Wednesday, August 31, 2022

#GreenSocialist Notes #87

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022.  Iraq appears to be headed for another round of elections.

Starting with the US war on Russia.  From DEMOCRACY NOW!:

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, President Biden announced $3 billion in more military aid for Ukraine last week, including money for missiles, artillery rounds and drones to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia.

We begin today’s show looking at U.S. policy on Russia and China. We’re joined by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He’s president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He served as adviser to three U.N. secretaries-general. His latest article is headlined “The West’s False Narrative About Russia and China.”

He begins the article by writing, quote, “The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous,” Jeffrey Sachs writes.

Jeffrey Sachs, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you take it from there?

JEFFREY SACHS: Thank you. Good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the story that people in the West and around the world should understand about what’s happening right now with these conflicts, with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine, and with China?

JEFFREY SACHS: The main point, Amy, is that we are not using diplomacy; we are using weaponry. This sale now announced to Taiwan that you’ve been discussing this morning is just another case in point. This does not make Taiwan safer. This does not make the world safer. It certainly doesn’t make the United States safer.

This goes back a long way. I think it’s useful to start 30 years ago. The Soviet Union ended, and some American leaders got it into their head that there was now what they called the unipolar world, that the U.S. was the sole superpower, and we could run the show. The results have been disastrous. We have had now three decades of militarization of American foreign policy. A new database that Tufts is maintaining has just shown that there have been more than 100 military interventions by the United States since 1991. It’s really unbelievable.

And I have seen, in my own experience over the last 30 years working extensively in Russia, in Central Europe, in China and in other parts of the world, how the U.S. approach is a military-first, and often a military-only, approach. We arm who we want. We call for NATO enlargement, no matter what other countries say may be harmful to their security interests. We brush aside anyone else’s security interests. And when they complain, we ship more armaments to our allies in that region. We go to war when we want, where we want, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq or the covert war against Assad in Syria, which is even today not properly understood by the American people, or the war in Libya. And we say, “We’re peace-loving. What’s wrong with Russia and China? They are so warlike. They’re out to undermine the world.” And we end up in terrible confrontations.

The war in Ukraine — just to finish the introductory view — could have been avoided and should have been avoided through diplomacy. What President Putin of Russia was saying for years was “Do not expand NATO into the Black Sea, not to Ukraine, much less to Georgia,” which if people look on the map, straight across to the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Russia said, “This will surround us. This will jeopardize our security. Let us have diplomacy.” The United States rejected all diplomacy. I tried to contact the White House at the end of 2021 — in fact, I did contact the White House and said there will be war unless the U.S. enters diplomatic talks with President Putin over this question of NATO enlargement. I was told the U.S. will never do that. That is off the table. And it was off the table. Now we have a war that’s extraordinarily dangerous.

And we are taking exactly the same tactics in East Asia that led to the war in Ukraine. We’re organizing alliances, building up weaponry, trash-talking China, having Speaker Pelosi fly to Taiwan, when the Chinese government said, “Please, lower the temperature, lower the tensions.” We say, “No, we do what we want,” and now send more arms. This is a recipe for yet another war. And to my mind, it’s terrifying.

We are at the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, which I’ve studied all my life and I’ve written about, have written a book about the aftermath. We are driving to the precipice, and we are filled with our enthusiasm as we do so. And it’s just unaccountably dangerous and wrongheaded, the whole approach of U.S. foreign policy. And it’s bipartisan.

Meanwhile Elena Evdokimova Tweets:

BTW, "Ukraine was part of the invasion of Iraq, and occupied Iraq, with the NATO for 5 years with 5000 soldiers". They were OK with the concept of invasion and occupation of another country then. Source:


The violence got so much, Iraq's actually getting a bit of attention.  Here's BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR.


  • Amna Nawaz:

    A tense calm has returned in Iraq's capital city after the worst violence there in years. Fighting between rival factions left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.

    Simona Foltyn is in Baghdad and has this report.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    After a night of deadly clashes between Iraq's Shiite factions, a sudden reversal today, as followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone, home to embassies and government institutions in Central Baghdad.

  • Ahmed Ahmed, Protester (through translator):

    As members of Sadrist movement, we follow what our leader orders. The leader asked us to withdraw.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    In a televised address, Sadr ordered his supporters and militia to leave.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr, Iraqi Political Leader (through translator):

    I still believe that my supporters are disciplined and obedient. And if in the next 60 Minutes, they do not withdraw, as well as from Parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    Sadr's call for de-escalation came after weeks of unrest, during which he tried, but ultimately failed to force his will onto his political rivals.

    Moments after he announced his withdrawal from politics on Monday, hundreds of angry supporters stormed the government palace. The protests quickly turned into heavy fighting, and armed wings of Iran-aligned parties who oppose Sadr forcing the cleric to back down.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr (through translator):

    I had hoped for peaceful protests, with pure hearts, hearts filled with love for their country, not ones that resort to gunfire. This saddens the revolution.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    The clashes stoked fears that the country could descend into a fresh cycle of violence.

  • Nour Al-Moussawi, Iraqi Civilian (through translator):

    This dangerous situation and the overtaking of the government's property or storming the highest authority, which is the Republican Palace, will destabilize the economic situation, as well as our daily lives.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    All of this played out against the backdrop of political deadlock. Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in last October's parliamentary elections, but not enough to form a government.

    His refusal to negotiate with Shia rivals has left the government, and the country in limbo. The curfew has now been lifted and life in the Iraqi Capitol is slowly returning to normal, marking the end of Baghdad's bloodiest day in recent years.

    But a dangerous precedent has been set and, for now, the rifts over government formation that sparked the armed clashes remain unresolved. In the absence of a clear path towards a political solution, there's a risk that the two sides may once again resort to settling their scores in the streets.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Baghdad.

  • At THE WASHINGTON POST, Ishaan Tharoor recaps:

    First, there was anger, then protests, then a spasm of violence that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Now, there’s only an uneasy and fragile calm. For the better part of two decades, Baghdad has endured strife, instability and tragedy in equal measure. But the chaos that engulfed the Iraqi capital on Monday night and Tuesday morning marked the deadliest round of violence in years.

    Supporters of prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces and Iran-allied militias in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and stormed the presidential palace. The sound of machine-gun fire and the thud of rocket-propelled grenades rocked the heart of the city. The violence sprawled across the country, with Sadrists attacking the offices of factions linked to Iran in various cities. More than 30 people were killed, with the death toll expected to rise at the time of writing.

    But by Tuesday afternoon, Sadr called on his followers to withdraw and lamented the loss of life. For his supposed restraint, he earned the plaudits of Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has been operating in a caretaker role as Iraqi politicians have failed for almost a year to form a government.


    October 10th, Iraq held elections.  Thanks to Joe Biden who, as US vice president, oversaw The Erbil Agreement in 2010, Iraqis support for elections has weakened.  That's when they voted Nouri al-Maliki out after his first term as prime minister but Joe oversaw the contract that tossed aside the people's votes and gave Nouri a second term he didn't win.  Iraq, under US occupation, has remained one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Many live in poverty while Iraq rakes in billions each year from oil, money that never makes it to the people.  Right now, yet again, cholera outbreark, a regular feature any summer in Iraq.  Potable water, a basic human necessity (as the people in Jackson, Mississippi can attest) is an issue.  Iraq has suffered through a very hot summer with out dependable electricity (something residents of southeast Michigan can currently relate to).  

    The government does not serve the people (which people everywhere can probably relate to).  And so the participation in voting had dipped and decreased.  Iraqis actively sat out the 2021 election with the exception of members of the Shi'ite militias who were disenfranchised.  They long ago became members of the Iraqi security forces -- recognized as such.  At the last minute, Mustafa al-Kadhimi disenfranchised them because they weren't going to vote for him.  All security forces are supposed to vote in the early election.  This is because on actual election day, they have to be dispersed throughout the country to protect polling places.  Mustafa banned the militias -- and only the militias -- from the early voting.  

    Moqtada al-Sadr would benefit from all of this.  His political party did not get the most votes in the election.  His alliance did.  There's a difference.  For months, he tried to form a government and he failed repeatedly.  

    He stamped his feet and threatened to withdraw his members from Parliament.  No one really cared so he made good on this threat.

    Then he started whining the Parliament needed to be dissolved.  It didn't feel that way and he had no voice in it now because his MPs had resigned.  He sent his cult into the Green Zone to occupy the Parliament.  Then he demanded the judiciary dissolve Parliament.

    They said no, they didn't have that power.

    Now the violence has broken out.

    Mustafa, a Sad supporter, is now saying he will resign if violence continues and Barham Salah (a Sadr supporter) is saying early elections might be the answer.

    Might be?

    Might be.

    It's a system where Moqtada doesn't get his way so he stomps his feet and everyone rushes to appease the angry child.

    A new election is very unlikely to give Moqtada what he wants.

    A new election is most likely going to result in Shi'ites who sat out voting last time showing up at the polls this go round.  Which means Moqtada returns to being a small part of Iraq. 

    What happens then?  He stomps his feet and gets another election?


    The following sites updated:


    Tuesday, August 30, 2022

    The CW's new programming?

    Summer 2022 may be remembered for a lot of shifts in the landscape of media, film, and television. With Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness helping to close out Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four in theaters, audiences are looking to the small screen to see what’s taking place in the comfort of their own home. HBO Max has recently provided a lot of fodder for those keeping up with the latest television trends, namely that the streaming platform has practically erased a slew of titles from their catalog this summer. It seems that network television is getting in on some of that action, as The CW looks to the future of its own programming and what changes need to be made before the fall television season begins.

    According to a report by Deadline, The CW is beginning to strengthen its existing programming by adding a new set of series, including those considered procedurals, unscripted television, and old-school half-hour comedies. This is the opposite approach for the types of shows the network usually broadcasted before, which has typically ventured into the teen soap opera and comic book realms. Many of those shows will still be present on The CW for the time being, namely Riverdale, which will be premiering its final season sometime next year. However, it appears that the network is looking towards the future and possibly trying to appeal to an older generation accustomed to legal shows and multi-camera sitcoms.

    Many of these changes at The CW correlate to ownership changes that began this summer. Variety reports that Nexstar Media Group acquired 75% ownership in The CW, making it the majority stake owner of the network. Before this acquisition, The CW announced several television shows on the chopping block, with CharmedDC’s Legends of TomorrowLegaciesRoswell, New Mexico, and In the Dark all getting the boot. The DC and Arrowverse content have been trimmed significantly due to these cancellations, with The Flash being one of the only survivors. The series has been renewed for a ninth and final season.

    So what sort of programming are we going to be seeing?  The only indication right now is that they've signed Rachel Bloom to do The Hat Pin Society.  Who and what?  Rachel created and starred in the very low rated My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series.  It was supposed to be a comedy -- you know, the way Rachel was supposed to have been pretty.

    It's a period drama.  Starring an unattractive, middle-aged woman.  That is different for The CW.  Her awful My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend show averaged .30 viewers a week when it had new episodes. 

    That's what they're bringing back?

    If they had even one brain cell, they'd be trying to bring back Nikita. 

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

    Tuesday, August 30, 2022.  Joe Biden continues to pour billions into his war of choice while Americans suffer and Moqtada's cult pursues more violence.

    Joe Biden does nothing for the American people but he serves the nazi regime in Ukraine.  His war of choice marches on and leaves many dead and drains the US economy.  Clara Weiss (WSWS) reports:

    None of the military efforts by Ukraine, which for years has ranked as the poorest country in Europe, would be possible without the arms and funding from NATO and, above all, the US. Amidst record inflation, Washington has spent some $50 billion on weapons for Ukraine since February alone, while ceasing all COVID-19 relief funding and targeting the last remaining social security for millions of Americans. Last Wednesday, Biden pledged another $3 billion for weapons and ammunitions for at least another three years. 

    Predictably, the Ukrainian military is shamelessly being cheered on by the US media. In a piece that read largely as an advertisement for US weapons manufacturers and the Ukrainian military, the New York Times on Sunday praised the “craftiness” and “engineering ingenuity” of Ukrainian soldiers, who have been finding ways to combine highly sophisticated US weapons with their decades-old Soviet-era tanks and military equipment.  

    The reality behind this US-funded and armed “craftiness” is a horrific blood bath. The US claims that the Russian army has suffered 80,000 casualties. Estimates of Ukrainian casualties are also put in the high tens of thousands. Ukrainian officials themselves admitted in the early summer that they were losing up to 500 men each day. Several weeks and likely thousands of deaths ago, the Washington Post noted in late June that the war in Ukraine was on track of becoming one of the bloodiest in modern history. In addition to the tens of thousands of dead and wounded, over a quarter of the deeply impoverished Ukrainian population of 38 million has been displaced by the war. 

    US imperialism, which has laid waste to entire societies in the Middle East and North Africa, could care less about how many tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Ukrainians and Russians will die in this war.

    Sarah Abdallah Tweets:

    NATO chief admits that NATO allies have been training and arming Ukraine since 2014. Something to remember whenever Western media refers to an "unprovoked" invasion.

    Joe's destroying  lives, the US economy and Europe.  Boaventura de Sousa Santos (INFORMATION CLEAARING HOUSE) explains:


    It is becoming clear that U.S. neoconservatives have succeeded in creating a warmongering, anti-Russian mood in Europe through an unprecedented information war, the consequences of which will take some time to assess. It is, however, possible to identify the signs of what is to come.

    Losers: We do not yet know who will win this war (or if anyone will win it, apart from the arms industry). But we do know who will lose the most: the Ukrainian and European people. Parts of Ukraine are in ruins, millions of people have been displaced, and the euro has fallen; these are signs of defeat. In the seven decades since the destruction caused by World War II, Europe had risen again. Led by high-profile politicians and supported by the United States in its anti-communist crusade, Western Europe managed to establish itself as a region of peace and development (even if, alas, at the expense of colonial and neocolonial violence and appropriation). All it took to put the peace and development at risk was one ghost war: fought in Europe, but not led by Europe, and not even in the interest of Europeans.

    Energy transition: Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is responsible for global warming, remains in the atmosphere for many thousands of years. It is estimated that 40 percent of the CO2 emitted by humans since 1850 remains in the atmosphere, according to a Deutsche Welle report that cited the 2020 international Global Carbon Budget study. So, although China is the largest emitter of CO2 today, the fact is that, if we look at the CO2 emissions data for 1750 to 2019 (from Deutsche Welle’s analysis of Our World in Data figures), Europe was responsible for 32.6 percent of emissions, the U.S. for 25.5 percent, China for 13.7 percent, Africa for 2.8 percent, and South America for 2.6 percent of the total emissions during that period. Given the cumulative emissions debt that Europe has rung up over the course of 269 years, the story of its recent credit toward balancing the global carbon budget by leading the fight for renewable energy in recent decades is a qualified success—it is the least they can do. We may be critical of an energy transition that is underpinned by the ecology of the (mostly European) rich, but at least it was heading in the right direction. The war in Ukraine and the fossil fuel energy crisis it triggered were enough to make all projects related to this energy transition evaporate. Coal has returned from exile, and oil and nuclear energy are being rehabilitated. Why is perpetuating the war more important than advancing the energy transition? What democratic majority has decided to follow in that direction?

    Political spectrum: The approaching economic and social crisis will have an impact on the political spectrum in European countries. On the one hand, it is worth noting that it is the most authoritarian governments (like Hungary and Turkey) and far-right parties that have shown the least enthusiasm for the warmongering, which is encapsulated in the anti-Russian triumphalism that has dominated European politics in recent months. On the other hand, the left-wing parties, with few exceptions, have given up their own (left-wing) position on the war. Some of those parties who had distinguished themselves in the past with their stance against NATO have remained silent in the face of its senseless and dangerous expansion to all continents. When the continuation of the war and the expansion of military budgets begin to cause the impoverishment of families, what will the citizens think in terms of political choices made in the name of protecting them? Will they not be attracted to opt for the parties that have shown the least enthusiasm for the warmongering jingoism that caused their impoverishment?

    Citizen safety: In June 2022, Interpol made public its concern that a large number of the weapons supplied to Ukraine could enter the illegal arms market and end up in the hands of criminals. This situation is all the more serious since some of the equipment provided to Ukraine includes heavy artillery. The experience of what has happened in the past in other theaters of war justifies this concern. For example, much of the war material supplied by the U.S. to Afghanistan ended up in the hands of the Taliban against whom the U.S. army was fighting. The U.S. tragedy of successive massacres caused by armed civilians is well known. What will happen in Europe if the easy accessibility of these weapons leads to them ending up in the wrong hands?

    Normalization of Nazism: Shortly before the war in Ukraine, several intelligence services and security think tanks had been warning about the strong presence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, their military training and equipment, and the way they were being integrated into the regular military forces, which is unprecedented. Understandably, the outbreak of war has put this concern to rest. What is at issue now is whether Nazism can be turned into a nationalist ideology like any other and whether its recurrent attacks on progressive politicians in Ukraine can be converted into patriotic acts. It remains to be seen what impact this will have in Europe, against the background of the growth of the extreme right.

    Joe will spend every last taxpayer dime on Ukraine but he's ending the free testing for COVID in the US.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:

    The Biden administration confirmed Monday that it will “pause” its program to send millions of Americans free rapid antigen test kits through the mail at the end of this week. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made the brief announcement on its website, blaming Congress for failing to provide the necessary funds.

    In addition to an end to postal delivery of free kits, the administration will stop free testing in schools, homeless shelters, shelters for victims of domestic violence and prisons. Children and the poorest and most oppressed sections of the working class will be “flying blind” into conditions of a spreading pandemic with new and likely more infectious and lethal variants of SARS-CoV-2.

    The HHS will conserve the relatively small number of test kits that remain, planning to distribute them in the fall when a new upsurge in COVID-19 infections is expected, agency officials said. In other words, while the number of free test kits goes down to zero, the number of cases of infection will rise significantly.

    Turning to Iraq, John Stauber Tweets:

    2/2- Remember this stupid ass 2011 #PR stunt by re #Iraq?

    What's happening in Iraq?  Don't make the mistake I did.  Alissa J. Rubin is writing some articles for THE NEW YORK TIMES on Iraq.  With that kind of talent who needs old whore Jane Arraf?  Apparently NYT.  Their garbage today is from Jane Arraf -- the woman who lied for years for the Iraqi government so that CNN could stay on the ground in Iraq -- as revealed in Eason Jordan's op-ed for, who else, THE NEW YORK TIMES.  She's never had a scoop in all her decades.  She's never added any depth or insight and she continues that tradition today.

    Moqtada, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, has had another hissy fit and is just not going to participate in the government anymore.  And his cult immediately took to violence, no surprise there, and the government finally responded.

    Finally?  January 6th in the US did not turn into January 7th and January 8th and . . .  But in Iraq, Moqtada's cult was allowed not only to breach the Green Zone -- never happened before -- but they were allowed to invade and occupy the Parliament for days and days.  

    Al-Sadr’s announcement on Monday led to his supporters converging on sites in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, where they stormed the Republican Palace, where the government is based. They also confronted supporters of their rivals, the Iran-backed Coordination Framework Alliance, leading to fighting between the two groups.

    And they offer this timeline:


  • Al-Sadr announced on Twitter his “final withdrawal” from politics and the closure of all political institutions linked to his Sadrist Movement. Al-Sadr has made similar statements before only to walk them back, but analysts have said that his latest announcement may be a bluff or a way to distance himself from any violence.

  • Supporters of al-Sadr, who had been based at a sit-in outside the parliament since late July, pulled down cement barriers outside the Republican Palace and stormed the building.

  • Other supporters approached a counter-protest held by al-Sadr’s Shia rivals, the Iran-backed Coordination Framework Alliance, where both sides threw rocks at each other.

  • Protesters also blocked the entrance to the Umm Qasr port, near the southern city Basra, bringing operations down by 50 percent, according to Reuters.

  • In response to the growing violence, the Iraqi military announced a full curfew in Baghdad, beginning at 3:30pm local time (1230 GMT). A nationwide curfew was declared at 7pm (1600 GMT).

  • Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stopped all cabinet sessions after pro-Sadr protesters stormed the government headquarters.

  • Gunfire and explosions began to be heard on Monday evening in the Green Zone, as reports emerged of al-Sadr supporters being fired upon, and fighters from the pro-Sadr militia, Saraya al-Salam, took to the streets.

  • Late on Monday al-Sadr declares that he will start a hunger strike until violence and the use of weapons stops.

  • Fighting in Baghdad continued through Monday night and into Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning Iraqi security forces said that four rockets had landed in the Green Zone, damaging a residential area.

  • Iran closed its borders with Iraq on Tuesday morning in response to the fighting, and urged its citizens to avoid travel there. Iranian state television also said that all flights to Iraq had been halted.

  • On Tuesday afternoon al-Sadr orders his supporters to leave the Green Zone, including their protest sites, and apologises for the violence. “This is not revolutionary [anymore] because it has lost its peaceful character,” al-Sadr said. Many of his supporters immediately started to leave.

    BBC NEWS notes the obvious, "Iraq's caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a Sadr ally, declared a nationwide curfew after the unrest spread to several other cities."  We've noted for some time that Arabic social media has pointed out the way real protesters were treated by Mustafa -- violence was what he showed them -- but how nothing happened to the cult of Sadr.  

    You can blame yesterday and today on Mustafa whose actions waived it on for weeks now.  It was okay with him.  Iraqis -- including Shi'ites -- were outraged to see Moqtada's goons take over the Parliament and treat it like a crash pad.  But Mustafa didn't send forces into the disperse.  He just let it linger.  He took a hands off approach and, in doing so, his signaled the goons that they could do whatever they wanted.

    That's one more reason his ass needs to be gone.  He has failed Iraq repeatedly and this is just the latest example.

    Moqtada's criticizing his cult now because he realizes that he's legally responsible and that not everyone is going to indugle him the way the prime minister does.  

    AP notes, "At least 30 people have been killed and over 400 wounded, two Iraqi medical officials said. The toll included both al-Sadr loyalists killed in protests the day before and clashes overnight. Those figures are expected to rise, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information to journalists."  Mohammed Tawfeeq, Aqeel Najim and Ivana Kottasová (CNN) add:

    The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has also urged protesters leave governmental buildings and to "allow the government to continue its responsibilities of running the state" for the Iraqi people.
      "State institutions must operate unimpeded in service of the Iraqi people, under all circumstances and at all times. Respect for constitutional order will now prove vital," UNAMI said in a statement released on Monday.
      The US embassy in Baghdad also urged calm, tweeting that "now is the time for dialogue to resolve differences, not through confrontation."
      "The right to peaceful public protest is a fundamental element of all democracies, but demonstrators must also respect the institutions and property of the Iraqi government, which belong to and serve the Iraqi people and should be allowed to function," the embassy added. 

      New content at THIRD:

      The following sites updated: