Kamasi Washington and the Next Step – Epic Jazz from LA

From the Los Angeles Times:

“the idea of a South Central jazz ingénue makes for a hell of a story, and his band is surely amongst the most purely gifted artists in our city. The Epic is a cause for celebration whichever way you look at it, and as its creator, Washington deserves all the acclaim coming his way.”

Jazz On A Summer’s Day – Newport 1958

What a gem. Just another reason to love the Internet…

Enjoy!

Remembering the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the East Bay

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It was  thirty years ago, May 1985, when Bishop Tutu spoke so eloquently at the Greek Theater, I was there. When students took over Sproul Plaza, leading to UC Berkeley’s divestment of $1.7 billion from South Africa, I was there. When Nelson Mandela came to the Oakland Coliseum in 1990 to thank us after decades in South African jails, I was there. Divestment movements and boycotts can and do work.

SproulPlazaUCBerkeley_AntiApartheidProtest1985_1200x825

NY Times Missing Headlines of the Week

imagesWhat is not there is frequently more important than what is….

 

Missing: $45 Billion In Tax Dollars Goes Missing in Afghanistan

Interestingly, one headline that did not appear anywhere in the NY Times this week as far as I can tell concerned the issuance of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) top-level analysis of Department of Defense (DoD) reconstruction spending in Afghanistan. It turns out that of the $104 billion US taxpayer dollars appropriated for Afghan reconstruction between 2002 and 2014 (more than we laid out for the Marshall Plan adjusted for inflation), $66 billion went to the Department of Defense. And surprise– they can’t, or won’t, account for $45 billion of it! To make matters worse, the military has decided they don’t want to be bothered anymore with the meddling inconvenience of oversight, so they have decided to classify the bulk of the data. On what grounds? well because it gives aid and comfort to enemy of course. So kiss any hope of knowing where our $45 billion went goodbye. Not to mention the $500 million in weapons that have gone missing in Yemen reported this week in the Wash Post.

$45 Billion in Tax Dollars Goes Missing in Afghanistan

Watchdog Scrutinizes Pentagon Spending in Afghanistan

$100 Billion In Aid Squandered in Afghanistan

Lost San Francisco: Embarcadero and Central Freeways

As a result of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake the city lost two iconic freeways– the Embarcadero freeway, aka California route 480,  ran along the eastern edge of the city from Broadway to the Bay Bridge; the Central Freeway still exists but has changed significantly since the earthquake, with the northern extension that ran beyond Fell street up to Turk demolished shortly after the quake. Further extensive modifications since have produced a very different structure and route. Here is what they used to look like (note that the folks on the Embarcadero trip have KALX on the radio):

Embarcadero Freeway:

Central Freeway:

Drive Around SF in 1955 (nothing about the Embarcadero or Central, just fun to watch):

 

Forward Into The Past: Utah Governor Signs Bill Allowing Firing Squad

BatistaFireSquadA notable philosopher once wrote: “all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice… the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

The tragedy: occurred in November 1915 when labor organizer and songwriter Joe Hill was convicted on uncorroborated circumstantial evidence and executed by a Utah firing squad. Hill’s case, appearing to be clearly rigged against him, became a national cause célèbre, with many personalities of the day weighing-in on his behalf. President Woodrow Wilson even tried to intervene to stay the execution. But in the grand tradition of states rights Utah would have none of it. After all, the after-party was set and invitations already printed. For his part, Joe Hill had already come to the conclusion (correctly as it turned out) that he was more valuable to the labor movement dead than alive. In a last letter to labor leader “Big Bill” Haywood, Hill asked to be buried across the state line, indicating that he wouldn’t want to be caught dead in Utah.  His last word, shouted while standing blindfolded, was “Fire!”  

The farce: who better to relay the story than America’s most trusted purveyors of farce, Fox News?:

Watch Fox and Friends Report

Let’s bring the execution process into the 21st century. Why not just put the prisoner’s name on the Military’s High Value Target (HVT) hit list and send a drone to kill him one day while out exercising in the prison yard?

Listen to Ohio State’s own rebel songwriter Phil Ochs sing “The Ballad of Joe Hill”:

Sequestration: The Real Enemy of DoD

sucking-money-vacuum-cleaner-13399508McHugh: America’s Army Facing Sequestration ‘Enemy’ at Home

“Not only does the U.S. Army face rapid, unpredictable changes in the geopolitical landscape, but also the uncertainty of an adversary — sequestration — here at home, Army Secretary John M. McHugh said before a Senate subcommittee…”

But not to worry Jedi Knights, it seems that the fix is already in for you. Here is what Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA., the chairman of the House Armed Services had to say about it last month:

“Congress will likely act to repeal the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration during the budgeting process… the area where Congress can agree is on the Defense Department sequestration cuts, while lawmakers would have to figure out how to juggle non-defense spending by civilian agencies [author’s italics]… At least the defense spending sequester will be set aside. I think with all the dangers we see around the world it has to be.” — Notice that everyone else still needs to take the cuts!

So why the big deal? Well, if your beloved war machine, million $$ mansion, private plane and Ivy league placement for your kids was on the line, plus your future entitlements as a defense industry lobbyist, you’d try to hedge your bets too, wouldn’t you? Besides, who can trust politicians (or the American public) to do the right thing without a little cajoling, right?

So do what you do best– plan a covert mission:

Strategy: trump up the existential threats loud enough, and distribute troops broadly enough, to make it darn near impossible, both logistically and politically, to do anything but keep feeding the beast.

Tactic: work through the mainstream media to “familiarize” the public with the magnitude of the threats. Remember we are on the verge of all-out war at all times, hyper-vigilance being the only answer. Afghanistan (Taliban), Iraq (ISIL), Somalia (al-Shabaab), Yemen (Al-Qaeda), Iran (Death to America), Russia (Putin), Nigeria (Boko Haram), Al-Qaeda is everywhere, ISIS (same as ISIL, but to the less-informed it appears to be two different groups). Notice that Pakistan never seems to make the existential threat list?  And the poor old Communists must feel like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, no one pays any attention to them anymore!

Then send troops to as many of those places as possible, as discretely as possible, so when the time comes you can cry “You can’t cut our budget, you’ll be putting our boys (and girls) in greater harm.”

And let us not fool ourselves– the civilians (Executive and Congress alike) plus the CIA and NSA and Homeland Security etc…all take their places at the rampart to defend against the Philistines.

At any rate….

While you slept this weekend we received this news from the Pentagon:

US To Abandon Plan For Troop Reduction In Afghanistan

Notice how this announcement comes on a Saturday night, outside of the prime news cycle. Are we to believe that they didn’t know this during the week?

And last week our new defender of the realm, “Ash” Carter, had this to say to a Senate committee:

US War on ISIS May Expand to Include Boko Haram in Nigeria

Now this idea has not yet been properly “massaged” for US public consumption, so even though it seems like a pretty big deal it took the UK Guardian to print it. You can bet that if they want to go there, the mainstream media will dutifully play its role in convincing us that it is a good idea, or at the very least a necessary evil.

Does it make anyone else uncomfortable that our Defense Chief goes by the name “Ash”? Isn’t that all that’s left after a major conflagration? Maybe it’s just me?

If you want to get a sense for how mobilized the armed forces already are to win the battle for hearts and minds against the “enemy at home” check out the DoD’s “Sequestration” web site

Happy Trails….

Previous variations on a similar theme on ParallelNarratives:

Misleading Headline of the Week

SOUTHCOM Chief: Sequestration Will Bring “Defeat.” 

Misleading Headline of the Week

Putin_in_Su-27-1

Poles Steel for Battle, Fearing Russia Will March on Them Next

Front Page NY Times. Sunday March 15,2015.

What, the Polish Army has been put on high alert and troops are moving toward the borders to make a stand?

Uh…No. It turns out upon reading the article that the story is about 30 recruits, some younger than twenty years old, some war re-enactors, who have joined a paramilitary group called the Shooters Association to drill, ostensibly to defend the country against an impending Russian invasion. To make his point about the all-consuming fear that supposedly has gripped the nation, Times reporter Rick Lyman offers the following first-hand accounts:

“Thirty students took an oath to defend Poland at all costs, joining nearly 200 other regional members of the association — young men and women, boys and girls — marching in formation around the perimeter of the dusty high school courtyard here.”

“One of those who took the oath in Kalisz was Bartosz Walesiak, 16, who said he had been interested in the military since playing with toy soldiers as a little boy, but had been motivated to join the Shooters Association after Russia moved into Crimea.

“I think that Putin will want more,” he said. “Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are already getting ready for such a scenario, so Poland must do the same.”

Later in the article, a Polish General claims that there may be 80,000 such paramilitary-style drillers currently operating in Poland. But then of course he was forced to acknowledge that “this was just a guess. “

Amazingly Lyman outdoes himself by ending the piece with another substantial interview to help bolster his case:

“The youngest of the cadets, Grzegorz Zurek, 11, was having trouble keeping up, but he was stubbornly determined. As they arrived on the far side of the field, the cadets turned to cheer Grzegorz along.

“I think it is highly probable that Putin will do something against Poland,” Grzegorz later said. “I know from history that Russia has always been a totalitarian state. Now it is trying to regain the territory it lost at the end of the Cold War. Should it invade Poland,” he said, “I would not hesitate a second to fight against them.”

Wow! Embarrassing.

But the exercise serves its purpose nonetheless. Those who only read the headlines will come away with a much different impression. One that lends itself to reinforcing the notion that we are on the verge of all-out war at all times (and hence must continue to massively fund our military defense capabilities of course).

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