Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Joni Mitchell

The 1980s were a decade in which Mitchell’s presence and influence were markedly diminished after she had towered over the previous two decades. She retreated from touring after a lengthy 1983 jaunt. While the video for Good Friends aired on MTV – the stop-motion whimsy even predates Peter Gabriel’s much-lauded Sledgehammer clip – she wasn’t receiving the kind of sustained rotation of her peers. “I felt like Garbo when they didn’t want her to be in talkies,” she told Rolling Stone.

In subsequent decades, this fall from grace made it easier for the press to entrench a narrative that Mitchell’s 80s were an aberration or detour – an assertion reinforced after 1994’s minimalist jazz-pop effort Turbulent Indigo, dubbed by the Los Angeles Times “her best overall album in a good decade and a half”, won a Grammy for best pop album. The result was a generation of fans who grew up with a very different take on Mitchell: she wasn’t a vibrant auteur pushing boundaries, but a musician in a perpetual victory lap celebrating an elusive return to form.

This perspective was a marked change from the 1970s, when a prolific and highly visible Mitchell was lauded for singular work such as 1971’s landmark confessional Blue and 1974’s exquisite Court and Spark. And while the indifference to her 1980s work isn’t surprising, given the “me decade” obsession with new sounds and new faces over old ones, it’s unfair to write off these three albums as missteps. In these records, Mitchell refashioned her artistic compass towards the future and reaffirmed her status as a fearless composer.

[. . .]

This anger and claustrophobia would also fester behind the scenes of Dog Eat Dog, which featured production from synthesiser whiz (and avowed Mitchell fan) Thomas Dolby. He and Mitchell clashed in the studio due to incompatible working styles – her more freeform (and free-flowing) way of creating music didn’t mesh with his granular and precise recording methods. Dolby ended up leaving the studio and collaborating from a distance. (Nevertheless, he was complimentary about Mitchell in his 2016 memoir The Speed of Sound, admitting he was “probably too much of a brat, with my own blinkered way of working” during the sessions.)

Despite the conflict behind Dog Eat Dog, the music itself isn’t turbulent, but encompasses obsidian synth-rock and avant-pop. Mitchell embraces the Fairlight CMI and synthesisers, experimenting with new ways to compose music and configuring her jazz sensibilities for cutting-edge technology. Not everything works: Ethiopia chides the pity-heavy exploitation at the heart of charity drives, but its ill-advised lyrics (“Flies in your babies’ eyes, Ethiopia”) insult the people she is aiming to defend. Otherwise, Mitchell directly and effectively castigates the greedy characters rotting society with elegant, incisive observations. Perhaps a good way to reframe Dog Eat Dog is to consider it as a companion to Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, another 1985 album that saw a female auteur carving out a new identity.

Dog Eat Dog needs a critical reappraisal.  We just got it on vinyl.  We already had it on DVD and I honestly grew up with it.  My father is a huge Joni fan that she picked up with her jazz work such as Mingus and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter.  I grew up listening to Dog Eat Dog and I have always loved the album.  "Shiny Toys" is just so much fun to sing along with.  "Fiction" is a great song as is the title track.  I love everything.  That includes "Ethiopia" which I do not think has "ill-advised lyrics" at all.  I'm sorry if they offended the White sensibilities of the British critic.  "Lucky Girl" is a great song as well.  "Such Good Friends" and "Tax Free" are great as well.  There's not a track on this album that I don't love.

I thought the sound was great and I still think so.  And her vocals are tasty.  I don't know if she's ever sang, on an entire album, so free.  

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Tuesday, September 27, 2022.  Some 'movement' on the political situation in Iraq while Ed Snowden is granted citizenship in Russia.

Starting with whistle-blower Ed Snowden.

Russian President Putin has granted US whistle-blower Edward Snowden Russian citizenship Snowden fled the US and was given asylum in Russia after leaking secret files in 2013 that revealed vast domestic and international surveillance operations carried out by the NSA.

Jameel Jafar Tweets:

Think what you want about Snowden and Russia. He did an immense public service by exposing mass surveillance programs that multiple courts later found to be unconstitutional. The newspapers that happily collected prizes for their reporting on the abuses should say this clearly.

In his most recent column, Ed Snowden notes:

Our glittering nation of laws observes this year two birthdays: the 70th anniversary of the National Security Agency, on which my thoughts have been recorded, and the 75th anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA was founded in the wake of the 1947 National Security Act. The Act foresaw no need for the Courts and Congress to oversee a simple information-aggregation facility, and therefore subordinated it exclusively to the President, through the National Security Council he controls.

Within a year, the young agency had already slipped the leash of its intended role of intelligence collection and analysis to establish a covert operations division. Within a decade, the CIA was directing the coverage of American news organizations, overthrowing democratically elected governments (at times merely to benefit a favored corporation), establishing propaganda outfits to manipulate public sentiment, launching a long-running series of mind-control experiments on unwitting human subjects (purportedly contributing to the creation of the Unabomber), and—gasp—interfering with foreign elections. From there, it was a short hop to wiretapping journalists and compiling files on Americans who opposed its wars.

In 1963, no less than former President Harry Truman confessed that the very agency he personally signed into law had transformed into something altogether different than he intended, writing:

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble…”

Many today comfort themselves by imagining that the Agency has been reformed, and that such abuses are relics of the distant past, but what few reforms our democracy has won have been watered-down or compromised. The limited “Intelligence Oversight” role that was eventually conceded to Congress in order to placate the public has never been taken seriously by either the committee’s majority—which prefers cheerleading over investigating—or by the Agency itself, which continues to conceal politically-sensitive operations from the very group most likely to defend them.

"Congress should have been told," said [Senator] Dianne Feinstein. "We should have been briefed before the commencement of this kind of sensitive program. Director Panetta... was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to Congress."

How can we judge the ultimate effectiveness of oversight and reforms? Well, the CIA plotted to assassinate my friend, American whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, in 1972, yet nearly fifty years of “reforms” did little to inhibit them from recently sketching out another political murder targeting Julian Assange. Putting that in perspective, you probably own shoes older than the CIA’s most recent plot to murder a dissident... or rather the most recent plot that we know of.

If you believe the Assange case to be a historical anomaly, some aberration unique to Trump White House, recall that the CIA’s killings have continued in series across administrations. Obama ordered the killing of an American far from any battlefield, and killed his 16 year-old American son a few weeks later, but the man’s American daughter was still alive by the time Obama left.

Within a month of entering the White House, Trump killed her.

She was 8 years old.

It goes beyond assassinations. Within recent memory, the CIA captured Gul Rahman, who we know was not Al-Qaeda, but it seems did save the life of Afghanistan’s future (pro-US) President. Rahman was placed in what the Agency described as a “dungeon” and tortured until he died.

They stripped him naked, save a diaper he couldn’t change, in a cold so wicked that his guards, in their warm clothes, ran heaters for themselves. In absolute darkness, they bolted his hands and feet to a single point on the floor with a very short chain so that it was impossible to stand or lie down – a practice called “short shackling” – and after he died, claimed that it was for his own safety. They admit to beating him, even describing the “forceful punches.” They describe the blood that ran from his nose and mouth as he died.

And Glenn Greenwald Tweets:

As a reminder, US courts repeatedly ruled the programs Edward Snowden disclosed to us and enabled us to report were *unconstitutional and illegal violations of Americans' privacy rights*. I can't imagine the serf-like mentality needed to oppose this.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to terrorize Iraq.  ANF NEWS reports:

Iraqi and Yazidi Kurdish women made a press statement yesterday (Sep. 25) at the Al Mound Hall in Baghdad concerning the increasingly ongoing Turkish air strikes against Iraq.

The Iraqi and Kurdish women stated that they took a step against the invasion attacks carried out by the invading Turkish state in South Kurdistan in an attempt to “stop Turkish aircraft that put the peace and security of the region in jeopardy and kill the Kurdish people.”

Interviewed by Rojnews, the activists said that they wanted to collect 1 million signatures to denounce the invasion attacks of the Turkish state.

Esma Shemeri, deputy head of the Peace Message Organization and an activist, called on the Iraqi government to object to the invasion of the Turkish state. She stressed that the Iraqi government should take a stand against the Turkish violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Ala Qeytan, head of the International Inanna Media Institution, stated that all political parties in Iraq should support their campaign in order to end the occupation of the Turkish state. “The Turkish violation of Iraqi sovereignty should be taken to the United Nations. Furthermore, Iraqi forces who want to remove the Turkish state from Iraqi territory should be endorsed,” Qeytan added.

Meanwhile, October 10th, Iraq held elections.  All this time later -- thirteen days shy of one year -- still no prime minister, still no president, still on Cabinet of Ministers.  There has been talk that this week will some sort of a power-sharing alliance announcement.  Though that hasn't happened, there has been movement on the political stalemate today -- movement backwards.   Mohammed al-Halbousi, the Speaker of Parliament, has announced his resignation.  AFP notes:

The speaker "is not planning to resign but by allowing a potential vote of confidence to go ahead he is expecting his coalition partners to back him strongly", Sajad Jiyad, a fellow at the Century International think-tank, told AFP.

He said the aim was to "end any further attempts to unseat him.

"This will cement his position as political leader of Iraq's Sunnis and put pressure on" Shiite and Kurdish parties to form a government, Jiyad added.

I'm reading a lot of garbage elsewhere and don't want to link to the nonsense.  Mohammed al-Halbousi?  THE NATIONAL, for example, wastes of ton of words but never says anything.

Mohammed was the only national figure that could be voted in after the October 10th elections.  They couldn't decide on who should be president or who should be prime minister, but they could decided on who should be Speaker of Parliament.  

And the decision was made all the easier -- pay attention at THE NATIONAL -- because Mohammed became Speaker of Parliament . . . in September 2018.  All they did in 2022 was retain him in the post -- not as a 'caretaker' but as the new Speaker.  That's the only progress they made and when he was (re)voted in, the attitude was: We had an election to just retain the same people?

We'll wind down with this from Black Alliance for Peace:

For Immediate Release:

Media Contact
(202) 643-1136

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022—October 1, 2022 is the 14th anniversary of the launch of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Yet, jihadist terrorist violence on the African continent has increased since the founding of AFRICOM and NATO’s destruction of Libya resulting in civilian casualties and instability, which the West has used as pretext and justification for the continued need for AFRICOM. Since its founding, coups carried out by AFRICOM-trained soldiers have also increased.

That is why the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) is organizing an International Month of Action Against AFRICOM in October. This is an effort to raise the public's awareness about how the presence of U.S. military forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent.

Despite its rhetoric, the purpose of AFRICOM is to use U.S. military power to impose U.S. control on African land, resources and labor to service the needs of U.S. multinational corporations and the wealthy in the United States. It also serves as a major boon to “defense” contractors.

AFRICOM is a direct product of NATO via the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), which originally took responsibility for 42 African states. In 2003, NATO started expanding; four years later, in 2007, EUCOM commander James L. Jones, who was also NATO commander of operational forces, proposed the creation of AFRICOM.

NATO has become a huge global axle in the wheel of the military industrial complex, which includes more than 800 U.S. military bases around the world as well as  joint bases or relationships with almost all African countries. These are all controlled by the U.S. empire for realizing the U.S. policy of Full Spectrum Dominance, which is driven by the ferocious appetite of international finance  capital.

NATO continues today in the form of AFRICOM facilitating wars, instability and the corporate pillage of Africa. This hypocrisy explains why 17 African nations abstained from the March 2 United Nations resolution condemning Russia. One African state, Eritrea, even voted no. Their experiences with NATO and AFRICOM ensure skepticism of self-proclaimed noble motives.

Motives such as bill H.R. 7311, the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act',' a racist affront to African sovereignty designed to dictate what bi-lateral relations African states are permitted to have.

That is why we call on our friends and allies to endorse this month as an individual or organization. Beyond that, we are calling on you to participate each week using our calls to action, for which we have provided materials on our webpage. Each week’s call to action ranges from watching our kick-off webinar to organizing mass actions like banner drops, facilitating teach-ins using our materials and spreading the word using BAP’s custom graphics.

The Black Alliance for Peace calls for the dismantling of NATO, AFRICOM and all imperialist structures. Africa and the rest of the world cannot be free until all peoples are able to realize the right of sovereignty and the right to live free of domination.

We demand:

  • The complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa;

  • The demilitarization of the African continent;

  • The closure of U.S. bases throughout the world; and

  • The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) oppose U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conduct hearings on AFRICOM’s impact on the African continent, with the full participation of members of U.S. and African civil society.

Thee following sites updated:

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