The Evening Blues - 9-22-16
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist Earl Hooker. Enjoy!
Earl Hooker - Reconsider Baby
"The ship of democracy, which has weathered all storms, may sink through the mutiny of those on board."
-- Grover Cleveland
News and Opinion
A rift between the Pentagon and the White House turned into open rebellion on Saturday when two US F-16s and two A-10 warplanes bombed Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions at Deir al-Zor killing at least 62 Syrian regulars and wounding 100 others. The US has officially taken responsibility for the incident which it called a “mistake”, but the timing of the massacre has increased speculation that the attack was a desperate, eleventh-hour attempt to derail the fragile ceasefire and avoid parts of the implementation agreement that Pentagon leaders publicly opposed. Many analysts now wonder whether the attacks are an indication that the neocon-strewn DOD is actively engaged in sabotaging President Obama’s Syria policy, a claim that implies that the Pentagon is led by anti-democratic rebels who reject the Constitutional authority of the civilian leadership. Saturday’s bloodletting strongly suggests that a mutiny is brewing at the War Department. ...
A recent article in the New York Times also highlighted the divisions which appear to be widening as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times:
Carter was among the administration officials who pushed against the (ceasefire) agreement … Although President Obama ultimately approved the effort. On Tuesday at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days — the initial part of the deal — the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day…
“I’m not saying yes or no,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command, told reporters on a video conference call. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it.”
Think about that for a minute: Lt. General Harrigian appears to be saying that he may not follow an order from the Commander in Chief if it’s not to his liking. When exactly did military leaders start to believe that orders are optional or that the DOD had a role to play in policymaking? ...
Moscow realizes that there will never be a settlement to the conflict unless the major participants agree to a political solution. That’s why Putin is doing everything in his power to draw the US into an arrangement where Moscow and Washington share security responsibilities. That is the goal of the ceasefire, to create a situation where both superpowers are on the same team, involved in the same process, and working towards the same goal.
Pentagon warhawks and their allies in the US political establishment and the intelligence community, will have none of it. The objectives of the hawks, the liberal interventionists and the neocons are the same as they have been from the very beginning. They want to topple Assad, splinter Syria into multiple parts, install a US-puppet in Damascus, control critical pipelines corridors from Qatar to Turkey, and inflict a humiliating defeat on Russia. For this group, any entanglement or cooperation with Russia only undermines their ultimate objective of escalating the conflict, strengthening their grip on the Middle East, and rolling back Russian influence.
This is what makes the unprecedented attack on Syrian Army positions so suspicious; it’s because it looks like a last-ditch effort by a desperate Pentagon rebels to terminate the ceasefire and prevent Washington from partnering with Moscow in the fight against militant extremism.
From military analyst Pat Lang's blog the other day:
So, we and the Australians admit that we "done it." The body count this morning is up to 83 and presumably will go higher. Could it have been a real targeting error? Yes. People here on SST who have participated in air targeting know how easy it is to make a mistake. But, there are some unusual things about this "error." The SAA has been occupying these positions for six months or so. Presumably US imagery and SIGINT analysts have been looking at them all that time and producing map overlays that show who is where in detail. These documents would be widely available especially to air units and their targeteers. US coalition led air has rarely struck in the Deir al-Zor area. Why now? Were they asked to strike? The US does not talk to the Syrian government. How would they have been asked? Who would have designated the targets? They struck in the presence of SAA troops without any ground liaison? And what of the timing two days before the US-Russian deal was to be expanded into active cooperation?
SECDEF Carter is a thoroughgoing Russophobe. General Votel, the US commander in Iraq and eastern Syria has expressed doubt about the wisdom of cooperating with the Russians.
IMO it is an open question as to whether these air strikes on the SAA were accidental.
The decades-long U.S. policy of deploying Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers in U.S. imperial wars -- the world’s most unholy alliance -- has led to a catastrophic split at the highest civilian and military levels of the U.S. State. Last weekend’s American air attack on Syrian Army positions at Deir al-Zor that killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers and resulted in a temporary victory for ISIS forces was a blatant bid by the Pentagon and the CIA to sabotage any prospect of cooperation between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria. In a very real sense, it is a mutiny against a lame duck president who, certainly since 2013, has attempted to achieve regime change in Syria without allowing the jihadists to take power in Damascus.
The mutineers include civilian and military elements of the Pentagon -- probably including Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter – the CIA and other intelligence services (but not the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose analysts warned of the rise of ISIS in 2012). They are encouraged and emboldened by the prospect that a President Hillary Clinton will declare a “no fly zone” over Syria – a move that would necessitate, under U.S military doctrine, an all-out attack on all of that country’s aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons systems, resulting in a war with Russian forces. ...
The war hawks have never forgiven Obama or ceased denouncing his failure to “finish off” Assad. Hillary Clinton has encouraged them to believe that she will launch the final, crushing strike -- if the jihadists can just hang on until Inauguration Day. The cease-fire agreement, to be followed by a joint Russian-American blitzkrieg against al Nusra and ISIS, could so deplete the jihadist ranks, there would not be enough of them for Hillary to rescue. ...
The contradictions inherent in sponsoring international jihad have caught up with America, splitting its ruling circles and fomenting defiant insubordination within its military. Last weekend, the United States acted as an air force for ISIS, helping them to overrun a Syrian army base. It was not a mistake, not an elaborate ploy orchestrated at the White House; it was the result of a mutiny by the War Party, which refuses to wait for Hillary’s arrival to assert its will. Jihadism has wrecked the Empire’s system of government -- bin Laden’s revenge -- and brought humanity to the very brink of obliteration.
Dozens of Syrians were killed overnight in rebel-held districts of Aleppo during airstrikes described by residents as some of the most intense bombardments in months .
The fresh attacks signalled further the collapse on the ground of a ceasefire deal negotiated last week by Washington and Moscow, whose foreign ministers have set a Friday deadline to rescue the agreement while insisting it still hung by a thread. ...
By midnight, doctors and activists had identified 49 people, including children, who were killed in Aleppo province since noon that day in dozens of airstrikes that hit rebel territory. Another four were killed in late-night bombing of the city’s Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood, with residents sharing images and videos showing buildings engulfed in flames, the results of what they alleged were phosphorus bombs. ...
Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial capital, is divided into a western portion controlled by the government and an eastern area held by rebels. The eastern part has been besieged for two months, except for a brief window when the blockade was broken. A defeat in the city would be a huge blow for the rebellion.
Speaking today at the UN Security Council, Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Syria and Russia immediately halt all warplane flights in Syria, insisting that there was no other way to avoid the escalation of the civil war, and that the ceasefire is at stake.
The ceasefire, of course, ended days ago, with the Syrian government withdrawing on Monday, citing an array of violations over the weekend, including a US airstrike which attacked a Syrian army base in Deir Ezzor, killing 83 soldiers.
Despite the ceasefire being clearly over, some US officials have suggested it isn’t over until they say it is. ... Kerry also angrily condemned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Levrov’s call for an investigation into an attack against a UN aid convoy, insisting that everyone knows it was Russia’s fault already and that Russia is trying to invent facts.
Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals
A report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published on Wednesday says that there have been only 65 UK air raids in Syria during this period, compared to 550 in Iraq. Some 31 of these were in the first two months of the air campaign, since when the number has fallen to between three and seven air strikes a month
Drawing attention to the small number of British air attacks in Syria, Dr Julian Lewis, the chairman of the committee, asked in an interview with The Independent why “we had the great debate and vote on beginning military action in Syria when the number of air strikes there are so minute.” He added that, despite the committee’s best efforts, it had been unable to get the Government to identify the 70,000 armed moderates who are meant to be Britain’s local partners on the ground in Syria.
The muddled British political and military strategy in Syria was exemplified last Saturday when British aircraft took part in an air strike that mistakenly killed 62 Syrian army soldiers who were apparently fighting Isis near the besieged provincial capital of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. The British government has maintained that the Syrian army is not fighting Isis, but was seeking to crush moderate rebels opposed to Isis and the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
The committee said the failure of the Ministry of Defence to provide it with a full analysis of UK air strikes in Syria may “undermine the Government’s assertion that the bombing campaign in Syria is in support of credible moderate ground forces”. ...
The Government’s explanation on why it cannot reveal the identity of the potent but invisible Syrian armed moderates is that this information would help the Assad government. But Dr Lewis and the report strongly suggest that the very limited nature of the British air campaign is a tacit admission that no such force exists on the ground in Syria which British air strikes might assist. But the existence of such a moderate body is a necessity if both Isis and Assad are to be removed simultaneously.
US officials say they are conducting initial tests tonight after an ISIS rocket attack against the Qayara base, intended to be the main staging area for forces attacking Mosul in the next few weeks, was believed to have contained chemical agents.
The rocket attack came within a few hundred meters of US forces on the ground, but no one was wounded. Troops say an initial sample of a substance left behind at the site tested positive for mustard agents, though they said the second test was negative.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and following President Obama’s comments warning that Israel could not just keep occupying Palestinian territory forever, the president met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and by all accounts avoided all things Palestine.
Obama made one mention of being concerned about Israel’s massive settlement expansion, and that was basically the end of it, with Israeli officials referring to it as a “light-hearted” meeting at which the two got alone better than they’ve tended to throughout their respective administrations.
A Senate resolution opposing a $1.15 billion arms transfer to Saudi Arabia garnered support from 27 senators on Wednesday, a sign of growing unease about the increasing number of civilians being killed with U.S. weapons in Yemen. A procedural vote to table the resolution passed 71-27.
The Obama administration announced the transfer last month, the same day the Saudi Arabian coalition bombed a potato chip factory in the besieged Yemeni capital. In the following week, the Saudi-led forces would go on to bomb a children’s school, the home of the school’s principal, a Doctors Without Borders hospital, and the bridge used to carry humanitarian aid into the capital. ...
After the White House failed to respond to a letter from 60 members of Congress requesting that the transfer be delayed, Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a resolution condemning the arms sale. Paul and Murphy said they had planned to pursue binding legislation if their resolution was successful. ...
The measure still may have a chance in the House, where Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., has introduced a companion resolution. In June, the House almost passed a measure banning the transfer of internationally banned cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, but the amendment was defeated 204-216.
Never before have so many Senators gone on record supporting a rethink of the US-Saudi relationship. Didn't win, but a strong message.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 21, 2016
Residential in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah have reported that Saudi warplanes have attacked and destroyed a home in a neighborhood near the presidential palace, killing at least 19 civilians and wounding dozens of others.
The strike was in a neighborhood whose residents are mostly employees at the palace, and officials say the toll is not yet final, with rescue workers still combing through the wreckage to recover more people buried under the rubble.
Chelsea Manning goes before a three-member disciplinary board of the US army on Thursday charged with interfering with the “good order” of the military prison in which she is held by attempting suicide, an offence that could lead to indefinite solitary confinement.
Manning, who is serving 35 years at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for leaking a vast trove of secret documents on the US war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, required hospital treatment after she attempted to kill herself in July. The military authorities generated outrage by responding to the army private’s act of despair by charging her with a number of serious disciplinary counts.
On Wednesday, the campaigning group Fight for the Future posted a copy of the military charge sheet that had been issued against the soldier. It showed that she has been slapped with two category-four counts – among the most serious available – both of which carry a possible sentence of indefinite solitary confinement.
A security researcher has demonstrated that the passcode of an iPhone can be cracked using off-the-shelf components which cost just $100 — a tiny fraction of the $1.3 million the FBI paid a third party to do the same thing in the case of an iPhone 5C belonging to the San Bernardino shooter earlier this year.
In a video posted on YouTube and an accompanying paper describing the technique, University of Cambridge associate researcher Sergei Skorobogatov showed how a four digit passcode could be revealed in less than two days using a technique known as Nand mirroring.
The technique, dismissed by FBI director James Comey as unworkable at the time of the agency's high-profile battle with Apple, sees the memory which is used as the main storage location on iPhones cloned and the passcode counter reset to zero.
"Because I can create as many clones as I want, I can repeat the process many, many times until the passcode is found," Skorobogatov says in the video. Each set of six guesses takes 90 seconds to complete, meaning the 10,000 possible combinations could be fully tested in just over 41 hours. ...
While the technique demonstrated works for all iPhones up to the iPhone 6, Skorobogatov added that with the use of more sophisticated hardware, the same technique should work for the iPhone 6s and even Apple's brand new iPhone 7.
State of Emergency: Charlotte NAACP & Protesters Demand Police Release Video of Keith Scott Shooting
Violence and confusion has spread across Charlotte after a second night of protests was interrupted by gunfire when one protester shot another.
North Carolina governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, and called for help from the National Guard and the Highway Patrol.
The demonstrations started on Tuesday after police shot and killed a black man.
Late on Wednesday night crowds gathered at the site of the protester’s shooting, and pulled clay planters from city flowerbeds to throw at police. Dirt from the pots mixed with the wounded protester’s blood on the sidewalk, trampled by the opposing ranks of police and protesters.
Initially city officials said the man had died from the gunfire, but later reversed to say he was alive but critically wounded.
Protesters held signs that read “release the tape”, referring to police video of the shooting that started the protests on Tuesday.
[See also: Protests over police shooting in Charlotte – in pictures - js]
Protests Call for Arrest of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby for Fatal Shooting of Terence Crutcher
Obama takes personally black millennials’ lukewarm support of Clinton, as though a mark of disrespect, disloyalty, lack of gratitude, unconcern about his own legacy—when he has done so much to advance the cause of black rights (even symbolically, his presence as POTUS). But what is his legacy? And why should blacks celebrate his tenure, much less esteem him as a person?
Obama’s legacy begins with armed drones for targeted assassination, a hands-on President, meeting with likeminded national security advisers off the Situation Room on Terror Tuesdays to identify, authorize, and give the plan to execute political murder, a present-day example of lynching from 8,000 miles away. No president in US history has so involved himself in the details of executing others. And no president has been so flippant in shrugging off the results of “collateral damage” (as witness this past week in Syria).
Washington has become a center of ghoulishness under his watch. Can blacks or anyone else with conscience shrug off the consequences of such immoral acts, particularly, for blacks, the insult of being invited to be complicit in the ways of evil? If Dr. King were alive, would he urge support for Obama, and now, Obama’s effort to elect Clinton? Would Clinton, devoted to war, war preparation, hawkish in every fiber of her immoral being, even be the Democratic nominee, if Obama had not already had two terms in the presidency, despoiling, perhaps permanently, a party that once gave us FDR, Henry Wallace, Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, fair, decent individuals sincere about the cause of peace?
Donald Trump has unveiled a new strategy to fight crime in the United States. On Wednesday, speaking at a Fox News town hall at a predominantly black church in Cleveland, the Republican nominee said he would consider implementing nationwide "stop and frisk" policing if elected.
"I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to," Trump said, in response to a question on how he would stop "violence in the black community," from an audience member.
"We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically," Trump answered. "You understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked." ...
The practice was popularized in New York City in the 1990s under then-police commissioner, Bill Bratton and under the mayorship of Rudy Giuliani, who is now an outspoken Trump surrogate. Since then, the practice has spread to police departments around the country. Giuliani's successor, Michael Bloomberg, also supported the tactic. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who succeeded Bloomberg in 2014, has vowed to end the stop and frisk program, although the NYPD still occasionally uses it.
Archeologists and museum directors have denounced the “destruction” of Native American artifacts during the construction of a contentious oil pipeline in North Dakota, as the affected tribe condemned the project in an address to the United Nations.
The $3.8bn Dakota Access pipeline, which will funnel oil from the Bakken oil fields in the Great Plains to Illinois, will run next to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The tribe has mounted a legal challenge to stop the project and claimed that several sacred sites were bulldozed by Energy Transfer, the company behind the pipeline, on 3 September.
A coalition of more than 1,200 archeologists, museum directors and historians from institutions including the Smithsonian and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries has written to the Obama administration to criticize the bulldozing, which Energy Transfer claims did not disturb any artifacts.
The letter states that the construction work destroyed “ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts sacred to the Lakota and Dakota people”.
It adds: “The destruction of these sacred sites adds yet another injury to the Lakota, Dakota and other Indigenous Peoples who bear the impacts of fossil fuel extraction and transportation. If constructed, this pipeline will continue to encourage oil consumption that causes climate change, all the while harming those populations who contributed little to this crisis.”
Though it may not have seemed possible, climate catastrophe is even closer than previously thought, with new figures released Thursday finding that—when the wells already drilled, pits dug, and pipelines built, are taken under consideration—we are well on our way to going beyond 2°C of warming.
"If you're in a hole, stop digging," begins the study, put forth by the fossil fuel watchdog Oil Change International (OCI), in partnership with 14 other environmental organizations.
The report, The Sky's Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production (pdf), calculates the potential carbon emissions for already developed reserves and transportation projects, such as oil wells, tar pits, pipelines, processing facilities, railways, and exports terminals. ...
Bill McKibben wrote at the The New Republic on Thursday, "if our goal is to keep the Earth's temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here's the answer: zero."
Similarly, the researchers state unequivocally, "No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them." ...
Given OCI's assessment that, "If you let current fields begin their natural decline, you'll be using 50 percent less oil by 2033," McKibben estimates that the world has 17 years to replace current fossil fuel infrastructure with renewable energy.
"That's enough time—maybe—to replace gas guzzlers with electric cars. To retrain pipeline workers and coal miners to build solar panels and wind turbines."
The worst global bleaching event on record could simply be the new normal, according to one of the foremost experts on coral reefs and their response to warming oceans.
Mark Eakin, head of the Coral Reef Watch program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has told the Guardian he was hopeful the current global bleaching event would end in 2017, but said it was possible it would just roll on, alternating between the northern and southern hemispheres as the seasons changed.
Some of the most recent reefs to be hit by the unprecedented event are those around the Japanese islands of Okinawa.
Coral begins to bleach when comes into contact with water that is unusually warm. Unless that water returns to normal temperatures quickly, it begins to die.
Sometimes when coral is moderately stressed, it over-expresses some of its colour pigments, glowing in unusually rich colours, in what’s known as “fluorescing”. Each state – bleached, fluorescent and dead coral – was seen in striking detail around Okinawa.
Bayer and Syngenta criticised for secrecy after unpublished research obtained under freedom of information law linked high doses of their products to damage to the health of bee colonies
Unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers show their products cause serious harm to honeybees at high levels, leading to calls from senior scientists for the companies to end the secrecy which cloaks much of their research.
The research, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request.
Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and there is clear scientific evidence that they harm bees at the levels found in fields, though only a little to date showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies. Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013, despite UK opposition.
Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and the use of pesticides.
The biggest threat to global health isn't another Ebola outbreak or the spread of the Zika virus; rather, it's the spread of antibiotic resistant "superbugs," according to the United Nations, which announced an agreement Tuesday with 193 member countries to fight the overuse of antibiotics.
Details about the highly anticipated agreement came together early Tuesday and member states reaffirmed their support during a summit on antimicrobial resistance later in the morning at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This was just the fourth time in history that the UN has hosted a high-level meeting focused on health concerns. Previous issues discussed at the highest level include Ebola, HIV, and noncommunicable diseases.
"Antimicrobial resistance threatens the achievement of the sustainable development goals and requires a global response," said Peter Thomson, the president of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. ...
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Earl Hooker - You Dont Want Me
Earl Hooker - Sky Is Crying
Earl Hooker - Move on Down the Line
Lillian Offitt w/ Earl Hooker - Will My Man Be Home Tonight
Earl Hooker - I'm Your Main Man & Do You Swear To Tell The Truth
Earl Hooker - Alley Corn
Earl Hooker - Chicken
Earl Hooker - Wah Wah Blues
Earl Hooker - Frog Hop
Earl Hooker - Blue Guitar
Earl Hooker w/John Lee Hooker - Messin' Around With The Blues
Earl Hooker - Hold On, I'm Coming