The Evening Blues - 11-21-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features The King of Soul, Sam Cooke. Enjoy!
Sam Cooke - A change is gonna come
“The international community warns of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and of severe epidemics. We must not shy away from it, as hard as it is. After all, severe epidemics in the south of the Strip will hasten victory”
-- Israeli General Giora Eiland
News and Opinion
Israel is not attacking hospitals in Gaza because they are “Hamas command centers.” Israel is systematically and deliberately destroying Gaza’s medical infrastructure as part of a scorched earth campaign to make Gaza uninhabitable and escalate a humanitarian crisis. It intends to force 2.3 million Palestinians over the border into Egypt where they will never return. Israel has destroyed and nearly emptied the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia is next. Israel is deploying tanks and armored personnel carriers around the hospital and has fired rounds into the building, killing twelve people.
The playbook is familiar. Flyers are dropped by Israel over a hospital telling people to leave because the hospital is a base for “Hamas terrorist activities.” Tanks and artillery shells rip away parts of the hospital walls. Ambulances are blown up by Israeli missiles. Power and water is cut. Medical supplies are blocked. There are no painkillers, antibiotics and oxygen. The most vulnerable, premature babies in incubators and the gravely ill, die. Israeli soldiers raid the hospital and force everyone out at gunpoint. This is what happened at Al Shifa hospital. This is what happened at Al Rantisi Children’s Hospital. This is what happened at Gaza’s main psychiatric hospital. This is what happened at Nasser Hospital. This is what happened at the other hospitals that Israel has destroyed. And this is what will happen at the few hospitals that remain.
Israel has shut down 21 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals, including Gaza’s only cancer hospital. The hospitals still operating have severe shortages of basic medicine and supplies. One by one the hospitals are being picked off. Soon there will be no health facilities left. This is by design. Tens of thousands of terrified Palestinians, forced to evacuate by Israel, their homes blasted into rubble, seek refuge from the relentless bombing by camping out in and around Gaza’s hospitals. They hope the medical centers will not be targeted by Israel. If Israel abided by the Geneva Conventions they would be correct. But Israel is not carrying out a war. It is carrying out a genocide. And in a genocide, a population, and all that sustains a population, is obliterated.
In an ominous sign that Israel will turn on the Palestinians in the West Bank once it is done flattening Gaza, armored vehicles have surrounded at least four West Bank hospitals. The Ibn Sina Hospital has been raided by Israeli soldiers along with the East Jerusalem Hospital.
Israel’s settler colonial state was founded on lies. It is sustained by lies. And now, when it is grimly determined to carry out the worst slaughter and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe,” that saw 750,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed and some 50 massacres by Jewish militias, it spits out one grotesque absurdity after another. It speaks of Palestinians as a dehumanized mass. There are no mothers, fathers, children, teachers, doctors, lawyers, cooks, poets, taxi drivers or shopkeepers. Palestinians, in the Israeli lexicon, are a single contagion that must be eradicated.
Watch this video of Israeli school children singing, “We Will Annihilate Everyone” in Gaza.
Hitler Youth used to sing songs like this about Jews.
Israel, with the backing of the Biden administration, will continue to snuff out all systems that sustain life in Gaza. Hospitals. Schools. Power plants. Water treatment facilities. Factories. Farms. Apartment blocks. Houses. Then Israel will pretend, like the killers in past genocides, it never happened. The lies used by Israel to absolve itself of responsibility will eat away at Israeli society. They will corrode its moral, religious, civic, intellectual and political life. The lies will elevate war criminals to heroic status and demonize those with a conscience. ... It will deform itself. It will celebrate its crimes. It will turn evil into good. It will exist within a self-constructed myth. The truth, as in all despotisms, will be banished. Israel, a monster to the Palestinians, will be a monster to itself.
A dozen people reportedly have been killed at another major medical facility in northern Gaza as Israeli forces close in on the packed Indonesian hospital despite hopes that a ceasefire-for-hostages deal may be agreed. Video broadcast on Al Jazeera TV on Monday showed damage to what were described as patient facilities, while daytime footage on social media appeared to show Israeli tanks close to the medical complex.
One medical worker, Marwan Abdallah, said the tanks were clearly visible from the hospital windows. “Women and children are terrified. There are constant sounds of explosions and gunfire,” he said. The ministry of health in Gaza said it believed 12 people had been killed in shelling overnight and that it feared a repeat of what happened at al-Shifa hospital complex, which was surrounded and raided by Israeli forces last week.
The ministry of health said 700 people, including medical staff, were crowded into the Indonesian hospital, the last hospital operating in northern Gaza. Broadcast footage showed wounded people and sheltering civilians packed into its corridors, seeking treatment or safety from the fighting.
Efforts were being made to coordinate a rescue of patients with the Red Cross, the health ministry said, although it said it had received no commitments from Israel about allowing safe passage. Only 10 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals remain open, the World Health Organization said on Monday. The Indonesian hospital was coming under “extreme pressure”, the WHO executive director Michael Ryan said. ...
Separately, the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said a clinic it operated in Gaza City came under attack on Monday morning. Part of the building was engulfed in flames, it said, and four marked MSF cars were burned while a fifth was found crushed by a heavy vehicle or a tank. The charity said it was not immediately aware of the status of one member of staff and 20 family members.
Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas have clashed with far-right Israeli politicians who want to bring in the death penalty as a possible sentence for captured Palestinian militants.
The families said on Monday that even talk of doing so might endanger the lives of their relatives. The row underlines the deep divisions in Israel over how to deal with the hostage crisis.
Reports have suggested that Israel and Hamas are edging towards a deal that would bring the release of a significant number of the more than 240 people seized by the extremist Islamist organisation during their attack in Israel last month, possibly in return for a limited ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. ...
When confronted by relatives of the hostages opposing such a change, far-right politicians shouted that they did not have “a monopoly of pain” in comments that appalled many Israelis.
As many as 300 Hamas militants are being held by Israel, military officials have said. Some were involved in the bloody attacks last month, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians in their homes or at a dance party.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley on Monday became just the second member of the Senate to demand a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, over six weeks into Israel's brutal bombardment and ground operations that have killed over 13,000 Palestinians, including 5,500 children.
The Oregon Democrat's move, which he explained in a lengthy post on Medium, follows a cease-fire call from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number two Senate Democrat, earlier this month, and demands from a couple dozen Democratic House members. ...
"The whole world was with Israel," Merkley wrote, noting U.S. President Joe Biden's trip to meet with Netanyahu—which was followed by a request that Congress give Israel $14.3 billion in military aid, on top of the $3.8 billion that the country already gets each year. "I and others defended Israel’s right to respond with a campaign targeted at destroying Hamas."
"But the way that Israel has conducted that campaign matters and has been deeply disturbing for me and millions of others," the senator asserted, pointing to civilians in Gaza facing "the immediate possibility of starvation," hospitals operating without basic medical supplies, a lack of clean water that could spread diseases, and Israel's refusal to boost the flow of humanitarian aid.
Merkley also highlighted that "Israel has unleashed a bombing campaign on Gaza of phenomenal ferocity. Israel defends this campaign as necessary to strike Hamas wherever necessary. But the impression the world has been left with is one of indiscriminate bombing. Airstrikes have leveled much of Gaza City and hit crowded refugee camps, schools, hospitals, and even shelters operated by the United Nations."
"The result is mass carnage," he declared. "Too many civilians and too many children have died, and we must value each and every child equally whether they are Israeli or Palestinian. The war will damage Israel's economy with so many workers called to military duty. It also risks undoing the relationships with Arab neighbors won through the Abraham Accords, puts the negotiations for normalization with Saudi Arabia on ice, and could trigger a regional conflict with Hezbollah and other powers."
The senator previously called for humanitarian pauses, the position also held by the White House and various other senators. He wrote Monday that "after grimly witnessing accelerating body counts, many Americans, including thousands of Oregonians, have raised their voices to say more must be done to stop the carnage. I agree. So today I am calling for a cease-fire."
"The cease-fire requires an immediate cessation of military hostilities by both sides. But the cease-fire and the negotiations that follow must accomplish a number of objectives or it will not endure," he stressed. "Most importantly, the Israeli people and the Palestinian people must find leaders determined to partner with each other and the world to replace the cycle of hate and violence with both a long-term vision for security, peace and prosperity featuring two states for two peoples, and immediate, concrete steps toward that goal."
While individuals and groups who have spent weeks demanding a cease-fire—including with massive demonstrations around the world—celebrated Merkley's shift as proof that the pressure is working, he is still just the second of 100 senators.
"At this rate there won't be any Palestinians left in Gaza before enough U.S. senators screw up the courage to do the right thing and demand a cease-fire, and this after collectively embracing colonial Zionism and calling for its incessant support," University of California, Berkeley history professor Ussama Makdisi said on social media.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they have seized what they called an Israeli cargo ship in the Red Sea, and warned that all vessels linked to Israel “will become a legitimate target for armed forces”. Houthi forces would “continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops and the ugly crimes … against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop”, said a spokesperson for the group, Yahya Sare’e, in a statement on X.
On Monday the rebels released a video purporting to show Sunday’s seizure. The footage showed masked armed men jumping on to the ship from a helicopter while the vessel was still moving, and holding crew members at gunpoint. Palestinian and Yemeni flags were raised onboard. It was not immediately possible to verify the clip.
Israel said the vessel was a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship and described the incident as an “Iranian act of terrorism” with consequences for international maritime security. ...
Japan’s top government spokesperson on Monday confirmed the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated Galaxy Leader, adding that Japan was appealing to the Houthis while seeking the help of Saudi, Omani and Iranian authorities to work towards the swift release of the vessel and its crew. ...
The maritime security company Ambrey said the vessel’s group owner “is listed as Ray Car Carriers”, whose parent company belongs to Abraham “Rami” Ungar, an Israeli businessperson. Ray Car Carriers and its parent company, Ray Shipping, could not be immediately reached for comment outside business hours.
Israeli troops detained and reportedly beat the acclaimed Palestinian poet and author Mosab Abu Toha after he was stopped at an Israeli military checkpoint Sunday while heading toward the Rafah border crossing with his family in Gaza. His whereabouts had been unknown until today, when news emerged that he had been released. According to the Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu, Abu Toha was taken to an Israeli prison in the Naqab, where he was interrogated and beaten along with more than 200 other Palestinians who remain in detention.
A celebrated Palestinian poet and author, Mosab Abu Toha, has been arrested by Israeli forces while trying to leave Gaza, according to his friends and family.
Abu Toha had been told by US officials that he and his family would be able to cross into Egypt, as one of his children is an American citizen. They were on the way from north to south Gaza, heading for the Rafah crossing point on Sunday, when he was arrested along with other Palestinian men at an Israeli military checkpoint.
“The army took Mosab when he arrived at the checkpoint, leaving from the north to the south, as the army had ordered. The American embassy sent him and his family to go through the Rafah crossing,” the poet’s brother, Hamza, said on social media. “We have heard nothing from him.” ...
Abu Toha had been writing in the New Yorker magazine about his experiences under bombardment in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. A collection of his poetry published in English in the US was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle award and won an American Book award this year.
“His whereabouts are now unknown,” the New Yorker reported on its website on Monday night, saying it joined other organisations in calling for his safe return.
A powerful rightwing pressure group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), is engineering pledges of unconditional support for Israel’s attack on Gaza by state legislatures across the US.
Alec is promoting a model resolution expressing “support for Israel’s right to pursue without interference or condemnation the elimination of Hamas”. A version has been accepted by legislatures in at least eight states, including Pennsylvania, Nebraska and North Dakota.
The resolution adopts Israeli claims that Hamas uses “civilians as human shields” and names Iran as giving logistical support to the group. Some state legislatures have also denounced calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s assault on Gaza. ...
Although state legislatures have limited direct influence over Washington’s policy on Israel, Alec and allied groups have long been instrumental in mobilising political pressure by pushing local legislation and resolutions in support of the Jewish state. They include laws to block and punish support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.
Alec, which is corporate-funded but has deep ties to Christian evangelicals strongly supportive of Israel, pushed the model resolution to state legislatures after an emergency meeting two weeks ago. A copy of the agenda obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the presentation of the case for supporting Israel was made by Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, who is close to the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Albania’s opposition has set off smoke bombs and started a small fire in the middle of parliament in a failed attempt to stop the chamber from voting on the 2024 budget.
MPs involved in the protest on Monday piled chairs in the centre of the chamber and red, green and purple smoke filled the air as security kept protesters back from the seat of the prime minister, Edi Rama.
One MP appeared to light a small fire that was passed forward in a container before flames briefly spread and were doused by surrounding politicians.
The de facto leader of the opposition Democratic party, Sali Berisha, a former prime minister who was also Albania’s first post-communist president from 1992 until 1997, has accused the government of trying to silence the opposition in parliament, where Rama’s Socialist party has a majority.
“The battle has no way back,” Berisha told reporters after the disturbance in the chamber where the budget passed a first vote in a session that lasted less than five minutes. “Our goal is to bring pluralism to parliament.”
A little-known surveillance program tracks more than a trillion domestic phone records within the United States each year, according to a letter WIRED obtained that was sent by US senator Ron Wyden to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sunday, challenging the program’s legality.
According to the letter, a surveillance program now known as Data Analytical Services (DAS) has for more than a decade allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans’ calls, analyzing the phone records of countless people who are not suspected of any crime, including victims. Using a technique known as chain analysis, the program targets not only those in direct phone contact with a criminal suspect but anyone with whom those individuals have been in contact as well.
The DAS program, formerly known as Hemisphere, is run in coordination with the telecom giant AT&T, which captures and conducts analysis of US call records for law enforcement agencies, from local police and sheriffs’ departments to US customs offices and postal inspectors across the country, according to a White House memo reviewed by WIRED. Records show that the White House has, for the past decade, provided more than $6 million to the program, which allows the targeting of the records of any calls that use AT&T’s infrastructure—a maze of routers and switches that crisscross the United States.
In a letter to US attorney general Merrick Garland on Sunday, Wyden wrote that he had “serious concerns about the legality” of the DAS program, adding that “troubling information” he’d received “would justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress.” That information, which Wyden says the DOJ confidentially provided to him, is considered “sensitive but unclassified” by the US government, meaning that while it poses no risk to national security, federal officials, like Wyden, are forbidden from disclosing it to the public, according to the senator’s letter.
AT&T spokesperson Kim Hart Jonson declined WIRED’s request to comment on the DAS program, saying only that the company is required by law to comply with a lawful subpoena. There is no law requiring AT&T to store decades’ worth of Americans’ call records for law enforcement purposes. Documents reviewed by WIRED show that AT&T officials have attended law enforcement conferences in Texas as recently as 2018 to train police officials on how best to utilize AT&T’s voluntary, albeit revenue-generating, assistance.
The US supreme court rejected on Monday a conviction appeal for the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd.
The decision affirms Derek Chauvin’s conviction for second-degree murder and sentence of more than 20 years in prison.
In October, Chauvin’s legal defense requested the highest court in their nation take up their client’s case, arguing he was denied a fair trial in 2021 because of prejudice in the pretrial due to publicity.
They also argued juror misconduct, alleging that it was in the jurors’ best interest to find Chauvin guilty to avoid threats of violence from the public.
The supreme court did not provide comment on its decision to refuse Chauvin’s appeal.
A federal appeals court shocked voting rights groups on Monday with a ruling that only the US government, not outside groups or citizens, could sue to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s provisions.
The civil rights law, which outlaws racial discrimination as it relates to voting, has typically been enforced by lawsuits from these groups, not by the government itself. Now that the Republican-appointed eighth circuit court of appeals has made the ruling by 2-1, this “private right of action” to enforce Section 2 of the law is called into question.
The ruling stemmed from a case brought by the Arkansas State Conference NAACP and Arkansas Public Policy Panel over new maps created during redistricting that the two groups allege diluted the voting power of Black voters in the state.
While courts at all levels have allowed private claims seeking to enforce the voting rights law for decades, this is an “assumption that rests of flimsy footing”, the opinion written by Judge David Stras, who was appointed by Donald Trump, said. The ruling dissected the law itself, finding it did not include specific language that allows anyone aside from the attorney general to bring enforcement action.
In a dissenting opinion, Chief Judge Lavenski Smith said that, though the courts may not have directly addressed the idea of private parties trying to enforce this law, it has repeatedly heard these cases, so it would follow that “existing precedent that permits citizens to seek a judicial remedy”.
Three years after supporting Joe Biden’s victorious 2020 campaign, the straight-talking rap superstar Cardi B has ditched her backing of the president after public service cuts in her home town of New York.
The Grammy winner, whose legal name is Belcalis Almánzar, said in an Instagram live stream she was done with Biden. Her tirade highlighted what she portrayed as contradiction between US domestic and foreign policies, saying the White House was helping Ukraine fight Russia and Israel fight Hamas while the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, announced a 5% municipal budget cut last week. ... Adams warned last week that more cuts would be necessary without additional funding from Washington to manage New York’s increase of migrants. ...
Cardi B, who memorably helped promote Biden’s candidacy as he successfully ran for the White House in 2020, vowed that she would no longer endorse political candidates in the future. “I’m endorsing no presidents no more,” Cardi B warned. “Joe Biden is talking about, ‘Yeah, we can fund two wars,’ … talking about, ‘Yeah, we got it, we’re the greatest nation.’ No … we’re not. We don’t got it, and we’re going through some shit right now. So say it!”
She added: “We are really, really, really fucked right now. No, we cannot fund these … wars.” Cardi B asked whether the US was going broke and then answered: “Yes, it is. We ain’t got McDonald’s money.” In a final rebuke to Biden’s economic and foreign policy management, she said: “Feed that … to somebody else, twinkle, but don’t feed it to me.” She then promised “to get to the bottom of it”.
The world is on track for a “hellish” 3C of global heating, the UN has warned before the crucial Cop28 climate summit that begins next week in the United Arab Emirates. The report found that today’s carbon-cutting policies are so inadequate that 3C of heating would be reached this century.
Temperature records have already been obliterated in 2023 and intensifying heatwaves, floods and droughts have taken lives and hit livelihoods across the globe, in response to a temperature rise of 1.4C to date. Scientists say far worse is to come if temperatures continue to rise. The secretary general of the UN, António Guterres, has said repeatedly the world is heading for a “hellish” future.
The UN Environment Programme (Unep) report said that implementing future policies already promised by countries would shave 0.1C off the 3C limit. Putting in place emissions cuts pledged by developing countries on condition of receiving financial and technical support would cut the temperature rise to 2.5C, still a catastrophic scenario.
To get on track for the internationally agreed target of 1.5C, 22bn tonnes of CO2 must be cut from the currently projected total in 2030, the report said. That is 42% of global emissions and equivalent to the output of the world’s five worst polluters: China, US, India, Russia and Japan.
Inger Andersen, the Unep executive director, said: “There is no person or economy left on the planet untouched by climate change, so we need to stop setting unwanted records on emissions, temperature and extreme weather. We must instead lift the needle out of the same old groove of insufficient action, and start setting other records: on cutting emissions and on climate finance.”
Guterres said: “Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end 3C temperature rise. This is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable, and a massive missed opportunity. Renewables have never been cheaper or more accessible. We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.”
The 2022 law heralded as U.S. President Biden's key climate achievement may support an expansion of clean energy, but a new analysis out Monday demonstrates how the Inflation Reduction Act leaves the fossil fuel industry with vast opportunities to extract more oil and gas and continue boosting its record-breaking profits at the expense of frontline communities.
The report, said Oil Change International (OCI) as it released the new findings, proves that the Biden administration can't rely on the IRA to demonstrate its commitment to the emissions reduction that scientists agree is needed to mitigate the climate crisis.
Titled Biden's Fossil Fuel Fail: How U.S. Oil and Gas Supply Rises Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Exacerbating Environmental Injustice and released 10 days before the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the analysis uses previously unpublished data from climate modeling by the Rhodium Group, an environmental think tank.
"The model projects that despite the IRA's investment in renewable energy, electric vehicles, and batteries, the United States could still miss its Paris Agreement goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030," reads the report, noting that as the world's largest historical emitter of fossil fuel emissions, the U.S. has a responsibility to "cut its emissions faster than the global average."
The group's model projects that domestic fossil gas demand in the U.S. will decline by 16% by 2035, yet production is expected to rise by 7%. Petroleum demand is expected to decline by 20%, yet production will rise by 13%.
"The gap between production and demand is filled by surging exports," explained OCI. "Gas exports are projected to double by 2035, while oil and petroleum product exports rise 23%."
Wind and solar power are expected to replace gas domestically, added the organization, but the positive effects of the decline in gas demand in the U.S. are "tempered by an increase in gas consumption within the oil and gas industry itself."
The "energy-hungry" liquefied natural gas (LNG) export sector will essentially cancel out progress made by surging wind and solar power in the U.S., said OCI, with gas consumption by LNG export plants growing 140% by 2035.
"The Biden administration touts the Inflation Reduction Act as a centerpiece of its achievements on climate," said Collin Rees, U.S. campaign manager for OCI. "In reality, the bill leaves a massive escape hatch for the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual."
Rhodium's modeling projects that the U.S. will miss its targeted emissions reduction for 2030 by 16-18 percentage points if the Biden administration relies on the IRA and its investments in technological fixes like carbon capture and storage and fossil hydrogen production while allowing continued investments in oil and gas exports.
"While the IRA was touted as the 'largest investment in climate and energy in American history,' it could turn out to be a failure if Biden doesn't also take bold action on fossil fuels," said OCI in a statement. "As the world gathers for COP28, Biden still has a chance to be the climate leader he claims he is by making a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sam Cooke - Twistin' the Night Away
Sam Cooke - Chain Gang
Sam Cooke - Cupid
Sam Cooke - You Send Me
Sam Cooke - Having A Party
Sam Cooke - Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
Sam Cooke - Trouble Blues
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World
Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love
Sam Cooke - Bring It On Home To Me