RUTH SHERLOCK, BYLINE: Videos from the scene of the fire at the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah city in southern Iraq show firefighters silhouetted by the flames that engulfed whole buildings.
MOHSEN SABR OBEID: (Speaking Arabic).
SHERLOCK: Reached by phone, federal civil servant Mohsen Sabr Obeid tells us he lives close to the hospital. So when the fire broke out, he ran down to help. But when he got there, he found the flames were too intense.
OBEID: (Through interpreter) I didn't know what to do. I felt the flames on my face and tried every way to enter the building to save even just one soul, but I couldn't because the fire was so strong and the smoke even stronger. I could hear the screams of people inside, but I couldn't reach them.
The Iraqi government -- created by the US -- is corrupt. That includes the hideous prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Now let's note two Tweets;
First up, Fred:
Bernie should have won.
Then Fiorella Isabel's response:
Oh shut the entire f***k up. He could have if we had fair elections but instead of fighting back he gave in 2X as did most of his supporters, & then decided questioning elections is a right-wing talking point, calling the recent one the most democratic of our time. Piss off!
Agreed. Bernie could have fought but he was a coward. That happened in 2016 and in 2020. Never supporting him again. He turns tail and runs. That's his defining trait. He should have dropped out months before if that's what he was going to do. Elizabeth Warren could have gotten the nomination then. She had support from Barack that Bernie didn't have. She would have been close to Bernie on the positions. He prevented her from winning. He's the reason we have Joe Biden. Could you imagine Warren in 2020 if Bernie dropped out.
They couldn't have pulled that crap with her that they did with Bernie. If they'd tried to force her out, it would have been "No way" from many voters. After the press beating up on Hillary in 2008, people wouldn't have stood for it in 2020. And I bet you anything that Elizabeth, standing against Joe only, wouldn't have pulled back from making a comment like, "I think Tara Reade needs to be allowed to present her case and that Joe Biden needs to release the papers."
I'm saying this in retrospect. I really didn't believe Bernie would whimper out the way he did. I supported him because I honestly thought he'd fight this go round. I won't ever make that mistake with him again.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Death toll in hospital fire continues to rise, Moqtada al-Sadr is mad for reals, and much more.
In Iraq, the people are still reeling from a fire that appears to be caused due to a lack of government oversight and regulation probably due to corruption. Ruth Sherlock (NPR) notes, ''Flames swept through outbuildings of the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiryah on Monday that had been set up to isolate those sick with COVID-19. Patients became trapped inside, with rescue teams struggling to reach them in time." From yesterday's snapshot:
The death toll continues to rise. It was 66 when I started dictating this snapshot a few minutes ago and it's already increased again. Rafid Jaboori Tweets:
And the death toll has continued to rise since yesterday's snapshot. Aqeel Najim and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explain, "The death toll in a fire at a hospital treating coronavirus patients in southeastern Iraq has risen to at least 92, according to health officials." BBC NEWS adds:
Arrest warrants have been issued against 13 people, local media report.
Privately owned news site Shafaq News reports that the list, issued by the Dhi Qar Integrity Investigation Court, includes the province's health chief Saddam Sahib al-Taweel.
PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi earlier ordered the arrest of the head of the hospital, and said the fire was "a deep wound in the conscience of all Iraqis".
Stopping for something else. The Rendon Group. Remember them? They lied and sold the Iraq War. People pay money for their 'help.' They're a bunch of idiots. I say that not just because I am and remain opposed to the Iraq War, I say that because they make themselves a laughingstock. Less than 40 minutes ago, they Tweeted the following:
By this morning it was already 92 at some outlets (others are saying "over 100") and Rendon is Tweeting 50. 50. It was over 60 when I dictated yesterday morning's Iraq snapshot. You'd have to be an idiot to pay them -- sorry, Pentagon.
The previous fire in April resulted in no real change -- obviously. It should have led to inspections on every hospital in Iraq. It should have led to increased oversight. Hospitals should have been forced to install fire sprinkler systems and fire alarms (Neither were at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital.) It should have led to public trials. But nothing really happened and many believe that will be the case again. This frustration is why some family members turned on the police the night of the fire.
Angry residents in the city of Nasireyah torched two police vehicles and demanded accountability for family members who had died in the fire on Monday at the Al-Hussein teaching hospital. Iraq’s president, Barham Salih, claimed that corruption at the hospital, which was ravaged by flames, had also been a factor.
Failures of Iraq’s bloated and often inefficient public sector have often been highlighted by citizens who claim the state delivers little despite reaping huge revenues from oil production. Scenes of flames and smoke belching from the sanctuary of hospitals – twice in three months – have been a particularly visceral symbol of the government’s shortcomings.
Overnight, firefighters and rescuers — many holding flashlights and using blankets to smother small fires — searched through the ward. As dawn broke, bodies covered with sheets could be seen laid out on the ground outside the hospital. Distraught relatives searched for traces of their loved ones amid charred blankets and belongings.
Ali Khalid, 20, a volunteer who dashed to the scene, said he found the bodies of two young girls locked in embrace.
"How terrified they must have been, they died hugging each other," he said.
Khazaal Ghaleem witnessed the blaze.
"The front door was burning and the back door was closed so people couldn't get out. But before the fire broke out, some of them managed to get out and afterwards people were stuck inside and the ceiling fell on them. We managed to take out some people but they were suffering and the rest of them burnt and died. There are families who are still searching for their relatives."
A21 MIDDLE EAST NEWS Tweets:
While some bodies were collected for burial, with mourners weeping and praying over the coffins, the remains of more than 20 badly charred corpses required DNA tests to identify them.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Nasiriya, said that forensic teams have identified around 39 bodies, while dozens others are still under a “recognition process”.
“We met victims’ families here who cannot find their loved ones. Dozens of body parts cannot be easily identified,” Abdelwahed said.
“Another man we met lost five of his family members – three [were] COVID-19 patients and the others were either visitors or those who rushed to try to save their relatives.”
UNICEF's representative in Iraq Sheema Sun Gupta stated:
UNICEF expresses its sincere condolences and extends its sympathy to the victims and families affected by the fire that broke out in the Imam Hussein Teaching Hospital ward for treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Nasiriyah on Monday night.
We acknowledge with sadness the dramatic number of deaths and people wounded.
UNICEF conveys its respect to the families and friends of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
UNICEF will continue supporting the health sector in Iraq and calls for all parties to ensure safety in health facilities, especially during a time in which the COVID-19 pandemic is already causing pain and concern to many families.
One potential fatality not yet noted? Mustafa al-Kadhimi's hope for a second term as prime minister. The do-nothing official has been in office for over a year now (he became prime minister May 7, 2020) and he's done nothing. He was supposed to end corruption, remember? He was supposed to hold early elections, remember? He was supposed to serve one brief term and leave, remember?
None of that happened. Elections are (finally) scheduled to take place -- this October. He's accomplished nothing but photo ops. Photo op with the family of an assassinated activist. No justice for the family. No one goes to prison for the assassination. Hell, they don't even stand trial for carrying out an assassination. He can visit kidnapped activist Ali al-Mikdam when Ali's in the hospital.
He can even claim that Ali was rescued from the kidnappers (see Monday's "") by Iraqi security forces when that isn't what happened. Ali was released by his kidnappers (again, see Monday's snapshot -- and on social media, many are saying Ali was let go when ransom was paid) and Ali walked to a police check point to ask for medical assistance -- walked on his own.
He may very well end up with a second term -- when the US government overturned the results of the 2010 election with The Erbil Agreement, they showed that elections don't matter -- but no incumbent has ever been in a weaker position that Mustafa is in right now. Even Adil Abdul-Mahdi wasn't in that weak of a position when he resigned paving the way for Mustafa to become prime minister.
All of the issues that forced Adil's resignation remain. And many other issues have been added in. Mustafa is an abject failure.
And while his friends in the press (Mustafa spent pre-prime minister years being a journalist) have covered for him and offered excuses (he's only been prime minister for a short time!) or acted as though they'd birthed him (look! babys first photo-op! We're so proud!), the realities are harder and harder to avoid. Especially with regards to the fire. This happened on Mustafa's watch. Not just that, but the April one did as well -- and that was when he was weeks away from one year as prime minister. Now a second fire?
There are no more excuses.
Leave it to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to suss that out. ASHARQ AL_AWSAT reports:
Iraq Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has warned he will hold the Iraqi government responsible if it fails to action over a devastating fire that killed at least 60 people in a COVID isolation unit.
The warning comes just months before Iraq is scheduled to go to the polls in October for an early parliamentary election that was demanded by a protest movement backed by Sadr's supporters.
"It is incumbent on the government to work immediately to firmly and seriously punish those to blame for hospital fires, whether in Nasiriyah or other provinces, no matter their (political) affiliation," Sadr tweeted late Tuesday, AFP reported.
"Otherwise, this government will be held responsible from its lowest to its highest (official)."
The devastating blaze, which swept through the Covid isolation unit of Al-Hussein Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah on Monday evening, was the second such fire in Iraq in three months.
An April fire at a Baghdad Covid hospital killed 82 people and was also blamed on the explosion of badly stored oxygen bottles.
Tubby, rotund Moqtada surfaces for a statement -- guess he's not dead yet? Remember his drama last week about how he was about to be killed? His gift of prophecy is about as strong as his gift of leadership.
So Moqtada says this is unacceptable and must be dealt with. Now. Apparently, when it was just the one hospital in April, he wasn't overly concerned. That's useless Moqtada.
He fails to note that his coalition pretty much dominates the federal government in Iraq at this point. So, grasp, Moqtada is the government.
It's like his laughable stance defending his cult in Sadr City all these years -- 'defending.' Their lives aren't any better. The press has always referred to Sadr City as a "slum." It's where people live so we usually try to avoid that term. But Moqtada's been their leader for how many years now and yet they still live in a slum?
Again, leadership is something he struggles with -- possibly because he got his position because Daddy died and never did a thing to earn it.
Leadership would also require defending Iraq's sovereignty and Mustafa's not up for that either. That's why foreign troops remain on the ground in Iraq. It's why Turkey gets away with bombing the Kurdistan Region, with terrorizing villagers there, with sending ground troops in.
Christos G. Failadis Tweets:
Winding down . . .
Cindy Sheehan is interviewed above. By Tavis Smiley on TAVIS SMILEY. I tried to note that he was running KBLA a few weeks ago but just couldn't find the time. I will put his program link on the side links tonight.
Anyone who wants to waste their time e-mailing to grip (email@example.com) please know your e-mails will not make a difference. I've known Tavis for years. Since he was first on with Tom Joyner. Yes, I know what he was said to have done -- by public broadcasting desperate to not honor his contract. I also know that if he'd actually done what was whispered he would have faced criminal charges. But smear campaigns aren't enough in a criminal court. I do not walk away from Tavis. I've never taken his old link down from our links on the side. Tavis is innocent as far as I'm concerned.
I don't trust smear campaigns. And they carried out one. An 'internal' investigation. But none on ____? When we all know that he harasses and that PBS management is well aware of it having settled out of court -- does the pbulic know that? Do they know that US tax dollars have been used for that?
PBS has a million problems. Tavis was never one of them.