The Evening Blues - 12-8-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues rock guitarist JJ Cale. Enjoy!
JJ Cale – After Midnight
"The commonest weakness of our race is our ability to rationalize our most selfish purposes."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
News and Opinion
If your position is based on truth and morality, you don’t need to make up lies to defend it, and you don’t need to hurl false accusations at those who disagree with it.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t need to circulate bogus atrocity propaganda about decapitated babies, babies cooked in ovens, and murdered pregnant women.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t have to circulate lies claiming actual dead Palestinian babies in Gaza are plastic dolls.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t have to circulate lies and propaganda about the hospitals you plan to attack being secret Hamas headquarters.
If your position was based on truth and morality, your official government social media accounts wouldn’t have to keep deleting posts after getting caught circulating lie after lie.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t have to circulate amazingly cringey propaganda videos like Israeli children singing about how great it will be to destroy Gaza and Israeli women doing yoga over the pictures of Israeli hostages.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t find yourself engaged in bizarre mental contortions trying to pretend history began on October 7 while sweeping all the mountains of murder and abuse which led up to it under the carpet.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t have to keep pointing at something that happened months ago to defend what you’ve been doing in the present moment in all the days since.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t need to resort to hurling false accusations of anti-semitism at those who criticize your side instead of producing robust counter-arguments.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t need to resort to accusing those who disagree with you of supporting terrorism and serving Hamas instead of defending your position like a normal adult.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t need to lie and claim that longstanding pro-Palestine slogans are actually calls for the genocide of Jews to try and get them silenced.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you wouldn’t feel the need to censor and silence everyone who disagrees with you online, on college campuses, and on all platforms of major influence.
If your position was based on truth and morality, you would get curious and do some self-examination when young people overwhelmingly reject that position instead of insisting that the young people are the problem and trying to kill TikTok and outlaw demonstrations.
If your position was based on truth and morality you would be defending it with facts, logic and rational argumentation instead of vitriol, online troll mobs and incendiary false accusations.
If your position is based in truth and morality, you can defend it in a truthful and moral way, instead of the exact opposite.
US Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said Thursday that the Biden administration has not set a deadline on Israel’s war in Gaza and reiterated US opposition to a ceasefire.
“We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role. This is their conflict. That said, we do have influence, even if we don’t have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza,” Finer told the Aspen Security Forum.
Financial Times reported last week that the Israeli onslaught is expected to last over a year. US officials told CNN that they expect the current phase of the war, which involves constant airstrikes and a ground operation, would continue into 2024, and then Israel would narrow down its targeting to specific Hamas members, possibly by January.
Finer said the US supports Israel’s goal of ensuring that “Hamas can no longer govern,” although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his objective is the elimination of Hamas altogether. Finer said the US is “not in place yet of asking Israel to stop or for a ceasefire.”
Instructions from Israeli forces telling Gaza civilians where to seek refuge and humanitarian relief have given contradictory recommendations, while aid agencies and Palestinians who have heeded them describe the offer of safety as a cruel “mirage” amid an intensifying military campaign.
Those who have fled to a “humanitarian zone” declared by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at al-Mawasi, a Bedouin settlement on sand dunes in the south-west corner of the Gaza Strip, have depicted a desperate scene with no shelter and barely any food. The IDF, meanwhile, has not ruled out bombing the area, claiming that rockets were fired from there, most recently on Wednesday.
Al-Mawasi was first touted as a safe zone a few days after the bombardment of Gaza began in response to the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel in which 1,200 were killed. However, the IDF has been inconsistent in recommending al-Mawasi as a safe space. Maps and instructions distributed recently to the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza show the territory divided into 623 numbered districts, with orange arrows showing how civilians should move from one district to another to avoid planned IDF military operations.
The arrows have changed direction as circumstances have changed in the past few days, but none of them specifically pointed towards al-Mawasi, nor was the 14 sq km coastal area mentioned in the accompanying text. Al-Mawasi was however shown in a presentation by the IDF to the international press on Thursday. It appeared as a grey area on a map of southern Gaza, labelled as a “humanitarian zone”.
Asked to give details, Col Elad Goren, the head of the civil department of the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat) branch, confirmed the army was recommending it as a haven for Gazans fleeing the war. He also suggested that Israeli forces were putting themselves in danger by allowing the zone to exist, the implication being that it could be used by Hamas to launch attacks.
The destruction of more than a third of Gaza’s homes as Israel bombards the territory in pursuit of Hamas is leading international legal experts to raise the concept of “domicide” – the mass destruction of dwellings to make the territory uninhabitable.
In the current Gaza war, launched after the 7 October attack by Hamas on southern Israel, independent experts estimate that as much as 40% of the housing in Gaza has been damaged or destroyed. The UN says 1.8 million people are internally displaced inside Gaza, many living in overcrowded UN shelters in the south.
Although Gaza has been damaged in previous conflicts and rebuilt, largely with money from the Gulf states, the current scale of the devastation is of a different order.
At issue is whether the scale of the infrastructure damage is a byproduct of the search for Hamas or part of a covert plan to expel Palestinians from Gaza, erasing the possibility of Gaza becoming a semi-viable society in the foreseeable future.
Domicide, a concept increasingly accepted in academia, is not a distinct crime against humanity under international law, and the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing tabled a report to the UN in October last year arguing that “a very important protection gap” needed to be filled.
Israeli tank shells fired in quick succession killed a Reuters journalist and injured six others as they filmed in Lebanon on 13 October, investigations by their employers have found. Human rights groups called for a war crimes investigation into the attacks, after conducting their own independent investigations and reaching the same conclusion.
Issam Abdallah, a 37-year-old video journalist, was killed instantly by a first shell, the reports published on Thursday found. It also seriously injured the AFP photographer Christina Assi, 28, who had a leg amputated and is still in hospital. A second weapon firing less than a minute later injured others in the group, who were travelling and working together, and destroyed a vehicle used by Al Jazeera journalists.
Evidence presented in the reports included expert analysis of munitions fragments, satellite images, the accounts of survivors and video recordings filmed by the group and other journalists before and during the attack. “The evidence we now have, and have published today, shows that an Israeli tank crew killed our colleague Issam Abdallah,” the Reuters editor-in-chief, Alessandra Galloni, said.
“We condemn Issam’s killing. We call on Israel to explain how this could have happened and to hold to account those responsible for his death and the wounding of Christina Assi of the AFP, our colleagues Thaier Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh, and the three other journalists.”
The weapon that killed Abdallah was a 120mm shell, which is used by the Israeli military on its Merkava tanks, multiple weapons experts consulted by the different investigators found. A tail fin from the munition was found near his body. Hezbollah is not known to have tanks and the Lebanese army’s largest calibre tank round is 105mm, Reuters said. It was likely to have been fired from the south-east, near the Israeli village of Jordeikh, where Israeli tanks were operating, the investigations found.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Thursday called for an official investigation of a deadly Israeli attack on a group of journalists, which HRW called "apparently deliberate" and a likely "war crime."
HRW, Amnesty, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse on Thursday all published their own separate investigations into the October 13 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attack that killed 37-year-old Lebanese Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and wounded half a dozen other journalists who were covering cross-border clashes between Israeli and Hezbollah troops near the village of Alma al-Shaab in southern Lebanon.
Reuters determined that an Israeli tank crew "fired two shells in quick succession" at the journalists, who HRW said were "clearly identifiable as members of the media, and had been stationary for at least 75 minutes." HRW "found no evidence of a military target near the journalists' location."
"This is not the first time that Israeli forces have apparently deliberately attacked journalists, with deadly and devastating results," HRW Lebanon researcher Ramzi Kaiss said in a statement. "Those responsible need to be held to account, and it needs to be made clear that journalists and other civilians are not lawful targets."
Amnesty International, meanwhile, asserted that the IDF strike was "likely a direct attack on civilians that must be investigated as a war crime."
The organization said it "verified over 100 videos and photographs, analyzed weapons fragments from the site, and interviewed nine witnesses. The findings indicate that the group was visibly identifiable as journalists and that the Israeli military knew or should have known that they were civilians yet attacked them anyway in two separate strikes 37 seconds apart."
An air force colonel has said that Israeli airstrikes may have intentionally killed Israeli captives rather than let them be taken to Gaza. Speaking in Hebrew about the airstrikes, Colonel Nof Erez told a Haaretz podcast in November, that “the Hannibal Directive was apparently applied” and that 7 October “was a mass Hannibal.”
After weeks of claiming that 1,400 “civilians” were killed that day, Israel last month revised its death toll down to about 900 civilians plus around 300 soldiers and police. An official Israeli account posting to X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday appeared to lower the death toll even further to “over 1,000.”
Erez’s interview was first reported in English by The Cradle. ...
Since 7 October, a growing body of evidence has been reported in Hebrew indicating that a significant, but undetermined, number of Israelis were killed by Israel’s own air and ground forces during the Palestinian assault.
The Biden administration has asked Israel not to respond to recent attacks by Yemen’s Houthis, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The Houthis, formally known as Ansar Allah, have fired missiles and drones at Israel in response to the Israeli onslaught in Gaza and have targeted Israeli-linked commercial ships in the Red Sea. US warships have responded to the Houthi attacks and have downed several Houthi missiles and drones in recent weeks.
According to the Journal, the US is concerned an Israeli response could spark a major regional war. US officials told Israel that the US would handle any potential response, although POLITICO reported that the administration is not planning on directly targeting the Houthis, at least for now.
The Senate on Thursday voted down a resolution that would have directed President Biden to withdraw all US troops from Syria, where US forces have come under frequent attack in response to President Biden’s support for Israel’s Gaza onslaught.
The bill failed in a vote of 13-84 and received support from seven Democrats, five Republicans, and one Independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT). The resolution was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who argued the US occupation of eastern Syria risks a major regional war.
“Keeping 900 US troops in Syria does nothing to advance American security. Rather, our intervention puts those servicemembers at grave risk by providing an enticing target for Iranian-backed militias,” Paul said.
Privacy rights advocates this week are sounding the alarm about a bipartisan congressional effort to imminently force through an extension of warrantless government surveillance powers despite public outrage over a well-documented history of misuse.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is set to expire at the end of the year unless it is reauthorized by Congress. The law only permits warrantless surveillance targeting foreigners located outside the United States, but Americans' data is also collected, and court documents have exposed "chilling" abuse, especially at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
While the FBI has implemented some reforms, for years—but particularly in the months leading up to the looming expiration—campaigners have pressured lawmakers to refuse to reauthorize Section 702 or to only do so with serious changes.
"To extend warrantless surveillance is to extend the racial profiling of everyday Americans. It's for this reason that we can't tolerate the reauthorization of FISA Section 702—and neither should Congress," AAPI Victory Alliance declared Thursday.
AAPI Victory Alliance is among 92 civil rights and racial justice groups that wrote to federal lawmakers late last month arguing that "including in must-pass legislation any extension would sell out the communities that have been most often wrongfully targeted by these agencies and warrantless spying powers generally."
The Biden administration has been pushing for a Section 702 extension without sweeping reforms. FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed in congressional testimony on Tuesday that "loss of this vital provision, or its reauthorization in a narrowed form, would raise profound risks. For the FBI in particular, either outcome could mean substantially impairing, or in some cases entirely eliminating, our ability to find and disrupt many of the most serious security threats."
On Wednesday evening, U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) filed the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024. The bipartisan compromise includes a temporary extension, which the Electronic Privacy Information Center called "a shocking attempt to entrench a controversial and sweeping surveillance authority that Congress is actively working to reform."
Hunter Biden was indicted on nine tax charges in California on Thursday, the second indictment against the president’s son, adding fuel to a scandal that Republicans have been seizing on in the lead-up to the 2024 election.
The new charges come in addition to federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Hunter Biden broke a law against drug users owning guns in 2018.
Donald Trump returned to his New York civil trial on Thursday as an accounting expert told the court there was “no evidence whatsoever” that the former US president and his family company committed fraud. It was the first time that Trump had attended the $250m fraud trial in over a month. Outside the court, Trump called the witness “one of the greatest experts in the country.”
“We did nothing wrong. There were no victims. The bank loves us,” Trump said.
Eli Bartov, an accounting professor at New York University, told the court: “My main finding is that there is no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud.”
Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, has accused Trump, his adult sons and other company executives of manipulating the value of the company’s assets to obtain more favorable loans from banks.
In one instance, the value of Trump’s Manhattan triplex apartment was nearly tripled from $80m to $180m in one year. Bartov said his reading of the documents suggested this was an error and not an attempt to mislead. “There is no evidence here of concealment,” Bartov said. “It’s true this is an error. But it is no fraud.”
Bartov argued that the Trump organization’s outside auditors had a duty to spot the errors, adding: “My analysis shows the statements of financial condition for all the years were not materially misstated.”
Asked if he thought the case had no merit, Bartov replied: “This is absolutely my opinion.”
Record-breaking land and sea temperatures, driven by climate breakdown, will probably cause “unprecedented mass coral bleaching and mortality” throughout 2024, according to a pioneering coral scientist. The impact of climate change on coral reefs has reached “uncharted territory”, said Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the University of Queensland, Australia, leading to concerns that we could be at a “tipping point”.
The upper ocean is undergoing unmatched changes in conditions, ecosystems and communities that can be traced back to the 1980s, when mass coral bleaching first appeared. In a paper published in the journal Science, US and Australian researchers say that historical data on sea surface temperatures, over four decades, suggests that this year’s extreme marine heatwaves may be a precursor to a mass bleaching and coral mortality event across the Indo-Pacific in 2024-25.
Mass coral bleaching happens when delicate corals become stressed due to factors including heat, causing them to lose their brown microbial algae, turning them white. At low stress levels, the algae can return to corals over a few months. But many Caribbean reef areas have recently experienced historically high sea temperatures that began one or two months earlier and lasted longer than usual.
Crucially, 2023 is the first year of a potential pair of El Niño years, with the warmest average global surface sea temperature from February to July on record. Since 1997, every instance of these El Niño pairs has led to a global mass coral bleaching event. Hoegh-Guldberg, whose work has helped to shape the world’s understanding of the risks to the ocean’s richest ecosystems, said: “The probability is that somewhere in the next 12 to 24 months, we are going see El Niño combine with warming sea temperatures and have a really big impact.
“We are literally in uncharted territory, which we know very little about and don’t know how to respond to and I think we’re dangerously exposed.” ... Mass bleaching and mortality of coral events in the Indo-Pacific, which will lead to long-term damage to ecosystems and the millions of people in the Earth’s tropical regions who depend on them, could worsen unless greenhouse gas emissions decrease, he said.
A proposal that would allow industries to permanently stash climate-polluting carbon dioxide beneath US Forest Service land puts those habitats and the people in or near them at risk, according to opponents of the measure. Chief among opponents’ concerns is that carbon dioxide could leak from storage wells or pipelines and injure or kill people and animals, as well as harm the trees in the forests and their habitat, said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“There are enough broad-ranging concerns with this rule that this isn’t the time to move forward and experiment when the consequences are so high,” said Bogdan Tejeda.
In 2020, a carbon dioxide pipeline ruptured in Mississippi, sending 49 people to the hospital. ... Concentrations of the gas, which is odorless and heavier than oxygen, can also prevent combustion engines from operating. Bogdan Tejeda worries that people even a mile or two from a carbon dioxide leak could start suffocating and have no way to escape.
Proponents of the proposal, however, say storage can be managed safely, and such regulatory changes are needed to meet the nation’s climate goals. “The geologic storage of CO2 beneath federal lands offers a significant opportunity to catalyze a domestic carbon management industry that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating and maintaining high-paying jobs,” said Jessie Stolark, executive director of the Carbon Capture Coalition, a non-partisan collaboration of more than 100 companies, unions, conservation and environmental policy organizations.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
JJ Cale – Call Me The Breeze
J.J.Cale & Eric Clapton - Ride the River
JJ Cale – Cajun Moon
Eric Clapton with JJ Cale - Anyway The Wind Blows
JJ Cale – Money Talks
JJ Cale - Lights Down Low
JJ Cale - Friday
JJ Cale - Guitar Man
JJ Cale - Affter Midnight (1966) Original Liberty Single
JJ Cale – Devil In Disguise
JJ Cale & Leon Russell at the Paradise Studios, LA 1979