Evening Blues Preview 7-20-15

This evening's music features early blues singer and songwriter Alberta Hunter and early blues singer Lucille Bogan.

Here are some stories from tonight's posting:

David Mizner documents what ought to be front page news on all progressive sites worthy of the title - how Hillary Clinton and the "humanitarian" gasbags Susan Rice and Samantha Power lied and manipulated the US into destroying Libya. Go read it all if you have the stomach for it.

Benghazi is a sideshow. Hillary Clinton’s real scandal is her role in pushing the war against Libya.

n March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. That same day — as revealed by Pentagon audio tapes obtained by the Washington Times — President Qaddafi’s son Seif tried to call a US general to try to negotiate a ceasefire.

Every now and then — on Israel and Palestine, for example — the US military brass takes the term “national security” literally and needs to be set straight by civilian leaders. Never mind that the UN resolution had urged diplomacy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff not to negotiate with the Libyan government.

Later the Libyan government made another attempt to negotiate through an intermediary, American businessman and former US Navy officer Charles Kubic. According to Kubic, General Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM, agreed to participate in this effort to halt the war. Qaddafi proposed a seventy-two-hour-truce, then said he would step down to allow for a transition provided that NATO agreed to maintain the Libyan army, lift sanctions against him and his family, and provide them safe passage.

Was the offer genuine and workable? We’ll never know, because Clinton shut down the negotiations.

Thanks to news reports — mostly in right-wing outlets — over the last several months, a clearer picture of the US’s 2011 war on Libya has emerged. While some of the analysis in these pieces is suspect, much of the reporting is well-sourced, and it should be making life uncomfortable for Clinton.

But she carries on unscathed partly because few American elites want to talk about the US destruction of Libya and partly because her GOP adversaries continue to fixate on the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The wayward probe allows her to depict herself, accurately, as the target of a partisan effort. A manufactured scandal clouds a real one.

Tsipras Boots Syriza's Left from Government

Less than 48 hours after tense negotiations led to the passage of a new harsh austerity package, Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday reportedly "reshuffled" his administration, booting members of Syriza's leftist flank who opposed the controversial bailout.

"It marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with the extremist far-left faction," Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economics at Athens University, told the Guardian. "But it is also clear that this is a short-term government. Tsipras’s hands are tied because these people still have a strong presence in his parliamentary group."

The reorganization saw nine total changes, the most notable being the ousting of outspoken Marxist Panagiotis Lafazanis from his post as energy minister. As head of Syriza's Left Platform, Lafazanis had "led the revolt against policies he said were utterly incompatible with the party’s ideology," the Guardian reports.

The Greek Parliament must pass additional reforms by Wednesday to ensure the additional bailout.

Revolutionary Expectations and the Fight Against Austerity

Banks Have Reopened in Greece, but Almost Everything Has Become More Expensive

Greek banks have finally reopened after three weeks of chaos, but a new era of austerity has also begun in the country, with new taxes meaning many goods and services are more expensive — from coffee to funeral homes to cooking oil.

In downtown Athens, people queued up in an orderly fashion as the banks unlocked their doors at 8am. Restrictions on most transactions remain, though the daily cash withdrawal limit has moved to a weekly one of 420 euros ($455).

Higher prices also took effect across the country, with sales taxes rising from 13 percent to 23 percent on many basic goods — including some meats, cooking oils, coffee, tea, cocoa, vinegar, salt, flowers, firewood, fertilizer, insecticides, sanitary towels, and condoms. ...

Greece's left-wing Syriza-led government is racing to finalize a new bailout agreement with creditors and faces another vote in parliament this Wednesday to impose more austerity measures.

Amid the pressure, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is struggling to contain a growing revolt in his Syriza party, as observers suggest that a snap election may be called within the next few months.

Cabinet-level dissenters were replaced in a reshuffle on Friday, but even their replacements have angrily denounced the new austerity measures.

Greek Officials confirm that almost all of €7.2bn bridging loan went into repaying money owed to the ECB and IMF

Greek officials began paying back international lenders shortly after the emergency bridging loan arrived in the Greek government’s bank account on Monday.

The EU agreed the loan on Friday to enable Athens to meet urgent debt repayments and clear arrears, both necessary hurdles if the Greek government is to get a three-year bailout worth up to €86bn.

The money was transferred to Athens around noon (1000 BST) and was immediately used to repay Greece’s international creditors. The Greek government has begun making a €4.2bn payment to the European Central Bank, officials told Reuters – a €3.5bn loan plus €0.7bn interest. Failure to make this payment could have forced Greece out of the eurozone, as the ECB would have had to pull its support for Greek banks because it cannot back an insolvent country.

The Greek government also owes €500,000 to the central bank of Greece and must clear this debt so it is not indebted to the “eurosystem” – the central banks of the eurozone.

The International Monetary Fund confirmed it had received around €2bn from Greece, representing two missed payments.

SYRIZA's Stability Rocked by New Memorandum

Greek banks reopen to a surprise: no deluge of panic-stricken customers

At 6am on Monday morning Dimitris Rombopoulos was at his post as the security guard outside the National Bank of Greece. By 6.30 the first of a small but steady stream of people, mostly white-haired pensioners, had begun to appear. Rombopoulos, tall, dark, his tie slightly askew, braced for the worse. “I thought after three weeks of the banks being closed it’s going to be crazy,” he said. “I thought maybe I’d need reinforcement.”

So when the giant doors of the bank’s historical headquarters at 86 Aeolou Street finally opened, Rombopoulos had a bit of a surprise. “About 70 people had gathered and most of them were pensioners wanting to withdraw cash,” he added. “And that was about as big as the crowd got.” ...

“What economy can work without its banks?” asked Spyros Kouroumbiotis, a pensioner who had joined the queue to pay his taxes. “As an economist I still help my family with their business and I can tell you it’s been a huge ordeal. Exports have stopped, imports have stopped, nothing has worked because it’s been impossible to pay anyone.”

But on Monday it was the manner of their reopening that surprised officials most. Quite quickly it became evident that the panic-stricken deluge of customers many had feared was simply not happening. Many Greeks, who have spent the best part of five years internalising the crisis and getting used to bad news, reacted by staying at home. Those who did not appeared willing to stand in neat orderly queues, motivated to large degree by the desire to keep up with annual taxes and utility bills.

Pentagon Chief Again Threatens to Attack Iran

Heading to Israel today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter once again talked up the idea of the US, having reached a nuclear deal with Iran, just up and attacking Iran out of nowhere, saying that’s one of the best things about the nuclear deal.

One of the reasons this deal is a good one is that it does nothing to prevent the military option,” Carter insisted, saying the US and Israel could “agree to disagree” about the merits of the plan, but that the planning for an aggressive war against Iran would continue. ...

Carter’s comments are seen, at least in part, as trying to placate Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, whose objections seem to center around the pact getting in the way of his decades of agitating for war against Iran. It does, however, add to international mistrust of the US in the wake of the deal, and whether they’re going to either renege on the pact or launch a unilateral war out of nowhere for no reason at all.

'If You Don't Talk We'll Beat You': Israeli Security Forces Accused of Abusing Child Prisoners

Israeli security forces have choked, beaten, and coerced confessions from Palestinian child detainees, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Monday.

Based on interviews with five children aged between 11 and 15 years old — whose accounts are corroborated by photos, videos, and eyewitness testimonies — the report by the international NGO contains multiple allegations of abuses by Israeli soldiers and police officers ranging from interrogating minors without a parent or lawyer present to punching, kicking, and verbally abusing them.

"They put a black cloth bag on my head, and were shouting: 'We're going to beat you, you're going to tell us who was with you throwing stones,'" 11-year-old Rashid from Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem told HRW. "Then they were pushing me around, and cursing me, in Arabic. They kicked me in the shin, and my leg turned different colors. I was freezing. They kept putting me into a car and taking me out." Rashid's father said his son suffered nightmares for several days after his arrest.

In another case, Ahmed, also aged 11, was put in a chokehold while being arrested outside the gates of his school in the Al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The incident, which was caught on video, caused the boy to urinate on himself in fear. An adult onlooker, detained after he tried to intervene in the arrest, was later strip-searched and beaten in front of Ahmed at a police station in Jerusalem's Old City.

In all of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch the parents said that the Israeli authorities did not notify them of the arrests and interrogated their child without a lawyer or guardian present. Three of the children of interviewed said they signed confessions in Hebrew, a language they didn't understand.

This is an excellent essay, well worth your time to click the link and read in full. Here's a taste:

If you want a living wage, be prepared to go on strike for it

Is the best way to achieve higher wages really legislation? Many think so. Across the country, working people are eagerly waiting to feel the effects of new laws that raise the minimum wage. Seattle will see an increase to $15 by 2021, and Los Angeles will see the same increase by 2020. But this strategy detracts from the only power dynamic that can actually overturn economic inequality: class struggle.

Legislative wage hikes fade fast into inflated prices. Worse, they teach folks that ultimately we need not organize – except to ask the state to change things for us. That’s a losing battle on all fronts and one that obscures class analysis. This analysis says that there are two classes under capitalism, who’s economically ordained conflict propels the system: the working class, who creates the surplus value in commodities, and the ruling class, who receives most of the wealth of commodities.

Instead of ceding our collective power to city councils and corporate offices, we need to broaden and radicalize the movement for a living wage, embracing more powerful tactics that today’s union leaders have dismissed. It’s not simply about the outcomes of reform; it’s about how we win it. That’s what teaches us how to fight. That’s what builds a movement. Without a movement, we have no hope for real, sustainable change. We have no hope of getting rid of capitalism.

Bernie Sanders: structural racism needs to end for economic justice to succeed

It is time for the progressive movement to reckon with structural racism: its role in enabling it and its moral responsibility to actively dismantle it. It’s not a request: it’s a requirement for all presidential candidates that seek progressive votes, and for a political movement that seeks any hope for relevance in a diverse America.

It’s long past time for Democratic candidates to stop taking black voters for granted, as was made clear this weekend at Netroots Nation, the largest annual gathering of progressive activists in America. At the Presidential Town Hall on Saturday morning, two Democratic Presidential candidates – former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – publicly floundered when faced with activists from #BlackLivesMatter.

Sanders’ and O’Malley’s public interviews with journalist, documentarian and activist Jose Antonio Vargas was essentially taken over by racial justice activists who drastically changed the conversation of what was designed to be a typical, stale campaign appearance by shouting “Black lives matter!” in unison from the audience. Then Tia Oso of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration took to the stage to demand that the candidates answer one question: “As leader of this country will you advance an agenda that will dismantle structural racism in this country?”

Governor O’Malley’s tone-deaf response – “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter” – earned him boos from the crowd; he left the stage shortly after and later clarified his remarks with the news site This Week in Blackness. Bernie Sanders, with the presidential gravitas of a toddler, first attempted to shout his usual stump speech over the protestors, and then scolded them for interrupting him and held what one could only describe as a mini public tantrum. ...

When #BlackLivesMatters demonstrators demanded that candidates explain what they will do for racial justice, Netroots organizers surreptitiously flashed an apology for Governor O’Malley on the teleprompter for the disruption. Sanders supporters, meanwhile, flooded Twitter to dismiss critiques, criticize demonstrators for interrupting the economic stump speech and to attempt to civil-rights-splain to racial justice organizers about the Senator’s actions during the civil rights movement. ...

Though Sanders’s policy proposals likely align with number of black voters, his ability to address race is limited to the scope of wealth and the economy. But black voters and organizers need to know why they should fight for Bernie Sanders’ vision of our economic future when our humanity is in constant peril.

Also of interest:

The Making of a Republican Snowdenista

Two cheers for the Dodd-Frank Act – but Wall Street culture needs radical change

Greece, The Troika and Maggie Thatcher

Seeking War to the End of the World

0 users have voted.