The Evening Blues - 12-7-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist and singer Elmore James. Enjoy!
Elmore James And The Broom Dusters - Sunnyland
"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."
-- Benjamin Franklin
News and Opinion
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller demurred Wednesday when asked if footage of decomposing newborn babies who died in a Gaza hospital—where staff were forced to flee an imminent Israeli invasion—showed a war crime.
"I would say that is a tragedy," Miller said during his daily press conference in response to a question from Al-Quds reporter Said Arikat about the infants' remains found last week in the evacuated neonatal intensive care unit at al-Nassr Children's Hospital in northern Gaza.
"It's a tragedy for those babies. It's a tragedy for their family members. It's a tragedy for the Palestinian people and it is a tragedy for the world," Miller continued. "And this is why we have made clear that far too many Palestinians have been killed in this conflict, and that, of course, includes far too many Palestinian children and of course, Palestinian babies."
"And it is why we have taken every measure we could to speak loudly and clearly to the government of Israel that it needs to do everything it can to minimize civilian harm," he added.
What kind of weasel-mouth defense of Israel is that, @StateDeptSpox? Come out and say that deliberately killing babies is a war crime in Ukraine, but for Israel it is self-defense.
Come on, Matt Miller …grow a spine. Resign, or properly defend a genocidal entity. I want to… https://t.co/Uv0h8DKcMg
— Farhan Ahmed (@farhanahmed) December 6, 2023
However, critics condemn the Biden administration for refusing to press Israel for a permanent cease-fire, and for seeking another $14.3 billion in U.S. military aid for Israel, which already gets nearly $4 billion in annual armed assistance from Washington.
Workers at al-Nassr Children's Hospital toldThe Washington Post that, with Israeli tanks surrounding the facility, oxygen supplies cut off by airstrikes, and warnings to flee for their lives, they were forced to leave behind four prematurely born babies—children of some of the 1.8 million Palestinians forcibly displaced in Gaza.
"I felt like I was leaving my own children behind," said one nurse. "If we had the ability to take them, we would have."
Two weeks later, local journalist Mohammed Balousha went to al-Nassr during the weeklong pause in the bombing. He witnessed the "terrible and horrific scene" of the mold-covered, worm-eaten bodies of the four babies, who he said had also been mauled by stray dogs.
Around the same time that al-Nassr staff were forced to abandon the infants, at least five premature babies died at al-Shifa Hospital after Israeli bombardment knocked out electricity needed to power its incubators. Earlier, Israeli forces also bombed the cancer ward of the al-Rantisi Pediatric Hospital.
According to Gaza officials, at least 7,112 children are among the more than 16,200 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Israel began what many critics around the world have called a "genocidal" assault on the besieged strip after Hamas-led attacks left 1,200 Israelis and others dead in southern Israel on October 7.
"Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell," Norwegian Refugee Council secretary-general Jan Egeland said Wednesday, demanding an immediate cease-fire. "The situation in Gaza is a total failure of our shared humanity. The killing must stop."
The official story is that on October 7, 2023, thousands of evil Hamas terrorists broke out of their walled-in enclave and killed approximately 1,200 Israelis for no reason other than because they were evil and wanted to kill Jews. Nothing was done by the Israeli government to provoke this attack, and nothing of any relevance happened prior to this date.
The attack was as undefended as could possibly be; Israeli defense forces did not respond for nine hours despite having received ample warning that an attack was coming for months, from both their own intelligence services and from Egyptian intelligence. No attempt was made to warn the Nova music festival of an impending attack despite Israeli security forces being aware the day before that an attack was coming, resulting in hundreds of deaths and captured hostages. The attack was met with so little resistance that Hamas themselves were reportedly surprised by how many Israelis they were able to capture and kill, their surprise perhaps due to the fact that they’d spent two years training right out in the open less than a mile from the border for an air, sea and land attack using motorized paragliders, drones and motorboats. This is all perfectly normal and not suspicious at all.
Also not at all suspicious is the fact that 100 percent of the 1,200 Israeli deaths on October 7 are being attributed to Hamas despite Israeli media and eyewitness testimony reporting that the IDF was firing indiscriminately into areas full of Israelis. The burned bodies you see in photos of the October 7 devastation were with absolute certainty burned by Hamas, despite the Israeli government’s acknowledgement that it had previously misidentified hundreds of dead Hamas fighters as Israeli because they’d been so badly burned by IDF fire that their corpses were unrecognizable.
(The official story of October 7 also previously included narratives about beheaded babies, babies cooked in ovens, and babies ripped from the wombs of pregnant mothers, and you were an evil Jew-hating Holocaust denier if you doubted them, but those narratives have since been walked back and are no longer part of the official story, so belief in them is now optional.)
The murder of 1,200 Israelis was so evil and egregious that it has warranted the killing of more than 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 7,000 children. It will likely warrant the killing of far more, because Israeli lives are worth much, much more than Palestinian lives. Only a racist Nazi would believe that Palestinian lives matter.
Israel is not to blame for any of the killings in Gaza anyway, because Hamas is using civilians as human shields. It is anti-semitic to ask how Israel has managed to kill so many human shields while killing astonishingly few Hamas fighters and dealing no meaningful damage to Hamas leadership in the process.
Now that 1.7 million Gazans have been displaced and they are being shoved toward the Egyptian border, it is perfectly fine and normal to be seeing official agendas being pushed by Israeli officials and thought leaders to “thin out” Gaza’s population and relocate them to other countries. Only an evil terrorist supporter would call this ethnic cleansing; one ought to think of it more as a permanent vacation.
If you question any part of this official story, you’re an evil Jew-hating monster who loves terrorism and wishes Hitler had won. You should be censored, fired from your job, kicked off campus and disappeared from polite society, because you support genocide and you want good people to die.
Does this make you feel like you’re going crazy? Good. That means it’s working. That means the official story is taking root in your mind. Let it blossom and bloom inside of you. Stop struggling. Relax. The more you struggle, the more it will hurt. Just let your mind go blank and obey. This will be over before you know it.
Despite the soaring civilian deaths in Gaza, the Biden administration is not considering using any of the leverage it has over Israel to get the Israeli military to change its tactics, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
US officials say they’re expressing concern privately and claim Israel is listening, but the current campaign in south Gaza, where there are millions of displaced civilians, is no less brutal than Israeli operations in the north.
The US has pointed to Israel allowing more aid trucks to enter Gaza as proof that Israel is listening. But the UN’s top relief official, Martin Griffiths, has said the situation in south Gaza is “apocalyptic” and ending any possibility of meaningful humanitarian operations.
The Senate has blocked a supplemental funding bill that included financial aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as provisions aimed at bolstering border security. The vote, which fell mostly along party lines, increases the likelihood that Congress will fail to approve more funding for Ukraine before the end of the year, as the White House has warned that Kyiv is desperately in need of more aid.
The vote was 49 to 51, as every Senate Republican opposed advancing the legislation. Sixty votes were needed to take up the bill. Republicans in both chambers of Congress had demanded stricter border regulations in exchange for their support, and they said the bill failed to meet their requirements.
The vote came one day after Senate Democrats formally unveiled the $111bn supplemental security bill, reflecting the funding request that Joe Biden issued in October to provide assistance to the US’s allies abroad.
Ahead of the vote, Biden delivered an address to urge Congress to pass the bill, warning that a failure to act would only benefit Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, in the war against Ukraine.“Who is prepared to walk away from holding Putin accountable for this behavior? Who among us is really prepared to do that?” Biden said. “I’m not prepared to walk away, and I don’t think the American people are either.” ...
After it became clear that the bill would fail to advance on Wednesday, Sanders joined Republicans in opposing the procedural motion. Schumer initially voted to advance the bill, but he then switched his vote to “no”, a procedural maneuver that will allow him to take up the legislation again at a later date.
Israeli forces and Hamas are fighting house-to-house battles along the length of the Gaza Strip, with devastating consequences for the civilian population amid a complete collapse in humanitarian relief. As the war intensified on Wednesday, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, invoked a rarely used clause in the UN charter to raise the issue on his own initiative before the security council, to warn that the conflict “may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security”.
“We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system,” Guterres wrote in a letter to the council. “The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region.” He added: “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.
“An even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighboring countries.”
As the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been fighting their way through badly bomb-damaged urban areas in northern and southern Gaza, Hamas has increasingly relied on improvised bombs to inflict casualties and slow down the assault.
Gaza’s hospitals have reported a flood of civilian dead and injured, many of them women and children, as medical supplies dwindle, while the spread of ground combat to the south has stopped any delivery of humanitarian aid much farther than the Rafah crossing point with Egypt. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 1,207 Palestinians had been killed since the collapse of a temporary ceasefire at the beginning of the month, and that 70% of the dead were women and children.
A soaring civilian death toll and a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza has jolted the Biden administration into a stark change of rhetoric towards the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Out has gone cavalier White House disavowals against “drawing red lines” for Israel in Gaza; in have come blunt invocations of international law and the need to limit civilian casualties to a minimum. ...
The altered tone, however, has not been accompanied by a substantive policy shift – raising doubts among critics about the credibility of official US pronouncements on the unfolding carnage. ...
“They have changed their rhetoric but not their policy,” said [Joe] Cirincione [a Washington national security analyst], who initially praised Biden’s handling of the crisis. “They’re emphasising that Israel must reduce civilian casualties, but when Israel doesn’t reduce civilian casualties they don’t do anything about it. It’s not real – it’s messaging. They are just providing cover for Netanyahu. They aren’t changing his policy. I have great admiration for [Antony] Blinken [the US secretary of state], but he looks pathetic at this point.”
The only way to render its influence credible with Netanyahu, Cirincione argued, is to make continued US aid conditional – a “worthwhile thought”, Biden said late last month before administration officials shut down the idea days later. “You could stop supplying Israel with 1,000- and 2,000-pound bombs and stop sending them artillery shells,” Cirincione said. “If you want Israel to stop mass slaughter of civilians, don’t send them the weapons they are using to commit mass slaughter.”
Israel's public admission that it has killed two civilians in the Gaza Strip for every Hamas militant—a roughly 66% noncombatant death rate—is a major understatement, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
Based on preliminary statistics, the Geneva-based nonprofit estimated that at least 90% of the people killed in Israel's assault on Gaza thus far have been civilians, a rate that exceeds those of the U.S. wars on Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as Russia's war on Ukraine.
Euro-Med Monitor found that when including those believed to be missing under the rubble of Gaza's decimated infrastructure, Israeli forces have killed 21,022 people in the besieged Palestinian territory since October 7, an estimated 19,660 of whom were civilians. The nonprofit said that 60% of the civilians killed were women and children.
The group said its figures "clearly refute" Israel's claim of a two-to-one ratio of civilians to militants killed, which an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson hailed as "tremendously positive" in a CNN interview earlier this week. Israeli forces believe they have killed around 5,000 Hamas fighters since October 7.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday that Hezbollah must be pushed back from the Israeli border, and if it’s not achieved through diplomatic means, Israel will take military action.
The comments suggest Israel is considering opening a second front in Lebanon beyond the cross-border strikes Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging since October 7.
According to a recent report from Axios, some US officials are concerned that Israel might provoke Hezbollah to justify a wider war in Lebanon. The report said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had “expressed concern” in a phone call with Gallant in November about the risk of escalation on Israel’s northern border.
A former Ukrainian MP regarded by Kyiv as a traitor has been shot dead in a park in suburban Moscow, in an attack attributed to Ukraine’s SBU security service.
Illia Kyva was a pro-Russian member of Ukraine’s parliament before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but fled to Russia a month before the start of the war and frequently criticised Ukrainian authorities online and on Russian state TV talkshows.
Russian investigators said in a statement on Wednesday that Kyva had been shot, adding that his body was discovered in a park in the elite Moscow suburb of Odintsovo.
“An unknown person fired shots at the victim from an unidentified weapon. The man died on the spot from his injuries,” Russia’s investigative committee said in a statement.
A Ukrainian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the Ukrainian SBU security service was responsible for the killing. Several Ukrainian media outlets also cited their sources as saying the SBU had assassinated the 46-year-old former politician.
Worth a full read:
The Department of Homeland Security monitored web posts critical of a proposed police training center in Atlanta known as Cop City and shared its findings with state and local law enforcement ahead of a crackdown that left one protester dead and more than 40 others charged with domestic terrorism.
The federal reports, shared with the Atlanta police and the Georgia bureau of investigation, concluded that property damage in the name of stopping Cop City, a planned $90m police training center in Atlanta’s South River Forest, was consistent with “anarchist violent extremist” and “environmental violent extremist” ideologies. A separate report from the multiagency National Counterterrorism Center reached a similar conclusion.
The records, seen by Drilled and the Guardian through a public records request, provide new details about how federal agencies founded in the wake of 9/11 laid the groundwork for Georgia to charge organizers camping in the woods as terrorists, and reflect a wider US and global crackdown on environmental protest.
“DHS’s communications undoubtedly contributed to Georgia authorities’ harsh crackdown on the Stop Cop City movement,” said Charlie Hogle, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, over email. “The documents reinforce our concerns about DHS’s overbroad and stigmatizing use of ‘domestic violent extremism’ and related labels, which has long resulted in unwarranted surveillance, investigation, and even prosecution of environmental and racial and social justice activists.”
A representative for DHS told Drilled and the Guardian that the agency “does not classify or designate any groups as domestic violent extremists”. However, a bulletin the agency released in May indicates its officers did consider some Cop City opponents to be extremists. The National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin referred to Cop City opponents as “alleged DVEs”. Additional records, first published by Unicorn Riot, showed that the FBI was labeling Cop City opponents as “anarchist” and “environmental violent extremists” in August 2022.
After Cop28, know this: Sunak and his rightwing allies around the world have no interest in saving our planet
Not only did Rishi Sunak spend more time travelling to Cop28 on his private jet than attending the conference itself, he also delivered a speech at the Dubai summit doubling down on the decision to abandon crucial climate policies on heat pumps and energy efficiency, as revealed in his September announcement. All this while using the diminishing strength of the UK’s green credentials as a shield. These actions lay bare the troubling path the Conservatives have chosen ahead of the next general election. But across western states, abandoning long-held climate commitments is becoming the norm for rightwing parties.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ Freedom party has secured the most votes in the country’s recent general election and wants to undo the green transition. In New Zealand, the National party has formed a coalition with the populist NZ First party and ACT, a rightwing party that wants to repeal the Zero Carbon Act. In Germany, the AfD, the far-right party that is second in national opinion polls, has previously called for an end to all climate action efforts. In Canada, polls show that the Conservatives, who voted not to recognise the climate crisis as real two years ago, would win the upcoming 2025 election if it were held today.
Previously in the UK, the climate crisis has not been a partisan issue. Despite differences in approaches, the broad political consensus of the last 20 years has been that we need climate action regardless of which party is in power. Yet progress is slipping, and the Climate Change Committee, an independent body that advises the government on emissions, isn’t confident that the UK will meet its 2030 carbon budget delivery plan target.
Conservatives have failed to deliver on climate policy before. Though David Cameron’s government once declared itself the greenest ever, he later decided to “cut the green crap”. Theresa May approved a third Heathrow runway and infamously got rid of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Boris Johnson’s plans for a green industrial revolution were criticised for being “nowhere near enough to manage the British government commitment to net zero emissions by 2050”. In her brief stint in No 10, Liz Truss wanted to ban solar power from most of England’s farmland. ...
So what is behind this shift and why is it happening now? Ahead of an upcoming and long-awaited general election, where the Tories are bracing for a major loss, climate policies have become a tangible point of difference against the Labour party, which has promised a £28bn green fund. The last year has proven that increasingly, the climate crisis is being used as a political football. Local transport policies such as Ulez, low-traffic neighbourhoods and clean air zones, aimed at improving public health and reducing harmful emissions, have been criticised by some Conservative politicians, while 15-minute cities, designed to reduce dependency on cars, have been painted as “sinister” by the transport secretary, Mark Harper. Claire Coutinho, the secretary of state for energy security and net zero, made a false claim that Labour wants to tax meat to reduce consumption, while Sunak has announced that his government will scrap “plans for households to have seven recycling bins” and abandon the 2028 deadline for landlords to have energy-efficient properties. These anti-green narratives and policy reversals are calculated; Sunak is vying for the votes of motorists, landlords and homeowners next year.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Elmore James – Madison Blues
Elmore James And The Broom Dusters - Standing At The Crossroads
Elmore James – I Gotta Go Now
Elmore James - One Way Out
Elmore James – Something Inside Of Me
Elmore James And The Broom Dusters - Happy Home
Elmore James – Dust My Broom
Elmore James - Blues Before Sunrise
Elmore James – Rolling & Tumbling
Roy Buchanan ~ Tribute To Elmore James