.
The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch spent much of the eight years of the Obama presidency stoking fears about the budget deficit. Their political network aired an unending cascade of campaign advertisements against Democratic politicians, sponsored several national bus tours, and paid organizers in communities across the country to mobilize public demonstrations, all focused on the dangers of increasing the deficit. ...
Now that Republicans control all levers of power in Washington and the Koch brothers are poised to reap a windfall of billions of dollars through tax cuts, they have a new message: Don’t worry about the deficit. The Intercept obtained a messaging memo from the Koch brothers’ network on how to sell tax reform legislation:
“Avoid getting distracted on revenue neutrality; economic growth increases revenues. Some Republican Senators have expressed concern over supporting comprehensive tax reform that adds to short-term deficits. Though we fully appreciate those concerns, the long-term economic growth that would result from the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation would help to offset short-term deficits over time. That was the result of the Kennedy and Reagan tax reforms—there’s no reason this time will be any different.”
The messaging document claims that any shortfall created by the tax package will be filled by tax revenue generated by economic growth sparked by the reduction in rates. It’s the same “pay for themselves” argument used to justify the tax cuts passed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003. “You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase,” Bush claimed. In reality, the Bush tax cuts reduced revenue collected by the government and ballooned the deficit.
The controversial expansion of a pipeline that would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast will be doomed by the rising power of Indigenous land rights. That’s the message that Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous activist from the Secwepemc Nation in central BC, plans to deliver to banks financing the project as she travels through Europe this week.
She’ll have in hand a report being released today by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which argues that Texas-based Kinder Morgan has misled financial backers about the risks of expanding its TransMountain pipeline, almost half of which runs across “unceded” Secwepemc territory. The project, whose cost has ballooned from $5.4 to $7.4bn, would nearly triple capacity on an existing pipeline to ship 890,000 barrels a day to Asian markets, locking in expanded production of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive oils.
The report details “significant legal, financial and reputation risks” that amount to “serious obstacles” it says have been downplayed by Kinder Morgan in its dealings with Canadian and international banks. The key risks, identified by economists and lawyers based on the pipeline’s history, Canadian legal precedents, and financial documents, include Kinder Morgan’s plans to build on lands whose ownership is hotly contested. The pipeline crosses 518km of Secwepemc territory over which the First Nations assert Aboriginal title, a type of land rights that the supreme court of Canada has recognized were never ceded or relinquished through treaties.
State authorities announced Saturday that gusty winds sparked new evacuations and a "new large wildfire in Lake County" as California's deadliest fires on the books continue to rage.
"The emergency is not over," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state's Office of Emergency Services. While noting some progress, he said: "It's the sixth day of these fires. We are still at it, full tilt."
By Saturday, the death toll had reached 35, over 214,000 acres have burned, and roughly 100,000 people have been forced to flee, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Seventeen 17 fires are still underway, and hundreds of people are still missing.
With dry and gusty winds expected to continue, the National Weather Service warned Saturday of "critical fires alerts" and said that "Any new fire starts will likely spread rapidly."
Meteorologist Bob Henson noted the "grim" forecast, writing Friday evening: "This weekend's pattern appears nearly as dangerous as the one that pushed gale-force winds and parched air into California's wine country late Sunday night, triggering a deadly swarm of fires—many of which were still less than 25 percent contained on Friday."
Three people have died in Ireland in accidents relating to Storm Ophelia as 100mph winds started to batter Ireland and Britain.
As Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar described the impact of Ophelia as a “national emergency”, the country’s schools and colleges were closed and the transport system was virtually at a standstill. Varadkar, appealing to people to remain indoors for their own safety, said it was the worst storm to hit Ireland in 50 years.
With the bad weather spreading northeast across Ireland and parts of the UK, there were reports on Monday afternoon that one person was killed in the storm in an incident in County Louth, close to the border with Northern Ireland. ...
Varadkar said the danger to the public would not end once the storm had passed, because there would be fallen trees and felled power lines across the country.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Champions - I'm So Blue
The Champions - The Same Old Story
The Champions - Annie Met Henry
The Champions - Keep A-Rockin'
The Champions w/Sonny Thompson - Mexico Bound
The Champions w/Sonny Thompson - Come On
The Cadets - Stranded In the Jungle
The Cadets - I Got Loaded
The Cadets - Love Bandit
The Cadets - Rollin' Stone
The Cadets - Do You Wanna Rock
The Cadets - Let´s Rock´n´Roll