Thursday, June 11, 2020

Howie and the candidate forum

I'm a Green Party member.  My parents are Green Party members.  In the 2020 presidential campaign, I'm supporting Howie Hawkins.

Also seeking the nomination are Dario Hunter and David Rolde.

All three appeared at the June 7th candidate forum.

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

Thursday, June 11, 2020.  The US and Iraq are engaging in talks to determine the future relationship between the two countries, the State Dept has released their annual report on religious freedom around the world, JEZEBEL details the very real issues at play in the attacks on Tara Reade, and much more.

Yesterday at the US State Dept in DC, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo declared: 

On Iraq:  The Government of Iraq has agreed to the Strategic Dialogue proposed in April, beginning tomorrow.  Under Secretary Hale will lead that discussion with the representatives from Department of Defense, Treasury, Energy, and other agencies, and their Iraqi counterparts.
In keeping with previous dialogues based on our 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement, the dialogue will cover all of the areas of interest between our two countries: politics, economics, security, culture, and energy.
With new threats on the horizon, including the global coronavirus pandemic, collapsed oil prices, and a large budget deficit, it’s imperative that the United States and Iraq meet as strategic partners to plan a way forward for the mutual benefit of each of our two nations.

Yesterday a dialogue started between the governments of Iraq and the United States.  It continues today.  

On the verge of crucial strategic talks between the United States and Iraq set to take place on June 10, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the process is a necessary, long-planned step in ongoing bilateral ties between Baghdad and Washington.
But he took pains to call the process a dialogue involving the US government and the sovereign state of Iraq, one which will define the Pentagon’s future presence in Iraq as well as non-military aspects of the relationship including education, energy, culture, trade, and foreign investment.
“Here in the local papers, they’re calling it negotiations, but we are not negotiating anything,” Alhakim said. “It’s an agreement signed by the two sides. The only thing we need to do is figure out the bits and pieces.”
Speaking June 9 in a webinar with Abbas Kadhim, director of the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative, Alhakim noted that because of COVID-19, the upcoming talks will be held virtually—a departure from the long-standing arrangement of alternating the sessions every six months between Washington and Baghdad.

AFP quotes the Middle East Institute's Robert Ford who declares, "The entire US-Iraq bilateral relationship will not be fixed in a single day. But for once, we seem to have the right people in the right place at the right time."  May 7th, Mustafa al-Kahdemi became the latest prime minister of Iraq.    Ali Mamouri (AL-MONITOR) notes that the talks were accompanied with a rocket attack on Baghdad.  

Ali Mamouri also notes that unlike Adel Abdel Mahdi, the previous prime minister, al-Kahdemi "included the strategic dialogue with the United States as part of his plan of action presented to the parliament. The plan, which was approved by the parliament, does not mention the departure of US troops from the country."  MIDDLE EAST ONLINE cites two unnamed Iraqi government officials who state "Kahdemi has been invited to the White House this year, a diplomatic olive branch his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi had never received."  Mahdi did call for US withdrawl but did so only after he had resigned (and over a month after Parliament accepted his resignation).  While that might explain the lack of invitation to the White House since January (when he called for withdrawal of US forces), it doesn't explain why there was no invitation since October 2018 (when he became prime minister).  Mahdi had huge support in the US from the intelligence community which had been pimping him as the answer to Iraq ('liberating' it or just controlling it) since 2006.  ALJAZEERA offers the following prediction:

The main event will be the fate of US-led troops, deployed in Iraq from 2014 to head a military coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.
"Whatever comes out of the dialogue is going to set the future of our strategic relationship," an American official from the coalition told the AFP news agency.
 "Am I still going to fly surveillance drones or not? Do you still want our intelligence?" he added.
The coalition has already consolidated to just three bases in recent months, down from a dozen, and the talks would likely bring a further drawdown.
"There are no details yet on troop levels, but the US draft on a joint statement mentions a 'reduction of US forces'," one senior Iraqi official told AFP.
ALJAZEERA also offers this video report by Simona Foltyn.

Simona Foltyn explains in the video above, "The US and the Iraqi governments both appear to favor a partial reduction of troops but the question is whether they will agree on the terms that will govern their future presence.  Whatever the outcome, the dialogue is likely to usher in a new chapter of US - Iraqi relations."  So the withdrawal -- not drawdown -- that the world wants, that Iraq needs, is not likely to happen according to the media.

John Davison (REUTERS) accompanied the current prime minister of Iraq to Mosul yesterday.  He reports:

Three years ago, the world
rejoiced when Iraqi forces backed by the United States and Iran
liberated this ancient city from the brutal rule of Islamic
State. The people of Mosul hoped to rebuild their shattered
    Today, a different battle plays out.
    Taking place largely behind the scenes, from legislative
halls that overlook the city's bombed-out streets to hotel
meeting rooms in Baghdad, it is a power struggle among parties,
politicians and militiamen. Some are backed by Iran. Others
favour the United States.
    At stake: political control of Nineveh province, of which
Mosul is capital – a region rich in natural resources and a link
in a supply route from Tehran to the Mediterranean. The route
serves Iran-backed militias, Washington's fiercest enemy here
since the defeat of Islamic State.
    Iran's allies had been winning. They installed a governor
favoured by Tehran a year ago. But then anti-government
protests, U.S. sanctions and the assassination of Iran's
military mastermind Qassem Soleimani challenged Iranian
influence. The pro-Western camp replaced the Nineveh governor
with a longtime U.S. ally.
    The contest mirrors a wider struggle over the future of Iraq
    Speaking to Reuters over the span of a year, around 20 Iraqi
officials involved in the political tussle over Nineveh
described how Iran and its allies developed the networks to
influence local government, how pro-Western officials tried to
hit back, and how this tug of war has crippled Mosul's recovery.
If any side prevails, many of these insiders believe, it will
ultimately be the side aligned with Iran. Iran helps its allies
with money, political backing and sticks with them, explained
Nineveh councilor Ali Khdeir. The United States, in contrast,
"has left no real mark on Iraq."

Dropping back to the May 28th Iraq snapshot:

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR ONLINE reports that Iraqi Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul is insisting that ISIS "has already been vanquished, no longer poses a threat to Iraq."  Unfortunately, reality slaps Rasoul in the face.  ISIS has never been vanquished.

Monday, ALMASDAR NEWS reported, "The Iraqi security forces announced on Monday that an Iraqi military plane was hit by terrorist forces in the Al-Rutbah Desert during an operation to destroy Islamic State"  Iraqi security forces said a member of ISIS had "14.5 mm mono weapon and fired at one of the planes, lightly wounding the plane."  Doesn't sound like it's been vanquished or that it no longer poses as a threat.  Monday night, David Rose (THE AUSTRALIAN) reported:

Islamic State has waged its deadliest terrorism campaign in Iraq for nearly two years, raising fears jihadists are staging a resurgence.
In the past month, since the start of Ramadan, Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has claimed responsibility for more than 260 attacks across Iraq, allegedly killing or wounding 426 people.
The attacks form part of the group’s self-proclaimed “battle of attrition” campaign, which also has inspired violence by Islamic State branches in Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Niger, Congo and Mozambique in recent weeks.

 The assailants came at dusk, creeping on foot through the dusty palm groves near the Tigris River, armed only with a rocket-propelled grenade, a light machine gun and Kalashnikovs. They had laid roadside bombs to kill anyone who rushed to help the unsuspecting local guards, who were in their sights.
When the attack on the village last month was over, nine members of a Sunni tribe that had opposed the Islamic State were dead and four were wounded, one of them nearly burned to death.
This is the Islamic State in Iraq in 2020: low-tech, low-cost, rural, but still lethal. And while it has not carried out attacks on the scale that it did a few years ago, the number of attacks has begun to grow again.
As American and Iraqi negotiators begin a new round of strategic talks on Thursday, the question of how to respond to the Islamic State’s quiet resurgence — and how much American help is required to do so — will be at the center of the discussion.

We called out the lie on May 28th because it was a lie.  It's a shame the military spokesperson felt he could lie, it's a bigger shame that no one in the press called him out in real time.  

Calling out?  Some have called Tara Reade out.  She's the woman with the credible allegation that Joe Biden assaulted her in 1993 when she was working in his office.  Rubbish like Michael Tracey have tried to attack her because they can't attack her charges.  They pretend that talking about her unpaid bills somehow tells you whether or not she was raped -- in their biased minds, only women of wealth can be raped.  

A narrative has emerged from this reporting that ties questions of Reade’s trustworthiness to her financial background. Economic class is brought in as character evidence.  At JEZEBEL, Tracy Clark-Flory observes:
In May, the New York Times published a lengthy report that forwards this framing. It spins Reade’s economic background, financial struggles, and history of intimate partner violence into a tale of a “messy life,” a “tumultuous journey,” a “shambolic life.” As the article puts it, “If the national stage is new for Ms. Reade, the sturm and drang is anything but.” Much of that “sturm and drang” relates to abuse and poverty, yet the piece includes no discussion of how these two things are cyclical and interconnected. Instead, in the Times piece and others like it, a case is made for the way that trouble has followed Reade around—the implication being that she creates it.
Reade’s class permeates the Times’ discussion of Reade’s time working in Biden’s office in the 1990s. “The Biden Senate world was populated by striving Type A’s, and had a small-c conservative culture in which Ms. Reade didn’t quite fit,” the piece reads. “Former aides remember her as prone to storytelling and oversharing personal information.” It continues to note that she “rarely socialized with colleagues after work” and chafed “at the Ivy League tilt of the staff” while :arguing for more interns from state schools.” These facts set the stage for interpreting Reade through the lens of an outsider, that she didn’t gel with the staff is seen as a telling detail of her character.
Additionally, the Times reports that Biden’s office manager “admonished [Reade] to dress more modestly,” which not only has potential class insinuations but also recalls the long history of sexual assault victims being assessed by their clothing. This is not the first time reporters have clung to the subject of Reade’s attire in Biden’s office. Previously, in late May, Buzzfeed interviewed former Biden staffers and “two people brought up the clothes [Reade] wore to work—specifically recalling that she wore capes and dressed in a ‘hippie’ style.” Cara Ameer, then a legislative correspondent, said, “You were in a professional environment, so you wanted to be professional in every way—to look and act that way.” Ameer added, “She definitely seemed to me to march to her own drum. Maybe she didn’t like us. Maybe she thought we were a bunch of preppy Capitol Hill staffer types. If there was a mold of a Capitol Hill staffer, I would kinda say we probably fit it. We were well dressed.”
The assessment of her dress is not merely aesthetic but rather mired in class-based assumptions. This evaluation recalls Paula Jones, who in 1994 alleged that Bill Clinton exposed himself to her. (Note that Jones’ allegation came a year after Reade alleges that she was assaulted by Biden. ) In return, she was relentlessly mocked as low class: James Carville famously responded to her allegation by saying, “If you drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” A journalist from Newsweek referenced her reputation as “just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks.” Four years later, Jones got a makeover and the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan wrote: “Her braces are gone. She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool.” By modeling herself on the aesthetics of DC’s professional set, Givhan wrote that Jones had “embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.” Most relevantly: the markers of class. “She is not white trash. She is not a big-haired floozy,” her spokesperson said of the image overhaul.
The Times continues its focus on Reade as an outsider in discussing a later job as an aide for State Senator Jack O’Connell, reporting that “two people familiar with her tenure said she regularly failed to appear at constituent meetings.” Then, “as the complaints about her work continued, Ms. Reade confessed that she was having a hard time at home, these people recalled.” Those hard times are unspecified, but the Times notes that Reade had feared for her safety after her then-husband, Ted Dronen, responded to news of her pregnancy by “slamming things around the house.” The Times continues, “She was given a lighter schedule, but when the behavior repeated itself, she and the office agreed to part ways.” The “behavior repeated itself” is an awfully blameful way to refer to a woman who is, it is implied, struggling at work alongside fear of her own husband. The Times fails to note research showing, as a Purdue University report puts it, that the impacts of domestic violence can “lead to tardiness, absenteeism and lack of productivity.”

Tara Reade's allegation was credible and remains credible.  Assaults and smears on her do not change her allegation.  Assaults and smears do not erase the corroborating witnesses she has.  The attacks and smears on her have taken place with far too many feminists either staying silent or joining in (Joan Walsh, Katha Pollitt and others have joined in).  How this is supposed to help survivors is beyond me and a lot of people should be ashamed.  Nick Givas (FOX NEWS) notes, "Former Colorado governor and current Senate candidate John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that he believes allegations made by Tara Reade against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden are true but will still be voting for him anyway."

A lot of people are covering for 'innocent' Joe Biden.  They appear unaware of what he's done to the world and unaware that politicians serve us, not the other way around.  

We'll note that video again tomorrow.

We started with Mike Pompeo, we'll close with him.  His remarks about Iraq (quoted at the start) were made at the press briefing he gave for the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good morning, everyone.  It’s great to be with you all today.  I’m here one more time, proudly, to talk about freedom and free societies.  And while America is not a perfect nation by any means, we always strive towards that more perfect union, trying to improve.  We remain the greatest nation in the history of civilization.
One of the good things that we do in this administration is our dedication to the protection of religious freedom all around the world.  Last week, President Trump signed the first ever executive order that instructs the entire U.S. Government to prioritize religious freedom.
Here at the State Department, I’ve hosted the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom now twice.  We’ve launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance.  We’ve trained our Foreign Service officers to understand religious freedom issues much more deeply.
And today, I’m proud to release the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report.  There is no other nation that cares so deeply about religious freedom, that we gather accounts from all across the world – it’s an enormous, it’s a comprehensive accounting of this fundamental human right.
Let me highlight a few positive developments we’ve observed in this past year:
The Gambia, an International Freedom Alliance member, has courageously brought a case before the International Court of Justice regarding crimes against the Rohingya.
The United Arab Emirates, long an ally for religious freedom in the Middle East, has become the first country in the Middle East to permit the construction of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In Uzbekistan, steps have been taken to improve its record on religious freedom, and those steps continue.  I had a great chat with religious leaders where I was there earlier this year.
We documented no police raids of unregistered religious group meetings during 2019, compared with 114 such raids in 2018, and 240 – 240 the year before that.  These are great strides, real progress, the efforts of our State Department team showing or bearing fruit.
But there’s also a great darkness over parts of the world where people of faith are persecuted or denied the right to worship:
The Nicaraguan Government harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies.
In Nigeria, ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike.  ISIS beheaded 10 Christians in that country just this past December.
And in China, state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify.  The Chinese Communist Party is now ordering religious organizations to obey CCP leadership and infuse communist dogma into their teachings and practice of their faith.  The mass detentions of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues.  So does the repression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians.
I commend the report released today to everyone.  Its very existence is evidence of our strong resolve to defend human dignity.

The following sites updated:

No comments:

Post a Comment