“Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind,” the New York Times reported on June 12. That’s for sure. In late March, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down America, the 79 year old singer-songwriter released “Murder Most Foul,” an epic, 17-minute song-poem about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Since “Who killed JFK?” is one of the central questions of American history, you might think that the Times interviewer, historian Douglas Brinkley would ask the Nobel laureate about how he came to compose his dark and brooding take on November 22, 1963. You might think Brinkley, a CNN commentator, would ask Dylan why he decided to release the song as the country and the world reeled from a plague.
You might think wrong. Brinkley asked Dylan four questions about “Murder Most Foul,” none of which concerned Dylan’s thoughts about how and why the liberal president was shot dead in broad daylight, and no one was ever brought to justice for the crime.
In “Murder Most Foul,” Dylan could not have been more explicit in his rejection of the dubious official story which holds Kennedy was killed by one man for no reason. Over a rippling guitar and piano accompaniment, Dylan growls out a biting dissent from the conventional “lone nut” wisdom.
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching; no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise/
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul
In a telling display of the intellectual denial that dumbs down media discussion of JFK’s assassination, Brinkley did his best to evade the challenge of Dylan’s deeply political art. Brinkley (or perhaps the Times ditors) did not care to mention the dread word of “conspiracy,” even though Dylan’s belief that JFK was killed by powerful enemies propels his stream of consciousness song from beginning to end.
“Egypt stresses utter rejection of any interferences that may undermine the sovereignty of any of its brotherly Arab countries, taking into account the consequences of these actions in further fueling instability in the region, while calling on all parties to respect the sovereignty of Iraq, and to spare it any international or regional rivalries that would hinder the achievement of the aspirations of the government and people of brotherly Iraq for stability and development,” the statement read.
Kurdish political sources said that the broad Turkish operation underway in northern Iraq could not have been possible without prior coordination and facilitation with the Kurdish parties, especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani. The Iraqi government strongly condemned the Turkish incursions and summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz, twice within the space of 36 hours.
The sources indicated that Kurdish authorities are looking for ways to protect their interests with some Arab countries while Turkey is circulating news that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is receiving support from countries hostile to Ankara, and especially after reports indicating that Turkey is building military bases in northern Iraq.
Local sources said that the authorities of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq associated with Barzani are still keeping silent about the Turkish military operation, while tracking money transfers directed to support the opposition PKK.
Iraqi-Kurdish political analyst Hoshyar Malu said that “Turkey is violating international law while the Iraqi government is showing a timid reaction” regarding the first Turkish air strikes, a reaction that did not deter a ground operation.
The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq accused the Iraqi government and Shabak militia Thursday of torturing prisoners in jails in Nineveh governorate, Anadolu reports.
“Detainees in the government’s and militia’s prisons in Iraq are subjected to heinous crimes that go against human nature,” the association’s general secretariat said in a statement.
“A report issued Wednesday by the Iraqi Center for Documentation of War Crimes revealed extensive human rights violations that are systematically taking place in intelligence prisons in Nineveh governorate at the hands of intelligence agents and the militia, known as the Shabak militia,” the statement added.
There has been no comment from the Iraqi government.
For Immediate Release: June 18, 2020
Hawkins and Walker Call for More Radical Changes to Policing
Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, the leading candidates for the Green Party nomination for president and vice president, released the following statement today calling for community control of the police, large-scale federal spending to end poverty, and the decriminalization of drugs.
They say the nationwide uprising against police brutality and racism should raise these demands in order to make more fundamental changes in public safety systems than only reforming police practices and shifting some money in police budgets to social services.
Creating a Public Safety System That Really Protects and Serves
By Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker
June 18, 2020
A long menu of policing reforms has been thrust into public debate and legislative consideration by the nationwide uprising against police brutality and racism. Many of the proposed reforms of policing practices at the state, local, and federal levels are good policies.
The movement is also demanding to Defund the Police. Defunding means scaling back what police do and transferring the savings into social services, schools, housing, and community economic development. Defunding means removing police from dealing with many social problems such as homelessness, drug use, sex work, mental health crises, domestic disputes, and school discipline that are better addressed by other trained first responders, including social workers, EMTs, doctors, child protective services, therapists, and legal aid lawyers.
Reforming police practices and reallocating portions of police budgets to the provision of social services are not enough. These reforms do not shift the power to control policing to the people the police are supposed to protect and serve. These reforms do not provide enough resources to resolve the social problems that police are now sent in to contain because the system has criminalized problems like poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, and drug use. These reforms do not decriminalize personal drug use and possession, the largest single category of arrests and imprisonment in the US criminal justice system.
If we are going to truly create a public safety system that serves and protects the people, we must add three critical demands to the our menu of reforms:
1. Community Control of the Police
Police brutality will not stop as long as the police can continue to police themselves and brutalize people with impunity. We need Community Control of the Police to make the police work for the people and be held accountable for misconduct. Community control means police commissions, publicly-elected or randomly-selected like juries, with the power to hire and fire the police chief, to independently investigate and discipline police misconduct, to formulate and oversee police practices and budgets, and to negotiate police union contracts. Community control shifts the power over policing to the people and away from the police and the power structure that created the abusive policing system we now have.
2. Federal Social Investment to End Poverty and Economic Despair
Police budgets do not have enough money with reallocations to pay for the services and economic development that working-class communities of color need. Sending in cops instead of social services and economic resources has been at the center of the public austerity program of the power structure. As part of reimagining public safety, it is time to fight crime by fighting poverty instead of sending in the police for every social problem. That will require a multi-year, multi-trillion federal investment in community-controlled housing, schools, social services, and businesses in the communities of color that have been impoverished by generations of discrimination by racists who exploit these communities.
3. Decriminalize Drugs
Ending the war on drugs will take the single biggest bite out of police budgets. Drug law offenses account for 16% of all arrests and are the single biggest category of arrests. Drug offenses account for about 1 in 5 people in jail or prison, including 46% of federal prisoners. Drug abuse is a health problem, not a criminal problem. Instead of a criminal offense, we must make drug use and possession a violation that refers drug users to medical and social services.
We discuss this approach in more detail in our policy paper on Reimagining Public Safety.