The Evening Blues - 12-1-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans family band The Neville Brothers. Enjoy!
Neville Brothers – Mojo Hannah
"Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America - not on the battlefields of Vietnam."
-- Marshall McLuhan
News and Opinion
The information in this article suggests that if there is ever accountability before a tribunal or court of law - Israel will have little excuse for its brutal killings. Worth a full read. Hat tip to Snoopy and GGersh.
The Israeli army’s expanded authorization for bombing non-military targets, the loosening of constraints regarding expected civilian casualties, and the use of an artificial intelligence system to generate more potential targets than ever before, appear to have contributed to the destructive nature of the initial stages of Israel’s current war on the Gaza Strip, an investigation by +972 Magazine and Local Call reveals. These factors, as described by current and former Israeli intelligence members, have likely played a role in producing what has been one of the deadliest military campaigns against Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948. ...
Compared to previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, the current war — which Israel has named “Operation Iron Swords,” and which began in the wake of the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on October 7 — has seen the army significantly expand its bombing of targets that are not distinctly military in nature. These include private residences as well as public buildings, infrastructure, and high-rise blocks, which sources say the army defines as “power targets” (“matarot otzem”). The bombing of power targets, according to intelligence sources who had first-hand experience with its application in Gaza in the past, is mainly intended to harm Palestinian civil society: to “create a shock” that, among other things, will reverberate powerfully and “lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas,” as one source put it.
Several of the sources, who spoke to +972 and Local Call on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Israeli army has files on the vast majority of potential targets in Gaza — including homes — which stipulate the number of civilians who are likely to be killed in an attack on a particular target. This number is calculated and known in advance to the army’s intelligence units, who also know shortly before carrying out an attack roughly how many civilians are certain to be killed. In one case discussed by the sources, the Israeli military command knowingly approved the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attempt to assassinate a single top Hamas military commander. “The numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths [permitted] as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage,” said one source.
“Nothing happens by accident,” said another source. “When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed — that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”
According to the investigation, another reason for the large number of targets, and the extensive harm to civilian life in Gaza, is the widespread use of a system called “Habsora” (“The Gospel”), which is largely built on artificial intelligence and can “generate” targets almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible. This AI system, as described by a former intelligence officer, essentially facilitates a “mass assassination factory.”
But, of course, that is exactly the purpose of this exercise - kill the Palestinians or expel them.
A resumed Israeli military assault in the overcrowded south of Gaza may lead many of 1 million refugees – including 900,000 sheltering in UN buildings – to try to push over the border into Egypt, the head of the UN’s Palestine relief agency UNRWA has warned.
After a second overnight visit to Gaza where he met overwhelmed Palestinians, Philippe Lazzarini urged Israel to think through the consequences of an offensive in the south if the temporary truce in the fighting is not extended.
“We already have a staggering human tragedy,” he said in an interview, adding the prospect of a further assault feels him with deep anxiety and foreboding.
“We are in a race against time, and already disease is becoming as much a threat as the bombardment […] The combined impact of the bombardment and the siege has already pushed people to the south, if there is fighting there is indeed a higher likelihood that they might wish to flee further south and beyond the border.”
Lazzarini has become one of the most outspoken UN humanitarian officials in recent weeks, urging Israel to abide by the rules of law and proportionality.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for a deadly gun attack at a busy bus stop in west Jerusalem in which three Israelis were killed, prompting the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to pledge to eliminate the Palestinian group whenever the hostage release halts.
The shooting overshadowed negotiations aimed at extending the existing truce in Gaza, but despite the attack, Egypt and Qatar remained hopeful of securing a two-day extension in return for the release of another 20 hostages and a further 60 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
In a sign that the framework remained in place for now, six more hostages held in Gaza were handed over to the Red Cross late on Thursday, bringing the total released in the day to eight. It marked the seventh straight night of hostage releases under under the deal. The Israel Prison Service said early on Friday it had released 30 Palestinians from Israeli jails as part of the truce deal with Hamas.
Two women, aged 24 and 65, and a man, 72, were shot and killed on Thursday morning when two gunmen, brothers from East Jerusalem, opened fire at about 7.40 with an assault rifle and a handgun, shooting at a crowd of people waiting on the western edge of the city. Thirteen others were injured, police said.
Joe Biden talks out of both sides of his mouth; the media grinds on:
Joe Biden is facing criticism after a social media post sowed confusion over his stance on the Israel-Hamas war, with some viewing it as evidence that he is bowing to domestic pressure for a ceasefire. “Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace,” the US president’s X account said on Tuesday. “To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing, and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”
The tweet was lifted from Biden’s own remarks in Nantucket, Massachusetts, last week when he spoke about the release of hostages by Hamas and increase of humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians. But the White House’s decision to republish three sentences stripped of context triggered a flurry of differing interpretations.
Some on the right accused Biden of drawing moral equivalence between Hamas’s terrorist attack and Israel’s bombing campaign. Tom Cotton, a military veteran and Republican senator for Arkansas, tweeted: “It took Biden only a few weeks after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust to turn on Israel and compare Israel’s actions to terror.”
Others welcomed the tweet as the first time that Biden has clearly warned how Israel’s aggressive military offensive is working to Hamas’s benefit. They also saw it as a sign that he is heeding weeks of criticism from progressive activists over his unwillingness to call for a ceasefire.
The Israeli government has recalled its ambassador in Madrid and said it will be reprimanding Spain’s top diplomat in Tel Aviv after the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he had “genuine doubts” about whether Israel was complying with international humanitarian law in its offensive in Gaza.
Sánchez’s latest remarks came a week after he caused a diplomatic spat by using a visit to Israel to urge it to rethink its operations in Gaza, claiming its response to Hamas’s atrocitieson 7 October could not “imply the deaths of innocent civilians, including thousands of children”.
Speaking to Spain’s state broadcaster, TVE, on Thursday morning, Sánchez repeated his condemnation of Hamas’s attacks but said “friendly countries really have to be able to tell each other things”.
“We’ve said from the very beginning that what Hamas did in Israel is absolutely atrocious and abominable,” he said, adding that he had watched 20 minutes of “very tough” footage of the attacks during last week’s meeting with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “We’ve also always shown our public commitment to Hamas having to free all the hostages they hold immediately and without any conditions whatsoever,” Sánchez said.
“But we have to tell Israel, with the same conviction, that its actions must be based on international humanitarian law. But with the images we’re seeing and the growing number of people – especially boys and girls – who are being killed, I have genuine doubts that they’re complying with international humanitarian law.” The Spanish leader said a political solution to the crisis required “the recognition of the Palestinian state”, adding: “It’s in Europe’s interest to address this issue out of moral conviction because what we are seeing in Gaza is not acceptable.”
In what local residents described as the largest military raid since 7 October, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) killed two children and levelled an entire street in the West Bank city of Jenin Wednesday. The continuation of daily raids on the West Bank during the six-day truce in the bombardment of Gaza underscores the fact that the Israeli regime remains committed to a policy of genocide against the Palestinian people, for which it enjoys the support of the imperialist powers in North America and Europe.
The two fatalities were identified as 8-year-old Adam Samer al-Ghoul and 15-year-old Basil Suleiman Abu al-Wafa. Both were shot by Israeli soldiers, one in the head and the other in the chest. The IDF claimed to have killed two senior commanders of armed resistance groups operating in Jenin and called in a drone air strike to demolish a house. Roads and water mains were also destroyed.
In total, Israel detained 35 Palestinians in West Bank raids during the night into Wednesday, more than the 30 released in the latest exchange as part of the Gaza truce. Over 3,325 Palestinians have been detained by Israel in the West Bank since 7 October, adding to the more than 5,000 Palestinians already languishing in Israeli jails. Of the 300 Palestinians identified for possible release as part of the truce brokered by Qatar and the US, fully 80 percent have not been charged with any crime, let alone convicted.
Prior to the final death toll being released from the Jenin raid, 242 Palestinians had lost their lives in West Bank raids since 7 October, including 57 children.
The IDF raids have been accompanied by vigilante violence by far-right settlers on Palestinian communities, which are divided into bantustans by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Earlier in November, Israel’s Channel 12 reported that the head of the iDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, wrote a secret report with the head of the Shin Bet intelligence service noting that police in the West Bank have been ordered by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir not to respond to acts of settler violence. Ben-Gvir, who is head of the fascistic Jewish Power, has responsibility within Netanyahu’s government for directing police operations.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on November 28 calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The resolution stated that Israel’s continued occupation of Syrian territory “constitutes a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”
Ninety-one countries voted in favor of the resolution drafted jointly by several Arab countries, including the UAE and Syria, along with Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea. World powers China, Russia, Brazil, and India voted in favor of the resolution. Only eight countries, led by US and the UK, voted against it. 61 countries abstained from the vote.
Resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly are non-binding, unlike resolutions passed by the UN Security Council.
The Golan Heights is Syrian territory occupied by Israel during the June 1967 Six Day War. In the same war, Israel also occupied the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Following the war, Israel began erecting settlements for Jews only on Palestinian land in the occupied territories, in violation of international law.
Wednesday's resolution affirmed that Israel should withdraw “from all the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of 4 June 1967, in implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.”
Newly minted billionaires have collected more of their wealth from the deaths of relatives than through their own work and entrepreneurship, according to a Swiss bank favoured by the super-rich.
Of the 137 people who became billionaires in the 12 months to this April, 53 inherited a combined $150.8bn (£119bn) from their family, the report by UBS found. This exceeds the combined $140.7bn created by “84 new self-made” billionaires over the same period.
The bank said it was the first time in the nine-year history of its annual report on the fortunes of the richest 0.00004% of society that “the next generation of billionaires accumulated more wealth through inheritance than entrepreneurship”.
Benjamin Cavalli, the head of strategic clients at UBS Global Wealth Management, said: “This is a theme we expect to see more of over the next 20 years, as more than 1,000 billionaires pass an estimated $5.2tn to their children.”
The report said the “growing significance of these families can be seen across all major geographical regions”. In Asia-Pacific, inheritors’ average wealth was $2bn compared with $1.6bn for entrepreneurs. In the Americas, the inheritors were worth $2.2bn versus the entrepreneurs’ $1.5bn. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the inheritors’ average wealth of $4.4bn – twice the entrepreneurs’ $2.2bn.
A US judge has blocked Montana’s first-of-its kind state ban on the use of short-video sharing app TikTok from taking effect on 1 January, saying it violated the free speech rights of users.
In a preliminary injunction on Thursday, US district judge Donald Molloy said the law “oversteps state power and infringes on the constitutional rights of users”.
The decision marks a major victory for a company that has been targeted by criticism and proposed regulation during its meteoric rise, including threats of a federal ban that gained momentum earlier this year. ...
Montana became the first state to ban TikTok in May when it passed legislation that would target marketplaces like the Google Play Store and the App Store, forbidding them from making the app available to users and fining them up to $10,000 per violation. Under the law, individual users would not be penalized.
TikTok sued Montana in May shortly after governor Greg Gianforte signed the bill into law, arguing the legislation violated the First Amendment free speech rights of the company and users. TikTok users in Montana also filed suit to block the ban.
Watchdog groups applauded Democrats on the US Senate judiciary committee after they voted on Thursday to subpoena the influential rightwing donor Harlan Crow and activist Leonard Leo, for information regarding gifts to the conservative justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas that have fueled an ethics scandal.
Brett Edkins, of Stand Up America, said the committee “sent a strong message that the rich and powerful cannot evade scrutiny or accountability”.
Caroline Ciccone, president of Accountable.US, said “Leonard Leo and other rightwing powerbrokers” had been told “corruption on the court must end”.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Leo said he will not comply with any congressional subpoena. “Senate judiciary committee Democrats have been destroying the supreme court; now they are destroying the Senate. I will not cooperate with this unlawful campaign of political retribution,” he said.
Democrats in control of the committee pushed the subpoenas through, over Republican objections.
Most US cities would have to replace lead water pipes within 10 years under strict new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency as the Biden administration moves to reduce lead in drinking water and prevent public health crises like the ones in Flint, Michigan, and, earlier, in Washington DC.
Millions of people consume drinking water from lead pipes and the agency said tighter standards would improve IQ scores in children and reduce high blood pressure and heart disease in adults. It is the strongest overhaul of lead rules in more than three decades, and will cost billions of dollars. Pulling it off will require overcoming enormous practical and financial obstacles.
“These improvements ensure that in a not too distant future, there will never be another city and another child poisoned by their pipes,” said Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and clean water advocate who became an activist in Flint.
The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation’s roughly 9m lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly. Lead pipes connect water mains in the street to homes and are typically the biggest source of lead in drinking water. They are most common in older, industrial parts of the country.
Lead crises have hit poorer, majority-Black cities like Flint especially hard, propelling the risks of lead in drinking water into the national consciousness. Their impact reaches beyond public health. After the crises, tap water use declined nationally, especially among Black and Hispanic people.
The new ‘scramble for Africa’: how a UAE sheikh quietly made carbon deals for forests bigger than UK
The rights over vast tracts of African forest are being sold off in a series of huge carbon offsetting deals that cover an area of land larger than the UK. The deals, made by a little-known member of Dubai’s ruling royal family, encompass up to 20% of the countries concerned – and have raised concerns about a new “scramble for Africa” and the continent’s carbon resources. As chairman of the company Blue Carbon, which is barely a year old, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum has announced several exploratory deals with African states that are home to crucial wildlife havens and biodiversity hotspots, for land that represents billions of dollars in potential offsetting revenue. The sheikh has no previous experience in nature conservation projects.
So far, the deals cover a fifth of Zimbabwe, 10% of Liberia, 10% of Zambia and 8% of Tanzania, amounting to a total area the size of the UK. In October, Blue Carbon signed its latest deal for “millions” of hectares of forest in Kenya. The company said it was also working on an agreement with Pakistan. More deals are expected in the coming months. The carbon assets associated with the deals could be bought up by major polluters and used towards their own targets under the Paris agreement. Blue Carbon is based in the UAE, where the Cop28 summit will begin this week. The company hopes credits from the schemes will be traded as country-level contributions to the 2015 Paris agreement, it said in a statement. ...
The agreements come amid widespread scrutiny of the ability of carbon markets to fund climate change mitigation effectively while protecting biodiversity and the rights of communities. “Carbon markets are an important element of the puzzle because they can really channel resources to activities that otherwise would not be implemented,” said Axel Michaelowa, a carbon markets expert at the University of Zurich. “If the rules are interpreted in a very lenient way, we see rubbish credits being generated, then of course the trust in the market could take a big hit.”
Some of those involved in these deals highlighted that carbon markets provide much-needed financial support to African countries where other sources of climate finance were not delivering. However, others raised concerns, saying the size of the land deals amount to “a new scramble for Africa”. “Huge swathes of land across Africa are being seized by Blue Carbon via multiple, decades-long deals, sealing the fate of the very land that millions of vulnerable communities depend upon for their livelihood,” said Alexandra Benjamin, a forest governance campaigner with the NGO Fern, who focuses on Liberia and Ghana. “At Cop28, countries will meet and discuss the rules for carbon offsetting – these negotiators should call these deals for what they are: land grabs.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Neville Brothers - Fire On The Bayou
The Neville Brothers - Yellow Moon
The Neville Brothers - Hey Pocky Way
Neville Brothers - Bro. John / Iko Iko /Jambalaya / Do You Want To Dance
Neville Brothers – Caravan
The Neville Brothers - Voodoo
The Neville Brothers - Drift Away
The Neville Brothers - Sitting In Limbo
Neville Brothers – Fever
Neville Brothers – Big Chief
The Neville Brothers - Right Place, Wrong Time
The Neville Brothers - Rivers Of Babylon