Monday, August 13, 2018

Aretha, Ben & Jerry's crooked ways and more

First up, Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Dianne Explains"

dianne explains

Next up, fake asses Ben and Jerry.  Michael Colby (COUNTERPUNCH) reports:

Worse than looking away, with its implicit acceptance of the exploitation, is the complicit role Vermont’s dairy industry giants are playing to maximize their profits on the backs of this cheap labor. As the state’s near-billion-dollar-a-year ice cream and cheese corporations – Ben & Jerry’s and Cabot Creamery – continue to pay less than the cost of production for its dairy supply, Vermont’s remaining 700-or-so dairy farms are forced to cut costs at every opportunity, particularly when it comes to labor. Gone are the days when these farm jobs were filled by neighbors and community members, as the danger, speed, scale and filth – coupled with poverty-level wages — has made it impossible to attract local workers.
But Ben & Jerry’s took its complicity in the migrant worker exploitation to a whole new level of cruel and delusional recently when, in what can only be called a publicity stunt, corporate officials announced that its “Milk with Dignity” program was successfully addressing the migrant labor problem. At a hastily called press conference just days after the ice cream giant was stung by a consumer deception lawsuit by the Organic Consumer Association, claiming its health and environmental claims were fraudulent, Ben & Jerry’s revved up its public relations machine and, in search of some positive marketing spin, declared themselves to be “succeeding” in addressing the migrant labor issue.
Missing from the event, however, were any actual farmworkers to attest to Ben & Jerry’s cynical spin. The one farmworker who was scheduled to appear did not show up, creating a rather awkward moment when it was announced he “couldn’t get off his milking shift.” Sadly, it was a very believable excuse, as research shows that Vermont’s migrant dairy workers are putting in close to 80 hours a week. There was no similar attendance problem for the six-figure-salaried Ben & Jerry’s executives and their bevy of assistants, who showed up en mass to tell the media just how wonderful things were for the 250 farmworkers in its program, regardless of the fact that not one of them could get time off to be there.
Of course, it’s about more than just getting time off.  There is a very real – and understandable — fear within the migrant community about leaving the farm. Unlike other migrant farmworkers, those laboring in the dairy industry have no rights or legal standing because their work is considered permanent, not seasonal like the work associated with fruit or vegetable production, where farmworkers get temporary H-2 visas.

Now for sad news.  It appears we're about to lose Aretha Franklin.  She's now in hospice care.  She will be sorely missed but right now I'm just wishing her a happy passage to what comes next.  Like Aretha, I believe in God and in an afterlife and I believe she'll be with her beloved father and her sister Carolyn and so many other people she misses.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Astonishingly expensive and strategically incoherent, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.

From C.J. Chivers' "War Without End" (NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE):

In early October, the Afghan war will be 17 years old, a milestone that has loomed with grim inevitability as the fighting has continued without a clear exit strategy across three presidential administrations. With this anniversary, prospective recruits born after the terrorist attacks of 2001 will be old enough to enlist. And Afghanistan is not the sole enduring American campaign. The war in Iraq, which started in 2003, has resumed and continues in a different form over the border in Syria, where the American military also has settled into a string of ground outposts without articulating a plan or schedule for a way out. The United States has at various times declared success in its many campaigns — in late 2001; in the spring of 2003; in 2008; in the short-lived withdrawal from Iraq late in 2011; and in its allies’ recapture more recently of the ruins of Ramadi, Falluja, Mosul and Raqqa from the Islamic State, a terrorist organization, formed in the crucible of occupied Iraq, that did not even exist when the wars to defeat terrorism started. And still the wars grind on, with the conflict in Afghanistan on track to be a destination for American soldiers born after it began.

More than three million Americans have served in uniform in these wars. Nearly 7,000 of them have died. Tens of thousands more have been wounded. More are killed or wounded each year, in smaller numbers but often in dreary circumstances, including the fatal attack in July on Cpl. Joseph Maciel by an Afghan soldier — a member of the very forces that the United States has underwritten, trained and equipped, and yet as a matter of necessity and practice now guards itself against.
On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent these men and women abroad, with their emphasis on military action and their visions of reordering nations and cultures, have not succeeded. It is beyond honest dispute that the wars did not achieve what their organizers promised, no matter the party in power or the generals in command. Astonishingly expensive, strategically incoherent, sold by a shifting slate of senior officers and politicians and editorial-page hawks, the wars have continued in varied forms and under different rationales each and every year since passenger jets struck the World Trade Center in 2001. They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.
As the costs have grown — whether measured by dollars spent, stature lost or blood shed — the wars’ architects and the commentators supporting them have often been ready with optimistic or airbrushed predictions, each pitched to the latest project or newly appointed general’s plan. According to the bullhorns and depending on the year, America’s military campaigns abroad would satisfy justice, displace tyrants, keep violence away from Western soil, spread democracy, foster development, prevent sectarian war, protect populations, reduce corruption, bolster women’s rights, decrease the international heroin trade, check the influence of extreme religious ideology, create Iraqi and Afghan security forces that would be law-abiding and competent and finally build nations that might peacefully stand on their own in a global world, all while discouraging other would-be despots and terrorists.
Aside from displacing tyrants and leading to the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden, none of this turned out as pitched. Prominent successes were short-lived. New thugs rose where old thugs fell. Corruption and lawlessness remain endemic. An uncountable tally of civilians — many times the number of those who perished in the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 — were killed. Others were wounded or driven from their homes, first by American action and then by violent social forces American action helped unleash.
The governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, each of which the United States spent hundreds of billions of dollars to build and support, are fragile, brutal and uncertain. The nations they struggle to rule harbor large contingents of irregular fighters and terrorists who have been hardened and made savvy, trained by the experience of fighting the American military machine. Much of the infrastructure the United States built with its citizens’ treasure and its troops’ labor lies abandoned. Briefly schools or outposts, many are husks, looted and desolate monuments to forgotten plans. Hundreds of thousands of weapons provided to would-be allies have vanished; an innumerable quantity are on markets or in the hands of Washington’s enemies. Billions of dollars spent creating security partners also deputized pedophiles, torturers and thieves. National police or army units that the Pentagon proclaimed essential to their countries’ futures have disbanded. The Islamic State has sponsored or encouraged terrorist attacks across much of the world — exactly the species of crime the global “war on terror” was supposed to prevent.

The first thing to note about Chivers' article is that it continues the conflation of Iraq and 9/11.  There is no link between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks.  This is hard for THE NEW YORK TIMES to admit.  They've falsely promoted that link since before the Iraq War started.  It goes back to at least the November 8, 2001 front page article by Chris Hedges' "A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SCHOOL; Defectors Cite Iraqi Training For Terrorism."

The paper has again changed the link to the 2001 article, by the way.  But they haven't fixed it.  That front page article fell apart long ago.

Jack Fairweather's "Heroes in Error" (MOTHER JONES, March/April 2006) debunked the story:
The impact of the article and the concurrent Frontline show, “Gunning for Saddam,” was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, “I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.” Vanity Fair and the London Observer elaborated on Ghurairy’s claims; another version of the story appeared in the Washington Post courtesy of defector Khodada. The White House included the story of Salman Pak in its “Decade of Deception and Defiance” background paper prepared for President Bush’s September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Along with the tale of Mohammed Atta meeting Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague—another INC-hyped story—Ghurairy’s account helped establish the connection between Saddam and the 9/11 hijackers, making Iraq, like Afghanistan, a legitimate target for Bush’s war on terror.
Unfortunately, the story was an elaborate scam. The purported general had indeed met with American intelligence agents in Turkey, but unbeknownst to Hedges the agents had dismissed his claims out of hand. What the reporters also didn’t know, and what has never before been reported, is that it now appears that the man himself was a fake. According to an ex-INC official, the Ghurairy who met with the Times and PBS was actually a former Iraqi sergeant, then living in Turkey and known by the code name Abu Zainab. The real Lt. General Ghurairy, it seems, had never left Iraq.
They can change the link -- and have repeatedly -- to the original story, but THE NEW YORK TIMES, all these years later, still can't put a note at the top (or the bottom) of the article noting that the story is discredited -- that it was discredited over 12 years ago.
And they can still print new articles that attempt to link Iraq with 9/11.
There is no link.
There has never been a link.
That the obvious has to again be stated, all these years later, goes to the reality that THE NEW YORK TIMES remains the ultimate source of fake news.

Radical idea: any news outlet that supported the 2003 Iraq war based on obviously flimsy & fabricated 'intel', costing America $2 trillion and costing Iraq 500,000 dead, shouldn't ever use the term until they formally apologize for journalistic malpractice.

Have you noticed that promoters of the notorious ‘Iraq has WMDs’ hoax - which led to an illegal invasion & 1m deaths- are the first to sneer at others for being ‘conspiracy theorists’ and peddlers of ‘fake news’? It’s what psychologists call ‘projection’.

'One of the weirdest things about the post-Iraq invasion world is how the mass media has actually gotten *less* accountable instead of *more* accountable for its reporting since that time.' Excellent piece by

After the mass media’s complicity in selling the Iraq invasion to the western world, we should have seen scores of people fired and changes put in place to prevent such unforgivable complicity from ever occurring again. Instead, no changes whatsoever were made to ensure that news media outlets never facilitate another disaster at the hands of secretive government agencies, and now these same outlets are allowed to promote world-shaping narratives on no evidentiary basis beyond “It’s true because we said so.”
There’s a consensus, agreed-upon narrative about what’s going on in the world that is advanced by all mass media outlets regardless of what political sector those outlets market themselves to. Exactly what should be done about individual events and situations might vary a bit from pundit to pundit and outlet to outlet, but the overall “how it is” narrative about what’s happening is the same across the board. This is the official narrative, and the plutocrat-owned media/political class has full control over it. 
Staying with the Chivers story a minute more, let's note this from THE TIMES' Jessica Lustig.

Today’s masterful cover story by documents the 17 years of failed US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told through the story of a soldier who enlisted, like so many, after 9/11. Every citizen should read it:
Could someone ask Jessica Lustig to stop wrapping herself in the flag long enough to grasp that her statements are both laughable and xenophobic -- not to mention anti-immigrant.  In fact, were FOX NEWS to make the same statements, the editorial board of THE NEW YORK TIMES would pounce on the statements as proof of an anti-immigration bias.
Turning to Iraq's election results . . . Last week, the results of the recount were finally announced.  And?

"It's taken nearly three months and as many Iraqis predicted the results remains unchanged."

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr?  His bloc remains in first place.  Third place?  Failed prime minister Hayder al-Abadi.

Yet Hayder's desperate to hang onto the post of prime minister.

Imagine thinking Abadi -who just lost elections badly in Iraq- pledging to be America's puppet if they just keep him in charge somehow, as a expression of the Iraqi people's will.

About the only one wanting Hayder to have a second more than Hayder himself?  The US government.  Barack Obama installed Hayder in 2014.  Even with Barack out of the White House, the US government still backs Hayder.

Iraq developments moving quickly as results for elections confirmed - Haider AlAbadi fighting for his political life,from protests in the south to KRG opposition to clash with Tehran over sanctions compliance.Many from his own party working for his downfall simply 2take his place

statement that Iraq will abide by US Sanctions on Iran, even though he considers them a ‘strategic mistake’, means Tehran will fight even harder to dislodge him. Abadi’s abiding with sanctions means an independent Iraq policy that Tehran regime refuses to accept

Interesting things in today:
US Federal Reserve is pursuing 5 Iraqi banks accused of dealing with Iran
parties discuss postponing local elections to April 2019
Hashd Shaabi withdraw from some of areas in Nineveh
Canadian Ambassador praises humanitarian role of Moqtada Sadr

On Tweets,  US Gen Joseph Votel decides to make a declaration . . .

“It is clear to me that Qasem Soleimani and the IRGC Quds Force is at the heart of an expensive and expansive campaign of malign activity in the region, including in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen.

Those malign and destabilizing activities threaten regional security and stability and are not in the best interest of the Iranian people.” - General Votel

AL ARABIYA explains:

Qasem Soleimani is included in the UN blacklist of Iranian military and political figures because of their connection with the development of a military nuclear program.
Soleimani and the Quds Force are also the subject of unilateral US sanctions, which classifies the Quds Force as an organization that provides assistance to terrorism, and Soleimani personally as a terrorist.

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Dianne Explains" and Kat's "Kat's Korner: Another classis release from The Cowboy Junkies" went up Sunday.