The Evening Blues - 10-2-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Texas blues singer and guitarist Goree Carter. Enjoy!
Goree Carter - Hoy Hoy
“Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”
-- George Orwell
News and Opinion
There’s been an astonishingly brazen propaganda push to normalize war profiteering in Ukraine as Kyiv coordinates with the arms industry and western governments to convert the war-ravaged nation into a major domestic weapons manufacturer, thereby turning Ukrainians into proxies of the military industrial complex as well as the Pentagon.
At an event in Kyiv which hosted 250 “defense” industry corporations from 30 different countries on Friday, President Zelensky gave a speech urging war profiteers to open factories in Ukraine to cut out the middleman of securing and delivering so many weapons from abroad. This is an investment that the arms industry would ostensibly have plenty of time to set up, given that western officials are now going out of their way to communicate to the public that this war will stretch on for many more years to come.
Zelensky’s speech twice made use of the phrase “defense-industrial complex”, and used the phrase “arsenal of the free world” no fewer than three times.
“Ukraine is developing a special economic regime for the defense-industrial complex,” Zelensky said. “To give all the opportunities to realize their potential to every company that works for the sake of defense — in Ukraine and with Ukraine or that wants to come to Ukraine.”
“Right now, the most powerful military-industrial complexes are being determined, as are their priorities and the global standard of defense. All of this is being determined in Ukraine,” Zelensky tweeted with photos from the event.
This move has been accompanied in recent weeks by some of the most appalling mass media headlines that I have ever seen, all geared toward normalizing the military industrial complex in the eyes of the public.
In an amazingly awful Wall Street Journal op-ed titled titled “In Defense of the Defense Industry” and subtitled “Populists of the right and left attack U.S. companies that make weapons. Who do they think protects us?”, Future of Capitalism’s Ira Stoll argues that the military industrial complex is actually a wonderful thing we should all love and support.
“The weapons industry protects America and its allies, keeping us safe from ruthless enemies who would otherwise exterminate or enslave us,” Stoll writes. “Raytheon helps make weapons systems that defend Israeli civilians against attacks from Iran-backed terrorist groups. These include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, SkyHunter interceptor systems and Tamir missiles. Raytheon also produces the Javelin antitank missile that Ukraine has used against Russian armor and the early-warning radars that would detect incoming missiles aimed at the U.S.”
Stoll does not name the alternate universe he is describing in which the US military is used to keep Americans safe rather than to advance imperial interests abroad.
Another recent Wall Street Journal article titled “The War in Ukraine Is Also a Giant Arms Fair” and subtitled “Arms makers are getting orders for weapons being put to the test on the battlefield” glorifies the way war machinery is being field tested on human bodies to the benefit of war profiteers.
“The Panzerhaubitze howitzer is part of an arsenal of weapons being put to the test in Ukraine in what has become the world’s largest arms fair,” writes WSJ’s Alistair MacDonald. “Companies that make the weapons being used in Ukraine have won orders and resurrected production lines. The deployment of billions of dollars worth of equipment in a major land war has also given manufacturers and militaries a unique opportunity to analyze the battlefield performance of weapons, and learn how best to use them.”
A Reuters article from two weeks ago titled “At London arms fair, global war fears are good for business” gushes over how much money is being raked in by arms manufacturers as a result of this war, with one unnamed arms industry executive telling Reuters, “War is good for business.”
Just the other day CNN anchor Erin Burnett followed up some clips of “far right lawmakers” voicing their opposition to funding for the Ukraine proxy war by pausing to explain to her audience that this funding is actually good for Americans, because it goes straight into the US arms industry.
CNN's @ErinBurnett adding to the mad rush to normalize war profiteering in Ukraine by explaining that "the vast majority of this money is going to American companies and jobs, right, because those are the people that are making the Abrams tanks, the ammo and everything else." https://t.co/GT9l9PZo3K
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 1, 2023
“It’s worthwhile with all of this gaining some steam in public perception to be clear on some facts,” Burnett said. “First and foremost, the vast majority of this money is going to American companies and jobs, right, because those are the people that are making the Abrams tanks, the ammo and everything else. And you take Lockheed Martin, which makes the HIMARS, that have been core to Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the company announced it’s going to increase its workforce in Camden, Arkansas, by 20 percent, just because of this new demand.”
“That money is going to America,” Burnett added.
All this propaganda energy is going into normalizing the act of war profiteering because if you let the idea stand on its own, it would make people scream in horror. The fact that a deliberately-provoked war is being used as a giant field demo to show prospective buyers and investors how effective various weapons systems can be at ripping apart human bodies in order to profit from all this death and destruction is more nightmarish than anything any dystopian novelist has ever come up with.
Ukraine is a giant advertisement for weapons of mass slaughter, and the cost of that corporate ad is not money but human blood. If you look right at this thing it absolutely chills you to the bone. Which is why so much effort is being poured into making sure people don’t look at it.
Medvedev: Kiev Regime Change, More Territory; UK Intervention, India: Relations w/Rus Non Negotiable
The new defence secretary, Grant Shapps, said he has held talks with army leaders about deploying British troops within Ukraine for the first time for a training programme.
Shapps, who met Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for talks in Kyiv earlier this week, said the proposal being discussed would reduce the reliance on the UK and other Nato members’ bases.
The programme of training for Ukraine’s military, supported by 10 other nations, has taught skills to more than 26,500 recruits and is on track to have trained more than 30,000 soldiers by the end of the year, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Shapps also disclosed that he talked to Zelenskiy about how the navy could help to defend commercial vessels from Russian attacks in the Black Sea.
Wow, guess who The Guardian doesn't like? It certainly throws around the label "pro-Russian" carelessly.
Slovakia’s populist former prime minister, Robert Fico, who campaigned on a pledge to end military aid to Ukraine, has said his position “has not changed” after his party’s clear election win made him favourite to lead the country for a fourth time.
Fico told reporters he was waiting for Slovakia’s president to give him a mandate to start forming a government – expected on Monday – after officials said on Sunday that Smer-SD had scored 22.9% in Saturday’s vote with 99.98% of ballots counted.
Fico said he was ready to open talks with other parties on forming a coalition government. “We’re here, we’re ready, we’ve learned something, we’re more experienced,” he said. “We have clear ideas; we have clear plans.”
The 59-year-old, whose pro-Moscow stance has sparked fears Slovakia will join Hungary and its authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán in challenging the EU’s consensus on support for Kyiv, added: “People in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine.” ... Fico said his party was “not changing [its view] that we are prepared to help Ukraine in a humanitarian way … we are prepared to help with the reconstruction of the state. But you know our opinion on arming Ukraine.” ...
Analysts said Slovakia’s new ruling coalition would most likely be formed by Smer, Hlas and the nationalist, pro-Russian Slovak National Party (SNS), which would have a slim but functioning majority of 79 seats in the 150-seat parliament. “If this transpires, a major assault on the rule of law is on the menu – Smer promised ‘vengeance’,” said Michal Ovádek, a European politics specialist at University College London. “We will have to wait a few days to find out whether it materialises.”
The beehives were in no man’s land. After the border clash near his village in April, Geram drove down to the fields where his family has been farming for decades and kept a small apiary. But when he got near, he heard gunshots. The Azerbaijanis were firing at him from their new positions on the surrounding hilltops. He ran back to his car and never returned.
Another local, Samvel Hyusunts, lost nearly 70 hectares (173 acres) where his family had been farming wheat for decades. “They take what they can have,” he says, standing in a dusty suit and flat cap on the roadside where thousands of refugees have passed from Karabakh into Armenia. “The village is suffering.”
It would hardly be of note if this was in Nagorno-Karabakh, where hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands have fled as Azerbaijan closes in on “reintegrating” its territories in what many Armenians say is a campaign of ethnic cleansing. But Tegh is in Armenia proper, and the April incident before the war points to how a series of border clashes and encroachments could presage the next great crisis: a revanchist Azerbaijan emboldened by its victory in Nagorno-Karabakh, now eyeing a land corridor to Turkey or even annexing entire regions of what hawks in Baku have begun to call “western Azerbaijan.” In fact, that land is Armenia.
“Initially, it was all about Karabakh and improving their bargaining position and threatening the Armenians’ territorial integrity to deter their support for Karabakh Armenians,” said Stefan Meister, head of the Centre for Order and Governance in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia at the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations. “Now, since they have Karabakh under control, they don’t need any agreement with the Armenian government. They might just move forward and say: ‘OK, we have some territory and we take some more. Or just take the whole Syunik region.” ...
Geram has little doubt another war is coming. He points to the hilltops nearby: “You can see the Azerbaijanis now have positions there, and there and there. Whoever is stronger makes the rules. I fear it won’t be us,” he says,
Kosovo has demanded that Serbia pull its troops back from their common border and warned it was ready to protect its territorial integrity, after the US warned of punitive measures against Belgrade and Serbia’s president insisted he “does not want war”.
“We call on … Serbia to immediately withdraw all troops from the border with Kosovo,” the Kosovan government said, demanding that Belgrade “demilitarise” 48 forward military and police bases, “which pose a permanent threat to our country”.
Tensions between the two countries have been high since last Sunday when well-armed Serbian paramilitaries ambushed a Kosovan police patrol, killing a police officer. Three Serbian gunmen were killed in the ensuing battle, near the village of Banjska. The gun battle prompted fresh international concern over the stability of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority and declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a guerrilla uprising and a 1999 Nato intervention.
Serbia pulled back some of its troops on Saturday after warnings from Washington that it could face punitive measures over what the White House called an “unprecedented” buildup of Serbian troops and armour on the border.
Unease in Kosovo’s troubled north has been building for months since the prime minister, Albin Kurti, sparked protests and riots this spring by installing ethnic Albanian mayors in four Serb-majority municipalities there. EU-sponsored negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia’s leaders have repeatedly broken down and appear all but dead in the water after last Sunday’s fighting.
The Turkish defence ministry says its warplanes carried out raids on suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Sunday after a suicide attack on a government building in the Turkish capital.
A ministry statement said 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ party, or PKK, were “destroyed” in the aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots.
Earlier, two assailants detonated a bomb in front of Turkish government buildings in the heart of Ankara, in what authorities said was a terrorist attack that left both dead and two police officers wounded.
Kurdish militants later claimed responsibility for the blast, which was the first in the Turkish capital since 2016 and happened less than a mile away from the parliament building on Sunday, hours before lawmakers were due to return after a three-month summer break. In a speech to mark the reopening, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, slammed the morning attack as the “last flutters of terrorism”. He added: “Those who threaten the peace and security of citizens have not achieved their goals and never will.”
The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdish militant group the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group was responsible for two bombings that struck the Turkish capital in 2016.
A former Bolivian president and his defence minister have agreed to pay damages to the families of people killed by the military during their government, in a landmark settlement that sets a precedent by which other foreign leaders could face accountability for human rights abuse in US courts.
The settlement concerns events in 2003, when massive protests broke out over then president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s plan to export Bolivia’s natural gas. The army was sent to clear blockades in the largely Indigenous and working-class city of El Alto, killing more than 60 protesters and injuring hundreds.
Both Sánchez de Lozada and his defence minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzain, resigned and fled to the US, where they have lived ever since. In 2007, a civil lawsuit was brought against them in the US by eight Bolivian families whose relations were killed in 2003.
Eleven years later, a federal jury found them responsible for the killings and awarded the plaintiffs $10m in compensatory damages. Both defendants appealed, but as a result of the agreement on Thursday, they have withdrawn their appeal and agreed to pay an undisclosed sum in compensatory damages to the families.
“With this agreement, the jury verdict remains intact,” said Thomas Becker, the human rights lawyer who led the legal action. “And that’s the most important part: to send this message that no leader can kill their people and then use the US as a refuge.”
Simmering hostility between Republicans over the bipartisan deal that averted a government shutdown descended into open political warfare on Sunday, a rightwing congressman saying he would move to oust Kevin McCarthy and the embattled House speaker insisting he would survive.
“We need to rip off the Bandaid. We need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” the Florida representative Matt Gaetz told CNN’s State of the Union, saying he would file a “motion to vacate” in the next few days. McCarthy, Gaetz said, lied about “a secret deal” struck with Democrats to later pass money for Ukraine that was left out of the compromise agreement, and misled Republicans about working with the opposition at all.
The bill keeping the government funded for 47 days passed the House on Saturday night 335-91, 209 Democrats joining 126 Republicans in support. It cleared the Senate 88-9 and was signed by Joe Biden. ...
Gaetz said he would no longer hold to an agreement made in January to support McCarthy in exchange for concessions including a hard position on federal funding. That deal included a loosening of rules to allow a single member to file a motion to vacate, the beginning of the process to remove a speaker. “The only way Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out, and they probably will,” said Gaetz.
“I’m done owning Kevin McCarthy. We made a deal in January to allow him to assume the speakership and I’m not owning him any more because he doesn’t tell the truth. And so if Democrats want to own Kevin McCarthy by bailing him out I can’t stop them. But then he’ll be their speaker, not mine.”
In 'First Major Blow to Big Pharma,' Federal Judge Blocks Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Injunction
A federal judge in Ohio on Friday blocked an attempt by corporate interests to stop Medicare's historic negotiation of certain drug prices with pharmaceuticals.
Medicare gained the power to negotiate drug prices as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but the several industry groups and drug makers have sued to forestall the program, arguing that it is unconstitutional, CNN explained. One of those groups was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which filed its lawsuit in June. The Ohio judge Friday rejected its request for a preliminary injunction to block the program before October 1, the date by which pharmaceuticals must agree to negotiate or not.
"This is the first major blow to Big Pharma in its legal battles to block the drug price negotiation provisions under the Inflation Reduction Act," Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, said in a statement.
"The Chamber’s lawsuit lacks merit," Maybarduk contined. "The court made the right decision not to grant the injunction, which would have caused needless patient suffering and treatment rationing."
Judge Michael Newman of the Southern District of Ohio, a Trump appointee, ruled that the chamber "demonstrated neither a strong likelihood of success nor irreparable harm," as CNBC reported.
"Consequently, their request for immediate preliminary injunctive relief... is denied," Newman concluded.
Newman also rejected the Biden administration's request to dismiss the case. Instead, he gave the Chamber of Commerce until October 13 to answer some questions about its argument and the administration until October 27 to renew its motion to dismiss.
While the chamber had argued the negotiation program was unconstitutional for multiple reasons, Newman pointed out that drug companies are not forced to participate in Medicare.
"As there is no constitutional right (or requirement) to engage in business with the government, the consequences of that participation cannot be considered a constitutional violation," he said.
An Indigenous justice activist is recovering after a man wearing a hat with the Donald Trump slogan “Make America great again” allegedly shot him during a protest against the reinstallation of a statue honoring a Spanish conquistador in New Mexico.
Jacob Johns was shot on Thursday morning in the northern New Mexico city of Española while demonstrating against plans to again erect a Juan de Oñate statue that previously had been taken down and put in storage. First responders flew Johns to a hospital in Albuquerque by helicopter after he was wounded. By Friday, he was recovering from emergency surgery, said a message on an online GoFundMe campaign set up in his support. ...
The suspected shooter – 23-year-old Ryan Martinez – was arrested by Española and Pojoaque Pueblo police and faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. On Friday, a judge ordered Martinez held without bond through at least the weekend.
Johns was part of a crowd who had gathered at the Rio Arriba county annex building to celebrate officials’ postponement of plans to re-erect a statue of Oñate there. The conquistador and his Spanish compatriots carried out a 1599 massacre of hundreds of members of a pueblo tribe in what is now New Mexico.
A cellphone video posted on social media showed that a fight broke out near where a crowd was celebrating the postponement. At one point, the video showed the man identified as Martinez jump over a waist-high barrier and try to grab another man. Two more men then grappled with Martinez, who is seen leaping back over the barrier, grabbing a pistol from his waistband and aiming the weapon at those with whom he was tussling as voices yell, “Let him go!”
Donald Trump called for shooting store robbers on Friday in a bleak speech to California Republicans –and warned “this country will die!” if Joe Biden remained president.
During the address to GOP members, Trump also railed that wealthy Beverly Hills residents smell because of water denials, and repeated election fraud lies, according to the Associated Press.
“We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,” Trump said, spurring applause. “Shot!”
The rhetoric is in keeping with Trump’s tough-on-crime mantra but signified a ramped up emphasis on punishment. Trump has previously pitched shooting migrants to keep them from entering the US.
The former defense secretary Mark Esper has said that Trump asked about shooting George Floyd protesters. He also floated imposing the death penalty on convicted drug dealers, cop-killers and human traffickers, AP said.
Violet Sage Walker stands on the bow of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship and looks out at Morro Rock jutting up from the Pacific Ocean. The dramatic promontory – known as Lisamu’ in Chumash, the language of Walker’s tribe – is part of a stunning stretch of California coastline she hoped would soon be part of a sprawling new marine sanctuary six times the size of Yosemite. Walker is the chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, a small group of Indigenous Americans who once lived along the coast of San Luis Obispo county. Records of their occupation of the central coast date back to 18,000 years.
The tribe has been tirelessly campaigning for the central coast to be designated as a marine sanctuary – a fight Walker’s father, Fred Collins, started more than five decades ago – and was confident the sanctuary would go ahead after a successful public comment period last year drew 10,000 supporting signatures. But then, last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) released a draft management plan for the sanctuary that left the tribe reeling. The stretch of coast they had advocated for – from Cambria to Morro Bay – had been left out. Instead, Noaa’s proposed sanctuary would start just south of Morro Bay, stretching down to Gaviota. The reason, Noaa told the Guardian, is because a marine sanctuary is not compatible with offshore wind – and Morro Bay is set to be the hub of the country’s biggest offshore wind development project. ...
The tribe has less than a month to encourage people to speak out and sway Noaa’s decision on the size of the sanctuary and how it is managed, before the government agency’s public comment period officially closes on 25 October. ... One of the tribe’s driving factors for establishing the sanctuary is to protect the area from the offshore windfarms slated to be built along the coast. Morro Bay, an area of rich biodiversity – including part of the country’s last remaining population of endangered sea otters – would become a hub for offshore wind if the sanctuary’s boundaries do not extend to include it. ...
The proposed windfarm that concerns the tribe would be the largest in the country, with 380 floating windmills across roughly 250,000 acres. The turbines could eventually power 1.6m homes and will be key in California’s transition to clean energy. The farms, however, would require underground cabling to a centralized base at the shore in order to dispatch the energy. It is unknown how the turbines and cabling will affect migratory patterns of whales and other species, but Noaa has highlighted the developments could increase ocean noise, change existing habitats, affect life cycles of fish, change species survival rates, and release contaminants that could be absorbed by marine life. ...
The tribe isn’t opposed to offshore wind, they just want to see it done in a responsible way, rather than becoming the next oil and wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. The tribe, like the majority of Indigenous communities in the US, have felt shut out of decision-making and is demanding a say in how the land and ocean is managed.
Rejecting the corporate media's narrative that U.S. President Joe Biden's newly-released offshore drilling plan includes the "fewest-ever" drilling leases, dozens of climate action and marine conservation groups on Friday said the president had "missed an easy opportunity to do the right thing" and follow through on his campaign promise to end all lease sales for oil and gas extraction in the nation's waters.
The U.S. Interior Department announced Friday its five-year plan for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, including three new areas in the Gulf of Mexico where fossil fuel companies will be permitted to drill.
Biden promised "no new drilling, period" as a presidential candidate, and the plan was announced six months after climate advocates were incensed by the administration's approval of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
The new leases will be added to more than 9,000 drilling leases that have already been sold, and is "incompatible with reaching President Biden’s goal of cutting emissions by 50-52% by 2030," said the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition, citing the findings of Biden's own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Office of Atmospheric Protection earlier this year.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Goree Carter - I'm Your Boogie Man
Goree Carter - I've Got News For You
Goree Carter - Rock Awhile
Goree Carter - My Love Is Coming Down
Goree Carter - Bad Feeling
Goree Carter - She's Just Old Fashioned
Goree Carter and His Rocking Rhythm Orchestra - Come On Let’s Boogie
Goree Carter - Let's Rock
Goree Carter - Bullcorn
Goree Carter - Back Home Blues
Goree Carter - She's My Best Bet