The Evening Blues - 11-9-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist Earl Hooker. Enjoy!
Earl Hooker ~ Blue Guitar
"The question “How can Israel destroy Hamas if there’s a ceasefire?” is infinitely less relevant and interesting than the question “How can Israel continue to exist as a Zionist ethnostate without apartheid and abuse and nonstop murder and endless warfare?”"
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
The announcement late Sunday night by the U.S. Central Command, headquartered, in Doha about the arrival of an Ohio-class U.S. nuclear submarine in its “area of responsibility” presages a significant escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict. ... Interestingly, CENTCOM also separately shared an image of a nuclear-capable B-1 bomber operating in the Middle East.
On November 5, 2023, an Ohio-class submarine arrived in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. pic.twitter.com/iDgUFp4enp
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) November 5, 2023
On November 5, 2023, a U.S. Air Force B-1 Lancer begins aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 912th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron while conducting a Bomber Task Force mission over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The mission was… pic.twitter.com/HQQn9EECIS
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) November 5, 2023
Arguably, the most charitable explanation for the deployment of a U.S. nuclear submarine, which forms part of the Pentagon’s “nuclear triad” — Ohio-class boats are the largest submarines ever built for the U.S. Navy — near the war zone is that the Biden administration is preparing for an escalation of the war into Lebanon to draw out Hezbollah, which may in turn trigger an Iranian reaction. ...
Meanwhile, China and the U.A.E. have since called for a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council in another attempt to seek an immediate ceasefire, which the Biden administration will certainly oppose. The Biden administration feels boxed in and the only way out is by something giving way through coercive means.
The U.S. is watching with frustration as new regional equations are appearing among Muslim nations. The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia held another phone conversation on Monday. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation later announced that an extraordinary summit will be held in Riyadh on Nov. 12 at the request of its current chairman, Saudi Arabia, to discuss Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian people. Certainly, the Iran-Saudi rapprochement, mediated by Beijing, has profoundly transformed the regional security environment with regional states distinctly preferring to find solutions to their problems without outside interference. The old schisms and xenophobia promoted by the U.S. to perpetuate its dominance no longer have any takers.
The Fars News Agency, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, also disclosed that Khamenei held a “recent meeting in Tehran” with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, in which he told Haniyeh that Tehran’s support for the resistance groups is its “permanent policy.” Evidently, Tehran no longer sees a problem in acknowledging its fraternal links with the resistance groups. This is a paradigm shift indicative of the new power dynamic, which the U.S. and Israel are compelled to counter through use of force, Washington’s diplomacy having failed to to isolate Iran. ...
There is no question that the location of the U.S. nuclear submarine to the east of Suez is an attempt to intimidate Iran from intervening, while Israel, with US backing, proceeds to open a second front in Lebanon. No, this won’t turn into a world war. It will be fought in the Middle East only, but its outcome will significantly impact the making of a new multipolar world order. The past month has shown the precipitous decline of U.S. influence and the highly volatile global environment since the war began in Ukraine in February last year.
Israel must not reoccupy Gaza, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said, adding however that Israel might control the territory for a transition period. The comments, made at the end of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan, echoed White House remarks on Tuesday suggesting opposition to a long-term occupation of Gaza.
The G7 called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict, and urged Israel to comply with humanitarian law, but did not say in its joint statement whether Israel was currently doing so.
By contrast the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said there was something “clearly wrong” with Israel’s military operations against Hamas when so many civilians were being killed. “There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields,” Guterres said. “But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations there is something that is clearly wrong.”
Sanad, Al Jazeera’s digital investigation agency, has disproved the latest claim by Israeli authorities that there is a tunnel for Hamas fighters under the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Hospital, commonly known as the Qatari Hospital.
Israeli authorities have often claimed that there are command bunkers and main tunnels running under Gaza hospitals as a justification for targeting health facilities, which are protected in war by international law.
An Al Jazeera digital investigation found no grounds to the Israeli forces claim that there is a Hamas tunnel under Gaza's Sheikh Hamad Hospital pic.twitter.com/4640OprGwk
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 7, 2023
A video released by Israel’s military showed a hatch in the hospital courtyard, right next to an exterior wall, that they alleged leads to a Hamas tunnel.
However, Sanad’s investigation shows that this is simply the access hatch for a water reservoir that the hospital uses to fill therapeutic pools for amputees, water the grounds, and a reserve water source in case of emergency.
Sanad analysed satellite footage and archives of the hospital’s construction and spoke to one of the original engineers who built it.
As most Western leaders stand staunchly with Israel as it wages what many experts have described as a genocidal war on Gaza, a top Cabinet member of a NATO nation on Wednesday implored her government to sanction Israel and call for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Hamas.
"It's time for sanctions against Israel," Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter, a member of the center-left Groen (Green) party, said on social media.
"The rain of bombs is inhumane," she continued. "While war crimes are being committed in Gaza, Israel is ignoring international demands for a cease-fire."
— Mohamad Almedawar, PhD (@MoeMedawar) November 8, 2023
"I am calling on the federal government to sanction Israel," De Sutter declared. "How? The International Criminal Court must be able to expand and strengthen the ongoing investigation into war crimes. There must be an investigation into the bombing of hospitals and refugee camps."
"This is war violence that is never, ever acceptable," she stressed. "Belgium must not support this violation of international law."
"There must be an import ban on products in our supermarkets that come from illegal settlements," De Sutter argued. "In addition, Israel's Association Agreement with Europe must be immediately suspended. There can be no business as usual."
"Human rights are for everyone. The Palestinians are in a state of total hopelessness," she said. "That is why a political solution is required in which Palestine is recognized as a state and the initial pre-1967 borders are respected."
"I also continue to reiterate that Hamas must release the hostages," De Sutter added, referring to around 240 people kidnapped from Israel. "And we must dry up the flow of money to this terrorist organization."
On Wednesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said that "the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts... to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians."
While eight nations—Bahrain, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, South Africa, and Turkey—have recalled their ambassadors from Israel and Bolivia has completely severed diplomatic ties, no European country has taken such steps, and very few European leaders have gone as far as De Sutter in calling for punitive measures.
Last month, Spanish Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra, who also leads the leftist Podemos party, urged her country's coalition government to petition the International Criminal Court to open a war crimes investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel's indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza and for cutting off food, fuel, and electricity from the besieged strip's 2.3 million residents.
The Gaza Strip faces an increased risk of disease spreading due to Israeli air bombardments that have disrupted the health system, access to clean water and caused people to crowd in shelters, the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday. ...
It said that the lack of fuel in the densely populated enclave had caused desalination plants to shut down, which increased the risk of bacterial infections like diarrhoea spreading.
WHO said that more than 33,551 cases of diarrhoea had been reported since mid-October, the bulk of which among children under five.
It said the number of children affected marked a significant increase compared to an average of 2,000 cases monthly in that age group throughout 2021 and 2022.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the northern Gaza Strip, which Israeli forces have virtually sealed off as part of their genocidal onslaught on the Palestinians. Events over recent days make it increasingly clear that the far-right Netanyahu regime is carrying out a vicious campaign to ethnically cleanse the northern regions of the Gaza Strip, while expanding military operations in the West Bank and on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
“The Israeli military offensive has caused the largest mass displacement of Palestinians in such a short period of time since the 1948 Nakba: around 1,500,000 or about 65 percent of Gaza’s population, are now internally displaced inside Gaza,” noted three Palestinian rights groups, Al Mezan, Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, in a statement.
Reports Tuesday revealed that due to a lack of flour and fuel, which Israel has refused to allow into Gaza since its bombardment began, no large bakeries are operating north of the line established by the Israeli military to cut Gaza in two. Under conditions in which bread is one of the main foodstuffs for people who have no electricity or water to cook, this development is tantamount to starving hundreds of thousands who remain confined to Gaza City and surrounding areas.
Conditions further south are little better, where Israeli air strikes continue to pummel densely populated areas indiscriminately. Intense strikes took place on the Al-Shati refugee camp on Tuesday evening, with Israeli troops reportedly gathering on its outskirts. The Palestinian Red Crescent reports that an average of just 33 aid trucks have crossed into Gaza from Egypt each day since October 21, less than 10 percent of the 500 trucks that entered every day prior to the Israeli onslaught.
The Israel Defence Forces has opened a “humanitarian” corridor to allow Palestinian civilians to move south. However, many have chosen to stay due to the high risk associated with the journey. Men, women and children must walk on foot for at least 5 kilometres (3 miles) along an Israeli-controlled route under constant threat of bombardment or gunfire before they can obtain transport further south via donkey cart or truck. An Al Jazeera reporter, who spoke to some who successfully completed the treacherous journey, gave a glimpse of the horrendous scene, commenting, “They told us [that] on the way to the south or to the Israeli checkpoint, they could see a lot of bodies, a lot of people cut into pieces … burning cars, and nobody is [able to reach] these bodies to take them to the hospital or to bury them.”
In the face of this human suffering, statements by leading Israeli government officials emphasized that the ferocious military onslaught will continue and, if anything, be intensified. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel will assume “overall security responsibility” for Gaza for “an indefinite period.” In a television address on Tuesday evening, he asserted that the attack on Gaza has killed “thousands of terrorists, above and below ground,” and vowed, “We will not stop.”
Hundreds of staffers at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed a letter calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, as a growing number of government employees voice dissent against US support for Israel’s military offensive there. The letter, which started circulating last week, reached 1,000 signatures on Wednesday, representing officials from across USAID’s departments and overseas missions.
“While we appreciate and acknowledge efforts by USAID to call for an urgent humanitarian response in Gaza and understand that the Agency is working tirelessly to make this happen, we must remember that humanitarian assistance efforts and life-saving aid are largely rendered moot in situations of escalating and indiscriminate bombing and violence,” the letter said. ...
“We believe that further catastrophic loss of human life can only be avoided if the United States Government calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Israeli hostages, and the restoration of water, food, fuel, and electricity to the people of Gaza by the State of Israel,” it reads.
“In the longer term, we call on the United States Government to join the international community and human rights organizations in holding all parties, including the State of Israel, to international law, which includes ending Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and settlements on occupied land.”
The US, for the second time in recent weeks, has carried out strikes against a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria that the Pentagon said was used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.
US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed forces since the start of October, as fears grow that the Israel-Hamas war could spread in the region. Forty-five US troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries or minor wounds.
In a statement, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday’s strikes were conducted by two US F-15 fighters and were in response to the recent attacks against US forces.
Austin said the attacks against US troops must stop. “If attacks by Iran’s proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people,” Austin added.
More than 100 U.S. congressional staffers walked off the job Wednesday afternoon to hold a vigil for the more than 10,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past month and to demand their bosses listen to constituents and support an immediate Gaza cease-fire.
“We are congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, and we are no longer comfortable being silent," one legislative employee declared.
"We were horrified by the brutal October 7th attacks on Israeli civilians, and we are horrified by the overwhelming response by the Israeli government that has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza," said another. "Our constituents are pleading for a cease-fire, and we are the staffers answering their calls every day."
"Most of our bosses on Capitol Hill are not listening to the people they represent," added a third. "We demand our leaders speak up: Call for a cease-fire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate deescalation now."
The staffers then observed a moment of silence and interfaith prayer to remember "those we have lost" while the three speakers laid down flowers in honor of the more than 1,500 Israelis and 10,000 Palestinians killed during the war.
Just 18 House Democrats are sponsoring a resolution introduced last month by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) urging President Joe Biden to push Israel for an immediate cease-fire. Several others, including Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) have separately called for a cease-fire.
In the Senate, 13 lawmakers—Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)—earlier this month urged a "cessation of hostilities."
Notably absent from the list is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has refused to call for a cease-fire, a stance that has prompted praise from the lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—which heavily contributes to the campaign coffers of pro-Israel Democrats and Republicans alike.
Biden—who has been accused of genocide denial for rejecting Palestinian casualty figures—has also resisted growing calls to back a cease-fire, instead favoring a "humanitarian pause," while his administration prepares to send more than $14 billion in new U.S. military aid to Israel. The country already receives nearly $4 billion in annual armed assistance from Washington.
Furthermore, the U.S. used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block a Brazil-sponsored cease-fire resolution last month.
Recent polling has shown that two-thirds of Americans support a cease-fire, while participants in massive—and ongoing—protests across the country, including many led by Jewish Americans, are resoundingly demanding an end to the killing.
An Israeli diplomat tried to persuade a leading New York college to cancel a course about the growing debate over whether the Jewish state practices a form of apartheid in Palestine.
The Israeli consul for public diplomacy in New York, Yuval Donio-Gideon, took the highly unusual step of contacting Bard College earlier this year to object to the course, Apartheid in Israel-Palestine, on the grounds that it breached the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
When the college defended the course, it came under pressure from pro-Israel groups and from at least one major donor. Robert Epstein, the property developer and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, resigned from Bard’s board of trustees in protest at Bard’s refusal to cancel the subject.
The course was designed and taught by Nathan Thrall, a Jewish American writer and researcher who lives in Jerusalem. “The Israeli consulate contacted Bard and said they would like the course to be cancelled. There was mention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism which is the standard means of attempting to silence criticism of Israel,” said Thrall.
“When the consul spoke to Bard they explicitly said that we fear that if we do not make an example out of this class then classes like this are going to sprout like mushrooms all over the US.”
Minnesota’s high court dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to keep Donald Trump from being on the 2024 primary ballot, saying he had participated in an insurrection that bars him from holding the office.
The Minnesota supreme court said the issue itself is ripe for review, but not in the primary election, where political parties select their nominees for the general election.
“Although the secretary of State and other election officials administer the mechanics of the election, this is an internal party election to serve internal party purposes, and winning the presidential nomination primary does not place the person on the general election ballot as a candidate for president of the United States,” the court’s opinion reads. ...
Nothing in Minnesota law prohibits a political party from putting a candidate in their presidential primary who is ineligible to hold the office, so there is no error about to occur by allowing Trump’s name to appear on the ballot here.
But the court left open the possibility for the plaintiffs to file similar claims as they relate to the general election, where such rules do exist.
Two million species are at risk of extinction, a figure that is double previous UN estimates, new analysis has found.
While scientists have long documented the decline of species of plants and vertebrates, there has always been significant uncertainty over insects, with the UN making a “tentative estimate” of 10% threatened with extinction in 2019.
Since then, more data has been collected on insects, showing the proportion at risk of extinction is much higher than previously estimated. Because there are so many insect species, this doubles the global number of species at risk, according to the paper, published in Plos One on Wednesday.
Lead researcher, Axel Hochkirch, from the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle in Luxembourg, said: “What our study does is really highlight that insects are as threatened as other taxa. And because they are the most species-rich group of animals on our planet, this is really something which should be addressed.”
Understanding what is happening to global insect populations has been challenging because of the lack of data – but 97% of all animals are invertebrates. Of that group, about 90% are classified as insects. They provide vital ecosystem services: pollinating crops, recycling nutrients into soils, and decomposing waste. “Without insects, our planet will not be able to survive,” Hochkirch said.
Oil and gas production in Texas is spewing out double the rate of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, than in the more regulated state of New Mexico, new satellite data shared with the Guardian shows, prompting calls for tougher curbs of “super-emitter” sites that risk tipping the world into climate breakdown.
Satellite imaging of methane leaks across the Permian basin, a vast geological feature at the heart of the US oil and gas drilling industry, show that sites in Texas have emitted double the amount of the gas than in New Mexico, per unit of production, since 2019.
Methane is a potent planet-heating gas, around 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, and is routinely released via leaks or intentionally vented and burned, in a process called flaring, by fossil fuel companies when drilling for oil and gas. Scientists have warned of a “scary” surge in methane emissions in the past two decades, posing a major threat to efforts to contain dangerous global heating.
The new satellite data, gathered by Kayrros, a French climate technology company, shows that methane is being leaked at a far higher rate from sites in Texas compared with neighboring New Mexico. Despite increasing its own oil production in recent years, New Mexico has no site with repeated methane leaks, unlike in Texas, which Kayrros said is likely due to a 2021 state law aimed at curtailing methane emissions from industry.
The world is set to have been hotter in 2023 than in any other year on record, scientists have declared, before a landmark climate summit this month.
“We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record, and is currently 1.43C above the pre-industrial average,” said Samantha Burgess, the deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into Cop28 has never been higher.”
The Copernicus scientists found last month was the hottest October on record globally, with temperatures 1.7C above what they were thought to have been during the average October in the late 1800s.
By burning fossil fuels and destroying nature, humans have pumped heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere that have raised the temperature of planet by 1.2C since the Industrial Revolution. The global temperature anomaly for October 2023 was the second highest across all months in its dataset, the scientists found, behind only the month before.
“The fact that we’re seeing this record hot year means record human suffering,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London. “Within this year, extreme heatwaves and droughts made much worse by these extreme temperatures have caused thousands of deaths, people losing their livelihoods, being displaced etc. These are the records that matter.
Maine voters turned down an attempt on Tuesday to oust the state’s corporate-owned electric utilities and replace them with a non-profit backed by climate advocacy groups.
In one of several ballot initiatives, Maine voters rejected the proposed takeover of the two investor-owned utilities that distribute 97% of electricity in the state.
Voters opted for the status quo rather than a move that would have marked the first time a state with existing private utilities discarded them all at the same time. The proposal had called for dismantling Central Maine Power and Versant Power and creating a non-profit utility called Pine Tree Power to govern the grid.
Supporters had said there was little to lose because of the utilities’ poor performance.Critics, though, argued there was no guarantee the non-profit utility would perform any better, while the move could spark lawsuits and buying out the existing utilities could cost as much as $13.5bn.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Earl Hooker - The Hucklebuck
Earl Hooker ~ Is You Ever Seen A One Eyed Woman Cry? & Look Over Yonder's Wall
Earl Hooker - Goin' On Down The Line
Earl Hooker & Steve Miller - New Riviera
Earl Hooker - Guitar Rag
Earl Hooker - The End Of The Blues
Earl Hooker - Reconsider Baby
Earl Hooker - Hookin'
Earl Hooker - Wah Wah Blues Part 1 and Part 2
Earl Hooker - You Got To Lose