Saturday, May 8, 2021

Ranked Choice Voting?

Tweet from the Green Party (US):

"We need a #RankedChoiceVoting system so that fear cannot be used as part of this 'lesser evil' mode of politics - which is really a form of extortion." Check out this powerful conversation on the state of US politics with
Economic Update: A Green 3rd Party for the U.S.
[S11 E16] A Green 3rd Party for the U.S.On this week's episode, Prof. Wolff talks about Rolls Royce's $400,000 cars,

Will we have ranked choice voting in our lifetime?  

We need it but I seriously doubt we'll get it.  Maybe I'm just in a depressed mood?  But I keep thinking about Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont in 2006.  Joe Lieberman was a disgusting betrayer of the Democratic Party.  And when Ned Lamont came up as a challenger from the left, someone who did not support the Iraq War, Ned managed to win the primary.  But the War Machine saw to it that Joe, running as an independent candidate, won the election.

The War Machine protests itself.  

Maybe I'm just in a mood?  I'm not in the mood for Charmed and that bad hair.  We're about to watch Jupiter's Legacy on Netflix.

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

 Friday, May 7, 2021.  Ammar angles for power in Iraq while Nouri's corrupt business partners benefit again from connections, the Turkish government continues its genocide against the Kurds in Iraq, and much more

At USA TODAY, Steve Minska writes;

Last month President Biden announced plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Reasonable people can and have disagreed about the wisdom of the withdrawal. What isn't up for debate, however, is this: as the United States brings its sons and daughters home from Afghanistan, we have a moral and practical obligation to protect the thousands of Afghan interpreters and other critical allies who’ve supported our military and diplomatic efforts there.

[. . .]

I spent  months serving in Baghdad with the U.S. Army, and as a commander during a 2006-2007 deployment, I personally experienced the loss of interpreters and friends who were targeted and executed by insurgents and militia thugs who painted them as “traitors” and “collaborators with the American enemy.”

Later, after serving in the Obama White House as Director for Iraq on the National Security Council, I welcomed the President’s decision in 2011 to withdraw from Iraq. In the months and years that followed, however, I witnessed our former interpreters, their families, and other allies in a fight for their lives. Some of them were forced into hiding in Iraq by ISIS, Iranian-sponsored militia, and other bad actors. Others languished as refugees abroad, men and women without a country. Untold numbers didn’t make it. To this day, I don’t know what became of many of my friends. 

Drawdown.  It wasn't a withdrawal, it was a drawdown.   By lying -- the US military always called it a drawdown because it was not a withdrawal -- about something so basic, Minska risks having people dismiss the column in whole.

That's aa shame because it is a serious issue and one that fell by the wayside in terms of Iraq once Senator Ted Kennedy died. 

And let's not forget Hannah Allem.  I know these days people find her ridiculous because of that pathetic perm she had done to her hair but I found her pathetic when she'd whine about the Iraqi stringers who risked their lives going through Iraq getting the material Hannah then typed up as her own from the hotel she hid out in.  She'd whine about it whenever it got her press attention but she didn't do anything about it.  When we pointed that out here, a MCCLATCHY joke e-mailed to say Iraq was no longer her beat.  No, piece of crap, Iraq was still her beat.  Based in DC, he had a beat that would still allow her to cover the threats and persecution of those Iraqis who had worked with the US military or the US press or the US diplomatic corps.  It did fall under her beat and I told dumb ass that the next time he lied in an e-mail I would expose him by publishing it here.  He fooled a lot of people but we were already on to him, he wasn't a reporter, he was a partisan.  And not wanting to lose that false reputation as 'one of only two who got it right on Iraq' (yeah, I just narrowed it down for you), he never bothered us again with his nonsense.  He was too busy finding ways to avoid breaking actual news during Barack Obama's two terms.

After he sent his hideous e-mail filled with lies, we returned to the topic of Hannah here.  There was a push to raise awareness on the issue of these Iraqis.  And Hannah did participate in a report on that -- to promote herself.  But we pointed out earlier that she hadn't reported on that push -- which we'd noted earlier -- and on top of that, go through three months of her Twitter feed and find one Tweet about Sahar Issa or any of the Iraqis who risked their lives to Hannah could stay in a hotel or go to the heavily guarded office on those rare days she wasn't in the mood for room service.  She never Tweeted about the issue.  She didn't report on it, she didn't Tweet on it.

But put a camera in front of her and watch her act like it was the most important issue of the day.

So I'm glad the issue is being raised before US troops pull out (and are replaced with US contractors -- the ones leaving are replaced with US contractors -- not all US troops are leaving Afghanistan under Joe Biden's plan).

Moving over to other lies and liars, THE DAILY SABAH.  It doesn't work as journalism, it's just a Turkish outlet that exists to smear non-Turkish persons and attack the truth so the Turish government is never held accountable.  

The veil is being pulled back on the reality of Turkey's attacks on Iraq and the violation of Iraq's sovereignty.  People around the world are starting to note that there's not a big deal of difference between Hitler's justifications for invading Poland and what the Turkish government is doing because they can pretty it up all they want but it's an invasion of another country.  So THE DAILY SABAH lies to the world that it's bombs the PKK is setting up that are harming other Iraqis and pretends like it's not the bombs being dropped from Turkish War Planes on villages in Northern Iraq that is killing innocents.  When Hitler carried out his long campaign against Europe, there were liars for him in the press as well.  In ten to twenty years (I'd guess 13 years), people will be loudly calling out Turkey's actions on Kurds -- a genocide, just like the one Turkey carried out against the Armenians early last century -- and wondering who kept the lies going for so long?  Outlets like THE DAILY SABAH.

THE DAILY SABAH lies because the truth is starting to really get out.  For example, Karwan Faidi Dri (RUDAW) reported 23 hours ago:

An unexploded Turkish bomb landed near a Christian village in northern Duhok province, causing fear among local residents. 

The artillery shell is lying just 50 meters away from houses in Chalk village. Some residents of neighboring Kesta village had fled clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and sought refuge in Chalk. But with the projectile falling so close to people’s homes, they still don’t feel safe. 

There is a risk to the village if the bomb explodes, Mahmoud Kestayi, mukhtar (chief) of Kesta, told Rudaw’s Hunar Rasheed.

“We remember this happened during Saddam’s era,” he said, referring to Iraqi dictator President Saddam Hussein whose army frequently bombarded Kurdish villages on the grounds of fighting Peshmerga forces decades ago. 

Two weeks ago, the Turkish military launched new operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region. The Metina area, on the border, is the focus of Operation Claw-Thunderbolt, and Operation Claw-Lightning targets the Avashin and Basyan areas further east.

Moving on to a different topic, TASNIM NEWS AGENCY notes:

In a message on the occasion of the International Quds Day, Leader of Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement Seyed Ammar al-Hakim said that the Al-Quds Day is a reminder to oppression of Palestine and is deeply ingrained in the consciences.

Hakim said that the day is an opportunity to renew the covenant with the first issue of Muslims and Arabs.

The leader of Iraq's National Wisdom Movement stressed that the problem of Al-Quds and its stolen lands affects not only the Palestinian people, but also all Muslims, Arabs, and all free nations around the world.

In his message, Hakim said that the topic of Quds is still alive and well in people's hearts and minds in the aftermath of the events. It is Quds that unites us and sets our priorities.

The story would suggest that Ammar is attempting to set himself up as a voice for the voiceless as Iraq prepares for national elections.  TASNIM notes protests took place in Iraq today:

The marches took place in the form of car convoys and mass rallies in the cities of Najaf, Diyala, Basra and Baghdad, as well as a number of southern Iraqi cities.

A convoy of Quds Day vehicles drove through the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, chanting "Al-Quds is ours."

The convoy passed in front of Tahrir Square as one of the most important places for gatherings and demonstrations while carrying the flags of Iraq, Iran and Palestine.


Iraq Al Quds day celebrations.

Though it's a popular issue with many Iraqis, it's never been an issue that Ammar has led on or focused any real attention on.  It's a popular issue so he appears to be glomming on it in an attempt to use it for his own electability.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes how US politicians tend to do the same thing:

There can be no more excuses made for Democratic “progressives,” who steadfastly refuse to fight for what they know to be right.

“There is no lesser evil, no one who will save us.”

No one is holding Joe Biden’s “feet to the fire” or pushing him left or taking any of the other make believe actions which were meant to silence the Democratic Party’s left wing. There is no longer any need to say that such claims are phony when proof comes straight from the horses’ mouths.

The Justice Democrats, Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus all sing Biden’s praises despite the fact that he lied to them and to their constituents during the 2020 campaign. All of the policies that rank and file Democrats want to see realized are again left behind though their party has the power to enact them. Only fools believe that a Senate parliamentarian prevented inclusion of a minimum wage increase in the stimulus plan. There is no $2,000 stimulus payment, no plan to lower prescription drug prices or add a public option to the Affordable Care Act. 

The best that can be said is that Biden’s temporary tax provisions and unemployment payments will help many people cope in a time of economic distress. But his proposals are a far cry from groundbreaking legislation such as the Social Security Act, Medicare or Medicaid. Of course, it must be pointed out that Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were responding to popular pressure. They did not act solely out of conviction even as their legislative successes benefited millions of people for decades to come.

“Only fools believe that a Senate parliamentarian prevented inclusion of a minimum wage increase in the stimulus plan.”

Biden’s friends in corporate media call him “transformational” and the living embodiment of FDR. It is ironic that Democrats must go so far back in history to find a name with such universal appeal. Such is the case after decades of neo-liberal Democratic policies that the party knows it can’t defend when it needs fodder for a propaganda campaign.

Progressives have come to Biden’s rescue with even greater gusto than doubters like this columnist predicted. Congressional Democrats known as progressives have prostrated themselves without a hint of unhappiness and in the process make a mockery of themselves and the people who support them.

Congressional Black Caucus member Cori Bush  was asked if she and other progressives known as “the squad” would be willing to use their leverage as much as those Democrats who own up to being conservative. She said this about herself and her colleagues, “ vote alone, and you're voting for your districts.” Bush therefore admitted that there will be no action on behalf of what the people want. She defeated William Lacy Clay, known as an establishment Democrat, but like other progressives she is no more willing to buck the system than the person she replaced. 

Ammar's Tweets today read like campaign slogans though non-Arab speakers might not grasp that since the first of a three thread reply is in Arabic: he notes that the religious authority has not called for a separation of social, political and geographical efforts.  He then Tweets (in English):

or shiny slogans, but coming from considering dialogue as an integral part of our modern world, and a way to restore Our Islamic civilization, and a platform for our dialogue with all of humanity.

And then Tweets:

We believe that it is imperative to get back to the initiative and revisit the dialogue roundtable by all the Shiite, Islamic, political and intellectual elites in our Islamic world. Not out of courtesy, one-time conventions, politicized conferences..

Again, the first of the Twitter thread is in Arabic and the other two are in English.


Because he's campaigning and he's trying to shore up support from the US government.  That's the only reason for an Iraqi leader to Tweet in English.  He's trying to say, "Look, I'm loyal and it should be my turn, finally, to be prime minister so install me US government, install me!"

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is also trying to garner support from the US government.  He and Joe Biden worked together to give Nouri a second term in 2010 after the Iraqi people voted him out as prime minister.  When Nouri became an obvious threat to security and safety, Barack Obama began fobbing Nouri off to Joe (such as when Nouri called the day after the US 2012 election to congratulate Barack on a second term and Barack refused to take the call and told his staff to send the call to Joe).  I'd like to hope Joe has learned since then but he knew Nouri was a thug in 2008 and said so in an under reported hearing in April of 2008.  Yet he went on to push and promote Nouri -- that second Nouri term led to the rise of ISIS in Iraq.  So he knew better in 2010 but still embraced Nouri.  Joe doesn't appear to learn -- especially when Nouri's sold as a quick answer to a longterm problem.

Well Nouri's back in the news.  Zuhair Hussain Tweets:

Sallyport company in 2019 under USA's Justice Dept. investigation for alleged bribery of Iraqi government officials, including former PM Nouri al-Maliki, wins $240m #Iraq Contract #CORRUPTION

Over at PRESS TV, David Swanson writes:

A good deal of the earnings accrued from US wars goes straight into election campaigns, which in other countries would be considered bribery, but in the United States is relabeled as campaign donations.

The US is well known for inciting war, invading various countries with facile justifications, usually in the name of Democracy and human rights, framing itself as liberators rather that resource grabbing invaders.

Washington not only spends more than everybody else on its own military, but it exports weapons to the rest of the world beyond what anybody else does. In actuality the arms 96% of the nations that it itself calls the most oppressive, most brutal dictatorships and governments on Earth.

One would be hard put to find a war without US made weapons on both sides.

Not only is this profitable for US companies, but it also means that the United States can have people on the ground in every country, fixing the weapons that always break, updating the weapons that always change. 

Could we ever overcome the automatic war impulse here in the US?  Possibly.  UNDP seems to think so and issued this press release yesterday:

Baghdad, Iraq, 06 May 2021 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Iraq and Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) to enhance local capacities for peacebuilding in Iraq with concentration on gender mainstreaming in peacebuilding. With a mandate to support international peace and security-related efforts, Folke Bernadotte Academy is a governmental agency based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Focused on effective peacebuilding, FBA and UNDP Iraq’s new partnership aims at advancing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 agenda on women, peace, and security, within the realm of social cohesion and the promotion of peaceful co-existence. Through working to advance a gender perspective in community peace processes, this partnership also contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Gender Equality (Goal 5) and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).

UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme works with Iraqi local peace practitioners, including Community-Based Organizations and Communal Peace and Dialogue Committees, which FBA will provide training for on gender mainstreaming in dialogue processes under the year-long agreement.

According to UNDP Iraq Resident Representative Zena Ali-Ahmad, “This new collaboration with Folke Bernadotte Academy will further strengthen our efforts for inclusive and gender sensitive peacebuilding in Iraq through our extensive work with local organizations and peace structures. We are thankful to Folke Bernadotte Academy for this partnership and its contribution to advancing gender equality through our Social Cohesion Programme in Iraq.”

Taleb Sobeh, project manager for Sweden’s strategy for development cooperation with Iraq, from FBA states, “UNDP is a key actor in the promotion of social cohesion and peaceful co-existence in Iraq, and this cooperation enables us to, together with local actors, work for gender equal processes that strategically take the priorities and perspectives of both women and men into account.”

UNDP Iraq has launched in 2020 a dedicated 5-year Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.

For additional information, please contact:

Miriam Pineau, Media & Advocacy Project Specialist | +964 790 110 1982

Also yesterday, US President Joe Biden issued the following statement:

Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, is to continue in effect beyond May 22, 2021.

Obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.  Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 with respect to the stabilization of Iraq.

                               JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

The following sites updated: