Wednesday, June 3, 2020

If Howie Hawkins did something wrong, offer some proof

I'm supporting Howie Hawkins in his pursuit of the presidential nomination of the Green Party. 

I'm not covering for him.  If he's done something wrong, hold him accountable for it.




This is the video description:

Howie Hawkins was confronted by Green Party allies about the actions of his campaign executives...And his response will leave many appalled, disgusted, and confused as to how someone like this could ever be the Green Party front-runner with so many other viable candidates still in the race. 


Streaming it, I heard critiques of Howie's supporters -- people like Kevin Zeese are mentioned by name -- who come off less than stellar.

I am willing to share the above video, I'm willing to take part in a discussion.

But I'm not seeing anything other than people in a race.  It's not a pretty race.

If Dario Hunter was kept off the ballot, as is alleged in the video, that I'm outraged by.  And Howie needs to answer for that.

But if that's reality, I need something more than Niko House stating the claim in one sentence with no backing of the claim. 

If Niko can back it up, back it up.  But all I heard was a string of accusations that didn't ever provide backing or sourcing. 

That tends to be Niko's style.  I'm not calling him a liar.  I'm saying his videos tend to be his claims with no backing.  He does editorial.  For some that's enough.  I need sourcing.

"We have screen shots and such," Niko says at one point.

But he doesn't provide the screen shots.

If you want to make an argument, make a better argument.

I wasted 48 minutes of my time.  I got some shouting from Niko, I never got proof.

If you've got a strong argument to make, make it. 

I'm certainly not opposed to reconsidering Dario Hunter.

But your editorial with claims and no sourcing and we asked this and we asked that and they said -- where's the audio, where's the video?  Or for that matter, the screen shots you say you have.

Build an argument.  You haven't yet.

And on Kevin Zeese, your charges of what he did?  They don't bother me.  It's basic politics. 
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, June 3, 2020.  Unrest continues in Iraq and the US, War Criminal Bully Boy Bush tries to rehab his image, and much more.

Starting with this from Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT):

The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota police has created a national political crisis. The revulsion caused by this latest killing caught on camera spawned protests in Minneapolis and all over the country. Black people are the angriest, knowing they are at risk of the same treatment and because most police killings rarely result in convictions.
But the mass actions present a problem for the rulers. Anger boiled beneath the surface after years of the race to the bottom austerity regime, the worsening economic collapse in the wake of the COVID-19 quarantine, and another Democratic presidential primary rigged by that party’s donor class to defeat the prospect of even minimalist reforms.

While black people led the way, they were joined by many white people too. They are also angry about Floyd’s death and are primed to rise up against the injustices that are expanding and becoming more deeply entrenched against them as well. While COVID-19 created a health crisis it also left millions unemployed with nothing but meager benefits and a one-time payment of $1,200. 
When these groups began a nascent campaign of solidarity, the system rose up against them in an effort to delegitimize them all. The story of Floyd’s cruel death began to take a back seat in the corporate media. Suddenly the propagandists who pose as journalists became concerned about the presence of white people in the protests. Who were they? Where were they from? What did they want? Were they “antifa” or anarchists or white supremacists? 
They were quickly joined by the political class of black misleaders who did the bidding of their patrons by dismissing the acts of rebellion. St. Paul, Minnesota mayor Melvin Carter fired the first shot when he declared that every arrested protester was not from his state. But in fact the opposite was true, and 85% of arrestees were Minnesotans . Carter sheepishly responded that he had received bad information. The obvious and easily proven inaccuracy makes that assertion highly unlikely.

He and others began using very dangerous talking points. They claimed to grieve for Mr. Floyd and expressed a desire to see justice done while also saying that white protesters were using the demonstrations for nefarious ends. They even evoked the “outside agitator” trope from the bad old days of Jim Crow segregation. They pleaded for peaceful protest or no protest at all and some of them told outright lies.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms  was among the worst. She accused protesters of disgracing her city, George Floyd’s memory and Martin Luther King’s legacy all in one fell swoop. She told them, “Go home.” According to Madame Mayor every protester was snatching liquor, setting fires and pulling knives on the police. The rebellion was dismissed as criminality and despite any claims of concern for George Floyd, she proclaimed every participant a scoundrel.
For good measure she added, “If you want change in America, go and register to vote!,” as if that act has magical qualities to make bad things disappear. Voting usually produces nothing more than mediocre sell outs like Keisha Lance Bottoms. It certainly won’t end police violence.

As unrest continues in the US, Aisha Ahmad observes:

1 week of this in the United States 884 weeks of this in Iraq


Meanwhile War Criminal Bully Boy Bush is attempting to rehab his toxic and violent image.  Some are going a long with it, others with ethics are calling it out.  Mbuyiseni Ndlozi points out:

You lied about Weapons of Mass Distruction, invaded Iraq in an unjust war leading to deaths of thousands of inoccent people. You should have been charged by ICC for crimes against humanity! But because of white privilage, you have not been held responsible! #GeorgeBushMustFall


In his ridiculous statement, Bully Boy Bush also declared "looting is not liberation."  Really?  Didn't his administration sell it as liberation in Iraq?  April 12, 2003, Sean Loughlin (CNN) reported:

Declaring that freedom is "untidy," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of "pent-up feelings" of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein.
He also asserted the looting was not as bad as some television and newspaper reports have indicated and said there was no major crisis in Baghdad, the capital city, which lacks a central governing authority. The looting, he suggested, was "part of the price" for what the United States and Britain have called the liberation of Iraq.

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," Rumsfeld said. "They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here." 

Bully Boy Bush needs to crawl back under his rock and shame on anyone who cheers him on today as he's on a p.r. tour to improve his well-deserved poor image.


Carter Tweets:

So you’re telling me I’m supposed to vote for the guy endorsed by George Bush? Did everyone just... agree to forget Iraq? Katrina? Gitmo? Abu Ghraib? Tax cuts? Patriot Act? Wtf did Ellen do to y’all?



And Hayati Iraq offers:

A lot of Arabs are supporting BLM which is great but a majority of black people r gnna vote for joe Biden and he’s probably gnna bomb the entire Middle East like Obama did whos gnna riot and protest for us?


Uncle Joe and other garbage the soft left traffics in here in the US does not cut it in the Middle East.  Joe Biden's reputation there is not based on his cute foibles but on his actual deeds which have destroyed the lives of many Arabs.  Earlier this year, Mark Weisbrot (GUARDIAN) noted:

Biden did vastly more than just vote for the war. Yet his role in bringing about that war remains mostly unknown or misunderstood by the public. When the war was debated and then authorized by the US Congress in 2002, Democrats controlled the Senate and Biden was chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations. Biden himself had enormous influence as chair and argued strongly in favor of the 2002 resolution granting President Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
“I do not believe this is a rush to war,” Biden said a few days before the vote. “I believe it is a march to peace and security. I believe that failure to overwhelmingly support this resolution is likely to enhance the prospects that war will occur …”
But he had a power much greater than his own words. He was able to choose all 18 witnesses in the main Senate hearings on Iraq. And he mainly chose people who supported a pro-war position. They argued in favor of “regime change as the stated US policy” and warned of “a nuclear-armed Saddam sometime in this decade”. That Iraqis would “welcome the United States as liberators” And that Iraq “permits known al-Qaida members to live and move freely about in Iraq” and that “they are being supported”.
The lies about al-Qaida were perhaps the most transparently obvious of the falsehoods created to justify the Iraq war. As anyone familiar with the subject matter could testify, Saddam Hussein ran a secular government and had a hatred, which was mutual, for religious extremists like al-Qaida. But Biden did not choose from among the many expert witnesses who would have explained that to the Senate, and to the media.
Biden’s selling points as a candidate often lead with his reputation for foreign policy experience and knowledge. But Iraq in 2002 was devastated by economic sanctions, had no weapons of mass destruction, and was known by even the most pro-war experts to have no missiles that could come close to the United States. The idea that this country on the other side of the world posed a security threat to America was more than far-fetched. The idea that the US could simply invade, topple the government, and take over the country without provoking enormous violence was also implausible. It’s not clear how anyone with foreign policy experience and expertise could have believed these ideas.
Senator Dick Durbin, who sat on the Senate intelligence committee at the time, was astounded by the difference between what he was hearing there and what was being fed to the public. “The American people were deceived into this war,” he said.

Regardless of Biden’s intentions – which I make no claim to know or understand – the resolution granting President Bush the authority to start that war, which Biden pushed through the Senate, was a major part of that deception. So, too, was the restricted testimony that Biden allowed. The resolution itself contained deceptive language about a number of pretexts for the war, including al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction that Iraq did not have.

At NEWSWEEK, Emily Cadei observed:

Today, Iraq is a mess. The terrorist group ISIS operates across large swaths of the country after storming through northwest Iraq in 2014; while a lack of basic services like electricity has prompted rolling protests by average Iraqis. Iraq's dramatic deterioration, after the country seemed to have been on the right path at the beginning of the decade, has prompted some partisan finger-pointing this year. Republicans have tried to pin the blame on Clinton, the Democrats' 2016 front-runner, who headed up the State Department between 2009 and 2013. Democrats, meanwhile, are blaming former President George W. Bush (and by extension, his brother, Jeb), as well as other Republicans who were cheerleaders for the 2003 invasion, which created the power vacuum in Iraq. 


The scrutiny has yet to land on Biden, who is mulling a bid for the Democratic nomination in 2016, spurred on by Clinton's summer of stumbles. Yet were he to run, the vice president would be the one candidate who really owns Iraq policy, for good or for ill. As Robert Ford, the deputy ambassador at the Iraqi Embassy from 2008 to 2010, puts it, " The vice president has more than a little responsibility in all of this."

[. . .]

Since the United States withdrew its troops at the end of 2011, Maliki has gone after senior Sunni politicians on trumped-up charges, cracked down on Sunni protests, abandoned efforts to integrate Sunnis into the military and otherwise alienated this significant, if minority, ethnic group—the same one whose insurgency last decade led to some of the bloodiest years of the Iraq War. As retired General David Petraeus, the former U.S. commanding general in Iraq, testified in a Senate hearing last month: "The cause of Iraq's unraveling" was the Maliki government's "corrupt, sectarian and authoritarian behavior." That "created the conditions for the Islamic State to reconstitute itself in Iraq, after which it gained additional strength in the Syrian civil war."
There was a period of time in 2010, however, when it wasn't clear Maliki would remain in power. In a major upset, Maliki's State of Law party won two fewer seats than the secular Iraqiya party headed by another Shiite, Ayad Allawi, in the March vote. To critics, this was the turning point when the U.S. should have stepped in and helped Iraqis form a new government, sans Maliki. Khedery calls it "the most crucial period in this administration's Iraq policy, because it was a historic moment where we could have gone down two paths, and some of us desperately tried to go down the correct path, the path that would have respected the Iraqi Constitution and the election results." Everything that's happened since is a direct outgrowth of U.S. leaders' failure to act, Khedery and other critics say.
But defenders of the vice president say the United States didn't have that kind of control over the situation. "The diplomacy in that period was as intense as anything I've seen," Blinken says. "We were pressing not for any individual but for an outcome in Iraq that led to inclusive, nonsectarian government.... Ultimately, the people that emerged did not do justice" to that vision.
Maliki quickly lined up with another Shiite party in a coalition, which he claimed gave him the right to form a government, despite real questions around whether that comported with the Iraqi Constitution. A judge, widely considered to be in Maliki's pocket, ruled it did. But Maliki still didn't have enough support to claim a majority in parliament. So he, in effect, just sat there. On the American side, one former senior U.S. official tells Newsweek that Chris Hill, the U.S. ambassador through mid-2010, "decided early on that it should be Maliki." Hill and a handful of senior advisers in the embassy "went to the vice president and convinced Blinken and Biden" of that as well.
Blinken disputes that the U.S. "put our thumb on the scale." The reality was Maliki "had the most support." Allawi, he notes, was also "trying to see if he could garner the support to form a government" during the stalemate. "The bottom line is, he couldn't."

Anthony Blinken is nothing but a liar.  It's all he's ever been.  The reality was that Allawi won the election.  He had the support of the Iraqi people.  Nouri refused to step down, for over eight months, bringing the country to a standstill.  He was able to do that because he had the support of Chris Hill and Joe Biden.  That's reality.  Blinken is never challenged on his lies.

And, to be clear, Emily Cadei's article was publishes in 2015.  When Joe Biden is actually running for president, the press doesn't feel the need to seriously explore Iraq.

At COUNTERPUNCH, Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi argues:


The vicious circle of voting for the Democrat’s candidate, no matter how corrupt the party and its nominees are, needs to end. We are always told that the time is not right. Yet, we never hear what the right time would be and when would it arrive. Under what circumstances does one vote her conscience?
If there were any doubts that powers that be will not allow the realization of any meaningful choice in the presidential elections, those doubts should have put to rest after the Clinton-DNC staged a coup against Bernie Sanders during the last presidential campaign. Any genuine examination of how Donald Trump ended in the White House, must have interrogated the DNC conspiracy to sabotage Sanders’ campaign rather than the wild goose chase of the Russian interference, true as it might have been. The DNC handed the presidency to Trump. And they will end up doing it again.
The early success of Sanders’ campaign in 2020, alarmed the party again and made its leadership visibly concerned about the possibility of a contested nomination process. President Obama came out of his long silence since he had left office to assure the party leadership that he would speak up to stop Bernie Sanders nomination. Through a combination of the old party patronage system, disenfranchisement, fear mongering, and campaigns of misinformation, the DNC pulled Biden from the bottom of the list and crowned him on the top as the “presumptive” nominee. A man who could not articulate a thought without meandering sentences and bouts of forgetfulness that alarmed many observers about his mental fitness, became the one who is now to rescue the country from the rising tide of fascism.
The same party leadership who utterly failed to understand that the fault lines of the last presidential election was a vote for or against the establishment, and rallied behind Hillary Clinton who epitomized all that is wrong with the existing order, is now counting on the loyalty of the hardcore democrats to take back the while house with Biden. I am not here to say that Biden cannot win. He might. Trump might have alienated enough people with his vulgarity, diseased mind, nefarious heart, and devious personality that would cost him the presidency. But that cannot vindicate the misdeeds of the DNC and absolve the corruption at its heart.
The Left cannot afford and should not give another pass to the DNC oligarchy. The party has shown time and again that it is incapable of foundational transformation. What today people on the streets of Minneapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and many other major cities in the country are crying out is not to bring to the office a kinder, gentler, corrupt politician who opposed the necessity of “collective and structural changes” in American society. The Left has given enough carte blanche to the Democrats, time has come for real accountability.

Biden is corrupt. Not once during the entire House investigation of Trump’s abuse of power in looking into Hunter Biden’s lucrative seat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, any Democrats eyebrows was raised about what actually he, the son of the then Vice President of the United States, was doing on that board making hundreds of thousands of dollar a year for doing absolutely nothing. Yes, Trump abused the power of his office and asked foreign entities to abet his presidential campaign. But that does not exonerate Biden. Is there any doubt in any one’s mind that Hunter was sitting on that board because he was Biden’s son? The time for bringing back the old corrupt machine is over.


On the topic of Hunter, it's also true that questions need to be asked about the sweet deal Hunter got with the reserves.  He was too old to serve.  He wasn't qualified.  He had a drug problem.  But all that got swept away and he was made an officer -- with no time in basic training.  He got to step over all the red tape and rules.  As CNN reported after Hunter was kicked out of the Navy Reserves:

Biden was commissioned as an ensign in May 2013 and assigned as a public affairs officer in a Norfolk, Virginia-based reserve unit. A month later, he tested positive for cocaine, and he was discharged in February, according to the report. 


Hunter was not qualified.  That he wasn't qualified is demonstrated by the fact that a month into his supposed 'service' he's kicked out.  He never should have been commissioned to begin with.  Joe Biden has repeatedly bent the rules and circumvented basic ethical guidelines to promote Hunter and others.  It's nepotism and it shouldn't take place.  Joe has no ethics.

He takes credit for pulling US troops out of Iraq but US troops remain in Iraq.  They never all left despite Biden's lies.  And in September 2012, the US began sending more US troops in.  By the summer of 2014, this was done much more openly.  Today, Hamdi Malik (AL-MONITOR) reports:



In a span of less than three months, five “new pro-Iran militias” have announced their plans to escalate attacks on US forces in Iraq. Some of them have claimed responsibility for major anti-American attacks. But evidence indicates this is a propaganda campaign conducted by existing militias rather than an actual escalation. The main desire common among these groups is avenging the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Popular Mobilization Units’ (PMU) military leader who was assassinated by the United States alongside Iran’s Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, in January.
In the last of a series of videos purporting to attack American forces or interests in Iraq, a group calling itself Tha’r al-Muhandis Brigade (Vengeance of al-Muhandis) claims they fired two anti-aircraft missiles that hit two American Chinook helicopters. In the short clip posted on the social media platform Telegram on May 22 and that has been viewed by Al-Monitor, two militants whose faces are blurred are seen carrying man-portable air-defense systems. The clip shows one of the militants firing a missile into the sky. The cameraman seemingly follows the missile into the sky, and seconds later a Chinook helicopter is seen in the clip. The video does not show the helicopter being hit by the missile. Also, we don’t see a second missile being fired.
But Tha’r al-Muhandis Brigade’s clip seems to be fake. Al-Monitor showed the clip to Ali Chakav, a senior graphic designer at the London-based Iran International TV. After examining the video, Chakav came to the conclusion that the clip is a montage and that footage of the Chinook was later added to the footage of the firing of the anti-aircraft missile.



The following sites updated:









Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Green Party

I'm supporting Howie Hawkins in the race for the Green Party's presidential nomination.



Dario Hunter is also running for that nomination.  He alleges that foul play is taking place.



Is it?

I have no idea.  If Howie's rigging the process, that needs to be called out.

I don't know that Howie is.  But I'm not going to lie for my favorite -- that's what Democrats do!




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


Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  Covid and ISIS continue in Iraq. 

Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder at the stupidity.  For example, Rafael Noboa Y Rivera shows up at THE DAILY BEAST to tell you "I'm an Iraq Veteran.  The Cops Are Treating Citizens Like They're Under Occupation."  I'm not questioning the police violence.  It's taking place.  It's documented in video after video of the protests.  I am asking what the hell Rafael is thinking?  This is how you acted in your tour in Iraq?  Or this is what you saw?  You already sold out everyone in 2008, veterans, remember?  You sold out your fellow veterans who, sadly, were willing to be sold out.  Barack Obama didn't want the big protest that veterans were threatening.  He was going to meet with veterans.  Rivera was part of that 'deal' that wasn't.  Barack never met with them, he just strung them along to avoid the headlines of ''Veterans Protest Barack."

Now Rafael shows up, as Americans are disgusted to see the way protesters are being attacked by the police, to tell us this is what he, the Iraq Veteran, saw under occupation?

If so, you really need to apologize to the Iraqi people.  And you need to stop acting like what took place there was in any way okay because it wasn't.  Your use of it to make an analogy demonstrates that it was not okay.

On the protests, here's Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) speaking to Australia's SKY NEWS.



Violence continues in Iraq.  MENAFM notes, "According to the Iraqi military, two soldiers and two Islamic State (IS) militants were murdered on Monday, June 1st in an airstrike and a bomb attack in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh and Diyala."  And, KURDISTAN 24 notes, "on Sunday, terrorists killed two members of the Iraqi federal police and the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and wounded six others, according to local media reports and a PMF statement."

You may remember that it was just last week when we were laughing at the Iraqi military spokesperson who was insisting ISIS had been "vanquished" and was no longer a problem in Iraq.

There are many problems in Iraq.  That includes the coronavirus.




Iraq reimposed total lockdowns over the weekend following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
After meeting with his COVID-19 task force on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government decided to institute a nationwide curfew until June 6, 2020.
“The joint meeting underscored the importance of all citizens continuing to follow official health advice and physical distancing guidelines, and to comply with the curfew to keep themselves, their families and communities safe,” the government said in a press release announcing the restrictions.
Under the latest guidelines, only supermarkets, bakeries and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. These businesses cannot have more than five people in them at a time, and both employees and customers must wear masks. Some ministries will be closed, people must wear masks when outside and the closure of Iraq’s airports to commercial flights will continue until June 6. Restaurants will be allowed to deliver, according to the release.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi-Kurdistan also began a full lockdown today with similar restrictions until June 6, according to a KRG Department of Foreign Relations tweet.

MEED notes Iraq has 6,868 confirmed cases of Covid-19, there have been 215 deaths and there have been 3,275 who have recovered.  On the recovered, we'll note this report.





One way Americans can inhabit this crossroads in the weeks and months to come is by reading Iraqi occupation literature — that is, literature by Iraqis about life between 2003 to 2011, when the U.S.-led Coalition Forces occupied the country. Over the last decade, a number of brilliant fiction and nonfiction books about the occupation have become available in English. Two that stand out among this emerging subgenre are “The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq” by the award-winning Arabic writer and filmmaker Hassan Blasim and “Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq” by the anonymous Iraqi software engineer-turned-blogger Riverbend. Others include “The Corpse Washer” by Sinan Antoon, “Frankenstein in Baghdad” by Ahmed Saadaw, “The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq” by Dunya Mikhail, and “Baghdad Noir” edited by Samuel Shimon.
These works challenge readers to share in the experience of being occupied. Just three months ago, this experience might have been considered a subject for only niche academic audiences or, worse, written off as the plight of an unlucky pocket of the globe. But the demanding isolation of social distancing, deepening precarity caused by the shutdown of all “nonessential” sectors, and seemingly imminent threat of infection and illness have made these narratives relatable to a wider American public. The idea of being confined, indefinitely, to one shelter was inconceivable for many of us prior to the coronavirus. During the first two weeks of the shutdown, my students, who were forcibly dispersed across four continents in a matter of days, began each virtual meeting by noting how surreal and dystopian it all felt. As one New Jersey-native put it, “It’s like we’re in a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, right?”
It’s also the first time since the Vietnam War that the U.S. public has been confronted with so many dead bodies, and so many lives that cannot be fully grieved. The drone footage from New York’s Hart Island, where hundreds of unclaimed corpses are being buried in mass graves, crystallizes this phenomenon. It’s also a dilemma shaping our daily lives in less spectacular ways: health care workers broadcasting a patient’s final moments via FaceTime, essential employees beginning their shift after a brief announcement about a coworker passing, reporters updating listeners and viewers with the latest death toll.
While this is new ground for many Americans, it’s old ground for many Iraqis. The mortality rate in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion was about 5.5 people per 1,000 per year and rose to 19.8 deaths per 1,000 in the year 2006. That same year, the rate of violence rose by 51 percent in just three months, with an estimated 5,000 deaths per month. The country’s medical facilities struggled to cope with the influx of bodies and the lack of capacity in their morgues, and families hired civilians to search dumps, river banks and morgues for the bodies of missing relatives.

[. . .]

One of those features is the trope of Iraq’s occupied civilians as ghosts, jinnis (supernatural spirits in Arabic mythology), or divided subjects — liminal figures existing at the threshold between life and death, waking and dreaming, human and non-human, here and there. “Baghdad Burning” opens about five months after the American invasion with the pseudonymous author resolving to blog about daily life under the occupation because, as she writes, “I guess I’ve got nothing to lose.” She quickly distinguishes herself from the “third world” Muslim women of the Western imagination. A university-educated engineer with a music collection ranging from Britney Spears to Nirvana, the 24-year-old had a budding career and busy social life prior to May 2003. She was free to move — solo and hijabless — around the city as she pleased. All that changed with the occupation.
Riverbend chronicles the shift from her pre- to post-invasion life in details that are equal parts humorous and harrowing, raw and cerebral. She notes how the American troops carry out conventional forms of combat: killing, wounding and torturing Iraqi people. (Abu Ghraib, she affirms, was a watershed moment). But more often, she attends to the military’s more abstract and indirect engagement with those living in Baghdad. The occupying troops ravage the country’s infrastructure — electricity, water, gas and other basic services are constant problems — and they spread themselves everywhere in order to control and reconstruct the city. They also conduct patrols and raids that operate along the same logic as terrorism: surprise, chaos, asymmetry and mistrust. These strategies seem to facilitate the Islamic State’s domination and violence, a phenomenon that Riverbend highlights in her interrogative about the sounds that wake her at night: “What can it be? A burglar? A gang of looters? An attack? A bomb? Or maybe just an American midnight raid.”
“Baghdad Burning” also gives readers a window into the psychological and social effects of the occupation. This form of militarism makes Riverbend and other Iraqis feel like they exist in an alternate reality, outside recognizable social and structural forms, like politics and time. When Donald Rumsfeld visits the country in September 2003, Riverbend observes how he moves through Baghdad “safe in the middle of all his bodyguards.” Rumsfeld’s movement is a particularly cruel and distressing element of the occupation for Riverbend, whose own mobility had become radically restricted (by that point, she couldn’t leave home without a head covering and male relative). “It’s awful to see him strutting all over the place … like he’s here to add insult to injury … you know, just in case anyone forgets we’re in an occupied country.” The young Baghdadi woman’s experience of the perverse and unassailable distance between herself and the U.S. Secretary of Defense typifies the occupier-occupied relationship in “Baghdad Burning,” a dynamic that leads Riverbend to the hopeless feeling that “everything now belongs to someone else … I can’t see the future at this point.”


Last month, UNAMI noted a survey:

This month the Government of Iraq with the support of UNFPA and UNICEF, unveiled the results of its National Adolescent and Youth Survey.
The survey was the first of its kind in over a decade, with the last survey taking place in 2009. Its aim is to enable the Iraq Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to develop adolescent and youth-centered policies based on what adolescents and youth see as priorities.
The launch took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the participation of the Minister of Planning, Dr Nouri Al-Dulaimi, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Ahmed Taleb, the Deputy UN Special Representative for Iraq and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms Marta Ruedas, along with UNFPA Representative, Dr Oluremi Sogunro and UNICEF Representative, Ms Hamida Lasseko.
“Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can only live out their full potential if they have skills, health and choices in life and most importantly, an adequate system that meets their inspirations,” explained Ms Marta Ruedas.
Iraqis between the ages of 10 and 30 were asked about a range of key thematic issues affecting their lives, including health, education and civic engagement. According to the survey, 39% expressed worry about their future financial security and employment prospects. With over a quarter of Iraqis between the ages of 15 and 30 jobless, Iraq is one of the countries with the highest youth unemployment rates in the region.
“The results show that young people have a clear understanding of citizenship, political and social life and livelihoods as well as their rights and obligations. The survey will be the basis for a clear and transparent process to put together youth-based policies,” said the Minister Taleb.

Iraq is a country with a young population.  The median age is 20.  By contrast, in the United States it's 38 years-old.  The youth have taken to the streets because of the corruption, because of the lack of jobs, because of issues with diplomas (including hiring issue), because of a government that does not serve the people.

Mustafa al-Kadhim only became the prime minister on May 7th.  But this is not supposed to be a four year term.  That's the point Ayad Allawi was making when he Tweeted the following on May 26th:

No public tribunal has yet been formed to try protestors’ killers; and neither have martyrs’ families, those wounded and made handicapped been compensated. In addition, there must be a fixed date for fair and early elections; a new electoral law; and an independent commission.

 


The following sites updated:








Monday, June 1, 2020

Just a song

I agree with Anthony Zenkus:

Joe Biden has been accused of inappropriate, harmful touch by 8 women and of rape by another. It is time to demand that Biden step aside and let candidates who have not been accused of sexual violence vie for the nomination. #MeToo
#StepAsideBiden change.org/p/democratic-n



Joe needs to go.

And I believe Tara Reade.

I was on the phone with Trina a little while ago.  She's just offering a PP Arnold song.  I said, "Who's that?"  She's an African-American who made a music career in England after leaving the Ikettes. 

Trina recommended I stream her cover of "Angel of the Morning."



That is pretty amazing. PP Arnold can really sing.

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


Monday, June 1, 2020.  THE NEW YORK TIMES rushes to trash Tara Reade again, many people aren't having it, in Iraq the water issues continue in Basra and much more.

THE NEW YORK TIMES drags Tara Reade through the mud again.  You can read it at THE WALLA WALLA UNION BULLETIN.  That way, you're not giving clicks to THE TIMES or it's putrid Jim Root-Toot-en-berg, Stephanie Saul and Lisa Lerer.  The bulk of the long, long article is trash.  Here are the parts that matter.  First:

Only two people know what did or did not happen between Reade and Biden in the spring of 1993. Still, like other significant chapters of the #MeToo moment, Reade’s comes with the statements of confidants who say they heard her account long before it became public.
But while five people have said Reade shared all or part of her account of sexual harassment with them around the time she says it happened, corroboration of the assault charge is shakier.
The two people who say she told them of it contemporaneously — her brother and a longtime friend — initially offered accounts of harassment, not assault. The friend told The Times in 2019 that Biden’s behavior was “a little bit just over the line, but nothing like, ‘Oh, my God, call 911.’”
The friend says she had withheld the full story because Reade was not ready to share it, and two other people have said she told them of an assault a few years later. Professionals who counsel sexual abuse victims say it is not uncommon for them to reveal what happened piecemeal, over time.
Nothing Michael Tracey and other pig boys have written or Tweeted about Tara changes or disproves the allegation of assault she has made against Joe Biden.

There's this:

There is some contemporaneous evidence that she complained of mistreatment while in Biden’s office.
As The Intercept reported in April, a woman living in California called in to “Larry King Live” in August 1993 to say her daughter had been working “for a prominent senator and could not get through with her problems at all.” She did not say what that trouble was. Reade has previously said her mother, who has since died, called into the program after she told her about her experience.
Three years later, in divorce proceedings, her husband, Ted Dronen, said Reade had “related a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.” He did not say Biden had himself harassed her.

And this:

"By coming forward about Joe Biden,” she wrote Friday, “I have lost everything again, my job, my housing and my reputation. I have been called every vile name imaginable and presented as a monster by the media for daring to speak about Joe Biden and what happened. But I am free.”


That is all that matters. 

Oh, my goodness, some people didn't get repaid when they helped her with an electric payment!!!!!

Who the hell cares?

That has nothing to do with the assault she alleges.

I loan money all the time and I never do it with the expectation that I'm going to be paid back.  I'm not seeing any story -- and it wouldn't matter if I did -- where someone's saying, "I had an overdraft on my account and I told Tara I could loan her X but I needed the money by noon the next day or I would bounce checks."  You had the money, you gifted the money.  In a perfect world, you'd get it back.  In the real world, you know someone supporting herself and her daughter that is already struggling with bills is probably never going to pay you back.

None of it has anything to do with the charge of assault.  

And no where in the article does THE TIMES take accountability for their smearing of Tara or for being in the tank for Joe Biden.

He claimed in an interview two weeks ago that he has been endorsed by the NAACP every time he's run for office.  The NAACP has never endorsed him.  They even issued a statement noting that fact.  We covered it at THIRD ("Does Joe Biden ever stop lying?").  Where's THE NEW YORK TIMES' article?  Where's their report noting all the lies he's told and all the character flaws he has -- including refusing to acknowledge a grandchild even after DNA tests made clear the child's father was Hunter Biden?

Joe Biden dropped out of the 1988 race for president why?  Because he got caught lying.  And he clearly didn't learn from it because he continues to lie -- over and over.

Why is he getting a pass on that from the press?

Oh, right.  Bully Boy Bush had the media's help selling the Iraq War because the corporate media wanted certain things.  Joe's already met with Comcast and others and promised them their shopping lists would be checked off.  


Left-wing corporate Democratic media and politicians not only proved me wrong, they betrayed my trust and respect as a student journalist and moral citizen. Regardless of whether you believe Tara Reade’s allegation against Joe Biden or not, no human and survivor who speaks up deserves death threats and harassment, interrogation, trauma-ignorant journalists, disrespect, vilified characterization, and media blackout.
Tara Reade is certainly not the first survivor to withstand such treatment nor will she be the last, but as readers and as voters, we need to start holding our institutions and representatives accountable for the messages of silence they send.
The New York Timeswas one of many left-leaning newspapers to exemplify this treatment against Reade. This was shown by their taking 19 days to report on her allegation, and by including interviews from extraneous staff members, using Trump as a strawman, and editing the article after publication to say "The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden'' and excluding "beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable" — without notifying readers of the update. Between all of it, this article and many others like it, politically trivalize sexual violence in a way that encourages silence for the sake of political convenience.
Many #MeToo leaders and liberal feminists, including Alyssa Milano, fell into this trap of political hypocrisy as well. The double standard reactions towards Reade's case as compared to Ford and other survivors was made clear as many went out of their way to criticize Reade, once more begging the question of trading in any actual conversation of Reade and her story for political convenience. 
[. . .]

As we see survivors on national television scrutinized and politically targeted by journalists, politicians, #MeToo leaders, and anyone with an opinion, there's a dangerous message that the burden is on the survivor and that the world is against them. Consider another reason many don't report: the length and difficulty of the reporting process and any following criminal case.
"I've spoken to a lot of people about this and that was why the case being so long felt even longer because they have to go through the trauma over and over again," Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) Director Nicole Sullivan said. 

[. . .]  a proper DNC inquiry is just what’s needed to give Reade’s allegation the full attention it deserves. Why be so afraid to carry one out? If the evidence is compelling enough on either side, then voters will know whether or not they have a candidate they can be confident in. As Representative Ayanna Pressley recently said: “I reject the false choice that my party and our nominee can’t address the allegations at hand and defeat the occupant of the White House.”



This is not going away.  Even after the 2020 election is over, this is not going away.  The Michael Traceys can savage Tara as much as they want.  It's not going to silence her or the people who are outraged over the trashing of a woman for stepping forward.  This is not a minor issue.  This is one of those issues that will never go away.  

The attacks on Tara have been outrageous.  What's passed for 'reporting' has been outrageous.

She's been held to a higher standard than an elected official has.  Joe's entire life has been as a public servant.  But he's not held to any real standard by the media.  A woman came forward and was savaged for her resume, for her rent payments, etc.  Joe has repeatedly lied to the American people.  He's easily told a thousand lies in public in interviews and appearances in the last 12 months.  

Where's the lengthy article examining his character?

The corporate media has never held Joe Biden accountable for anything -- including his part in the destruction of Iraq.  Miguel Gonzalez (EL PAIS) reports:

At the end of July, Spanish troops will be withdrawn from the Gran Capitán base in Bismayah, which is Spain’s most important base in Iraq. Before the coronavirus pandemic, 350 out of Spain’s 530 soldiers in Iraq were stationed at the Gran Capitán base. The base is one of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) centers run by the US-led international coalition in Iraq, which is tasked with training Iraqi security forces. According to military sources, troops are being withdrawn because the base has completed this mission.
The Spanish Defense Ministry is also preparing to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021, before the 14-month deadline for complete withdrawal of US and allied forces comes to an end, as set out in the deal struck between the United States and the Taliban.
At ANTIWAR.COM, Margaret Griffis offers her roundup of May's violence: "At least 262 people were killed, and 149 were wounded across Iraq during May. During April, at least 208 people were killed, and 185 were wounded. Although the new coronavirus kept many civilians in their homes, security operations against the Islamic State increased violence between those two groups."


The Iraq War has not ended.  And the government of Turkey continues to terrorize the Iraqi people.  For years now, they have been ignoring Iraq's sovereignty and bombing the country of Iraq.  These bombings have resulted in many dead.  Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) reports:

Turkish airstrikes killed civilians on Saturday, days after another set of airstrikes killed members of a far-left Iranian dissident group in the mountains of the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The attacks appear to represent an increase in Ankara’s use of drones and airstrikes against Kurdish groups. Ankara claims these groups, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are “terrorists” but presents no evidence that any of them are involved in “terror.”


The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

Frantzman notes, "Iraq has complained to Ankara about the airstrikes but Ankara acts with impunity and international organizations that usually monitor human rights refuse to critique Turkey or visit the areas of the drone strikes." 

The new prime minister, like the previous ones, can't protect Iraq from the continued Turkish attacks.  What can he do?  Corruption now threatens to topple Iraq's long standing food rations program.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:


Iraq has only 190,000 tons of rice available in its coffers for its food rationing program, the trade ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.
The country needs around 1-1.25 million tons of rice a year to support the program.
In March, the trade ministry pleaded for money from the state's budget to build three months' supply of strategic wheat and rice stockpiles as Iraq grappled with the spread of the new coronavirus.

The corruption has long been noted.  A decade ago, some pretended to be interested in it and in eliminating it -- the US Congress, for example, and the US State Dept to name but two.  These days?  No one really seems to care except for the Iraqi protesters.  A few days ago, Khaled Yacoub Oweis (THE NATIONAL) reported:


A veteran Iraqi economist who is advising the country's new Prime Minister, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, has revealed astounding figures on government waste in the resource-rich but impoverished nation.
Mudher Salih told of a state obsessed with generating money from its oil sector without acting to develop the country or plug holes in the budget that have been sucking liquidity out of public finances for years.
The electricity sector costs the government about $10 billion (Dh36.73bn) a year to run but generates only 7 per cent of its operating costs in revenue, Mr Salih told the official Iraqi news agency on Tuesday.
Iraq also suffers crippling power cuts and imports electricity and gas from Iran to boost production.
Official datas show its generation capacity at 16,000 megawatts, compared with the 24,000 to 30,000 megawatts needed to satisfy demand.
Mr Salih, a former central bank official, is one of the few senior independent experts in Iraq who survived purges under Saddam Hussein.
He retained a senior position in the state after the consolidation of the Shiite political ascendency in 2005, the year Iraq had its first democratic poll post-Saddam.
Mr Salih said Iraq imported $50bn worth of fuel in the past 10 years, although it is one of the top five members of Opec.
"This amount could have been used to build 10 large oil refineries," he said.

The rice shortage comes as other things take place.  Ayad Allawi Tweeted Saturday about the burning of farms that is taking place in Iraq.


Fuel and electricity issues are not the only ones corruption has caused.  There remains the issue of Iraq having a lack of potable water.  This should have been seriously addressed in 2003.  Instead, 'addressing' it was handing out tablets to purify water and blaming women -- the United Nations blaming women, let's be clear.  That allowed the corrupt government of Iraq to continue to ignore the water issue.  Basra's water was so outrageous that it's part of what fueled the protests.  ALSUMARIA reports that the Water Ministry declared today that it 'plans' to address the issue of the lack of drinking water in Basra.  Corruption would also include the report that, as vice president, Nouri al-Maliki to four billion dinars (3,349,396 in US dollars) from the government to decorate his home.

Last July, as people in Basra were suffering, Human Rights Watch noted:

The situation culminated in an acute water crisis that sent at least 118,000 people to hospital in 2018 and led to violent protests. 
The 128-page report, “Basra is Thirsty: Iraq’s Failure to Manage the Water Crisis,” found that the crisis is a result of complex factors that if left unaddressed will most likely result in future water-borne disease outbreaks and continued economic hardship. The authorities at the local and federal level have done little to address the underlying conditions causing the situation.
“Shortsighted politicians are citing increased rainfall as the reason they do not need to urgently deal with Basra’s persistent crisis,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “But Basra will continue to face acute water shortages and pollution crises in the coming years, with serious consequences, if the government doesn’t invest now in targeted, long-term, and badly needed improvements.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 58 Basra residents, workers at private and public water facilities, and healthcare professionals, and reviewed water sample tests from the Shatt al-Arab river, treatment plants, and taps in homes. Human Rights Watch also interviewed representatives from Basra’s provincial council, governor’s office, and the Ministries of Water Resources, Municipalities and Public Works’ water and sewage departments, Health and Environment, and Agriculture, and analyzed academic and public health data and over 20 years of scientific and commercial satellite imagery of the region to substantiate many of the findings.
Basra’s primary water sources are the Shatt al-Arab river and its freshwater canals. Human Rights Watch found that Iraqi authorities have failed to properly manage and regulate Iraq’s water resources, depriving people in southern Iraq’s Basra governorate – four million people – of their right to safe drinking water for decades, including during the period of occupation by the US- and UK-led Coalition Provisional Authority. But multiple government failures since the 1980s, including poor management of upstream water sources, inadequate regulation of pollution and sewage, and chronic neglect and mismanagement of water infrastructure, have caused the quality of these waterways to deteriorate.
To cope with water pollution and shortages, Basra residents have had to rely on purchasing water. The high cost, especially during the crisis, falls hardest on poorer residents, and makes them particularly vulnerable to exposure to unsafe tap water.         



Some will argue that Mustafa al-Kadhim only became Iraq's latest prime minister on May 7th, give him time.  Really?  Back to Ayad Allawi who Tweeted May 26th:

No public tribunal has yet been formed to try protestors’ killers; and neither have martyrs’ families, those wounded and made handicapped been compensated. In addition, there must be a fixed date for fair and early elections; a new electoral law; and an independent commission.


This is not supposed to be a four year term as prime minister.  al-Kahim is supposed to be sorting things out and planning new elections.  We're not seeing that happen.  We're not even seeing him offer a full Cabinet yet.  


Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ricky Martin re-emerges" went up Saturday.  New content at THIRD: