The Evening Blues - 12-5-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul blues singer Bobby "Blue" Bland. Enjoy!
Bobby Blue Bland - I Pity The Fool
"It is the wisdom of the crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour."
-- Francis Bacon
News and Opinion
I came across an interesting quote made last month by a retired Israeli major general named Yitzhak Brick about the ongoing IDF assault on Gaza.
“All of our missiles, the ammunition, the precision-guided bombs, all the airplanes and bombs, it’s all from the U.S.,” Brick said. “The minute they turn off the tap, you can’t keep fighting. You have no capability. … Everyone understands that we can’t fight this war without the United States. Period.”
Brick made these observations not as an anti-imperialist critique of the US war machine, but as part of a diatribe about how ridiculous it is for Israel to be asked by Washington to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and to try to avoid civilian casualties. He apparently believes Israel should be killing far more Palestinians in Gaza, not fewer.
Brick — whose warnings of an impending Hamas attack were dismissed and ignored by Israeli government and military officials in the lead-up to the events of October 7 — makes an important point nonetheless. The support of the US war machine is absolutely 100 percent essential for Israel’s continued murderous onslaught in Gaza, which just killed some 700 people in a single 24-hour period. This necessarily means that these ongoing acts of human butchery are occurring because the US permits them to.
Brick’s comments fly in the face of narratives fed to the press by the Biden administration saying that the White House is frustrated by Israel’s complete disregard for human life in Gaza but finds itself powerless to influence its ally’s actions in a more humanitarian direction.
In an article published last month titled “White House frustrated by Israel’s onslaught but sees few options,” The Washington Post reports that according to unnamed US officials the Biden administration believes that “Israel’s counterattack against Hamas has been too severe, too costly in civilian casualties, and lacking a coherent endgame, but they are unable to exert significant influence on America’s closest ally in the Middle East to change its course.”
This is of course a load of bullshit. The Biden administration could end all this with one phone call, in the same way it commanded Israel to restore Gaza’s communications in October after the IDF cut the enclave off from the world, and in the same way Israel’s 1982 assault on Lebanon was halted with a phone call from President Reagan.
The ongoing massacre in Gaza is happening because the US empire wants it to happen. They could stop the bloodshed at any time, but they don’t, because they do not want to. This is because the US empire is run by sociopaths who only care about global domination, and nonstop violence from Israel is a key component in the domination of a crucial geostrategic region on this planet.
Don’t let the monsters in Washington DC and Virginia wash their hands of this horrific atrocity. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re every bit as responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity as Israel itself. They posture and pay lip service to the protection of civilian lives, but they do so exclusively for their own PR interests. These freaks would happily send every Palestinian alive to the gas chambers if they thought it would advance their strategic interests one iota.
Palestinians across Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis fled an increasingly fierce Israeli bombardment to try to find shelter in the southernmost city of Rafah, with many evacuating on foot to an area already overcrowded and also being hit by airstrikes. “The Israeli air and artillery bombardment on the city of Khan Younis over the past two days has been relentless, particularly last night,” said 23-year-old Batoul, who asked not to give her family name for security reasons.
“There was no respite in the onslaught, not even for a moment. The house trembled under the force of the bombing, and doors and windows shattered.” She and her family fled to Khan Younis in mid-October, taking refuge in a small house with 30 members of the extended family in a situation she described as “catastrophic”. Batoul, reached by phone, described how women and children screamed throughout the night during the incessant bombardments, including one that struck the neighbouring house.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA said that dozens were killed and injured in a series of dawn airstrikes across Gaza, including several in the southern city of Rafah, which killed at least 12 and injured dozens more.
Journalist Shaima al-Jazzar and her family were among those killed in a strike on their home in Rafah, despite being labelled by Israeli forces as a destination for those fleeing bombardments in Khan Younis.
A Dutch court on Monday heard opening arguments in a case brought by four human rights organizations that have accused the government of the Netherlands of being complicit in Israeli war crimes due to its export of military supplies as Israel kills thousands of civilians in Gaza.
Supplying the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with parts for F-35 fighter jets, which are stored in a warehouse in the Netherlands, puts the Dutch government at risk for "becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law," the director of the Dutch branch of Amnesty International , one of the plaintiffs, said when the lawsuit was announced last month.
Amnesty is joined by Oxfam Novib—the Dutch chapter of Oxfam International—The Rights Forum, and PAX in the case, which is expected to result in a judgement around December 15.
The groups filed the lawsuit after government documents showed the Netherlands had allowed at least one shipment of reserve parts for F-35s since October 7, Al Jazeera reported
The Dutch Defense Ministry wrote in a letter to Parliament that "it cannot be established that the F-35s are involved in grave violations of the humanitarian laws of war," but with nearly 16,000 people killed in Gaza in less than two months—including more than 6,600 children —the human rights groups aim to test that claim in court.
"The state must immediately stop its deliveries of F-35 parts to Israel," lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said Monday at the Hague District Court. "That is its obligation under... Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, it is its obligation under the Genocide Treaty to prevent genocide, and it is its obligation under export law."
Martje van Nes, PAX's director of organization, pointed out last month that "the Netherlands has a very concrete assessment framework for arms exports."
"When military goods can contribute to human rights violations or international humanitarian law, that export is strictly prohibited," said van Nes. "It is incomprehensible that, despite clear warnings, the government has knowingly deviated from this. This makes them responsible for the deployment of the equipment."
Israel has notified the United Nations that it will not renew the visa of its humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, a UN spokesman said on Friday, over the diplomat's position on Israel's onslaught of Gaza.
In December 2020, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres named Canada's Lynn Hastings as his deputy special envoy for the Middle East peace process and the resident coordinator for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We've been informed by the Israeli authorities that they would not renew the visa of Miss Hastings past its due date at some point later this month," Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
[Transcript at link. -js]
Israeli authorities are investigating claims by US researchers that some investors may have known in advance about the Hamas plan to attack Israel on 7 October and used that information to earn millions of dollars by short-selling Israeli shares.
Research by law professors Robert Jackson Jr from New York University and Joshua Mitts of Columbia University found significant short-selling of shares leading up to the attacks that triggered the war.
Short-sellers place bets on shares that they expect to fall in price. They pay a fee to borrow shares in a company and then sell them in the hope of buying them back at a lower price and pocketing the profit.
“Days before the attack, traders appeared to anticipate the events to come,” the researchers wrote, citing short-selling of an exchange traded fund that broadly tracks the performance of the Israeli stock exchange that “suddenly, and significantly, spiked” on 2 October.
“And just before the attack, short-selling of Israeli securities on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) increased dramatically,” they wrote in their 66-page report. One of the researchers told the Telegraph newspaper that it was not inconceivable that the profits from this short-selling were “above $100m”.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has hit out at Americans who prefer a less interventionist foreign policy, smearing them as isolationists who want to see the US “retreat from responsibility.”
Austin, a former Raytheon board member, made the comments in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California on Saturday. “You know, in every generation, some Americans prefer isolation to engagement—and they try to pull up the drawbridge. They try to kick loose the cornerstone of American leadership,” Austin said.
The Pentagon chief accused less interventionist Americans of trying to “undermine the security architecture that has produced decades of prosperity without great-power war.” However, most opponents of the US involvement in Ukraine are against the policy because it risks a direct clash with Russia. ...
In his rhetoric, Austin appeared to be targeting Republicans in Congress who have opposed additional funding for Ukraine, although the vast majority of GOP members against the proxy war with Russia favor funding Israel’s onslaught in Gaza and the military buildup in the Asia Pacific that risks war with China.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week—possibly as soon as Monday evening—on a resolution declaring that "anti-Zionism is antisemitism," a measure that Jewish peace campaigners called "deeply antisemitic."
House Resolution 894 —introduced by a pair of Jewish Republicans, Reps. David Kustoff (Tenn.) and Max Miller (Ohio)—embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) controversial working definition of antisemitism, which, while not explicitly mentioning anti-Zionism, includes "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination" and "claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor."
Kustoff said in a statement last Tuesday, when the measure was introduced, that "since October 7, we have seen an alarming rise in antisemitic incidents, attacks, harassment, and discrimination both in the United States and across the globe."
"Such hate has no place in our national discourse, and it is imperative leaders voice their strong opposition to these horrifying acts of violence and discrimination," he added.
Many Jewish American critics, however, bristled at the conflation of hatred of Jews with opposition to Israel, a settler-colonial apartheid state with codified Jewish primacy illegally occupying and oppressing Palestine while waging what many call a genocidal war on Gaza.
"This is a cynical effort to conflate criticism of the government of Israel with antisemitism," Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the progressive political action group Indivisible, said on social media. "It's not about protecting Jews. It's about shutting down dissent. And in doing so it makes all of us less safe."
After visiting Israel last week, Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Monday filed paperwork to launch a primary challenge against Democratic New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman , a critic of the Israeli government and its devastating war on the Gaza Strip.
The 70-year-old county executive, who previously served in the New York State Senate and Assembly, has been openly considering a run for the 16th Congressional District—which Bowman has represented since 2021, after successfully primarying former Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel. ...
Bowman is the fourth "Squad" member to face a serious primary challenger for 2024, joining Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). They are all among the eight progressives who in October voted against a bipartisan House resolution expressing unconditional support for Israel's government as it waged war on Gaza.
The four of them also support a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. While the number of House members calling for a cease-fire has grown to more than four dozen as Israeli forces have killed thousands of Palestinians over the past two months, as The Intercept highlighted last week, "a closer look at some lawmakers' statements raises questions about whether they are truly pushing for an end to the violence."
Latimer does not support a cease-fire.
High-ranking members of Atlanta’s police department have been using Signal, an encrypted phone app, to communicate about the controversial police and fire department training center known as “Cop City” – to each other, to other police departments and to companies involved in building the project, the Guardian has learned.
The department’s move to Signal occurred some time earlier this year, after several years of public outcry about a lack of transparency regarding the project on such basic issues as cost and environmental impact. It appears the department began using the app around the same time multiple police agencies entered a forested public park where protesters were camped – about a mile from the planned “Cop City” site – on 18 January, resulting in state troopers shooting and killing Manuel Paez Terán, AKA “Tortuguita”.
“It’s alarming. Decisions are being made about controversial developments … and they’re creating private, ephemeral means of communication, further eroding lines of trust with the public,” said Alejandro Ruizesparza, co-director of Lucy Parsons Labs, a digital transparency research organization.
Users can set the app to automatically delete messages, at which point they are not even available for retrieval on computer servers, as with standard texts. First amendment and digital transparency experts say police or other government officials using encrypted apps like Signal to communicate about official business raises serious concerns about the press and the public’s ability to access information afterward, in accordance with “freedom of information” or open-records laws.
The solution, they said, is to legislatively prohibit public officials from using such apps for official business. “In order to make sure the police are doing their important job correctly, it’s necessary to have transparency and accountability,” said Adam Schwartz, privacy litigation director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties organization. “A significant part of that is public access to records – including communications. The thing we have a growing concern about is [that] police may be trying to avoid public records laws by using ‘off the books’ communications channels.”
Members of Texas’s Republican party are free to associate with Nazi sympathizers without worries of violating internal policy after they held a vote on Saturday.
In a 32-29 vote, the party’s executive committee decided against excluding from their organization those “known to espouse or tolerate antisemitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial”. A proposal to ban such individuals was included in a resolution supporting Israel as it wars with Hamas in Gaza.
Although the resolution passed, the clause banning members from associating with Nazi sympathizers did not make it in.
The president of Cop28 has been forced into a fierce defence of his views on climate science, after the Guardian revealed his comment that there was “no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C”.
Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state oil company, Adnoc, said at a hastily arranged press conference at the summit in Dubai: “I respect the science in everything I do. I have repeatedly said that it is the science that has guided the principles or strategy as Cop28 president. We have always built everything, every step of the way, on the science, on the facts.” ...
Al Jaber’s comments to Robinson prompted a strong reaction from climate scientists who had read the transcript, who described them as “incredibly concerning” and “verging on climate denial”. They also conflicted with the view of the UN secretary general, António Guterres, who told Cop28 delegates on Friday: “The science is clear: The 1.5C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce, not abate. Phase out, with a clear timeframe.”
Prof Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “I cannot see scientifically there being any other communication than that we need to phase out fossil fuels.”
Alden Meyer, of the thinktank E3G, told the Guardian: “It was a mistake for Al Jaber to say ‘going back into caves’ – that’s an old trope of the fossil fuel industry. I bet, if he could, he would take that back.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
B.B. King & Bobby Blue Bland - Goin' Down Slow
Bobby Blue Bland - Ain't Nothing You Can Do
Bobby Bland - I'll Take Care Of You
Bobby Bland - That Did It
Bobby "Blue" Bland - That's The Way Love Is
Bobby "Blue" Bland - Farther Up The Road
Bobby "Blue" Bland - This Time I'm Gone For Good
Bobby "Blue" Bland - Rockin' In The Same Old Boat
Bobby "Blue" Bland - Walkin' & Talkin' & Singin' the Blues
Bobby Blue Bland - Turn On Your Love Light