Friday, December 18, 2020

Scattered thougts

 Here's Jimmy Dore.

And let me note this:

Breonna Taylor's mother has called on President-elect Joe Biden to open large-scale federal investigations into the death of her daughter and other Black Americans killed by police.

"Actions speak louder than words," Tamika Palmer wrote in a full-page ad in Tuesday's Washington Post. "We need your actions to show that you are different than those who pay lip service to our losses while doing nothing to show that our loved ones' lives mattered."

Taylor, 26, was fatally shot March 13 by Louisville Metro Police officers as they attempted to serve a search warrant at her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of a larger narcotics investigation.


I'm glad Tamika Palmer did that.  People need to be making demands and to be talking about what needs to be done.

Are you ready for the weekend?  For Christmas?  Both are just around the corner.  What I'm ready for is for 2020 to be over.  I just don't see how 2021 could be worse.  Do you?


We need some good news.  We need the pandemic over.

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


 Thursday, Decembet 17, 2020.  So much to cover -- Andrew Cuomo, Jill Biden, Joe and Hunter and Iraq.

A lot to deal with this morning.  First, Jonathan Turley writes:

There remains a blackout on the sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo by most major media outlets. Putting aside the striking lack of interest in comparison to the allegations raised against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the controversy from that confirmation fight could raise difficult questions for Cuomo who not only insisted that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must be believed but demanded that Kavanaugh take a polygraph examination.  It is not clear if Cuomo will now follow his own standard and take a polygraph examination arranged by others.

During the Kavanaugh hearing, various Democratic leaders publicly insisted that “women must be believed” when raising sexual harassment allegations and declared Kavanaugh guilty before either he or Ford actually testified. Senator [Masie] Hirono publicly stated that Kavanaugh was not even entitled to any presumption of innocence. Indeed, Hirono insisted that men needed to “just shut up” and accept the allegations.

The view that “women must be believed” changed the minute that Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault and then refused to allow the review of his papers held under seal at the University of Delaware. Suddenly, figures like Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer insisted that they believed Biden without any review such papers or even speaking with the alleged victim (a former Biden staffer).  Ethics experts like Richard Painter attacked those who suggested that the accuser might be telling the truth as endangering the election.  Others like Rep. Iihan Omar, Linda Hirschman, and Lisa Bloom found an even more startling resolution: they stated that Biden was clearly a rapist, but they would still vote for him.

The allegations raised by former [Cuomo] aide Lindsey Boylan are notably easier to confirm. She stated “Yes, [Cuomo] sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched. I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years.”

These are not allegations that are decades old with few, if any, witnesses.  Boylan worked for the governor’s administration from 2015 to 2018 and says that there were many witnesses. Notably, the Kavanaugh hearing was in 2018.

I was not aware of this until last night when I saw Turley's writing on the topic.  I then posted:

  • ALBANY JUST IN: Cuomo responds to SEXUAL HARASSMENT allegation
  • Andrew Cuomo tipped as attorney-general pick as sexual harassment allegations loom

  • That's a video of him denying the allegations and a video of SKY NEWS reporting on the allegations.  

    This site does not exist to cover for my friends nor do I want to look the other way.  I like Andrew and have found him to be a good person.  But that's my dealings with him.  If Lindsey Boylan had another interaction, she has every right to speak about it.  She is making an allegation and I do support everyone's right to do so.  I have never stated "believe all women" or "believe all survivors."  I do not support that belief.  We are thinking creatures with analytical skills.  

    There are people who have come forward with assault, harassment or rape charges that I have believed and there are ones that I haven't believed.  Unless the accuser makes some crazy statement that harms survivors (like the idiot who said rape was "sexy" while claiming she was raped), I'm not here to tear you down even if I don't believe you.

    I hope the allegations aren't true.  But someone has made the allegation and she deserves to be heard.  

    We started with that so I wouldn't be accused of playing favorites or ignoring a serious topic.  Jill Biden's name has rarely appeared here.  We made it through eight years without noting her once and did so because I know Jill.  I'd like to make it through the next four years without mentioning her.  If we praise her, we have to hold her accountable.  If I don't note her here and there's some issue (as with Andrew above) I have to cover it or be a hypocrite.

    But there are some issues that need to be addressed -- chiefly her role and Hunter Biden.

    Let's start with her role.  She is not "Dr. Jill Biden."  She is First Lady Jill Biden.

    We need to prepare for the day of a First Gentleman.  It will be coming before you know it.  If it is, for example, some spouse of David Petraeus, he will not be "Gen Petraeus."  That's no longer the office he will be occupying.  

    Jill's a smart person.  She doesn't need the "Dr" to prove that.  More to the point, Michelle Obama is smart.  The title of "First Lady" was just fine then.  It was fine with Hillary Clinton.  Both Michelle and Hillary held law degrees and they could practice law.  Despite the massive stupidity of Whoop Goldberg, Jill is not a medical doctor.  She has a phd in education.  Even if she was a medical doctor -- Howard Dean's wife, for example, Judith Dean, once you become First Lady, that is your title.  I was all for Judith going by Dr Dean in the campaign but had Howard been elected president, her medical degree had nothing to do with the office of First Lady and that would have been her title.

    It's an office.  The spouse isn't elected individually but they are part of the election.  Jill walked out on stage after stage -- many more than Joe did after the pandemic struck.  She campaigned for the office.  

    She now holds the office.  Her title is First Lady.  The same title that Michelle held, that Hillary held, that Nancy Reagan, Rosalyn Carter, Betty Ford, Pat Nixon, Laura Bush, etc  have held.  She has a staff now, that we pay for as taxpayers, she has offices in the White House that we also pay for.  We are not paying for "Doctor of Education."  We are paying for First Lady.  If that's not good enough for her or for some of her supporters, they need to examine their own latent sexism and ask why?

    We've addressed this issue before in many ways including noting David Petraeus was not "Gen" when he served as Director of the CIA.  His title then was "Director."  And if that wasn't good enough for him, he shouldn't have accepted the job.  If "First Lady" isn't good enough, then the person should have talked their spouse out of running.

    Hunter Biden.

    If Jill would not comment on anything to do with Hunter other than with regards to him as a child (Jill raised him), I'd be fine with that and she'd be on solid ground.  I don't mean "When Hunter was 12 . . ."  I mean, if she shares the same boring tales that any of us who are parents share about our children, that's fine.  But if she starts injecting herself into the legal aspects -- as she did on the campaign trail -- then reporters could and should press her for comments about his legal situation.

    As First Lady, her role now, I am fine with her avoiding the topic of Hunter's legal mess.  But if she starts getting into that now to defend him or whatever, she is opening the door and it is a valid question for the press to pursue.

    If she wants to wall herself off from that, fine by me.  But she cannot have it both ways.  She cannot attack those raising questions or insist that Hunter is innocent and not respond when the press has questions on this topic.  Better to just wall it off and be consistent.  Better to reply, "I'm happy to talk about seeing him with his latest child and how happy they looked but I'm not going to discuss any legal issues or any allegations."  


    Joe does not have the same luxury.  It is his name that Hunter traded on.  And, so sorry to inform him, but "Dad of Hunter" is no longer his title.  He wanted to be the President of the United States.  His little baby Hunter falls down the list of priorities over the next four years.

    He will not be in the White House to protect Hunter.  If it even appears that he's attempting that, he should be censured (at the very least).  That would be an abuse of the office.

    Hunter.  Yesterday, I saw a video where someone (I'm being kind) wanted to talk about Hunter's latest mess.  And the man felt the need to say (paraphrasing), 'Look, I don't care about this either.  There are more important things to talk about."

    No, they're aren't and that remark was shameful.

    Did the person mean it?  I hope they just said it because of all the attacks if you speak of Hunter and reality.  

    But the guy said it and it needs to be called out (and next time when he says we will name and shame).  Corruption.  That's what we're talking about.  And corruption always needs to be called out.  We noted the idiot -- just like her pill popping mother -- who wanted to whine that Ivanka Trump has done similar things in the last four years.  And we noted this isn't an either/or.  You can call both out.  You can prosecute both.  And you should.

    Hunter's corruption goes back decades.  

    There need to be consequences.

    To say that it doesn't matter?  Oh, okay.  So there are things that matter if it's your average citizen but then if you're the child of a powerful politician, it doesn't?  So we have a two-tier justice system?  

    To say that it doesn't matter?  That's to say that corruption doesn't matter.  I don't agree with that.  I don't support that and I don't believe most Americans do.

    Ending government corruption may not be 'sexy' but many have tried to tackle it -- some have even made it a lifelong pursuit.  And to imply that this is a minor or unimportant or trivial issue is to lie to yourself and to others.  Corruption is wrong.  

    And Joe's mouthed words about the appearance of conflict.  That is the standard for elected officials -- they are to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.  

    If Joe can't do that, he doesn't need to be president.

    And idiots like Chuck Rosenberg going on MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves.  It's not the time?  Then when is the time, you liar?  If anything, it's way past time. 

    And let's be clear that unemployed Americans aren't getting $400,000 or more in corrupt deals.  But we can look the other way for Joe Biden's son?  No.  Especially not while Americans are suffering.

    Here's KDKA's Andy Sheehan reporting on the story.

    In Iraq, things are getting worse.  Another protester assassinated, liquor stores bombed and now, ALJAZEERA reports, a professor assassinated:

    The gunman fled the scene immediately after shooting al-Sharifi at Al-Manara University College, sources said.

    In a statement, IHCHR warned of the return of a “series of assassinations” targeting Iraqi academics and university professors, and called on the government to create legislation to protect them.

    The commission warned that if the state continues to fail to protect them, many revered academics would have no option but to leave the country at a time when Iraq needs to rebuild.

    The gunman fled the scene immediately after shooting al-Sharifi at Al-Manara University College, sources said.

    In a statement, IHCHR warned of the return of a “series of assassinations” targeting Iraqi academics and university professors, and called on the government to create legislation to protect them.

    The commission warned that if the state continues to fail to protect them, many revered academics would have no option but to leave the country at a time when Iraq needs to rebuild.

    The brain drain.  It's taken place in waves throughout the ongoing Iraq War as professors, technocrats, doctors and nurses have been targeted.  Again, while few are noticing, things are getting worse in Iraq.  Don't tell the Kenny Pollards of the world who are too busy pimping for Mustafa al-Kadhimi the way that they once pimped for the illegal war.

    There brain drains elsewhere -- specifically in the mind of the jerk who Tweeted this:

    I am not against women joining military, they are brave and patriotic as any Male soldier. I am concerned about sexual assault, rape by enemy soldiers in case they are captured during war! Even US women soldiers had to face it during iraq & Afghanistan!

    If you were concerned, you'd be informed and you're not.  No "US women soldiers had to face" being assaulted "by enemy soldiers" in Iraq or Afghanistan.  The women in the military who were assaulted, whether it was Suzanne Swift or anyone else, were assaulted by their peers, by US troops.  Excuse me, by their peers or by their superiors -- "command rape" is the term that the ongoing wars has popularized. 

    The reactionaries are always pretend to care but they never care enough to know what they're talking about.

    The following sites updated:

    Thursday, December 17, 2020

    We all owe Jimmy Dore a huge thank you

    Here's Jimmy Dore:

    We should all praise Jimmy.  Not only is he making Medicare For All part of the national dialogue right now, he's also forcing AOC to either admit she's a fraud or start living up to the role she pretends to play.  AOC talks but that's really all she's done.  Time and again, she's been a disappointment.  Words don't matter, AOC, when your votes continue to sell us out to enrich corporations.  

    And her playing footsie with Nancy Pelosi is disgusting and makes clear that she's not really progressive.

    Jimmy's the only one who has bore down on this subject.  He's waking so many people up.

    Branko Marcetic also offers some truth at JACOBIN:

    Is the incoming Joe Biden administration shapes up, it has already, accurately, been described as the Obama administration 2.0. But that’s only half the truth. With many of the Obama-to-Biden picks having cut their teeth a decade earlier, in the Clinton administration of the 1990s, it may be more accurate to describe the next four years as the third coming of Clintonism.

    The prospect of appointing Rahm Emanuel, Bill Clinton’s senior advisor for policy and strategy, continues to persist despite the former Chicago mayor’s appalling record on race, inequality, and so much more. Bruce Reed, president of Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council, continues to wait in the wings for his call-up. And Ron Klain, who served under Clinton in a variety of different roles, has already been picked as Biden’s next chief of staff, to the widespread applause of progressives.

    With all three quite possibly (and one definitely) set to serve under yet another Democratic president, it’s worth going back to where it all began in Bill Clinton’s first term. Thanks to documents available from the Clinton Digital Library and archival collections at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, we can get a glimpse inside the political minds set to drive the next four years of Democratic policy-making.

    The most familiar of the policies all three men worked on was the 1994 crime bill, the harsh, take-no-prisoner legislation (literally, in the case of its death penalty provisions) passed during a years-long frenzy to “convince the public that legislators are tough on criminals,” as the Washington Post put it. The bill, by putting tens of thousands more police on the streets, billions of dollars more into building prisons, encouraging harsher sentencing laws at the state level, and creating a federal “three strikes” sentence, fueled the United States’ current issues with policing and mass incarceration. It also became a major issue in the later presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, whose husband signed it into law, and Joe Biden, who worked with the White House to shepherd it to passage.

    But the damage the bill would wreak on Americans’ lives wasn’t part of its calculus. Its passage, instead, was motivated entirely by politics, electioneering, and fear of the Right, as laid out repeatedly in memos.

    And Dr. Margaret Flowers notes:

    We can’t count on Congress or a Biden-Harris White House to take action to meet our needs. In his most recent article, Chris Hedges calls out the liberal class that called itself “The Resistance” while Trump was in office. Where will that liberal class be in 2021 as the pandemic, recession and right wing violence escalate?

    The liberals and those who are funded by Democratic Party-aligned groups will not demand what is needed unless there is a strong left that exposes them and holds them accountable. In fact, groups like the Poor People’s Campaign have already abandoned support for NIMA and are supporting the totally inadequate Biden-Harris healthcare proposal.

    To win what we need, we must be clear about what we are demanding. The People’s Agenda is a good place to start. And we must take action in our communities to pressure lawmakers at every level, to withhold our support through strikes, boycotts and other actions, to build networks of mutual aid to sustain us through these crises and to create alternative institutions that are founded in equity and democratic participation. This is what revolution looks like.

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

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  The US government destroyed the lives of girls and women in Iraq and the US government has done nothing to repair the damage.

    "Identity politics.'' Some on the left keep hissing that.  You wonder if they have a brain -- one capable of learning and expanding.  No this or that woman brought into Joe Biden's administration is probably not going to do anything for the country just because of gender.  The glass barrier has been broken regarding press secretaries and heads of cabinet -- and Kamala Harris just broke the glass ceiling on the vice president.  That really just leaves the office of president.  And that will be broken at some point.  Conditions for women in the US are not great.  But they are better than in many countries and there are role models -- good ones, not corporate whores -- for young girls throughout the country.  


    The British ambassador in Iraq, Stephen Hickey, visited Najaf on Tuesday and affirmed his country's support for Iraq.

    Hickey visited the holy city at the invitation of al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue, where he delivered a lecture on relations between Iraq and Britain.

    During his visit, Hickey discussed with seniors officials ways to enhance relations between the two countries and assured Iraq of international financial support to conduct the elections next June.

    Speaking during a news conference Hickey said: "I am sure there will be financial support via the United Nations to conduct these elections and it is important that there be monitoring by the United Nations of these elections."

    Stephen Hickey is the UK ambassador to Iraq.  All of UK's ambassadors to Iraq have been men.  Does it matter?  The same is true of the US.

    The US destroyed the rights of women in Iraq.  Iraqi women have had to fight for their rights and did so against the extremists that the US government backed.  Ava and I met with members of Barack Obama's transition team in late November of 2008.  We explained that (a) there are qualified women who can be the ambassador to Iraq -- we provided examples, including Ann Wright but also women who wouldn't be so 'controversial' to centrist Barack.  We explained that (b) women's roles in Iraq had been reduced and that it would be a plus for Iraq if a woman had a powerful role.  We got nods and agreement and, after each meeting, we'd look at each other and say, "They're not going to do a damn thing."  And they didn't.

    Barack did nothing.  Ryan Crocker was in office when Barack was sworn in.  Barack then nominated: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Brett McGurk, Robert S. Beecroft, Stuart E. Jones and Douglas Silliman. All but Brett McGurk was confirmed.  We were lucky to have friends in the Senate, Democrats, who would say hell no to Brett.  What is acceptable in the US doesn't help women in Iraq.  Meaning, his being married and having affairs in Iraq, leaving his wife finally to marry a woman who left her husband?  No, that man could not be an ambassador in the regressive and restrictive Iraq that the US government created.  Any Iraqi woman visiting or working for the US Embassy in Iraq would have a target on her back.  This is a country that has 'honor' killings -- where women are killed for various 'disgraces' -- like being raped, or marrying the 'wrong' man or whatever they've done that has offended the sensibilities of those who would rob women of every right that they have.  These people stood up to Barack and he had to tell Brett that the post just wasn't going to be his.

    But look at that list.  In eight years, he nominated six people and all six were men.  There were, in Barack's mind (Joe Biden's too), no women who could handle the duties of being an ambassador.

    Now in the US, the net effect is that we just realize how stupid and sexist our leaders are.

    But putting a woman in that position could have helped women and girls in Iraq.  In Iraq, that isn't 'identity politics.'  This is about providing a role model, this is about making men who aren't necessarly wanting to interact with women learn that they have to do so.

    It would have made a difference.

    If you're wondering, there were five other US ambassadors to Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.  John Negroponte was the first, next came Zalmay Khalizad and then Ryan Crocker.  Those were under Bully Boy Bush.  We've covered the five Barack got confirmed (and six nominated).  Donald Trump has had two if you count acting ambassador Joey R. Hood.  He was replaced with Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller.

    The US is responsible for the destruction of the rights of women in Iraq.  So is the UK and Australia -- the three main leaders of the illegal war.  Today, Australia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued the following:

    Ambassador to Iraq

    • Media release
    16 December 2020

    Today I announce the appointment of Ms Paula Ganly as Australia’s next Ambassador to Iraq.

    Australia and Iraq have a long history of partnership and cooperation. We stood by Iraq during the Da’esh conflict and continue to work with the Government of Iraq to build a more stable and secure country.

    Together with New Zealand, Australian Defence Force personnel have trained more than 47,000 Iraqi security force personnel since early 2015. We have assisted Iraq’s recovery through our $100 million humanitarian and stabilisation assistance package. Australia’s aid package focuses on assisting vulnerable Iraqis, particularly women, girls and people living with disabilities.

    With more than 67,000 Australians born in Iraq, our personal ties are strong.

    Ms Ganly is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently the Executive Director, Diplomatic Academy. Her career reflects a wealth of experience in diplomatic security, consular policy and ministerial support, having worked in DFAT and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

    She has previously served overseas in London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Prague, Seoul, Dhaka and Caracas.

    I thank outgoing Ambassador Joanne Loundes for her contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Iraq since 2018.

    \She will be Australia's ninth ambassador to Iraq since the start of the illegal war and the second women -- as the release notes, Joanne Loundes is who Ganly is replacing.  Australia has now found two qualified women but the US can't find one.

    UNAMI is the United Nations mission in Iraq.  It is headed by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative.  There have been seven of them since the start of the illegal war.  Only one, the current one, has been a woman.  Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert since November 1, 2018.  

    The US and UK have done nothing to make up for the hell they created for Iraqi women and girls.  Let's remember that just a few years back, the Parliament was trying to pass a law to allow men -- grown men -- to marry girls as young as nine.  Let's remember that they have 'trial marriages' that leave women with a scarlet letter but don't harm the man if the man opts out of the pretend marriage.  

    No woman could ever do worse as US Ambassador to Iraq than Chris Hill.  And certainly, many, many women are immensely qualified for the post.  And whomever is picked -- man or woman -- will only implement policy -- they won't make it.  They might argue for or advocate for something but, in the end, they're just implementing policy.  So why can't it be a woman?

    And why hasn't the US government made a real effort to help women in Iraq.

    Iraq, the land of widows and orphans.  That's thanks to the US-led war.

    Illya Tsukanov (SPUTNIK) reports:

    The United States first used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition against Iraq during the Gulf War of 1990-1991, and then again during the 2003 invasion. According to available estimates, the US contaminated Iraq with at least 2,320 tonnes of the highly toxic substance, with DU affecting both American servicemen and Iraq’s civilian population.

    Baghdad will be filing a case against the United States with European courts over Washington’s use of DU weapons, Iraq’s al-Maalomah News Agency has reported, citing Hatif al-Rikabi, an adviser to the Iraqi parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

    Speaking to the news agency on Sunday, al-Rikabi indicated that he would be filing suits in courts in Sweden and Germany over alleged major US crimes, including the use of depleted uranium munitions.

    That's damage caused by the US government.  There is other damage the US government caused.  MEMO reports:

    Three separate simultaneous bombs targeted liquor stores west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, causing material damages, the Iraqi security media cell said.

    The Iraqi Defence Ministry's Media Cell said in a statement that an unknown group calling itself Ahl Al-Ma'rouf targeted the stores on Monday night using improvised explosive devices or IEDs.

    According to the statement, a fourth bomb attached to a civilian car has exploded in a neighbourhood in western Baghdad, causing material damage.

    Local media circulated a statement issued by the group calling on the security forces deployed in the vicinity of liquor stores and nightclubs to withdraw from the areas ahead of the areas being targeted.

    So three stores are no more.  Probably stores run by Iraqi Christians since they were alcohol stores.  The radical mob is back and ready to terrorize Iraq.  How?  The US didn't just coddle them, it put their people in charge.  Nouri al-Maliki, forever thug and former prime minister.  That was due to the US and he's part of the thuggery (and the corruption).  

    Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) provides context on the latest bombing:

    Six days earlier, Iraqi security forces dismantled an explosive device near a liquor store in the upscale district of al-Mansour, which is located far from the influence of armed groups.

    A group calling itself People of the Good issued a statement on Dec. 14, calling on Iraqi security forces to stay away from liquor shops. "After the number of security forces increased to protect these stores, we call on them to move away from them, because we will continue targeting them until the land of Baghdad is cleared of their filth," the group said.

    People of the Good is one of the unknown groups that appeared recently; it is widely believed to be affiliated with Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah.

    AFP notes, "Over the past two months, at least 14 alcohol shops across the city have been firebombed in the middle of the night or just before dawn, with three simultaneous attacks in different districts Monday night alone."   The climate is not good in Iraq.  DAILY SABAH reports:

    An Iraqi anti-government protester was shot dead in east Baghdad by masked gunmen on Tuesday evening, according to a security source, a medic and an activist network.

    Salah al-Iraqi was well-known for his active role in the rallies that erupted in Iraq's capital and the Shiite-majority south last year, slamming the government as corrupt, inefficient and beholden to neighboring Iran.

    Iraqi was killed in the capital's Baghdad al-Jadida district, according to a medic, a security source and the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), a collection of activists who reported on the protests and their aftermath.

    Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) explains:

    Prior to his death on Tuesday, Al-Iraqi urged the Iraqi people to not sit down and watch injustice. “The free die, while the cowards rule,” he said in a Facebook post

    Social media videos show Al-Iraqi’s coffin being carried by a crowd of mourning and chanting protestors.

    Al-Iraqi is not the first activist involved in the protests to be assassinated.

    Nearly 560 protesters and security force members have been killed since October 2019, according to data provided in July by Hisham Dawoud, advisor to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

    Iraqi security analyst and Rudaw columnist Husham al-Hashimi was assassinated in July by unknown armed groups in Baghdad, with many accusing Iran-backed militias of being behind his death. Despite Kadhimi’s promise to hunt down the killers, no one has been arrested over his death. 

    Two high-profile activists in Basra were brazenly killed in the span of a single week in August. 

    Back to a previous topic, Tahsin Qasim (RUDAW) reports:

    A hundred Shingal (Sinjar) women will become police as part of the recent Erbil-Baghdad security and administration agreement for the disputed area, according to Shingal mayor Mahma Khalil.

    As part of the deal’s new armed force to be created from the local population, Yazidi women in Shingal will serve as police for the first time ever.

    “I have registered my name for the Shingal police force. It has been my dream to hold a gun someday, to defend my country, and become police,” Halaa Jardo, an applicant to the new force.

    Many of those expected to take up the role survived horrors under the Islamic State (ISIS).

    That is good news but the KRG region has always led on this issue.  Both the Barzanis and Talibanis, for example, have had strong women in prominent roles.  Those are the two political dynasties in Iraq.

    Iraq's ceremonial president Barham Salih Tweeted the following a few days ago:

    at Climate Ambition Summit 2020: Iraq is moving into a new, greener era. Iraq will promote renewable energies, reduce carbon emissions and work on the Iraqi response to #ParisAgreement, with focus on role of youth and women in development. #ClimateAction

    He is also a Kurd.  The Kurds have led on this issue and we've noted this.  But where is the US?  Something as simple as naming a woman to be ambassador to Iraq is just too much for our so-called leaders.

    New content at THIRD:

    The following sites updated:

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020

    What they fear the most

    From Sunday, this is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS"Dianne Does Her Duty" went up Sunday.


    From laughter to shocking, Alex Findijs (WSWS) reports:

    At least 117 journalists were arrested in the United States in 2020, setting a new record for arrests of journalists by a significant margin, according to a report released this week by the Freedom of the Press Foundation based on data compiled by the US Press Freedom Tracker. The number is expected to rise as more than a dozen cases are still under investigation.

    From 2017 to 2019, 68 journalists were arrested: 9 in 2019, 11 in 2018 and 48 in 2017. In the week from May 29 to June 4 alone, more arrests of journalists were conducted than in these three years combined.

    The timing of this police rampage against the press is significant.

    Prior to May 29, only two journalists had been arrested. However, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, mass multiracial protests against police violence and racism spread rapidly across the country.

    These protests are believed to be the largest in American history, with an estimated 15–26 million people participating in protests that occurred in 40 percent of American counties.

    Immense social anger erupted, with millions of people taking to the streets to protest not just against Floyd’s murder, but against the whole police apparatus, which has been built up with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and free military equipment, while the budgets of social programs and public education have been gutted year after year.

    Working class people of all races and ethnicities joined together to voice their anger at the epidemic of police murders and violence that has ravaged communities across the country—with approximately 1,000 killing every year—culminating in calls for the defunding and even abolition of police departments across the country.

    The fact that millions of working class people united in a common cause against the police, the agents of capitalist repression and class rule, sparked fear in the ruling class. Both Republican and Democratic politicians moved quickly to brutally repress the protests through violent police crackdowns, terrified that the protests would expand further.

    What's the biggest threat to the ruling class?  An informed citizenry.

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

     Tuesday, December 15, 2020.  Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

    It's over.  Yesterday, the electoral college voted -- as noted in Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S OVER (TELL SIDNEY POWELL)!," Cedric's "Another voting sham cries Sidney Powell!," Ann's "The electoral college conspiracy!" and  Betty's "To the Supreme Court!" -- and Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. 

    Some people had little fits and had to whine that Donald Trump was challenging this or that.  It's the process.  It played out.  There was never a need to panic of have a hissy fit.  Al Gore should have been president in 2000.  Hopefully, the next time  there's a need to challenge, the person will do so and we'll all remember that, in 2020, when Donald exhausted every option, the world did not fall apart.  

    What took place was transparent and the rulings from various courts were clear and concise.  We say how the system was designed to work and it did.  

    Observers, fair ones -- not just Donald supporters, can rightly note that the media didn't play fair in any manner.  Their behavior was embarrassing and shameful.  But the election results are what they are and the process worked. 

    Is Donald still fighting/soldiering on?  At 10:30 pm EST, his campaign was sending everyone -- every e-mail address they had -- an unnamed prize ("weekly impact offer") that you would find about after -- after -- you donated money (a minimum of five dollars).  So it looks like even Donald has accepted the results -- though clearly he's still on the grift.  

    If he doesn't accept them?

    It's over.  The electoral college voted.  Joe Biden could be revealed tomorrow as the Son of Sam who'd kept it hidden all these years.  Joe would be arrested but that wouldn't make Donald president.  Kamala would be next in line.  The electoral college, as set up in the Constitution, is the last chance.  After they vote, that's it.  

    January 20th, Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the next president of the United States. 

    Right now?  Donald Trump remains president.

    His legacy isn't much of note.  He could try to change that in his final days in office.

    Pardoning Ed Snowden would be a major step and it would be something many would praise him for.  Pardoning Ed and Julian Assange both would do a lot to improve his poor image.  

    More likely though, he'll just pull the nonsense Bill Clinton did at the end of his second term when Bill did a lot of executive orders as he was on his way out the door, knowing full well that they weren't laws and that Bully Boy Bush would immediately overturn them.  

    If that's all Donald has to offer, his historical note will be a sad and ugly one.

    He wanted to remove all US troops from Iraq, we're told.  Well we all have wants, it's our actions we're judged by.  Wasn't that Jimmy Carter's point when he confessed to lusting after other women in his heart?  That we all have wants but it is our actions that count?

    He wanted to release all of the JFK files that were supposed to be released. However?  He didn't.  

    He was persecuted and I won't deny that reality.  The press and the DNC and ex-CIA trash worked together to destroy him before he was ever sworn in.  That's reality.  And it's part of his legacy.  Yes, they put up walls.

    But he was the leader and he should have managed to get around those walls.

    His failure to publicly call out James Jeffrey after Jeffrey revealed that he and others intentionally lied to Donald Trump about the number of US troops in Syria after Donald had ordered them to be reduced to a certain number?  That's appalling.  He's exploded on Twitter repeatedly but this was an issue that actually should have had a response.  What Jeffrey was confessing to was treason.  There is no other word for it.  Donald, the president of the United States, in his position of commander-in-chief, gave an order and Jeffrey and others worked behind his back to keep the order from being carried out.  That's treason.  

    Jeffrey can resign in protest and go public.  That's allowed.  But what he did is not allowed.  

    Now maybe Donald is being nice (it could happen) because treason can result in execution.  Maybe he wants to spare Jeffrey and others a trial.  

    I think they should be tried.  Failure to hold them accountable (they can be tried without being executed) sends a message to everyone that you can get away with this.

    This especially effects Joe Biden.

    We all know Joe is in mental decline.  He shouldn't have run for the presidency.  But he did and now he's the president.  Do we really want to say it's okay for people serving in the administration who disagree with Joe's policy to just lie to him and tell him that it's being carried out?  It goes beyond insubordination, it's treason.  And it shouldn't take place regardless of who is president.

    At ALJAZEERA, Zeidon Alkinani writes:

    For more than 17 years since its invasion of Iraq, the United States has failed to present itself as a partner interested in supporting Iraqi efforts for democratic and economic development. It has continued to pursue its military and geopolitical interests at the expense of the Iraqi people, their security and wellbeing.

    This became clear once again at the beginning of this year when, amid a popular uprising against rampant corruption, sectarian politics, political violence, unemployment, and Iranian interference in Iraq, the Trump administration decided to assassinate in Baghdad top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Instead of backing the Iraqi people’s democratic aspirations, Washington once again propped up the dysfunctional political status quo by escalating its confrontation with Iran and in this way, undermining the movement for reform and political change.

    In this context, the fact that US President Donald Trump is pursuing his own narrow political interests in Iraq in the last months of his presidency is hardly surprising to Iraqis. His decision to withdraw more US troops from the country is another attempt to present himself as fulfilling his election promises while setting yet another foreign policy trap for the incoming administration of Joe Biden.

    In his pursuit of disastrous policies in Iraq, however, Trump is no different from his predecessors. And many Iraqis fear that his successor may bring more of the same.

    [. . .]

    Having gone through the same failed policies of three consecutive US presidents since 2003, many Iraqis are cautious about expecting much from the upcoming Biden administration.

    The Iraqi Kurds are probably the most optimistic about his presidency. They hope he could be “America’s most pro-Kurdish president”, given his past statements on Kurdish statehood and ties with Erbil’s leadership.

    Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, who once denounced the US occupation because of their marginalisation on the political scene, are now in favour of a US military presence against the enormous Iranian influence. Biden’s willingness to expand the deployment of US troops will probably be welcomed by Sunni Arab political circles.

    The Shia Arabs are ambivalent at best.  The elites – the majority of whom adopt a pro-Iran discourse – will probably evaluate Biden’s administration based on its approach to de-escalation with Iran. But there are also many among the ordinary Shia population who are frustrated by both Tehran and Washington. They would like to see the Iranian grip on Iraq relax and a strong Iraqi national state emerge, but their bitter experience with Trump during the protests of 2019-2020 has dampened their hopes that the US can be an effective anti-Iran influence.

    Biden himself has a mixed record on Iraq as a senator and vice president. In June 2006, he proposed a soft partition of Iraq to allow for federal autonomy for the Shia Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish communities, which was welcomed by the Kurds, but rejected by many Arabs.

    He continued to promote his plan even amid the war against ISIL (ISIS), calling in a 2014 Washington Post article for “functioning federalism… which would ensure equitable revenue-sharing for all provinces and establish locally rooted security structures”.

    Biden would do well to drop this proposal from his foreign policy objectives in Iraq. Solidifying political divisions between the different communities would encourage more political fragmentation and provide even more ground for the expansion of Iranian influence. A semi-autonomous Shia region would most likely fall completely under the control of Tehran.

    At FOREIGN POLICY, Farhad Alaaldin teams with Kenneth Pollack to argue for international aid to Iraq:

    Iraq is headed for a financial collapse, and in its current fragile state, fiscal ruin is likely to bring down its rickety political system, which could then ignite yet another round of civil war.

    [. . . .]

    Iraq’s coming crisis is a crisis of liquidity. Iraq will need money to prevent the collapse of its financial system, which would be the first domino to fall. If the United States were willing to pledge a significant amount, perhaps $1 billion, it should be possible to put together a larger package of $5 billion to $10 billion for Iraq with other countries chipping in.

    The idea of providing $1 billion in emergency budget support to Iraq may seem impossible at this moment. It shouldn’t. It wouldn’t come out of the pockets of ordinary Americans in the form of increased taxes—and the last 12 years should have taught the United States two important lessons about this part of the world.

    First, what happens in the Middle East does not stay there. And second, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—as Washington’s tragic policies toward Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all demonstrated.

    They also insist on tying the future of Iraq to Mustafa al-Kahdimi -- ignoring the reality that he said he'd be a one term prime minister.  They ignore the fact that more money poured into Iraq doesn't end the corruption.

    They want to pretend that the state has the problems it does because it has so many government workers.  I'm sorry, which ones are getting $100 million pay checks?  Iraq's population isn't even 40 million.  They bring in how many billions a year?  The state payroll is not the problem -- not when it comes to actual workers.  Now that payroll is padded and that needs to stop.

    But quit pretending that the 'corruption' is the system Iraq has (Kenneth is screaming for them to have capitalism and do away with the safety net).  The problem is the various leaders and officials who steal from the public moneys.  

    And more aid isn't going to stop that.

    Transparency International finds, yearly, Iraq to in the top five of the most corrupt countries in the world.  

    As for the shaky government, of course it is.  Mustafa, like every prime minister before him, fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein.  The US and Iran keep putting cowards in charge of the country.  

    Equally true, when the people do vote, what do they see?  In 2010, they watched as Joe Biden overturned their votes with The Erbil Agreement.  But we want them to believe voting matters?  And that they have a say in the system?

    They only have a say in their government if the US and Iran sign off on it.

    Get honest about that.

    This 'crisis' by the way?  It was completely anticipated.  That's why Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the government to refuse the IMF.  He did not see the point in borrowing and certainly not in putting 'austerity' thugs in charge of Iraq.

    Protests continue in Iraq:

    Dhi Qar: Demonstrators continue to arrive at Haboubi Square in the center of Nasiriyah, despite preventing entry to the square by the government forces .
    Quote Tweet
    هيئة علماء المسلمين في العراق
    الهيئة نت| ذي قار: استمرار توافد المتظاهرين إلى ساحة (الحبوبي) وسط مدينة الناصرية، رغم منع القوات الحكومية الدخول للساحة بالقوة. للاشتراك في قناة الهيئة على تطبيق (تيليغرام):

    Murat Sofuoglu (TRT WORLD) explains:

    While protests have occasionally hit the Kurdish region since 2015, the latest demonstrations have been more intense.

    In recent months, many civil servants and their families in Iraq’s Kurdish region have been stuck in a growing political disagreement between Erbil and Baghdad over how the regional government should operate its energy sources, primarily, oil exports.  

    Since April, the Iraqi central government has not paid the salaries of the regional government’s civil servants. This includes Peshmergas, the armed forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), all with the aim to punish the Erbil government’s direct oil exports to other countries without the consent of Baghdad. 

    Most of the protests have been concentrated in the cities of Sulaymaniyah and Halapja, which are located in northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border. In both cities, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the main parties in the Kurdish region, which has long been at loggerheads with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the region’s leading political movement led by Masoud Barzani, has a powerful presence. 

    Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq in March.  Father Rif’at Bader (VATICAN NEWS) explains the whys for the visit:

    Pope Francis goes to Iraq at a time when his predecessors were unable to do so due to the complexities of the pressing conditions that prevailed recently, including wars, sectarian violence, terrorist attacks, and the complexities of the political affairs in that fraternal country.

    Pope John Paul II had an earnest wish to visit Iraq in 1999, but due to the blockade which was imposed on Iraq at the time late President Saddam Hussein postponed the visit that was scheduled that year. Thus, the saint pope made a "spiritual" pilgrimage to this country, on March 12, 2000, in order to start the pilgrimage journey in the year of the great jubilee from the country of Prophet Abraham which was fulfilled with a visit to Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. A year later he walked in the steps of Paul the Apostle to Syria.

    Today, Pope Francis--who always focuses on respect for the poor, the refugees and the immigrants, as well as their right to a safe life-- goes to Iraq where in recent years Christian and Yazidis, especially from the Nineveh Plain and Mosul and from neighboring towns and cities, have been forcibly displaced to countries of the world in the wake of the terrorist acts conducted by ISIS at the time.

    Pope Francis comes to Iraq in the first place to encourage the Christian community in Iraq which has withstood political “turbulences” that took place including foreign wars or in-fighting. There is still a bright and glorious Christian presence despite the dramatic decrease in numbers.

    Consequently, the Pontiff wants to encourage those who are steadfast in the land of their ancestors in spite of the successive disasters especially during his scheduled visit to the city of Erbil, where there are currently good numbers of forcibly displaced people from Mosul and the towns of the Nineveh Plain. His Holiness will also visit Mosul and Qaraqosh township to further encourage the forcibly displaced who live abroad to possibly return to the land of their ancestors and grandparents.

    Pope Francis wants in the second place to promote dialogue and common living  between all the religious components, whether at the ecumenical level between sisterly Churches, or through Islamic-Christian relations. It is well-known that there is not only Christian-Sunni dialogue, but there is also Shiite-Christian dialogue. On the land of Iraq, there is a historical presence of Sabean-Mandeans, Yazidis, Baha'is, as well as  other religions and traditions.

    Furthermore, Pope Francis--who is the man who supports dialogue-- wants to emphasize the feeling, the duty and the responsibility of fraternal common living among the various components of the Iraqi people, under the umbrella of citizenship, especially a few months after he signed an important document called "Fratelli Tutti" or "We are all brothers and sisters."

    Pope Francis will definitely send a message for the pursuit of paths of peace, dialogue, fraternity, cooperation and constructive cooperation among the various politicians in Iraq in order to rebuild a strong modern Iraqi state after years of hard and bitter wars, sectarian squabbles, and attacks by terrorist groups, so as to restore the spirit of hope among all Iraqis, especially the youth, for  a better future.

    The following sites updated: