The Evening Blues - 11-28-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Tennessee blues guitarist Sleepy John Estes. Enjoy!
Sleepy John Estes - Who's Been Telling You, Buddy Brown Blues
"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel.... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours ... When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle."
-- Rafael Eitan
News and Opinion
Aaron Mate, worth a click and a full read:
The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas has slowed the Israeli army’s assault on Gaza and begun to free civilians held captive by both sides. The Biden administration has made clear that it will support Israel’s continued military operations when the pause officially expires – at this point, as early as Tuesday. Israel’s stated goal of “attempting to eliminate Hamas,” President Biden said on Friday, “is the legitimate objective... and I don’t know how long it will take.” ...
The United Nation’s top aid official, Martin Griffith, describes Gaza as “the worst ever” crisis that he has witnessed. “I don't think I have seen anything like this before,” Griffith remarked. “It's complete and utter carnage.” Former senior Pentagon analyst Marc Garlasco likewise describes as Gaza “beyond anything that I’ve seen in my career.” With so many large bombs hitting a small and densely populated area, a historical precedent could only be found “back to Vietnam, or the Second World War,” Garlasco says. As the New York Times notes, after ordering hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes in northern Gaza for supposed refuge in the south, “Israel has continued to carry out airstrikes across the south with large munitions: 1,000- to 2,000-pound bombs.”
The scale of US complicity in the carnage grows with each passing day. On top of providing weaponry and diplomatic cover, the US has given Israel the GPS coordinates of medical facilities and humanitarian groups that Israeli forces have ended up bombing, according to Politico. The US claims that this location data was shared to help Israel avoid hitting these sites; instead, it appears that Israel has seen them as targets. Aid officials also report that Israel is abandoning deconfliction practices that were previously used to protect humanitarian groups. Despite this, the Biden administration is loosening the already the lax controls on US military support for Israel, according to The Intercept.
In rationalizing his continued support for Israeli aggression, Biden echoed the Netanyahu government’s claim that its attacks have forced Hamas to negotiate the captives’ release. “I don't trust Hamas to do anything right,” Biden told reporters during his Thanksgiving vacation. “I only trust Hamas to respond to pressure.” The available evidence shows otherwise. As Mohammad Alsaafin notes, the thousands of Palestinians – and an unknown numbers of Israeli and other foreign captives -- killed by Israeli bombings “did not have to die—not just because Israel could have refrained from targeting civilians, which it has clearly refused to do, but because the contours of the deal announced Wednesday have been on the table for weeks.” ...
According to Israeli military correspondent Amos Harel of Haaretz, Israel’s decision to accept a deal this week stemmed from “not only… the terms of the deal,” which “improved somewhat,” but a more important imperative: sustaining the Gaza assault over the long-term. The Israeli “security establishment,” Harel writes, has developed the “understanding that the outcry of the hostages’ families is arousing broad public support, and that it will be difficult to continue with a ground maneuver in the southern Gaza Strip should public anger over what will be perceived as abandoning women and children increase.” In other words, to keep killing Palestinian women and children caged in Gaza, Israel decided that it must finally stop abandoning the Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza. ...
By destroying Gaza’s homes, hospital, schools, and every other facet of Palestinian civilian life, Israel is following through on its openly declared aims, and longtime goals. The current Israeli war on Gaza is arguably the most barbaric phase of what the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling dubbed a post-1948 campaign of “politicide.” Kimmerling defined this as a “process that has as its ultimate goal the dissolution of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate, independent social, political and economic entity,” including, he warned, “their gradual ethnic cleansing, partial or complete, from the Land of Israel or historic Palestine.” As the carnage in Gaza makes clear, this is the “legitimate” Israeli campaign that the Biden administration continues to support in the name of trying to “eliminate Hamas.”
An interesting article from the Grayzone worth a full read:
Firsthand testimony by admittedly inexperienced Israeli tank operators reveals orders to open fire upon Israeli communities when Palestinian militants breached the fences encircling Gaza on October 7. A glowing profile of an all-female tank company by Israel’s N12 News network contains admissions by the 20-year-old captain — identified only as ‘Karni’ — that she was ordered by a “panicked” soldier to open fire on homes in the Holit kibbutz whether they contained civilians or not.
Ten Israelis were killed in Holit on October 7; no children were among the dead. “The soldier points and tells me, “shoot there — the terrorists are there,”” the captain recounts in the newly-released footage, noting that when she asked “are there civilians there?,” her compatriot simply replied, “I don’t know,” and ordered her to “just shoot” a tank round into the buildings anyway. Ultimately, she recalled, “I decided not to shoot” as “this is an Israeli community.” Instead, she said, “I fired with my machine gun at a house.”
While the Israeli government and its army of international propagandists have blamed Hamas alone for a range of grisly killings on October 7, along with unsubstantiated claims of rape, torture and beheading babies, the comments in N12’s report add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that shelling by Israeli tanks was responsible for many of the casualties incurred in Israeli kibbutzim. ...
Revelations that Israeli troops were ordered to open fire indiscriminately on Israeli communities come as the country’s security services make desperate efforts to control the narrative of the Gaza war. Following a temporary ceasefire arrangement which saw dozens of Jewish captives released from Gaza beginning November 24, Israel’s Channel 12 revealed that authorities in Tel Aviv have instituted new rules demanding that the freed Israelis be closely monitored when giving interviews.
Israel is planning to put today's released hostages in separate wards at hospitals & assign them "supervisors" to instruct them what to say & what not to say if they get interviewed in the media to make sure they wouldn't harm Israel's PR & narrative about Gaza! pic.twitter.com/d3lgbxo4cF
— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) November 24, 2023
At the time of publication, none of the recently-freed Israelis had spoken publicly with any media outlet. Appearances by the captives on Israeli media have become increasingly rare since the release of 85-year-old Yochaved Lifshitz, who was fiercely criticized for shaking the hand of one of her Hamas keepers and acknowledging that they “treated us gently.”
A London surgeon has described witnessing a “massacre unfold” during 43 days spent under bombardment in Gaza, saying the destruction of the Palestinian health system was a military objective of the war. Speaking at a press conference in London, Prof Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, who will later give evidence to Scotland Yard, told of horrific scenes at al-Ahli Arab and Dar al-Shifa hospitals as they ceased to function and said he witnessed the use of white phosphorus munitions. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have denied using such weapons.
“Having seen this massacre unfold, the creation of an uninhabitable Gaza Strip was the aim and the destruction of all the components of modern life at which the health system lies was the main military objective,” said Abu-Sittah, who has a practice in west London and has worked in Gaza since 2009, as well as in wars across Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
When asked about Israel’s claims of being at war with Hamas and its denial of targeting civilians in Gaza, he said: “Statistically, it appears that the numbers tell a different story.” ...
For six weeks he shuttled between Gaza’s hospitals. It immediately became apparent about half of the wounded would be children, he said. As time passed, medical workers went from treating patients suffering from blast injuries to those exposed to fragmentary missiles, sniper injuries and incendiary bombs – which Israel has denied using.
“We started seeing phosphorus burns,” Abu-Sittah told the press conference. “I had treated white phosphorus burns in the Gaza Strip during the 2009 war – it was very familiar with the very characteristic injuries and burns that they make.”
A deal to extend the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas by two days has been agreed after a frantic dash by mediators with just over 12 hours remaining before hostilities in Gaza were due to resume.
Hamas said it had agreed to the extension of the four-day truce by 48 hours after the intervention of Qatar and Egypt, the principal mediators for the initial agreement, and with the same conditions.
There was no immediate confirmation from Israel, but António Guterres, the UN secretary general, hailed the extension as “a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war”.
There are widespread fears that any break in the conflict that has devastated swaths of Gaza and killed many thousands of civilians will only be brief.
Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, told troops on Monday that when fighting recommenced its “strength will be greater, and it will take place throughout the entire strip”. “You now have a few days, we will return to fighting, we will use the same amount of power and more,” Gallant said.
UN warns “humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is getting worse” as Israel plans to resume onslaught after “pause”
The “humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is getting worse by the day,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday, as the besieged enclave of 2.2 million remains without electricity, food, and water. Israel is using a four-day “pause” in its onslaught—which is reportedly being extended for another two days—to make preparations for an even more ruthless onslaught on southern Gaza. ...
On Monday, Gaza’s Government Media Office reported that the death toll of the genocide has surged to 15,000, after dozens of people were found buried under rubble during the “pause” in fighting. The death toll includes 6,160 children and 4,000 women, while a further 33,000 people are injured. In addition, another 7,000 people are still missing—most likely buried in collapsed buildings—including 4,700 children. Adding the missing to the dead brings the death toll to 22,000, including 10,860 children. The Government Media Office reported that 207 doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel had been killed since the start of Israel’s offensive. Seventy journalists were killed during this time and 266 schools have been destroyed, with 67 completely out of service.
The United Nations noted that “over 1.8 million people in Gaza, or nearly 80% of the population, are estimated to be internally displaced.” In a staggering statistic, a report by the Shelter Cluster wrote that “across the Gaza Strip, over 234,000 housing units have been damaged and more than 46,000 homes have been completely destroyed, amounting to over 60% of the total housing stock.” The report noted, “a few days’ pause is inadequate to address the catastrophic impact of attacks on homes and civilian infrastructure in Gaza. The loss of life and destruction of property has been devastating. Residential neighbourhoods, housing and civilian infrastructure must be protected.” ...
The Biden administration, meanwhile, is making preparations for the political fallout from the resumption of Israel’s onslaught against Gaza. In an article headlined “White House Grapples with Internal Divisions on Israel-Gaza,” the Washington Post concludes with the following blunt admission: “Still, Biden officials are in an increasingly vexing predicament. “The problem they have, which is the problem they’ve had from Day 1, is the Israelis” don’t have “a strategy for doing what they want to do that does not harm, kill and expel a lot of Palestinians from Gaza,” one outside adviser said. “They have to go down south and do the same thing. I don’t know how you do that with 2-plus million people in the south.” Of course, this is a “problem” only from the standpoint of public relations. Israeli officials have made clear that they are seeking the murder or expulsion of the population of Gaza from their land, while the White House has repeatedly insisted that there are no “red lines” on the number of civilians the Israeli military is allowed to massacre.
Since October 17, US troops based in Iraq and Syria have come under steady rocket and drone fire. At least 73 attacks have been carried out on US bases in the two countries, but they have stopped since the truce between Israel and Hamas to facilitate the hostage deal came into effect on Friday.
According to Reuters, some of Iraq’s leading Shia militias behind some of the attacks on US forces, including Kataib Hezbollah, have said they would abide by the ceasefire. But the militias have signaled their attacks could resume once Israel restarts its operations in Gaza.
"Jungle" Josep Borrell gets one right:
The European Union's foreign affairs chief on Monday said he was "appalled to learn" that Israel's wartime government is preparing to vote on a budget plan that includes money for illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, where settler violence against Palestinians has grown in recent weeks amid Israel's assault on Gaza.
"In the middle of a war, the Israeli gov is poised to commit new funds to build more illegal settlements," Josep Borrell, the E.U.'s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, wrote on social media. "This is not self-defense and will not make Israel safer. The settlements are a grave [international humanitarian law] breach, and they are Israel's greatest security liability."
Borrell was referring to settlement funding included in an end-of-year budget proposal that Israel's war cabinet is expected to approve on Monday. Under the proposed budget, funding would be allocated to West Bank settlement construction as well as to arming "civilian guard squads," according to a summary highlighted by Itay Epshtain of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
"Funds allocated to settlement local and regional councils allow for the purchase of off-road vehicles, body armor, camera-quipped UAVs, and other electronic surveillance equipment, and the employment of 'reconnaissance personnel,'" Epshtain wrote. "This is a militia of Israeli settlers mandated to obstruct humanitarian aid to Palestinians made vulnerable by the establishment and expansions of these very settlements."
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right supporter of settlement expansion, defended the budget proposal and denied that any of the money would go toward constructing new settlements.
"There is funding for security needs" in the West Bank, Smotrich toldThe Times of Israel, describing Palestinians in the territory as "Nazis."
Leftwing activists including the actor Cynthia Nixon, famous for her role in Sex and the City, have begun a hunger strike outside the White House aimed at pressing Joe Biden into demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The five-day fast was launched to coincide with what had been the scheduled end of a four-day truce in Israel’s military offensive into the Palestinian coastal territory, during which the Palestinian group Hamas released dozens of hostages. ...
“We are taking this action of hunger striking to showcase the actions of President Biden,” said Zohran Mamadani, a Democratic state representative from New York. “It’s President Biden’s actions that are leading to the bombing of Palestinians, the starving of Palestinians. So we are starving ourselves to make visible what is so often erased, which is the Palestinian experience.” ...
Introducing herself as “the mother of Jewish children whose grandparents are holocaust survivors”, Nixon said: “In seven weeks, Israel has killed more civilians on a tiny strip of land than was killed in 20 years of war in the entire country of Afghanistan. Introducing herself as “the mother of Jewish children whose grandparents are holocaust survivors”, she said: “In seven weeks, Israel has killed more civilians on a tiny strip of land than was killed in 20 years of war in the entire country of Afghanistan.
“I’m sick and tired of people explaining this away by saying that civilian casualties are a routine toll of war. There is nothing routine about these figures. There is nothing routine about these deaths.” The 6,150 Palestinian children recorded as killed represented a higher number of minors than have been killed in two dozen war zones for the whole of 2022, she said. If the bombardment of the past seven weeks continued, Nixon went on, no Palestinian homes would be left standing by Christmas Eve.
“None of this is normal,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed in a letter to his colleagues to bring a bill to the Senate floor as soon as December 4 to fund military aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. President Biden has requested the funding as part of a massive $105 billion spending package.
“One of the most important tasks we must finish is taking up and passing a funding bill to ensure we as well as our friends and partners in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific region have the necessary military capabilities to confront and deter our adversaries and competitors,” Schumer said. “That’s why I intend to bring the President’s national security supplemental package to the floor as soon as the week of December 4.”
Schumer blamed Republicans for the delay in the passage of the $105 billion behemoth, which was formally requested on October 20. He said the biggest holdup “is the insistence by our Republican colleagues on partisan border policy as a condition for vital Ukraine aid,” although Biden’s request includes $13.6 billion for the border.
The Biden Brain Trust is on it. Oblivion awaits.
The White House has announced it plans to use a cold-war era law to ease supply chain issues that the administration argues are contributing to higher inflation – a key electoral challenge to Joe Biden’s re-election chances next year as polling consistently suggests voters are not buying his Bidenomics pitch.
In a statement, the White House said Biden will use the Defense Production Act to improve the domestic manufacturing of medicines deemed crucial for national security and will convene the first meeting of the president’s supply chain resilience council to announce other measures tied to the production and shipment of goods.
“We’re determined to keep working to bring down prices for American consumers and ensure the resilience of our supply chains for the future,” said Lael Brainard, director of the White House national economic council and a co-chair of the new supply chain council, in a separate statement. ...
The supply chain council is set to address issues ranging from improved data sharing between government agencies, supplying renewable energy resources and freight logistics.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, will be co-chair of the council, which includes the heads of cabinet departments, the administration’s council of economic advisers, the US director of national intelligence, the Office of Management and Budget, and other agencies.
The United States is poised to extract more oil and gas than ever before in 2023, a year that is certain to be the hottest ever recorded, providing a daunting backdrop to crucial United Nations climate talks that hold the hope of an agreement to end the era of fossil fuels.
The US’s status as the world’s leading oil and gas behemoth has only strengthened this year, even amid warnings from Joe Biden himself over the unfolding climate crisis, with the latest federal government forecast showing a record 12.9m barrels of crude oil, more than double what was produced a decade ago, will be extracted in 2023.
Records will also be broken this year for gas production, with a glut of new export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico coast facilitating a boom that will see US exports of liquified natural gas (or LNG) double in the next four years.
Tellingly, the US government expects this frenzy of oil and gas activity to continue at near-record levels right up to 2050, a point at which scientists say planet-heating emissions must be eliminated to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. A third of the world’s planned oil and gas expansion in this period will occur in the US, a recent report found.
The host of the UN Cop28 summit, the United Arab Emirates, planned to use climate meetings with other countries to promote deals for its national oil and gas companies, according to leaked documents.
Cop28 begins on Thursday and will be run by Sultan Al Jaber, who is the chief executive of the national oil company Adnoc as well as the UAE’s climate envoy. This dual role has been criticised as a conflict of interest, and climate summit veterans said the new revelations undermined trust in Al Jaber’s presidency of Cop28, potentially threatening a successful outcome.
The Guardian reported recently that Adnoc had the largest net zero-busting expansion plans of any company in the world and that state-run oil and gas fields in the UAE had been flaring gas almost daily despite having committed 20 years ago to a policy of zero routine flaring. Adnoc questioned the figures behind the report but did not provide its own figures.
The leaked documents, obtained by the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) and seen by the Guardian, are briefing documents prepared by the Cop28 team before bilateral meetings between Al Jaber and 27 governments as part of the diplomatic preparations for the climate summit. As well as setting out issues relating to the climate negotiations, the briefings include “talking points” and “asks” from Adnoc and from Masdar, the UAE renewable energy company, which Al Jaber chairs.
The briefings, first reported by the BBC, include talking points for 15 countries which state that Adnoc wants to work with those nations to extract their oil and gas resources.
The bumper revenues of oil-producing states should be subject to a $25bn levy to help pay for the impact of climate disasters on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, a group of former world leaders and leading economists has said.
Seventy international figures led by the former UK prime minister Gordon Brown signed a letter calling for the measure before a crucial UN climate summit, Cop28, that begins in Dubai on Thursday. The signatories include 25 former prime ministers or presidents.
Such a levy would shave off only a small fraction of the bonanza that oil-producing countries have made in recent years, and would help to fill a fund for the “loss and damage” to poor countries afflicted by the impacts of the climate crisis.
Brown told the Guardian: “The deadlock on climate finance has to be broken if Cop28 is to succeed. After more than a decade of broken promises, a $25bn oil and gas levy paid by the petrol states and proposed by the UAE as chair of Cop would kickstart finance for mitigation [reduction of greenhouse gas emissions] and adaptation in the global south.
“But all the main historic and current emitters must come to the table with guarantees and grants if the $1tn a year needed for development and climate funding in the global south is to be raised.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sleepy John Estes - Drop Down Mama
Sleepy John Estes - Milk Cow Blues
Sleepy John Estes ~ Down South Blues
Sleepy John Estes - Diving Duck Blues
Sleepy John Estes - The Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly Hair
Sleepy John Estes - Jack and Jill Blues
Sleepy John Estes - Broke and Hungry
Yank Rachel w/ Sleepy John Estes & Jab Jones - Sweet Mama
Sleepy John Estes - Mailman Blues
Sleepy John Estes - Need More Blues