The Evening Blues - 3-12-18
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This evening's music features blues piano player Lloyd Glenn. Enjoy!
Lloyd Glenn - Young Date
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
News and Opinion
The Pentagon this week announced it will tear down Camp X-Ray, the first temporary facility at Guantánamo where “enemy combatants” were imprisoned in 2002. Despite a US federal court’s preservation order, the Pentagon argued it did not need to preserve the physical site because the FBI has created a 3D digital reconstruction.
Such a virtual tour is in no way a substitute for preserving the original site.
Across the world, governments and grassroots communities alike have recognised that preserving sites of their most shameful or contested histories is critical for building democracy. Auschwitz and other concentration camps were preserved within two years of the end of the second world war; the Argentinian government, under pressure from civil society, saved hundreds of clandestine detention sites as part of its transition from military dictatorship; South Africa even constructed its first democratic constitutional court on the site of an apartheid-era prison, so that decisions about the future of justice in the country could be made with this physical reminder of past struggles. In 2005, the UN commission on human rights established the “duty to preserve memory” as an obligation of states to combat impunity.
Some might argue that these sites represent histories their societies have universally denounced, and which are firmly in the past, whereas Guantánamo remains a lightning rod for controversy and is still in active use. But it is even more important to preserve sites of contested memory. Contested sites of violence and trauma become vital places to visit and provide an opportunity to revisit the forensic evidence of what actually happened, as understanding evolves with new study and technologies. But perhaps even more importantly, the physical sites and structures have unique capacity to catalyse ongoing dialogue on the implications of what took place there.
Preserving Camp X-Ray is critical no matter what you believe about Guantánamo. Camp X-Ray must be saved not because there is consensus about what happened there and what it means – but precisely because there isn’t. A government-commissioned digital reconstruction is insufficient should someone wish to demonstrate examples of humane treatment of detainees at Camp X-Ray, or contest allegations of torture there, or open real dialogue on lessons of the war on terror.
U.K. Rolls Out Red Carpet for Saudi Prince on Anniversary of U.S.-Saudi-U.K. Car Bombing That Killed 83 Civilians
Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, met with Theresa May on Thursday at the prime minister’s official government estate outside London. ... There’s been significant public outcry, during MBS’s three-day visit to the U.K., over Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, which has been strongly supported by both the U.K. and the U.S. ... What’s gone totally unremembered, however, is that Thursday was the 33rd anniversary of a notoriously grisly assault carried out by Saudi Arabia, the U.K., and the U.S. On March 8, 1985, a car bombing in Beirut aimed at assassinating Shia cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah missed its target, but killed 83 other people.
The complete evaporation of this history is particularly notable given that the bombing victims were mostly women and girls, and the meeting between MBS and May fell on International Women’s Day. Moreover, Fadlallah was well-known for promulgating relatively liberal views on the place of women in Islam. In 2007, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Fadlallah decried all forms of violence against women – physical, psychological, educational (i.e., not allowing women to pursue whatever level of education they want, “reaching to post-graduate levels”), and “not giving women equal pay for equal work.”
The Western media often called Fadlallah the “spiritual mentor” of Hezbollah, the militant Shia political party founded after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, although this was not really correct. Rather, Fadlallah was one of the region’s most popular Shia leaders and an inspiration to many Shia, including prominent members of Hezbollah.
In any case, according to the 1987 book “Veil” by Bob Woodward, the Reagan administration came to believe that Fadlallah was behind three attacks against U.S. targets in the Lebanese capital of Beirut that killed 329 people in total: the bombing of the U.S. embassy and a Marine Corps barracks in 1983, and the bombing of the U.S. embassy annex in 1984. This was likely not correct. Robert Baer, a former CIA operative stationed in Beirut at the time, later said, “I can guarantee you, and I have seen every bit of intelligence, that Fadlallah had no connection. … He knew the people carrying out the terrorism acts, but he had no connection in ordering them.” ...
The car bomb was parked 50 meters from Fadlallah’s apartment building and set off as services at a nearby mosque were letting out. The explosion left a crater 5 yards wide and 3 yards deep; hospitals in the area were overwhelmed by the 200 wounded, and the Lebanese government appealed for blood donations. But Fadlallah had been nowhere nearby and survived unhurt. All in all, it’s a remarkable story suggesting that the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia, the U.K., and the U.S. is not that different from large-scale organized crime.
As Ronen Bergman makes clear in his penetrating exposé of Israel’s mostly secret assassination program, “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” the agents who Israel sent out to murder its enemies were never very funny. Israel is a rarity among nations: Rather than confine its assassins to the shadows, it promotes them to prime minister. Bergman’s history records extra-judicial, face-to-face murders by Menachem Begin, Yitzak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Barak, all of whom rose to head the Israeli government. This meticulously researched book, written over seven and a half years, exposes a state apparatus that blurs distinctions between intelligence-gathering and operations, soldiers and assassins, politicians and killers, yet claims more triumphs than defeats.
Bergman, an Israeli former lawyer and investigative journalist, charts not only the details of assassinations over the past century, but also the corrupting effect of relying on the black to the exclusion of diplomacy and compromise. Why negotiate with your enemies when it’s so easy to kill them? ...
Bergman writes, “Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world.” The figures he cites — 1,000 killed before the Palestinian Second Intifada, 168 successful “liquidations” during that intifada, and 800 “targeted killings” since then — do not approach the record of the United States. In Vietnam alone, America’s Operation Speedy Express and Phoenix Program in Vietnam took the lives of more than 30,000 Viet Cong supporters. U.S.-led death squads in Latin America killed uncounted thousands. Since 9/11, the U.S. has adopted assassination of suspected enemies as a legitimate policy tool, however doubtful its legality. William Blum’s “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II” cites more than 50 CIA attempts on the lives of foreign politicians. The CIA tried and failed to kill Zhou Enlai in 1954, Iraqi Gen. Abdel Karim Kassem in 1959, and Fidel Castro, repeatedly. Overshadowing those failures were the agency’s successful participation in the murder of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, Vietnam’s Diem brothers in 1963, and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. Only in 1976 did President Gerald Ford sign Executive Order 11905 that no longer allowed government employees to “engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” That went out the window in 2011, along with many other protections, as a result of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 mass murders.
At this time, the U.S., Israel, Russia, North Korea, and many other members of the community of nations continue to murder their opponents without having to account for it. The world is back to the divine right of kings to decide who shall live and who shall die. Bergman has performed the valuable service of denying us the right to pretend — as so many Germans did in 1945 — that we didn’t know.
A leading Russian state news anchor has suggested Britain masterminded the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury. In a nationwide broadcast watched by millions, Dmitry Kiselyov, the anchor for the flagship Russia 24 news broadcast, Vesti Nedeli, said Skripal could have been sacrificed as a pretext for an international boycott of the 2018 World Cup.
“Why not poison him?” said Kiselyov. “Is he so valuable? And do it with his daughter to turn it into a real tear-jerker for the public.”
Russian state media broadcasts do not always perfectly reflect the opinions of the Kremlin. However, television station heads work in close collaboration with the government.
The remarks came before a meeting of the UK’s national security council on Monday morning to discuss the response to events in Salisbury, amid speculation that Theresa May is facing pressure from some ministers to take a tough line if it is decided that Russia was behind the 4 March nerve agent attack in Salisbury that has left Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, in critical condition.
Before Monday’s meeting, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, told the BBC that the poisoning looked “like it was state-sponsored attempted murder”.
“It’s important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars because it’s far enough away from earth that [in the event of a war] it’s more likely to survive than a moon base,” Musk said on stage at SXSW – just days after Donald Trump announced plans to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in an attempt to defuse rising nuclear tension.
“If there’s a third world war we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilisation somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages,” Musk said, responding to questions from his friend Jonah Nolan, the co-creator of the TV show Westworld. SpaceX is working on a vehicle that will take humans to Mars, a 100-metre ship codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). But building a colony would require “tremendous entrepreneurial resources”, Musk said.
He also countered the suggestion that Mars might be “some escape hatch for rich people” by highlighting the risks of the mission: “It will be like Shackleton’s ad for Antarctic explorers: ‘Difficult, dangerous, a good chance you’ll die, excitement for those who survive.’ That kind of thing.
President Trump has touted his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as an opportunity to extract a promise “that missile launches will end." But new satellite images of North Korean launch sites indicate that achievement would literally be monumental.
Last November, North Korea tested a powerful new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called the Hwasong-15, which appears to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to anywhere in the continental United States. That launch followed another test in July of the Hwasong-14, an ICBM that put the West Coast within striking distance. These events were such a big deal that the North Koreans decided to celebrate by building monuments at the launch sites — and at one place where Kim watched the missiles take off. ...
Satellite photos only offer a grainy bird’s-eye view of the monuments but Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, speculated that Kim Jong Un is likely to make a personal visit to one or both sites, which would be accompanied by propaganda photos that would offer “ground-truth images” to confirm his findings. North Korean state media has made the importance of the Hwasong-15 test clear, quoting Kim as saying the November launch “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.”
Trump boasted over the weekend that North Korea hasn’t conducted a missile test since the Hwasong-15 launch last November, but that might have little to do with the president’s policies. It could just be that the North Koreans are so confident in their missile capabilities that they don’t feel the need to conduct any more tests for the time being.
“Looking at the cultural importance of these missile tests or at least how they’re being used culturally with the building of these structures,” Schmerler said, “it doesn't’ make sense they'll build monuments for these things and then be like, ‘Yes, we’ll give them up.’”
Nearly half of US arms exports over the past five years have gone to the war-stricken Middle East, with Saudi Arabia consolidating its place as the world’s second biggest importer, a report has shown.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday that global transfer of major weapons systems between 2013 and 2017 rose by 10% compared with the five-year period before that, in a continuation of an upward trend that began two decades ago.
The US, which is the world’s biggest exporter, increased its sales between those two periods by 25%. It supplied arms to as many as 98 states worldwide, accounting for more than a third of global exports.
Russia, the world’s second biggest exporter, saw a decrease of 7.1% in its overall volume of arms exports; US exports were 58% higher than those of Russia.
France, Germany and China were also among the top five exporters. The UK is the sixth biggest weapons exporter.
A generation of Syrian children face psychological ruin and ever increasing danger, with child deaths soaring by 50% last year and the number of young soldiers tripling since 2015.
A report by Unicef found 2017 was the worst year of the war for young Syrians, with 910 killed in a conflict that has spared them no mercy and has taken a vastly disproportionate toll on the country’s most vulnerable people.
The figures undermine claims that the war, which will soon enter its eighth year, is losing steam. Those most at risk face escalating threats of being permanently maimed by fighting, or emotionally scarred by a litany of abuses including forced labour, marriages, food scarcity and minimal access to health or education.
“There are scars in children and there are scars on children that will never be erased,” said Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s director for the Middle East and north Africa. “The protection of children in all circumstances that was once universally embraced – at no moment have any of the parties accepted.”
More than 13 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance, more than half of whom are children, the UN says. Of the 6.1 million internally displaced, roughly half (2.8 million) are children. Figures for last year show an average of 6,550 people were displaced each day in Syria.
Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, stumbled through a TV interview on Sunday, admitting she did not know why many US schools were underperforming and agreeing that maybe she should visit some in order to find out.
The billionaire rarely gives interviews and is the only member of the Trump cabinet to be protected by a squad of US marshals, because she attracts controversy and protests and has received death threats.
DeVos was brought into the Trump administration with no experience as an educator but with a reputation for promoting private and charter schools. She supports switching government money from the federally funded public school system into schemes such as vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private, religious or charter schools.
DeVos most recently faced bitter criticism after visiting Majory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, soon after a shooting there in February in which 17 people were killed. She mostly avoided talking to students, especially those who were calling for stricter gun control laws.
On CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday evening, interviewer Lesley Stahl pointed out to DeVos that despite her having had a huge influence over school policy in her home state, Michigan, the performance of public schools there is declining.
Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump shocked Republicans and Democrats by publicly embracing gun control measures and mocking members of congress for being scared of the National Rifle Association. “They have great power over you people. They have less power over me,” Trump said on Feb. 28 at a roundtable with lawmakers where he endorsed raising the age to purchase all guns to 21, seizing guns from those suspected to be dangerous before a hearing, and the universal background checks in the Manchin-Toomey bill that Barack Obama attempted to pass in 2013.
But when the Trump administration rolled out its official gun proposals on Sunday Mar. 11 in response to the school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida, those gun control measures endorsed just twelve days before were gone. Instead, the Trump administration only endorsed proposals that the NRA supports. ... [T]he president’s shift was not an accident but the product of a personal lobbying campaign by the NRA and gun rights activists who also make up a large segment of Trump’s most loyal supporters.
Three days after Trump’s roundtable with lawmakers, the executive director of the NRA’s political arm, Chris Cox, was able to arrange an Oval Office meeting with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Afterward, Cox tweeted that the administration did not support gun control. ... Then on Thursday Mar. 8, Trump and his wife Melania met in the Oval Office with Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Parkland shooting who has been meeting with members of Congress and calling on them to emphasize school safety rather than gun control with legislation like the STOP School Violence Act.
Kashuv recently became a popular voice on the right as a counter to the Parkland students who are calling for more gun control and have been embraced by the left. Kashuv has been a frequent guest on Fox News and is retweeted frequently by Donald Trump Jr., which Kashuv speculates may have been how he ended up meeting the president after being invited to join Melania at the White House.
Data has shown that, across the country, black Americans are more likely to be killed by police than whites. But the problem is worse in the most segregated states, according to a recent study showing that racial disparities in fatal police shootings are linked to histories of structural violence.
Police killings, more than just the consequence of a few bad-apple officers that can be rooted out of the system, instead can be traced back to the discriminatory housing and economic policies of the mid-20th century, the study’s senior author, Michael Siegel, told The Intercept. ...
Of all the symptoms of structural racism, the factor that had the strongest relationship with police shooting disparities was residential segregation, followed by economic inequality. ...
This means that even attempts to reform police departments through programs like implicit bias training and police body cameras are inadequate, says Siegel. “These are solutions that try to intervene right at the last possible moment,” right before or during the moment an officer pulls the trigger, he said. In reality, the foundation for racialized police violence was laid by political and economic institutions created many decades ago, through mechanisms like Jim Crow-era redlining and so-called sundown town policies. “It’s not just about how individuals interact,” says Siegel, “but how society is structured.”
As Ex-CIA Head Admits to U.S. Meddling in Elections, Is Outrage over Russian Interference Overblown?
Donald Trump’s visit to California will generate a memorable image: the president inspecting prototypes of his planned border wall. Four years after he first proposed a wall, an idea that helped vault him to the White House, he will on Tuesday finally be able to touch solid concrete on some of the eight barriers, 30ft tall and 30ft wide, arrayed in the desert outside San Diego.
Congress may yet stymie construction of a wall along the frontier with Mexico but Trump will at least have a photo-op to accompany vows to deter and expel undocumented migrants, rhetoric which electrifies his base across the United States. California’s Republican leaders, however, may view this political theatre very differently: as the equivalent of a man sawing a tree branch on which they – and he – all sit. Bashing immigrants elicits nativist GOP cheers outside the state but in California it could doom GOP candidates in November’s midterm elections – and hand Congress to the Democrats.
“He’s gaining cheap applause outside California at the cost of real seats in California. It’s not a good trade,” said Jack Pitney, a Claremont McKenna University political scientist and former GOP congressional aide. “California is a convenient Republican punching bag. But punching bags don’t like getting punched. Trump’s presence [here] will remind voters in swing districts about what they have come to loathe in the Republican party. His visit will motivate turnout among Hispanic voters and anger progressive white voters. There’s no way his presence will be a plus to candidates in difficult races.”
Stormy Daniels has offered to give back a $130,000 fee paid to her by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in return for her silence about her alleged affair with the future US president.
A letter from the pornographic actor’s lawyer Michael Avenatti to Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday offered to pay the $130,000 (£93,000) into an account of the president’s choosing by Friday.
It gives Trump until noon ET on Tuesday 13 March to accept the offer.
The letter asks that no action be taken to prevent the airing of an interview that the actor – real name Stephanie Clifford – recently recorded with the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper for the CBS news program 60 Minutes, for which Cooper is a regular contributor.
Tigerswine has a business model of suppressing the movement against big energy's push to continue exacerbating the climate disasters that it hopes to profit from going forward. Here's a teaser from the article:
From North Dakota to Puerto Rico, Controversial Security Firm Profits From Oil Protests and Climate Disasters
Tigerswan, the mercenary security company best known for its efforts to suppress indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is stepping up its pursuit of profits in areas hit by climate change-driven natural disaster.
Three blog posts published on TigerSwan’s website in February describe the firm’s response efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina in 2016. TigerSwan, according to the posts, assisted National Guard members in Houston and emergency managers in North Carolina by providing them with access to its GuardianAngel system for monitoring the movement of individuals and sensitive shipments. In Puerto Rico, the company’s work included tracking down the employees of an unnamed client.
At Standing Rock, TigerSwan operatives hired by the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners used militaristic tactics to disrupt the massive opposition to the project, sending infiltrators into resistance camps, conducting aerial surveillance, and engaging in propaganda efforts. The private security firm routinely coordinated with law enforcement, sharing equipment and intelligence and assisting with arrests. Although preventing water pollution was the Standing Rock movement’s rallying call, many of its organizers were also climate activists; the earliest DAPL opponents were veterans of the anti-Keystone XL pipeline movement, which centered on the harmful climate effects of carbon-intensive tar sands oil.
In essence, TigerSwan has gone from suppressing a movement seeking to slow climate change to marketing itself as a company that can help clients survive climate change’s most severe consequences.
The number of tiny plastic pieces polluting the world’s oceans is vastly greater than thought, new research indicates. The work reveals the highest microplastic pollution yet discovered anywhere in the world in a river near Manchester in the UK. It also shows that the major floods in the area in 2015-16 flushed more than 40bn pieces of microplastic into the sea.
The surge of such a vast amount of microplastic from one small river catchment in a single event led the scientists to conclude that the current estimate for the number of particles in the ocean – five trillion – is a major underestimate.
Microplastics include broken-down plastic waste, synthetic fibres and beads found in personal hygiene products. They are known to harm marine life, which mistake them for food, and can be consumed by humans too via seafood, tap water or other food. The risk to people is still not known, but there are concerns that microplastics can accumulate toxic chemicals and that the tiniest could enter the bloodstream.
“Given their pervasive and persistent nature, microplastics have become a global environmental concern and a potential risk to human populations,” said Rachel Hurley from the University of Manchester and colleagues in their report, published in Nature Geoscience.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lloyd Glenn - After Hours
Lowell Fulson & Lloyd Glenn - Low Society Blues
Lowell Fulson & Lloyd Glenn - Reconsider Baby
Lloyd Glenn & Clarence Gatemouth Brown - Heat Wave
Lloyd Glenn - Jungle Town Jubilee
Lloyd Glenn - Chick-A-Boo
Lloyd Glenn - Old Time Shuffle Blues
Lloyd Glenn - The Shakedown
Lloyd Glenn All Stars w/Maxwell Davis - New Flying Home bw Jumpin' With Lloyd
Lloyd Glenn - Angora
Lloyd Glenn - Twistville
Buddy Guy and Lloyd Glenn - Dust my Broom