The Evening Blues - 4-10-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player and singer Junior Wells. Enjoy!
Junior Wells - Messing with the Kid
“People speak sometimes about the "bestial" cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
-- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
News and Opinion
Donald Trump introduced callousness as a weapon in American politics when he launched his presidential campaign. It took many forms, but one was a complete indifference to the deaths of innocent people abroad. He openly advocated killing the families of terrorists—that is, civilians—and, from the podium at his rallies, suggested his strategy to fight ISIS was to "bomb the shit out of them."
... [A] report from The Washington Post Thursday suggested it was not mere rhetoric, and that Trump—who has never had any aversion to violence and has shown little capacity for genuine empathy in public—has not changed his tune one bit since taking office.
Later, when the agency’s head of drone operations explained that the CIA had developed special munitions to limit civilian casualties, the president seemed unimpressed. Watching a previously recorded strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside, Trump asked, “Why did you wait?” one participant in the meeting recalled.
This is a deeply disturbing window into the president's thinking, particularly considering that, by some estimates, civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria from American bombs increased 200 percent from 2016 to 2017. That indicates destroying civilians along with suspected terrorists is not merely the president's fever dream of strongman anti-terror policy, but is now, in fact, American anti-terror policy. ...
And, as Thursday's Post report makes fully apparent, that endless war really is endless—at least according to The Generals:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis echoed that point in late November when he outlined an expanded role for U.S. forces in preventing the return of the Islamic State or a group like it in Syria. “You need to do something about this mess now,” he told reporters. “Not just, you know, fight the military part of it and then say, ‘Good luck on the rest of it.’ ”
His remarks reflected a broader Pentagon consensus: In the absence of a clear outcome, winning for much of the U.S. military’s top brass has come to be synonymous with staying put. These days, senior officers talk about “infinite war.”
“It’s not losing,” explained Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes in a speech earlier this year. “It’s staying in the game and . . . pursuing your objectives.”
This is some truly Orwellian shit. It's not losing, it's pursuing your objectives. The top military brass are essentially saying that we cannot win this war, yet our only option is to fight it forever.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday there were "no innocent people" in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after Israeli soldiers shot and killed 30 Palestinians during 10 days of protests.
"There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip," Lieberman told Israel's public radio.
"Everyone's connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the border are Hamas military wing activists."
Israel has faced mounting questions over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests along the Gaza Strip border during which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians and injured hundreds with live fire and tear gas, according to Gaza's health ministry.
Pelosi and 9 Dems had ‘excellent meeting’ with Netanyahu even as Israel sent ‘dozens of snipers’ to Gaza
Last Tuesday March 26, Nancy Pelosi led a delegation of ten House Democrats to Israel, where most of them met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu tweeted that night that he’d had an “excellent meeting” with the congresspeople. At that time, Israel was already planning to shoot Palestinians in Gaza at the Land Day demonstration on Friday: “dozens of snipers will be deployed along the Gaza border,” the army announced that same day. ...
It appears that none of the 11 Democrats on the trip has spoken out against Israel’s actions. It is only reasonable to ask: What did these congresspeople learn from Netanyahu or any of the many other government officials they met with? Did the congresspeople tell Netanyahu they would back him up if he used force? According to B’Tselem, Israeli officials “repeatedly threatened to respond with lethal force” to the Gaza protests, during the same interval in which some met with the Democrats.
Notably, Adam Schiff was along on the trip: the California congressperson who has led the effort to show that Russia manipulated the 2016 election. He is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff doesn’t appear to have made the Netanyahu meeting. The picture Netanyahu tweeted shows him meeting Pelosi, Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Pelosi, Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). They were joined by Trump’s ambassador David Friedman.
I cannot find a word of criticism of the Israeli massacre that any of these Congresspeople has issued since their trip.
Israel's military confirmed on Tuesday the authenticity of a video posted online over the weekend showing the shooting of a Palestinian protester in Gaza by an Israeli sniper and the cheers of his fellow soldiers. An Israel Defense Forces statement said the shooting caught on video had not taken place during the recent wave of protests in Gaza, during which Israeli snipers have killed at least 27 protesters. The incident took place on December 22, the army said, during protests in Gaza over Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The distressing video, which has been subtitled by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was apparently recorded through binoculars or a gun scope, and captures the soldier who recorded it shouting as the protester is hit, “Yes! Son of a bitch!”
... Despite the army’s statement of disapproval, senior Israeli officials went out of their way to defend the behavior of the soldiers caught on video laughing and cheering. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters that he, too, celebrated the shooting, even if the fact that it was recorded was unfortunate. “The Gaza sniper deserves a decoration, and the photographer a demerit,” he said.
“What’s all the fuss about?” asked Oren Hazan, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. “Anyone who approaches the fence, armed or not, is gonna get it. As it should be!”
The sheriff of a county profiled by the Guardian after it was found to have the highest rate of killings by police in the US once said it is “better financially” for local authorities if officers kill suspects rather than badly injure them.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood of Kern county, California, who is currently running for re-election, made the remarks while addressing rank-and-file officers during his first campaign in 2006. Video of the meeting was recently found by an officers’ union.
“You know what happens when a guy makes a bad shooting on somebody and kills them? Three million bucks and the family goes away after a long back and forth,” Youngblood said.
He went on to say: “Which way do you think is better financially – to cripple them or kill them – for the county?” An unidentified man offscreen said “kill them”, to which Youngblood replied: “Absolutely. Because if they’re crippled we get to take care of them for life. And that cost goes way up.” ...
Kern county was the subject of a Guardian series after 13 people were killed there by law enforcement officers during 2015. During the same period, nine people were killed by the NYPD in all of New York City, which had almost 10 times as many residents and about 23 times as many law enforcement officers.
Russia sought to fend off looming US-led airstrikes against Syria on Tuesday, throwing its weight behind a visit by UN weapons inspectors to investigate the scene of a chemical attack that killed more than 45 people in a Damascus suburb this weekend.
The US and its European allies have accused the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad of being behind the attack in the rebel-held area of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, but Russian officials have claimed that no trace of chemical weapons could be found at the site, and argued that the attack was staged by rebels to provide a pretext for western military intervention.
The rising tensions and the dramatic risks of a clash between the major powers was evident in the eastern Mediterranean where Russian warplanes flew over US and French naval vessels, armed with cruise missiles.
After Donald Trump hinted heavily on Monday that he was on the verge of ordering airstrikes, the US-Russian struggle shifted back once more to the UN security council where both sides promoted rival resolutions. Russia proposed two resolutions, one of which was in support of a fact finding mission by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the scene of the attack, after an invitation of the Syrian government on Tuesday. The OPCW is unlikely to complete its work for at least a week, placing some pressure on Washington to defer gathering plans for a military assault until the OPCW has reported.
Trump called Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to discuss the standoff, but the official accounts of the conversation gave away few details of what if anything was decided. Meanwhile the US, UK and France are supporting a UN resolution that would recreate a UN independent body with a mandate of at least a year, dedicated to investigating chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Russian officials and analysts have warned of the dangers of a military clash with the United States if Donald Trump orders a military strike in Syria in response to the chemical attack in rebel-held Douma at the weekend.
“The US and Russia are now closer to a direct collision between their military forces than at any time since the cold war,” Dmitri Trenin, the head of the Carnegie Moscow Centre and a former Soviet military officer, wrote on Monday. “The only question on my mind: will Russia hit back at the US when it launches strikes against Damascus?”
Similar concerns of a direct clash were raised after the Khan Sheikhun chemical attack that killed dozens of people a year ago, when Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike against the Syrian regime’s al-Shayrat airbase. Russian forces did not engage the US Tomahawk missiles using its air defence systems stationed in the region, either because they would have been ineffective in repelling the attack or because they had been told to stand down. The US gave Russia advance warning of that attack through a deconfliction notice.
Warning Against 'Knee Jerk' Attack on Syria, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn Calls for Facts and Diplomacy Over Bombs
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stood firmly against other European leaders on Tuesday as many appeared ready to follow President Donald Trump into battle, after Trump made overtures regarding a possible attack on Syria.
Corbyn condemned the suspected use of a chemical weapon in the town of Douma, which killed at least 42 civilians over the weekend—and urged a political solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria, strongly cautioning against military action by the U.K., the U.S., or other Western allies.
The horrific deaths and injuries in Douma point to a chemical attack which must be fully investigated by the UN and those responsible held to account. The need to restart real negotiations for peace and a political settlement in Syria could not be more urgent.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 8, 2018
"The tragedy and the terror of people's lives in Syria can only end by a political solution," Corbyn said Tuesday. "That means every country in the region—every country in the region, as well as Russia and the United States—coming together to ensure there is a meaningful ceasefire and there is a political process."
While Trump warned that the U.S. has "a lot of options militarily," Corbyn said the international community must first and foremost investigate the attack on Douma.
"I call on all parties to cooperate urgently with the UN in conducting an inquiry into this so we can find out exactly who delivered that chemical weapon," Corbyn said. "The evidence is important and the use of international law is crucial to bring about a more peaceful world in the future."
Other European leaders have appeared all-to-eager to wage an attack on Syria in the wake of the weekend's violence. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson echoed Trump's comments by saying, "a full range of options should be on the table," while French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe called for a "strong, united and resolute" international response to the chemical attack and told parliament, "our reaction to the use of these weapons will say things about who we are."
What could possibly go wrong with this?
The plan calls for the ability to track 290,000 news sources including online, print, broadcast and social media. Also, it would have the ability to track media coverage in over 100 languages, along with the “ability to create unlimited data tracking, statistical breakdown, and graphical analyses on ad-hoc basis.”
Also, the contractor would have access to a password protected, mobile app that provides an “overview of search results in terms of online articles and social media conversations,” in several different languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
President Donald Trump’s top aide for homeland security is leaving the administration, the White House said Tuesday.
Tom Bossert’s resignation is reportedly at the behest of Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, his third. In other words, Bossert is being fired. ... Bossert held a position as a national security aide to President George W. Bush, and he assisted in drafting the federal government’s first official cybersecurity strategy in 2008. Bossert also worked in the Bush White House as the director of infrastructure protection policy.
Decrying System That Favors 'War and the Wealthy,' Poor People's Campaign Unveils Agenda to Combat Poverty, Racism, and Militarism
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s original campaign against poverty that kicked off 50 years ago next month, leaders of the Poor People's Campaign (PPC) on Tuesday announced plans to revive Dr. King's radical moral vision with mass action nationwide and unveiled a series of ambitious demands aimed at combating the economic, racial, and environmental injustices that afflict tens of millions of people in the world's wealthiest nation.
Titled the "Declaration of Fundamental Rights and Poor People's Moral Agenda," the document argues—as Dr. King did—that the crises of poverty, militarism, racism, and environmental degradation are interconnected and that all must be confronted if justice for the disenfranchised is to be achieved.
"The truth is that systemic racism allows us to deny the humanity of others; by denying the humanity of others, we are given permission to exploit or exclude people economically; by exploiting and excluding people economically, we are emboldened to abuse our military powers and, through violence and war, control resources; this quest for the control of resources leads to the potential destruction of our entire ecosystem and everything living in it," PPC declares.
Below is a list of just a handful of the movement's demands, which PPC leader Rev. William Barber argued during a press conference on Monday can only be achieved through "power-building from the bottom up":
- Full restoration and expansion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and "an end to racist gerrymandering and redistricting";
- Automatic voter registration;
- Federal and state living wage laws;
- Full implementation of single-payer healthcare;
- Complete repeal of the GOP tax law and "reinvestment of those funds into social programming that helps all";
- A ban on fracking and a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy; and
- An "end to military aggression and war-mongering" and reallocation of resources from the military budget to education, healthcare, jobs and green infrastructure needs, and strengthening a VA system that remains public."
"The Democrats talk about the middle class. The Republicans talk about the military," Barber told the Associated Press in an interview on Monday. "No one's talking about the poor."
Heh... unstoppable force, meet immovable object:
Arizona's teachers, inspired by colleagues in states like West Virginia and Oklahoma, are staging protests aimed at pressuring the legislature and governor to increase school funding and annual salaries. Amid talks of a potential strike, teachers started staging “walk-ins” last week, inviting community members to join them as they entered their schools and laid out their demands.
Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid teachers in the country; by some metrics, which factor in a cost-of-living adjustment, they’re ranked dead last. But it’s not because the state’s economy lacks the money: Arizona has slashed taxes in recent years, eliminating a source of revenue that could go toward hiking educators’ wages. The state’s teachers are responding to this bottom-of-the-barrel pay by asking for a 20 percent salary increase and demanding that investment in public education be restored to pre-recession levels.
Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, has rejected the teachers’ demands, claiming that raising teacher salaries by that much is just too expensive for the state. He has instead backed a 1 percent increase. ... Some teachers in the state have gotten second jobs in order to make ends meet, but last year, Republican state House Majority Leader John Allen said that was happening because educators wanted fancier lifestyles. “They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” he said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house.”
Days earlier, he had said, “The idea that we are somehow torturing somebody if they have a second job is just ridiculous,” the Arizona Capitol Times reported. “And [teachers] have a long summer. What a great opportunity for people like us and teachers to go out and get a second job. Let’s all get a second job this summer.”
With 'Merger From Hell' Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System
Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.
The reported approval from the Justice Department came "after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets," the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up.
"The approval of the third supersized seed merger, after ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, "leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system."
"The Justice Department's rubber stamping of these three seed mega-mergers transforms the already concentrated agrichemical and seed market, effectively reducing the number of competitors from six to three," she added.
Because it will make it harder for farmers to acquire non-genetically modified seeds to plant, it "makes it harder for agriculture to get off the GMO-chemical treadmill that just keeps increasing in speed," she said.
With its reported stamp of approval, the pending merger shows that "the federal government is not taking the impact of corporate control of our food supply seriously. It's time for Congress to establish a moratorium on mega-mergers in the food system," Hauter argued.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Junior Wells - The Hippies Are Trying
Junior Wells - I Smell Something
Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band - Just To Be With You
Junior Wells - She's A Sweet One
Junior Wells - Come On In This House
Junior Wells - The Things I'd Do For You
Junior Wells - Love Me
Junior Wells - Little by Little
Junior Wells & Earl Hooker - Galloping Horses A Lazy Mule
Junior Wells - Early In The Morning
Junior Wells - I Could Cry
Junior Wells - Two Headed Woman