Thursday, March 1, 2018

Walsh and some good news


We post here a talk given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh to several college audiences in December and January, to mark the centenary of the October Revolution.
“But the new art, which will lay out new landmarks, and which will expand the channel of creative art, can be created only by those who are at one with their epoch… ”
Trotsky, Literature and Revolution

The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 was the greatest event in modern history, the first stage of the world socialist revolution, the completion of which it is our task to carry out.
The working class and the rural poor in Russia, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky, rose up 100 years ago, took power and established their rule in the face of a ferocious counter-revolution and the intervention of all the great powers.
This past year, our international movement has marked the anniversary in a series of meetings, as well as extensive discussions of the events and personalities on our website, the World Socialist Web Site. No other political movement has paid one-tenth, perhaps one-hundredth the attention we have to the Russian Revolution, because we begin from the urgency of the present conditions, the massive crisis of capitalism, threatening poverty, dictatorship and war for the mass of the world’s population.
Hopefully, you found it interesting.
In seeing where Me Too was headed, David Walsh was much smarter than I was.  No problem saying that.  And that’s why I’m highlighting him above.

After years of complaints that the rules were stacked against them, third-party and independent hopefuls will have an easier time running for office in Pennsylvania.
An agreement ending a long-standing federal lawsuit, approved by a judge last week, includes a provision that such candidates won’t need nearly as many petition signatures as they have in the past to qualify for the ballot.
The odds against the election of the likes of Dale Kerns, a Libertarian who wants to end the war on drugs, bring U.S. troops home, and impose term limits on politicians — all by taking the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Bob Casey — remain formidable.

We need to ease restrictions to ballot access -- in all states.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018.  US and other foreign troops on the ground in Iraq is now a political issue, what's going on with voter cards and much more.

Starting in California where Kevin de Leon is running for the US Senate (primary is in June -- top two vote getters then advance to the November general election).

Who is Kevin?

In many ways, Senator de León embodies the promise of America. From a childhood of poverty to community activism, to the upper echelon of the California Legislature, his respect and commitment to working families and the betterment of all Californians has never diminished.
Senator de León is the son of a single immigrant mother who supported her family in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights working as a housekeeper and other pick-up jobs. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college.
He attended U.C. Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with honors. He is a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California. He has one daughter.
Before entering into politics, Kevin served the public as a community organizer, taught English as a Second Language and U.S. Citizenship, and advocated for public schools.
Working for both the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association, Kevin fought for additional funding for schools in low-income neighborhoods, more school construction, and health insurance for children. He fought against schemes to take funds from public schools through taxpayer-funded vouchers and academic censorship in public schools. 
Senator de León was elected by his colleagues to lead the Senate in 2014, making him the first Latino to hold that position in over a century. Prior to that, Kevin served four years in the Assembly before his election to the Senate in 2010.
Leader on the Environment and Clean Energy
With his leadership and landmark legislation, Senator de León has established California’s reputation as a recognized global leader in the battle against climate change and a pioneer in creating a clean energy economy.
He played a central role in crafting a bipartisan deal this year to extend California’s cap-and-trade program with $1 billion of the generated revenue to tackle diesel pollution and bolster electrification of our transportation and vehicles.
Continuing steady progress in energy efficiency, Kevin has put California on a path to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 – the largest state in the nation to do so – with an eye toward becoming 100 percent renewable by 2045.
California is by far the nation’s clean-energy leader and it is paying workforce dividends with the creation of well over 500,000 clean energy jobs in the Golden State – 10 times more than there are coal jobs in the entire nation.
With SB 1275 (2014), he created a rebate initiative to make electric cars more accessible to working families with the goal of placing one million low-emission vehicles on the road.
Recognizing the disproportionate suffering from pollution and climate change in disadvantaged communities, Senator de León successfully passed SB 535 (2012) which requires California to spend at least 25 percent of cap-and-trade revenue to benefit low-income communities. This law is resulting in new transit, energy efficiency, renewable energy and affordable housing projects across the state.
Also in 2012, Senator de León co-chaired the successful Proposition 39 campaign closing a corporate-tax loophole and creating a $2.5 billion revenue fund for energy-efficiency upgrades in schools.
Exemplifying his longtime commitment to increasing access to the environment, Kevin’s first legislative measure when he arrived in Sacramento allocated park funds for communities lacking parks and green space, resulting in 126 park projects across the state - the largest initiative of its kind in the nation.
Tackling pollution in his district, Senator de León was instrumental in bringing attention and accountability to the hazardous pollution caused by the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon, which for years had operated illegally while contaminating nearby communities with lead, arsenic, and other toxins. Senator de León has since secured millions of dollars for cleanup, while implementing oversight and reform measures at the Department of Toxic Substance Control to prevent similar future occurrences.
Kevin’s record on the environment and energy has been studied by international leaders as they lay out their own steps to confront climate change and build clean-energy economies. He led the California delegation to the U.N. Climate Talks in Peru and Morocco and accompanied Governor Brown to Paris in 2015 to showcase California’s landmark accomplishments.

As we were saying yesterday, the issue of foreign troops on the ground could become a political issue in Iraq's upcoming elections.  Mohamed Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

Iraq’s parliament has urged the government to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, two months after the government declared victory over Islamic State militants.
The parliament voted on Thursday for a decision to oblige the government to set a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops, NRT reported.

AFP quotes the statement from the Speaker of Parliament's office, "The Iraqi parliament expresses its gratitude to all countries which have supported Iraq in its fight against [. . .] (the Islamic State group) and calls for the government to draw up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops."

This is a popular position to run on in an election year.

Yet somehow in the United States, many still believe US troops are 'helping' in Iraq and are wanted there.  Of course, these people also tend to believe the Iraq War ended.

Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) counts the violent deaths from last month:

During the month of February, at least 1,294 were killed or found dead, and another 266 were wounded. Although major outbreaks of fighting have ceased, there were still a considerable number of Islamic State-related and other attacks. Also, many of the fatalities were people who had been found in mass graves that were scattered mostly around Mosul. This explains why the number of dead was significantly higher than in January, but the number of reported wounded fell. In January, at least 747 people were killed, and 389 were wounded.

The breakdown is as follows: 411 civilians, 66 security personnel, and 761 militants were reported killed. Separately, 49 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) and five Turkish personnel were killed in their conflict; another nine Turks were wounded. Also, one U.S. servicemember and one British servicemember died in separate non-combat incidents. 

No, that's not the way it adds up if a war is over.

Last month also saw the death of another US service member.

Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker, 26, of Arlington, Kan., died in a noncombat incident Monday in Iraq while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Her obituary runs today at THE HUTCHINSON NEWS:

Christina Marie ‘Tina’ Schoenecker, 26, died Monday, February 19, 2018, in Baghdad, Iraq. She was born February 5, 1992, in Kingman, Kansas, the daughter of Scott Wade and Amy Jolene (Martin) Schoenecker. Tina was a 2010 graduate of Fairfield High School. She proudly served, with honor, in the United States Army Reserve from 2009-2018, and was promoted to Sergeant in 2015.
Her hobbies included fishing, drawing, gardening, crocheting, calligraphy, and spending time with family and friends.
She is survived by: father, Scott Schoenecker and Andrea Gordon; mother, Amy and husband Rick Allbright; siblings, Eric, Wayne, and Hannah Schoenecker, all of Arlington; stepbrother, Dylan Allbright; stepsister, Amber Allbright, both of Hutchinson; grandmother, Carolyn Marsh of Arlington; grandparents, Henry Jr. and Charlotte Hall; great-grandparents, Henry Sr. and Naomi Hall, all from Sylvia; aunts, Sammi Nickell, Becky Burns, and Angela Schaefer and their families; uncles, Shannon Schoenecker and David Hall and their families; and numerous loving cousins.

Per THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL, she was the 4535 US service member to die in Iraq (another 32,310 have been injured).

The war's over?  Strange because while the western press ignores it, Kirkuk is a topic in Iraq.  Wael Grace (AL MADA) reports that planning for the battle of Kirkuk is taking place.  This battle would be over control of Kirkuk.

Strange that -- in this 'war is over' claim and climate -- that Iraqi Constitution cannot be used to determine what happens to Kirkuk -- it's outlined in the Constitution.  But, of course, something like a vote might mean that Kirkuk decides to go with the KRG and not the central government out of Baghdad.

In today's violence, ALSUMARIA reports a second fisherman has been found dead in Diyala Province -- the latest also was dead from gunshot wounds.

On the upcoming May 12 elections, ALL IRAQ NEWS reports that the number of electronic voting machines being used will be at 100%.  This will allow the voting to be counted much sooner but it also allows for the vote to be hacked and while the speed of counting has been discussed (many times) little attention has been paid to the discussing the security (or lack of security) the machines may provide.  Considering that each election in Iraq has resulted from talk of cheating and stolen votes (then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, for example, made those charges following both the 2010 and 2014 elections), it's surprising that the topic has not been seen as worthy of exploration.

Mohammad Sabah (AL MADA) reports that the Independent High Electoral Commission insists it is planning (scrambling?) to address the issue of the displaced being able to vote and is attempting to devise polling stations.  Interesting.  How will they vote?  Because the new electronic machines?  They're already assigned to voting centers.

Free and fair elections?

Political parties in several Iraqi provinces involved in "buying" people's voter ID cards to win their votes for the parliamentary elections in May 12 - via al-Sharqiya TV.


Maybe not.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

  • Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    The IT scandal

    1.   Retweeted
      So, if you're a Russian who bought some Facebook ads, the US justice system can manage to indict you.

      But if server logs and a 6-month government probe finds that Pakistanis HACKED CONGRESS, the FBI will *follow them to the airport and watch them leave.*
    2.   Retweeted
      Think FBI+DOJ conduct in the Clinton emails & Trump dossier case was bad? This is even worse.

      The IG found evidence of Pakistanis hacking Congress. FBI put a first-year agent on the case & let the suspect leave the country, under pressure from Dems.

    I really am tired of the IT scandal being dismissed by so much of the press.

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

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018.  A change in Iraq's May 12 elections, BURNPIT 360 has a message for veterans, Kevin de Leon is running for change, and much more.

    Starting with BURNPIT 360 which has an important announcement for veterans:

    21 Days Left to Comment on VA's Proposed Pulmonary Health Study 

    The VA Cooperative Studies Program, which is part of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), is in the process of seeking approval for a new Burn Pit-related health study – “Pulmonary Health and Deployment to Southwest Asia and Afghanistan.” As part of this process, VHA is required to publish details about the kinds of information it will collect from study participants and to accept public comments on the proposal. There are still 40 days left to submit public comments on the proposed study via the Federal Register website.

    What exactly will VHA study?

    The aim of the 3-year study, according to VHA, is to characterize the impact of “deployment-related pollution exposures” on the respiratory health of Post-9/11 Gulf War Era veterans. Specifically, the researchers hope to conduct in-person pulmonary function assessments and informational interviews with 6,200 veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti. Using the (limited) data collected by the Department of Defense, they intend to create an “exposure grid” that identifies average PM2.5 levels in different areas of bases and over different periods of time. Then, by studying the health of veterans stationed in different areas of the grid, they will analyze the link between exposure levels and respiratory health.

    Only 3 minutes to discuss health symptoms

    The proposal open for public comment only relates to the type of information VA will collect from veterans and how much time they expect to spend collecting each type. The current proposal allocates a significant proportion of time to investigating non-deployment-related exposures such as veterans’ Health, Smoking, and Demographics (15 minutes) or their Civilian Occupation and Hobby exposure (5 minutes); while the proposal only sets aside 4 minutes for assessing the veteran’s Functional Health and a mere 3 minutes for discussing their Health Symptoms.

    To see the full list of time estimates, you can visit the Federal Registry site where the proposal is posted.

    The problem with spirometry testing

    The only measure of lung function to be performed at the in-person assessment is spirometry, a pulmonary function test (PFT). Unfortunately, PFTs do not detect constrictive bronchiolitis, a life-threatening disease reported by a growing number of veterans exposed to burn pits. In one study, 38 out of 49 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who underwent a lung biopsy were found to have constrictive bronchiolitis, while the results of pulmonary-function (PFT) and cardiopulmonary-exercise testing for those same veterans generally fell within normal population limitations.

    How to submit a comment

    You can submit a comment on the proposed VHA study by visiting the Federal Register online and clicking the green box that says “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT.” If you prefer to submit a written comment, mail it to:

    Brian McCarthy
    Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs (10B4)
    Department of Veterans Affairs
    810 Vermont Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20420

    You can also e-mail documents or photos to or upload the documents with your comment on the Federal Register site.

    The comments will be visible to the public while comments are being accepted. They will be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to determine whether VHA should receive funding for the study in its current form. The comment period ends on March 20, 2018.

    What was burned in the Burn Pits? 

    From 2002 until 2009, there was no regulation of what could or could not be thrown into the military burn pits operating across Iraq and Afghanistan. And no data was collected on which kinds of materials were burned in the pits. But veterans have reported tossing in everything from lithium ion batteries to plastic chemical drums, and the more than 1,000 toxins and known carcinogens detected in the air on Joint Base Balad show just how toxic such materials can be. 

    Donate to Burn Pits 360

    Burn Pits 360 needs your help!  The success of our mission depends on the generosity of individuals like you.  We ask you to consider a monthly donation to help us advocate for our community and its needs.
    Connect with us Burn Pits 360 on Facebook

    Burn Pits 360 is a community of veterans with burn pit-related illness, their families, and advocates with the common goal of exposing the harms of toxic burn pit exposure and obtaining benefits and policy change. Join our community and Like us onFacebook!

    Weigh in while you have the chance.

    Meanwhile there's a chance for change in California.

    I'm running for the U.S. Senate because you deserve a seat at the table.

    Please join my campaign:


    Turning to Iraq's elections . . . May 12th was supposed to be the day for national (parliamentary) elections and for provincial elections.  Supposed to be.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, "There are claims floating around Arabic social media that provincial elections are being sidelined (until December) but that the parliamentary elections will take place May 12th."


    XINHUA reports:

    The Iraqi government on Tuesday decided to postpone the provincial elections to Dec. 22, 2018, months after the parliament elections.
    The provincial elections were initially set to be held simultaneously with the parliament elections slated for May 12.

    Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman of the Iraqi government, said the postponed date was decided at a regular meeting of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the state-run Iraqiya channel reported.

    And the government of Iraq explained it this way:

    The Cabinet holds its weekly meeting in Baghdad, sets date for provincial elections, and discusses several draft laws

    Hayder al-Abadi has stated that parliamentary elections must be held May 12th.  He is firm on that because he is up for election and wants to remain prime minister.

    He has no record of accomplishment.  The only claim he has to run on is that he defeated ISIS but each day makes it more and more clear that ISIS remains active in Iraq.  So each day makes it more and more clear how hollow his claims is.

    If he could have held the elections January 1st, things would have been a lot easier for him.

    But each passing day exposes his lie.

    And with the realization that everything done to 'defeat' ISIS -- by Hayder, by the US government, by everyone -- has accomplished very little -- if anything at all -- the cost paid seems more and more outrageous.

    There's the physical cost.  All those innocent civilians killed by the US-led bombings, for example.  MIDDLE EAST EYE notes:

    Estimates for the number of civilian deaths in the bombing campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq could be more than seven times higher than that given by the US-led anti-IS coalition, according to a monitoring group.
    Investigations carried out by Airwars suggest that since August 2014 - when the campaign against IS was launched - until mid-February 2018, the coalition was responsible for between at least 6,137 and 9,444 civilian deaths.
    So far, the coalition has admitted to only 841 "unintentional" civilian deaths, a figure Airwars attributes to the group's failure to investigate more than half of 2,400 "events" referenced in relation to civilian casualties.
    "One significant reason for the gulf in numbers is that half of all allegations…have yet to be assessed by the coalition," said Chris Woods, the head of Airwars, to Euronews.

    Will the increased numbers finally allow Americans to express outrage?  Or will we continue to treat it as something 'over there' and not at all important to our lives 'here'?

    The 15 year mark for this never-ending war is next month.

    Maybe it's time we tried to care about what our government has done and is doing in Iraq.

    Hayder also has to deal with the fact that he's increased tensions.  RUDAW, for example, notes:

    The Iraqi government tends to make promises with regard to outstanding issues with the Kurdistan Region, but only to later not honor them — including the “political” Iraqi-imposed ban on international flights, Masrour Barzani told Rudaw.

    The head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council is on a visit to Washington, D.C., where he has held meetings with his US counterpart H.R. McMaster, and State Department officials.

    Barzani described the relations between Erbil and Washington as "very good" despite their differences over the Kurdish vote on independence held on September 25.

    The Iraqi government on Monday extended the ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region until May 31, a decision described as "political" in nature by Barzani.

    "It is true that there are talks between the Kurdistan Region — between us and Baghdad. In Munich ... we talked and I can say that we even reached an agreement on how to open the airports, but every day they find another excuse. It is clear now that the motive is political, not technical. There are no remaining excuses to close the airports for any longer," Barzani said.

    It wouldn't appear to be a smart campaign strategy for Hayder but he's going with it.

    It is difficult to shake the notion that Baghdad is playing with Erbil as the cat tortures a mouse. It is a sad indictment of Iraqi politics that this is seen as a bonus in the current Iraqi elections.

    So few fall for Hayder's act:

    Replying to   and

    Abadi is superior in convincing you that Kurds are corrupt yet he and the others in his band wagon are the reason your country have to  beg neighbors for loans. Answer yourself as to how that feels. Is he not the reason for Iraq’s mess

    New content at THIRD:

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: