Friday, May 14, 2021

Pervis Staples and the Staple Singers

Streaming ALL THINGS CONSIDERED online today, catching up. Thursday's show featured a report on Pervis Staples:

Pervis Staples, a founding member of the Staple Singers, has died. According to a statement from a family spokesperson, he died suddenly in his home in Dolton, Ill, on May 6. He was 85 years old.
Staples was born in Drew, Miss., in 1935, the second of five children. The family soon relocated to Chicago, Ill., where patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples worked in a steel mill. In order to keep his kids occupied while their mother worked the night shift at a downtown hotel, Pops had them sit around in a circle and sing. This is the seed of what would eventually become the Staple Singers: Pops on guitar, with children Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis on vocals. (Yvonne Staples would take Pervis' place when he was drafted into the Army in 1958).
"Pervis' childhood was filled with wonderful experiences," Mavis Staples said in a statement. "He liked to think of this period of his life as setting the stage for all that he wanted to do in life."
In the early years, the Staple Singers stuck mostly to gospel music, at Pops's orders. Pervis finally convinced him otherwise, introducing his dad to his friend Bob Dylan. Greg Kot, author of I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music That Shaped the Civil Rights Era, said in an interview that a young Dylan played the same festivals as the Staple Singers, and was a big fan. Pervis played "Blowin' in the Wind" to his father, who was struck by how the music spoke to the message of the ongoing Civil Rights movement.

So sorry for the family. I didn't know Pervis Staples had passed until I was streaming ATC -- and that's one of the reasons I try to make time on Friday to stream two or three episodes of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, they often have reports that others have missed.

Madison Bloom (PITCHFORK) notes:

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Mavis Staples said of her late brother: “Pervis was one of a kind—comical and downright fly. He would want to be remembered as an upright man, always willing to help and encourage others. He was one of the good guys and will live on as a true Chicago legend.”
She added that Pervis used to hang out with Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, and Jerry Butler during his youth. “Pervis and the guys would stand under the lamp posts in the summertime singing doo-wop songs,” she said. Pervis was also a friend of Bob Dylan’s, and the Staple Singers recorded a duet of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” in 1965.
In 1999, the Staple Singers were inducted into he Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Grammy Awards.
Pops Staples died in 2000, followed by Cleotha in 2013. In 2018, Yvonne Staples died following a battle with colon cancer.

Mavis really is the last of the line. She's been on a creative hot streak lately especially with her two albums from 2019 -- WE GET BY and LIVE IN LONDON.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, May 14, 2021.  A US outlet rushes to lie about the Iraq War (its beginnings) and Ihab al-Wazni's death -- part of a wave of assassinations -- continues to generate protests.

SLATE continues to cover the lead up to the Iraq War.  Can't cover the ongoing Iraq War because, well, that would be actual work.  Can't cover the disaster that the US has created in Iraq.  But they can go back now, nearly 20 years later, and 'reflect' on . . . well, reflection really isn't their thing.

They're trying to promote their heavily criticized podcast (not just by us) that's focusing this season on the lead up to the Iraq War.  They'd doing that by also offering text articles about what the podcast is (mis)covering.  Noreen Malone offers a lot of words in an article in which only the following is accurate:

Slate was part of this pro-war consensus, too. 

That's really it.

All those words and that's the only honest part.

It's cute how they note 'liberals' who were in favor of the Iraq War and leave out Judith Miller, by the way.  Judith was a liberal or 'liberal.'  She wrote for THE PROGRESSIVE at one point -- a detail they love to leave out including in that 'anniversary' issue where they looked back on their past.

Why did some 'liberal' support the Iraq War?

That's what the fourth episode of the podcast and Noreen's article (''based on the podcast'') attempts to confuse while they pretend to answer.

One reason is that they wanted their media platforms.  That's a detail Noreen misses.  Phil Donahue was taken off MSNBC despite delivering the cable network's strongest ratings.  Why?  MSNBC honchos were afraid he wouldn't be waving the flag and promoting war and might hurt their brand.

And not just hosts, guests too.  You would lose your media platform if you spoke out against the war.  You weren't part of the cool crowd and you wouldn't be invited on.  The exception to that being you would be invited on Bill O'Reilly's show where he would yell at you for not supporting the war..

So you wanted to protect yourself.

Another was herd mentality.  Stay with the pack.  It's okay if we're all wrong but if I step out and speak out and I'm alone and wrong my career is over!!!!

Third reason?  Some of these people see war as the answer everytime.

Bill Keller?  I was so glad when we stopped covering THE NEW YORK TIMES daily because it was getting harder and harder to hold my tongue about Bill Keller (and we ripped him apart several times here but I'm talking deeply, personal information).  What war hasn't Bill cheered on?

Thomas Friedman?  Squishy sort of 'liberal' who supports all interventions.

THE NEW REPUBLIC has a history, a long history, of cheering on war so why are we not addressing that?

There are all these reasons that are not being addressed and yet they devoted a whole podcast -- and now articles -- to it.  

They're just liars.

The media went along for many reasons.  One reason seldom noted was the waivers and consolidations they wanted.  They got what they wanted from the FCC.  They weren't going to rock the boat and they didn't.

Another reason?  Being right doesn't mean a damn thing in the media landscape.

People who were wrong didn't suffer for it.  People who lied didn't suffer.

And not only were they rewarded by corporate media, they were also rewarded by so-called 'independent' media.  MOTHER JONES chooses to hire a blogger.  Did they go with someone who was right about the Iraq War?

No, they went with Kevin Drum who was a cheerleader for the Iraq War.

Once upon a time, FAIR liked to do pieces and segments (segments on their radio program COUNTERSPIN) about all the people who were wrong about the Iraq War that ended up getting bigger jobs in the media for it.

They loved to ride that high horse until we started slamming them for for failing to note that the same thing was taking place in Beggar Media (outlets that always have their hands in your pocket for money to 'deliver the real news').  (Panhandle Media ditched even the pretense of fairness in 2008, see this piece on KPFA that Ava and I wrote in real time.)

Big media, small media, the racket played out the same.  Be part of the group think and you will be rewarded.  

I love how one (read the crap if you want to, we don't promote that guy) insists that as a Jewish intellectual blah blah blah.  Excuse me, but intellectual implies thought.  And there's no thought being put into going along with breaking international law.  The Iraq War was illegal from the beginning.  Don't try to hide behind the claim that you are an 'intellectual' and don't hide behind being Jewish and trot out the Holocaust.  You embarrass yourself.

There was also the fact that the media would slam you if you spoke out. 

I've noted before one of the nation's top ten papers set out to destroy people who were against the war.  Sheryl Crow was savaged and attacked for her album and I know why because the journalist apologized to me for it and I told them to go f**k off.  The same journalist wanted to interview me for a feature and I do my research and said no because of an attack on Sheryl's music because Sheryl was against going to war on Iraq.  (The attack was so outrageous that they elevated Christian Aguilera saying she should have been nominated for X award and not Sheryl when Christiana's album wasn't even eligible because it came out after the deadline for that year's Grammy nominations.)  After I said no, the journalist continued to e-mail and call.  It was February and I was already speaking out on campuses and I ended up the journalist's city and they show up wanting an interview and I explained no and why.  The journalist wants to whine (and will do in e-mails over the next two days -- e-mails I still have) explaining that they had been ordered -- the entire entertainment beat -- to attack anyone speaking out against the impending war.

Don't give me your b.s. SLATE, I'm not in the mood.

You had a pothead who thought being a pothead meant he was a liberal who wrote a column calling those who protested against the Iraq War traitors and they were committing treason (for a war that hadn't even started?).  That's what the 'intellectual' level was at the time.  

I know too many journalists so don't give me your b.s., SLATE.

It was an organized movement against peace, it was a deliberate choice to push the illegal war.

They can't address any of the above because they're too busy continuing the lies.

Are we really surprised that they can't be honest when they look back?  I mean, these are the same outlets that ignore what's happening in Iraq today.  SLATE's never done any strong work on the war.  They cheerleaded it, they egged it on and attacked those who spoke out and now they offer this mediocre podcast that distorts and lies.  No real surprise.

Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor notes:

  • Assassination Sparks Anti-Iran Protests; Political Parties Boycott October Elections; UNAMI Criticizes Baghdad’s Crises Handling – Between May 9-12, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Karbala, Babylon, Najaf and Baghdad to protest the assassination of Ehab al-Wazni, a prominent activist and leader of protests movement in Karbala. Angry protesters chanted anti-Iran slogans, attempted to storm an Iranian Consulate, set ablaze political parties’ branches, and clashed with riot police. On May 9, two political parties declared an election boycott in response to al-Wazi’s slaying. On May 9, the Kurdistan Counter Terrorism Group denied that its agents supported the American operation that killed Qassem Soleimani. On May 11, major political parties accused London’s Ambassador to Baghdad of interfering in internal affairs for saying that  Iraq cannot hold fair elections without protecting activists from armed factions. On May 11, the head of UNAMI gave Baghdad poor marks for its handling of the security situation and closure of IDP camps. UNAMI also highlighted “worrisome” trends in restricting freedoms in Kurdistan. On May 11 and 12, political candidates in Kirkuk and Baghdad said that they received explicit death threats demanding they drop out. more…
  • Gunmen Assassinate Activist Ehab al-Wazni; Explosive-Laden Drone Strikes Ain Al-Assad; Lockheed Martin Pulls Crews Sustaining Iraqi F-16s – On May 8, gunmen assassinated prominent political activist Ehab al-Wazni in Karbala. The next day, attackers shot and severely wounded a TV reporter in Diwaniya. On May 8, an explosive-laden drone struck a hangar in Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar. Between May 6-13, ten IED attacks targeted military targets and civilians in Anbar, Babylon, Basra, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salah ad-Din, and Wasit. Three of those bombs exploded near International Coalition supply convoys. During the same period, ISIS militants attacked at least seven Iraqi army, police, and PMF targets in Diyala, Kirkuk and Salad ad-Din. These attacks killed at least eight Iraqis. On May 10, Lockheed Martin said it was pulling crews responsible for maintaining Iraqi F-16s from Balad air base due to continued secu

  • Ihab's mother is speaking out.  ALHADITH Tweets:

    للميليشيات المسلحة

    5:29 AM · May 14, 2021 

    In the video, use the link if it doesn't show above, she says there is no government, just militias, that it's open season on the Iraqi people and no one is there to protect the people.

    Also speaking out is Ihab's brother:

    As the brother of martyred activist Ehab Al-Wazni was delivering a speech in Karbala’s Al-Ahrar Square, riot police surrounded protesters and injured several in an attempt to suppress the movement. Despite the violence, the revolutionaries of Tishreen persist. #كربلاء_تقمع

    Ali Alsewedy offers this thread:

    The revolutionaries in the city of Karbala were brutally suppressed by the riot forces during a speech by the family of the martyr Ihab Al-Wazni, and many peaceful demonstrators were wounded. #iraq #كربلاء_تقمع

    It seems that the violence practiced by the security services against the demonstrators is an entrenched culture and behavior of some security men. Iraqi governments ignore the issue of human rights, and cannot protect protesters.

    And it's not just Karbala.  Shams Bashir1 Tweets:

    Masses of protestors, who have taken to the streets since the assassination of Karbala activist Ihab al-Wazni on Sunday calling for accountability, were arrested overnight, according to Babil activist Ammar al-Ghazali #Iraq

    And since the western media tends to ignore women and render them invisible let's note this Tweet because, as usual, Iraqi women are part of the protests.

    Iraqi women from #Karabala chant loudly against Iran while holding a protest following the assassination of the civil activist Ehab Al-Wazni.
    Quote Tweet

    Ihab's assassination is not a one-time event.  It's part of a wave of assassinations, a wave of threats and intimidation, an effort to suppress the people.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT maps it out:

    Targeted assassinations threatening the lives of civil society activists and candidates running in Iraq’s 2021 parliamentary elections, slated for October 10, have fueled fears that the early vote will be delayed until next year. 

    Ihab al-Wazni, who helped organize anti-government protests that swept Iraq in October 2019, was shot dead on Sunday outside his home in Karbala, a city located 100 km south of Baghdad.

    Only a day later, another murder attempt sought to take out journalist Ahmed Hassan in the nearby city of Diwaniyah, located 180 km south of the capital.

    In parallel, a female candidate from Baqubah province, situated northeast of Baghdad, also reported an attempt on her life.

    The heightened risk of assassination has been directly linked to candidates increasingly pulling out from the October race.

    For example, the Bayariq Al-Khair parliamentary bloc revealed on Wednesday that some of its candidates had withdrawn from the upcoming elections after receiving death threats.

    “Some candidates of the Bayariq al-Khair bloc in Baghdad withdrew from the upcoming parliament elections after receiving death threats,” said Muhammad al-Khalidi, who heads the bloc.

    Khalidi held relevant security authorities responsible for the safety of candidates.

    “Security services are aware of what happened and have seen the messages that the candidates received,” he said.   

    We noted THE WASHINGTON POST article yesterday, the one about Ihan.  It was co-written by Louisa Loveluck and here's a Twitter thread from her:

    The killings take place in public & are captured on surveillance footage. The videos are watched by millions. Then no one is prosecuted, & the cycle starts again. Our piece on Iraq's rising tide of activist and journalist murders:

    Accountability for serious crimes & human rights violations, such as targeted killings, abductions & intimidation, is “very, very limited”, UN representative warned yesterday. Impunity erodes trust & emboldens perpetrators, she said.
    “It’s a message to us all,” said a Karbala-based activist, reached by phone after scrambling to move his family to another city overnight. “No matter what we do, the situation will always remain the same. Those death squads will always be in power.”

    Blamed for killings are a host of Iran-backed militias, as well as armed wing of Moqtada al-Sadr's political movement. PM Kadhimi came to power promising justice for slain activists; diplomats & analysts now suggest he may seek alliance with Sadr before upcoming elections.

    The week before activist Ehab al-Wazni’s death, video showed him addressing local police chief w/ a megaphone. He reminded the security official that he'd received death threats. “I’ve already sent you their names,” he shouted. “If I get killed, the police haven’t protected me.”

    "But to do so, they’ll first need to stay alive." Chilling final line in this piece on the targeting of activists across the region who might wish to enter their countries' politics in an attempt to bring change.

    At RUDAW, Sura Ali continues to cover the protests and the protesters.  From Ali's latest:

    Dozens of Iraqi protesters on Friday visited the Najaf grave of Safaa al-Sarai, an activist who was killed by security forces in 2019 and became a symbol of the protest movement. It is traditional to visit the graves of loved ones during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

    “Protesters gathered from different Iraqi cities, mainly Baghdad and Nasiriyah, and held a ceremony at Sarai’s grave, chanting slogans condemning the killing of activists,” protester Ali Munaf told Rudaw English.

    Sarai participated in protests and published pictures and videos documenting brutal tactics used by security forces to suppress the demonstrations. On October 28, 2019, he was fatally shot in the head with a tear gas canister. He is buried in Najaf’s Wadi al-Salam cemetery.

    Iraq’s security forces are accused of deliberately firing teargas canisters at the heads of protesters, making them lethal weapons. 

    “Security forces have fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters in Baghdad, Iraq on several occasions since the demonstrations resumed on October 25, 2019,” Human Rights Watch reported in November 2019.

    After his death, Sarai became an iconic figure of the October [Tishreen] protest movement. Anti-government demonstrators across southern Iraq still carry his image during protests. 

    A group of activists also visited the grave of Ihab al-Wazni, who was a protest leader in Karbala and was assassinated last Sunday. Protesters lit candles near his grave and chanted slogans calling for a renewal of the protest movement and the dismissal of the government that has failed to arrest those responsible for killing dozens of activists.

    The following sites updated: