The Evening Blues - 11-10-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Los Angeles blues band The Red Devils. Enjoy!
The Red Devils - Shake Your Hips / Who Do You Love
"You can’t run a fully-fledged democracy and a colonial war; one aspires to decency, the other is a form of fascism, regardless of its pretensions."
-- John Pilger
News and Opinion
The term “free world” was a mainstay of the cold war lexicon for decades. Although the United States and its NATO allies still portray themselves as paragons of free thought and action and declare anyone they don’t like as laggards in regard to human rights. They make quite a show of bragging about being democracies but their actions prove otherwise.
The U.S. and Israel continue their killing spree in Gaza which now totals 11,000 fatalities of men, women, and children. While the President of the United States claimed to have seen confirmation that Hamas beheaded children, Palestinians in their sorrow display the broken bodies of their children, some of them headless or limbless as Israel bombs homes, hospitals, and ambulances. The U.S. and the European Union are steadfast in their support of the bloodletting.
Of course most of the world has unambiguously condemned the ongoing crime. Millions of people have protested on every continent to express their outrage and revulsion as the sick plot to kill Palestinians en masse and force the survivors to leave their homes intensifies by the day. Eight nations, including South Africa, Bolivia, and Colombia have cut diplomatic ties with Israel. In Washington DC, headquarters of the aiders and abettors of the genocide, an estimated 300,000 people took to the streets in just one protest. Similar numbers were seen in London and other European capitals.
But these displays of empathy and solidarity pose a problem for the nations known as the collective west. The U.S. and its friends in NATO are committed to imposing their will on the rest of the world and they don’t want to hear from pesky citizens who point out their wrongdoing.
France and Germany both banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations and yet thousands marched anyway. The United Kingdom actually charged two young women with a terrorism offense for wearing images of a Hamas hang glider on their jackets as they marched in London. In the U.S., doxing, job termination, and even the censure of a member of Congress, Representative Rashida Tlaib, are all used to silence anyone who strays from official narratives.
Palestinian Groups Ask ICC to Arrest Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for War Crimes & Genocide in Gaza
Israel appeared to play down US claims that it would begin implementing four-hour "humanitarian pauses" in northern Gaza, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and Israeli military officials casting doubt over Washington's announcement.
Earlier on Thursday, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that there would be two "humanitarian corridors" for Palestinians to flee northern Gaza to the south and that Israel would not carry out military operations in those areas for periods lasting four hours. ...
However, an hour later, a statement from Netanyahu's office said the fighting in Gaza would "continue and there will not be a ceasefire before the hostages are released".
Later, Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht told reporters that the four-hour windows were "not a shift" in Israeli policy. ...
On Sunday, Israel said it opened a corridor along the main road connecting the north and south of Gaza. It remains open for four hours a day but Israeli air strikes have continued unabated in both parts of the territory.
Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a deal for a five-day ceasefire with Palestinian militant groups in Gaza in return for the release of some of the hostages held in the territory early in the war, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The sources said the Israeli prime minister rejected the deal outright in negotiations soon after Hamas militants staged an unprecedented incursion into Israeli territory on 7 October, killing an estimated 1,400 people.
Negotiations resumed after the launch of the Israeli ground offensive on 27 October, but the same sources said Netanyahu had continued to take a tough line on proposals involving ceasefires of different durations in exchange for a varying number of hostages.
Others indicated that negotiations which took place prior to the ground invasion involved a far larger number of hostages, with Hamas proposing the release of dozens of foreign nationals captive in Gaza. ...
According to three sources familiar with the talks, the original deal on the table involved freeing children, women and elderly and sick people in exchange for a five-day ceasefire, but the Israeli government turned this down and demonstrated its rejection with the launch of the ground offensive.
Contradicting her bosses in the Biden administration who have rejected official Palestinian casualty reports, a high-ranking U.S. State Department official on Wednesday said the death toll from Israel's war on Gaza may be "even higher" than reported—an assessment that came during a congressional hearing interrupted by peace activists.
"In this period of conflict and conditions of war, it is very difficult for any of us to assess what the rate of casualties are," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "We think they're very high, frankly, and it could be that they're even higher than are being cited. We'll know only after the guns fall silent."
"We take in sourcing from a variety of folks who are on the ground," she added. "I can't stipulate to one figure or another, it's very possible they're even higher than is being reported."
“We think they’re very high, and it could be they’re even higher than are being cited."
US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Barbara Leaf has said that the Gaza death toll may be higher than the near-11,000 figure reported by the Palestinian health ministry pic.twitter.com/iDe1kyxBjg
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) November 9, 2023
Leaf's remarks stood in stark contrast with those of President Joe Biden, who was accused of "genocide denial" last month after he expressed "no confidence" in Palestinian health officials' Gaza casualty reports—figures deemed reliable by United Nations agencies, human rights groups, and Israeli and international media. ...
Members of the women-led peace group CodePink confronted Leaf and Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for the Middle East Dana Stroul during Wednesday's hearing.
When Leaf and Stroul responded affirmatively to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul's (R-Texas) question of whether Hamas committed genocide by killing over 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers during an October 7 surprise attack on Israel, one CodePink activist shouted, "What about Israel?"
BREAKING: Our activist Leslie Angeline just disrupted @HouseForeignGOP as State Department officials spread lies to justify the US-backed #GazaGenocide.@APWAUSA's Amal Garada followed her tears. She's recently lost family in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/EdhA6sJyfv
— CODEPINK (@codepink) November 8, 2023
CodePink's Leslie Angeline—who is currently on a hunger strike for a Gaza cease-fire—yelled out, "It's a genocide!"
The Gaza Strip has experienced the highest number of air strikes recorded within a single month for any country or territory in the Middle East going back to 2020, according to a data analytics firm tracking Israel’s assault.
“The scale of Israel’s air campaign in Gaza is unprecedented,” the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled) said in a post on the social media platform X.
Acled recorded more than 600 air strike events across more than 50 locations in Gaza in October alone.
“Despite Gaza’s small size of just 360 square kilometers, this represents the highest number of air strike events recorded within a single month for any country or territory in the Middle East since 2020,” the group said.
More than 10,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombardment over the past month, including over 4,000 children.
The scale of Israel’s air campaign in Gaza is unprecedented. ACLED records over 600 airstrike events across more than 50 locations in October, marking the highest number of airstrike events recorded within a single month for any country or territory in the Middle East in years. pic.twitter.com/jF2dBj8Dpx
— Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (@ACLEDINFO) November 7, 2023
Yemen’s Houthi forces have said they launched “a barrage of ballistic missiles” targeting “various sensitive targets” in southern Israel on Thursday.
Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sare’e said some of those missiles were heading for the Red Sea city of Eilat. He described the operation as “successful” and claimed “direct hits”.
Israel’s military said a drone hit a building in Eilat. It later said the drone crashed into a school and that no physical injuries were reported.
Ladies and Gentiles, I give you "the only democracy in the Middle East" :
Human rights and free speech advocates on Thursday decried Israeli lawmakers' passage of legislation criminalizing the viewing of social and other media supportive of the Palestinian resistance struggle.
Knesset lawmakers voted 13-4 to amend Article 24 of Israel's Counterterrorism Law—which prohibits "demonstrating identification with a terrorist organization and incitement to terrorism"—to include a temporary two-year ban on "systematic and continuous consumption of publications of a terrorist organization under circumstances that indicate identification with the terrorist organization."
The amendment identifies Hamas and Islamic State as terrorist groups and allows the Ministry of Justice to add more organizations to the list.
Offenders face up to one year behind bars. Videos posted on social media Thursday showed Israeli police at the home of an Arab Israeli woman informing her she was being arrested for allegedly "sharing content that sympathizes with and encourages terrorist actions... and supporting content that incites violence and terrorism."
Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said in a statement that "this law is one of the most intrusive and draconian legislative measures ever passed by the Israeli Knesset, since it makes thoughts subject to criminal punishment" and "violates the constitutional right to freedom of speech and is used to muzzle legitimate political expression."
At a time when Israeli authorities are ramping up their campaign to stifle the freedom of expression of Palestinian citizens of Israel, conducting extensive surveillance of their online communications, and making unprecedented arrests for alleged speech-related offenses, the Israeli Knesset has enacted legislation that criminalizes even passive social media use. This legislation encroaches upon the sacred realm of an individual's personal thoughts and beliefs and significantly amplifies state surveillance of social media use. Adalah will petition the Supreme Court to challenge this law.
The New Israel Fund (NIF), a U.S.-based progressive advocacy group, called the amendment "dangerous" and "driven by far-right extremists intent on taking Israel backward."
NIF warned that "at a time when dissent is being crushed all over Israel, this law seeks to further silence any internal critics."
The group said the Counterterrorism Law already "has a history of discriminatory use" and "includes extremely blurry concepts" that "if read broadly could include... the entirety of Palestinian society."
[More at the link. -js]
The American Postal Workers Union on Wednesday became the largest U.S. union to call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, joining a growing labor movement mobilization against Israel's assault on the Palestinian enclave.
Leaders of the APWU, which represents more than 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees and close to 2,000 mail workers in the private sector, said in a statement that their union is "shocked and saddened by the tragic and ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine."
"As a union that stands for equality, social justice, human and labor rights, and international solidarity, we unite with unions and people of goodwill around the world in calls for justice and peace," the APWU said. "We unreservedly condemn the Hamas violence of October 7, which killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians and saw the kidnapping of more than 200 people."
"However, Israel's response has made the prospects for peace more remote," the union added. "Over 10,000 innocent civilians, including 4,000 children, have been killed by the relentless and indiscriminate bombing campaign on Gaza. Israel has shut off the flow of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, a war crime. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding every day in Gaza. Thousands more innocent civilians stand to die wholly preventable deaths."
To put an end to the bloodshed and begin confronting Gaza's appalling humanitarian crisis, APWU called on the Biden administration to "use all its power" as Israel's "primary foreign benefactor" to "help bring about peace in the region, and not use our tax dollars for more war."
Maga Republican and fierce Trump supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene and leftwing Democratic firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have found common ground in freeing Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The pair are among 16 members of the US Congress who have written directly to president Joe Biden urging the United States to drop its extradition attempts against Assange and halt any prosecutorial proceedings immediately.
The group warns continuing the pursuit of Assange risks America’s bilateral relationship with Australia.
“It is the duty of journalists to seek out sources, including documentary evidence, in order to report to the public on the activities of the government,” the letter to Biden, first reported by Nine newspapers, states.
“The United States must not pursue an unnecessary prosecution that risks criminalising common journalistic practices and thus chilling the work of the free press. We urge you to ensure that this case be brought to a close in as timely a manner as possible.”
Misconduct complaints against New York City police officers have risen to their highest levels since 2012, prompting some to put the blame on Mayor Eric Adams’s extremely pro-police mayorship and claim it is deteriorating “the NYPD’s relationship with the community”. The latest monthly report from the civilian complaint review board (CCRB), the city’s independent police watchdog, tallied 4,262 misconduct complaints filed against NYPD personnel as of the end of September 2023. This is the highest year-to-date tally since 2012, when the CCRB fielded 4,546 allegations of abuse when Michael Bloomberg was mayor and the NYPD conducted hundreds of thousands of unconstitutional stop-and-frisk encounters in communities of color under the then police commissioner, Ray Kelly. ...
The rise in complaints comes as Adams enters the second year of his unabashedly pro-police, anti-crime mayoralty. Under Adams, policing in NYC has reverted to “broken windows”, 1990s-style quality of life enforcement for “anti-social behavior”, with a major uptick in stop-and-frisk encounters as well as dangerous vehicle pursuits. Crime rates have dropped in New York City in the past year, mirroring a national trend three years after the outbreak of Covid-19 and its associated social upheaval.
There are also concerns about the increasing impunity officers now enjoy within the NYPD’s internal affairs process. Adams’s pro-police mayoralty is directly affecting police discipline: his police commissioners have overturned or reduced discipline in half of the cases where misconduct has been found. Adams’ first police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, reversed IAD rulings at a record rate, reducing or even annulling penalties for more than half of all cops found to have committed misconduct at an administrative trial during her term.
Jennvine Wong, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s special litigation unit, suggested that the NYPD’s increasing tendency to reduce or overturn even minor discipline for officers is problematic. “When [the] NYPD doesn’t issue any discipline whatsoever, what does that signal to the officer – that they don’t take constitutional violations seriously?” Wong said, adding that the increase in stops and complaints was a reflection of Adams’ insistence on quality-of-life enforcement that is reflected by a doubling of criminal summonses for low-level offenses such as public urination and open-container violations.
Feelings of schadenfreude are rampant in Baltimore:
A former top prosecutor for the city of Baltimore was convicted on Thursday of charges that she lied about the finances of a side business to improperly access retirement funds during the Covid pandemic, using the money to buy two Florida homes.
A federal jury convicted former Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby of two counts of perjury after a trial that started on Monday. ...
Mosby gained a national profile for prosecuting Baltimore police officers after Freddie Gray, a Black man, died in police custody in 2015, which was Mosby’s first year in office. His death led to riots and protests in the city. None of the officers were convicted. ...
Mosby also faces separate charges of mortgage fraud. A trial date for those charges has not been set.
Hazardous chemical accidents are occurring almost daily, on average, in the United States, exposing people to dangerous toxins through fires, explosions, leaks, spills and other releases, according to a new analysis by non-profit researchers.
The report, prepared by Coming Clean, in conjunction with a network of environmental and economic justice organizations in the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, documents what it calls an “alarming frequency” of accidents, and comes a month before US regulators are expected to release final rules aimed at preventing such incidents.
The research is based on capturing incidents of chemical spills via monitoring news sources; researchers say the figures should be regarded as conservative because not all of them are reported in the news media. ...
The new report shows 829 hazardous chemical incidents from 1 January 2021, through 15 October of this year, or roughly one every 1.2 days. The report includes revised higher numbers for 2021 not included in the February analysis that reflect incidents at a number of Texas facilities amid extreme cold temperatures in February of that year.
The majority of the incidents tallied are connected to the fossil fuel industry, including the use, transport, production and disposal of fossil fuels and fossil fuel products, according to the report, which is accompanied by a searchable database of chemical incidents.
As soon as the smog descended, the political mudslinging began. For over a week, pollution levels in Delhi have consistently remained in the “severe” category and its 33 million residents have been forced to breathe toxic air that exceeded healthy limits of pollutants by more than 100 times. “Pollution season” as it is now darkly referred to by those living in India’s capital, has become an annual event as the weather turns colder and pollutants get trapped over the Indo-Gangetic plain, which is cocooned by the Himalayan mountains.
Cars, factories, construction and power plants are all to blame but so too is the seasonal wheat stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, when farmers set fire to their fields to quickly make way for new crops, despite the practice being outlawed. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, stubble burning has accounted for up to 38% of the pollution levels in Delhi over the past week.
Yet though the murky grey skies arrive every year without fail and a recent study found that pollution was shortening the lives of Delhi residents by almost 12 years, still no one among the state and central governments has been willing to take responsibility. Instead, over the past week, a familiar political blame game has ensued, as politicians from opposing parties, state governments and the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government have attempted to shift responsibility on to each other.
Shell is suing Greenpeace for $2.1m in damages in one of the biggest ever legal threats against the group after its campaigners occupied a moving oil platform earlier this year. The lawsuit calls for an indefinite block on all protests at Shell infrastructure at sea or in port anywhere in the world, or the company will make claims that could reach $8.6m (£7m) if contracting companies also pursue damages. ...
Four Greenpeace protesters boarded the platform just north of the Canary Islands, while it was being transported to the Shetland Islands, with signs demanding that the fossil fuel company “stop drilling – start paying”.
The legal threat is the latest blow traded between the oil conglomerate and climate protesters, after a failed attempt by environmental lawyers at ClientEarth to sue 11 of Shell’s directors at the high court in London to hold them personally responsible for the company’s “fundamentally flawed” climate strategy.
Shell has also been ordered by a Dutch court to cut emissions from its oil and gas by 45% by 2030 in an unprecedented ruling after Friends of the Earth took the company to court alongside more than 17,000 co-plaintiffs.
Greenpeace has accused Shell of using “aggressive legal tactics” in an attempt to “silence growing dissent over chief executive Wael Sawan’s moves to double down on fossil fuel investment”.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Red Devils - Tail Dragger
The Red Devils - Time To Cry
The Red Devils - No Fightin'
The Red Devils - I've Been Wrong
The Red Devils - Quarter To Twelve
Mick Jagger & The Red Devils - Checkin' Up On My Baby
The Red Devils - Cut That Out
The Red Devils - Devil Woman
The Red Devils - Mr. Highway Man
Lester Butler, Red Devils Live Moulin Blues Ospel 1998