Thursday, August 25, 2022

Someone tell the judge that life changed in the last 50 years

Graham Elwood wonders if protests help and, if so, who do they help?

Some people should just close their yaps.  Jeanine Pirro is one example.  I know SNL and others make fun of her and I just ignore it -- she's a former judge who has her own program on FOX.  She's entitled to her opinion and I'll disagree and that will be that.  Unless she just doesn't get it.

And she.  Just. Doesn't. Get. It.

She can be against Joe Biden's (tiny) debt forgiveness on student loans if she wants.  That's her right.  

But to be against it because she didn't have to take out student loans?  She didn't have to.  Her parents paid for her to go to college.  She also went to the cheapest university in the state (I'm not putting her down for that) which meant her bill was much lower.  (In fact, their tuition right now in 2022 for a fall semester is what my brother had to pay in the 90s.)  

She is part of the babyboom.  After they depart college, the tuition sky rockets.  You get Bill Clinton supposedly making it easier but he didn't and the tuition continued to sky rocket. It's crazy.

There are all these factors at play.

If she wants to say she's against it, that's fine.  Have your opinion.  But if you're saying you're against it because back in 1972 . . .  Lady, times have changed.  Your data is out of date.  You don't know what you're talking about.  

Again, I don't care that she doesn't support it.  I do care that she's trying to bring up how things were fifty years ago and ignore the shift from higher education to corporate interests.  

I am for student loan forgiveness.  100% forgiveness.  I don't think any paperwork should be signed, I think the government should just assume the debt and write it off.  

It crippled a whole generation -- my older brother's for example.  His wages were garnished (something that did not happen to Pirro's generation for their student debt), he couldn't discharge it by declaring bankruptcy.  Pirro's generation?  They could.  Most didn't though because they just didn't pay it.  And there was no real penalty.  I've got an uncle Jake who is Pirro's age and he brags about how they'd call his parents when he was in his thirties and tell them to have him call and he just blew them off.  It's only in the 90s that people like Joe Biden go after future offenders -- not the ones who are pulling it off right then.  Joe's the reason you can't discharge the student loan debt by declaring bankruptcy.  

Generation X -- which Jake Tapper is a part of and why he made his comments today on CNN about the baby boomers -- faced a different world and entered their post-college world with crippling debt just as Poppy Bush's economy had tanked.  Their loans were sold off here, there and everywhere.  (And, legal tip, if you're being squeezed, tell them you want to see the paperwork.  As with most debt issues, many judges will toss a debt out of court if the person who has purchased the debt can't provide the original paperwork -- with the wet signature.)  And the interest started and just piled up.  They were often denied home ownership as a result of the bills and bills and bills.

Anyway, Betsy DeVos doesn't like Joe's plan and she says it's illegal.  She explains her reasoning.  I disagree with her, however, that's all it is.  She's shown her work and she can support her conclusion.  I disagree.  That's not the end of the world, just another day in a year with 365 of them.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2022.  Monkeypox and COVID 19 continue to spread while Joe Biden stares off into space in yet another senior moment, Moqtada stomps his feet and much more.

Starting with COVID and monkeypox, Hons Jian and Kimie Saito (WSWS) reports:

The number of monkeypox cases in Los Angeles County doubled over the past week, after Los Angeles Unified School District opened with virtually no mitigation measures in place. A total of 7,885 COVID-19 cases were also registered in Los Angeles on August 22.

On the first day of the school year, 50,000 LAUSD students failed to attend classes. While there are number of factors driving high rates of absenteeism, a majority of parents and students are doubtless concerned about walking onto school sites which— for all intents and purposes— have been converted into human petri dishes.

As of Tuesday, LA County recorded 3,200 COVID cases a day. While this number represents a 7 percent decline over the previous week, experts are expected a sharp increase in cases during the fall and winter seasons.

Moreover, monkeypox is rapidly spreading among US children, with cases now reported in North Carolina, New York, Georgia, Oregon, California and other states. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations have been desperate to claim that monkeypox is a disease affecting gay men only, in actuality, the disease affects individuals of all ages and sexual orientations and will have a particularly devastating effect on students at school sites.

In response to these devastating developments, the district, city and county governments in Los Angeles have been running a public relations campaign to suppress the danger of both monkeypox and COVID-19. Each day since their virtual Town Hall meeting on August 11, the LACDPH (Los Angeles County Department of Health) has argued that COVID-19 numbers have been steadily declining, in an effort to prop up the policy of 'living with the virus' established by the Biden administration and the CDC.

On the day of their Town Hall almost two weeks ago, LA County officially reported 15 deaths from COVID-19. The number of deaths for August 23, 2022 was 14. According to figures from the New York Times, the number of deaths for Monday was actually 24. For the same day in 2021, the number of deaths was 19.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been 3,386,161 reported cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, a number which is almost certainly a vast undercount, and a total of 33,041 deaths. All of these deaths would have been entirely preventable had there been a rational policy in place to eliminate and eradicate the disease rather than the decided approach of allowing the virus to spread unchecked, prioritizing profits over lives.

Monkeypox has been around for over 50 years and while there is still much to be learned about the virus, much is also known, including that it spreads through direct contact with infected rashes, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox, touching objects, fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox and contact with respiratory secretions.

Where's the leadership?  

Where's Joe Biden?  He's had COVID twice in recent weeks and now his wife has as well.  So where's the plan?  He wasn't prepared for monkeypox despite warnings.  His answer?  It appears to be a Doris Day song: "Que Sera Sera."

You know, if you think back, when he wanted the office, he had all this talk about what he would do.  Does the press ever stop their whoring long enough to remember that?  For example, this is from the Joe Biden campaign for president in 2020:

The Biden Plan to Combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Prepare for Future Global Health Threats


For more information on Joe’s leadership during the Coronavirus pandemic, please visit here.

For more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the coronavirus, please visit here.

The American people deserve an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. That is why Joe Biden is outlining a plan to mount: 

  • A decisive public health response that ensures the wide availability of free testing; the elimination of all cost barriers to preventive care and treatment for COVID-19; the development of a vaccine; and the full deployment and operation of necessary supplies, personnel, and facilities.
  • A decisive economic response that starts with emergency paid leave for all those affected by the outbreak and gives all necessary help to workers, families, and small businesses that are hit hard by this crisis. Make no mistake: this will require an immediate set of ambitious and progressive economic measures, and further decisive action to address the larger macro-economic shock from this outbreak. 

Biden believes we must spend whatever it takes, without delay, to meet public health needs and deal with the mounting economic consequences. The federal government must act swiftly and aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders and caregivers essential to help us face this challenge, those who are most vulnerable to health and economic impacts, and our broader communities – not to blame others or bail out corporations. 

Public health emergencies require disciplined, trustworthy leadership grounded in science. In a moment of crisis, leadership requires listening to experts and communicating credible information to the American public. We must move boldly, smartly, and swiftly. Biden knows how to mount an effective crisis response and elevate the voices of scientists, public health experts, and first responders. He helped lead the Obama-Biden Administration’s effective response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic. Biden also helped lead the response to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and ran point on implementation of the Recovery Act. He knows how to get relief out the door to families, as well as resources to state and local officials to deal with the challenges they are facing.

And, even as we respond to this crisis, we must prepare for the next one. As President, Biden will establish and manage a permanent, professional, sufficiently resourced public health and first responder system that protects the American people by scaling up biomedical research, deploying rapid testing capacity, ensuring robust nationwide disease surveillance, sustaining a first class public health and first responder workforce, establishing a flexible emergency budgeting authority, and mobilizing the world to ensure greater sustained preparedness for future pandemics. 

Congress has taken a step forward by passing an initial bipartisan emergency plan to combat COVID-19. The Trump Administration must now heed the calls of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to put the health and safety of the American people first. Much more needs to be done, now, to bring our country together, respond to this emergency, and set the groundwork for bold, long-term reforms, including ensuring quality, affordable health care and a comprehensive paid leave program for every American. 

Biden will be ready on Day One of his Administration to protect this country’s health and well-being. But he is not waiting until then to communicate his views on what must be done now to properly serve the American people. Biden believes the following steps must immediately be taken. If Trump does not take them, Biden will on Day One as President.

The Biden Plan calls for:

  • Restoring trust, credibility, and common purpose.
  • Mounting an effective national emergency response that saves lives, protects frontline workers, and minimizes the spread of COVID-19.
  • Eliminating cost barriers for prevention of and care for COVID-19.
  • Pursuing decisive economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy.
  • Rallying the world to confront this crisis while laying the foundation for the future.

Biden understands that this is a dynamic situation. The steps proposed below are a start. As the crisis unfolds, Biden will build on this policy to address new challenges.


Stop the political theater and willful misinformation that has heightened confusion and discrimination. Biden believes we must immediately put scientists and public health leaders front and center in communication with the American people in order to provide regular guidance and deliver timely public health updates, including by immediately establishing daily, expert-led press briefings. This communication is essential to combating the dangerous epidemic of fear, chaos, and stigmatization that can overtake communities faster than the virus. Acts of racism and xenophobia against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community must not be tolerated.

Ensure that public health decisions are made by public health professionals and not politicians, and officials engaged in the response do not fear retribution or public disparagement for performing their jobs.     

Immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was established by the Obama-Biden Administration and eliminated by the Trump Administration in 2018. 


Make Testing Widely Available and Free

Ensure that every person who needs a test can get one – and that testing for those who need it is free. Individuals should also not have to pay anything out of their own pockets for the visit at which the test is ordered, regardless of their immigration status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must draw on advice from outside scientists to clarify the criteria for testing, including consideration of prioritizing first responders and health care workers so they can return to addressing the crisis.

Establish at least ten mobile testing sites and drive-through facilities per state to speed testing and protect health care workers. Starting in large cities and rapidly expanding beyond, the CDC must work with private labs and manufacturers to ensure adequate production capacity, quality control, training, and technical assistance. The number of tests must be in the millions, not the thousands.

Provide a daily public White House report on how many tests have been done by the CDC, state and local health authorities, and private laboratories.

Expand CDC sentinel surveillance programs and other surveillance programs so that we can offer tests not only only to those who ask but also to those who may not know to ask, especially vulnerable populations like nursing home patients and people with underlying medical conditions. This must be done in collaboration with private sector health care entities. 

Task the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help establish a diagnosis code for COVID-19 on an emergency basis so that surveillance can be done using claims data.

Surge Capacity for Prevention, Response, and Treatment

Task all relevant federal agencies to take immediate action to ensure that America’s hospital capacity can meet the growing need, including by:

  • Preparing to stand up multi-hundred-bed temporary hospitals in any city on short notice by deploying existing Federal Medical Stations in the strategic national stockpile and preemptively defining potential locations for their use as needed.
  • Directing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to prepare for potential deployment of military resources, both the active and reserve components, and work with governors to prepare for potential deployment of National Guard resources, to provide medical facility capacity, logistical support, and additional medical personnel if necessary. This includes activating the Medical Reserve Corps, which consists of nearly 200,000 volunteer health care professionals who stand ready to serve across America; training and deploying additional surge capacity, including U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/DOD medical equipment and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Disaster Assistance Medical Teams; and directing and assisting existing hospitals to surge care for 20% more patients than current capacity through flexible staffing, use of telemedicine support, and delaying elective procedures.
  • Instructing the CDC to establish real-time dashboards tracking (1) hospital admissions related to COVID-19, especially for ICUs and emergency departments, in concert with the American Hospital Association and large hospital chains, for which the HHS must ensure data is able to be shared, as needed; and (2) supply chain information – including availability, allocation, and shipping – for essential equipment and personal protective equipment, including in the various places where there may be federal reserves. The strategic national stockpile must be used to supplement any shortages that exist, especially for essential medical supplies, like oxygen, ventilators, and personal protective equipment. 
  • Ensuring that training, materials, and resources reach federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and safety-net hospitals, which are typically resource-poor and care disproportionately for vulnerable populations that will bear the brunt of COVID-19. This effort will lay the foundation for a deeper and more lasting public health infrastructure for accessible national health care for all.

Surge tele-emergency room, tele-ICU care, and telemedicine through a concerted, coordinated effort by health care providers to enable staff to manage additional patients and save beds for the very sick. Leverage existing efforts like Project ECHO to ensure health professionals have tele-mentoring and other training resources they need to make informed decisions.

Support older adults, vulnerable individuals, and people with disabilities. Ensure essential home- and community-based services continue and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid works to provide the waivers necessary for those who rely on medication to have a sufficient supply. 

Protect health care workers, first responders, assisted living staff, and other frontline workers. 

  • Give all frontline workers high-quality and appropriate personal protective equipment – and enough of it and appropriate training to use it – so they don’t become infected. If our health care workers, first responders, and essential workers like transportation and food workers cannot function, we cannot protect and care for the public. The Biden Plan calls for issuing guidance to states and localities to ensure first responders and public health officials are prioritized to receive protective personal equipment and launching an education campaign to inform the general public about equipment that should be reserved for professionals. 
  • Direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep frontline workers safe by issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard that requires health care facilities to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans; increasing the number of OSHA investigators to improve oversight; and working closely with state occupational safety and health agencies and state and local governments, and the unions that represent their employees, to ensure comprehensive protections for frontline workers. 

Ensure first responders, including local fire departments and Emergency Medical Services, can meet the staffing requirements needed to respond and are trained to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19. 

Accelerate the Development of Treatment and Vaccines

Ensure the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are swiftly accelerating the development of rapid diagnostic tests, therapeutics and medicines, and vaccines. NIH must be responsible for the clinical trial networks and work closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on trial approvals.

Ensure the FDA is working with the NIH to prioritize review and authorization for use of COVID-19 countermeasures and strengthen regulatory science at the FDA to make certain it has the needed resources to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new tools.

Provide Timely Information and Medical Advice and Guidance

Work with the CDC and HHS to ensure that health departments and health providers across the country give every person access to an advice line or interactive online advice so they can make an informed decision about whether to seek care or to stay at home. This will preserve the health care system for those who are sick and prevent people who may not need to see a provider from becoming needlessly exposed. Ensure all information provided to the public is accessible to people with disabilities, including through plain language materials and American sign language interpreters. 

Instruct the CDC to provide clear, stepwise guidance and resources about both containment and mitigation for local school districts, health care facilities, higher education and school administrators, and the general public. Right now, there is little clarity for these groups about when to move toward social distancing measures, like cancelling school, mass gatherings, and travel and when to move to tele-work and distance learning models.

Ensure firefighters and other emergency responders are notified if they have been exposed to individuals infected with COVID-19.

Launching Urgent Public Health System Improvements for Now and the Future

Work with businesses to expand production of personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, and additional products such as bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Incentivize greater supplier production of these critically important medically supplies, including committing, if necessary, to large scale volume purchasing and removing all relevant trade barriers to their acquisition.

Task the U.S. Department of Justice with combating price gouging for critical supplies.

Take steps in the aftermath of the crisis to produce American-sourced and manufactured pharmaceutical and medical supply products in order to reduce our dependence on foreign sources that are unreliable in times of crisis. The U.S. government should immediately work with the private sector to map critical health care supplies; identify their points of origin; examine the supply chain process; and create a strategic plan to build redundancies and domestic capacity. The goal is to develop the next generation of biomedical research and manufacturing excellence, bring back U.S. manufacturing of medical products we depend on, and ensure we are not vulnerable to supply chain disruptions, whether from another pandemic, or because of political or trade disputes. 

Establish and fund a U.S. Public Health Service Reserve Corps to activate former Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers to expand medical and public health capacity. By creating the Reserve Corps, we will have a larger team of health professionals to deploy across the nation to help train health care systems in detection and response, educate the public, provide direct patient care as needed, and support the public health infrastructure in communities that are often under-resourced and struggling.

That's not even half of his 'big' plan -- click here to read it in full.

All these plans and all basically in the trash now.  His plan now is maybe you'll get it, maybe you won't, the corporations own my ass and so I'm just going to tell you to go to work and infect everyone.

He's an abject failure.  

And all the money goes where?  To Ukraine.  Clara Weiss (WSWS) reports:

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden pledged an additional $3 billion in weapons to Ukraine, the largest single funding disbursement since the start of the war six months ago. To date, the US has provided more than $50 billion in weapons and other funding to Ukraine, including long-range missile systems, high-end anti-ship missiles, helicopters and other aircraft.

Six months since the start of the war, the message is clear: Far from seeking to end the conflict, the US is doing everything to expand and to prolong its new “forever war” against Russia in Ukraine.

Wednesday’s announcement came after weeks of extraordinary provocations, designed to goad the Kremlin into an expansion of the conflict. Multiple Russian military bases in Crimea were subject to major attacks by Ukraine. On Saturday, Daria Dugina, the daughter of far-right nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, was assassinated in central Moscow. All of these operations bear the imprint “made in Washington.”

With these provocations, the US is seeking to strengthen the forces inside the Russian state apparatus and oligarchy that are calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to retaliate. The aim is to force the Kremlin into a military response that would create the necessary justification for a further escalation of the war.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky reaffirmed that the goal of his country’s involvement in the war is to retake the Crimean Peninsula, declaring, “the war started with Crimea, and it will end in Crimea.”

Zelensky’s statement revealed more than it intended to. Indeed, the war with Russia began not in February 2022 but in February 2014. However, it did not start with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, but rather with the February 2014 coup that was orchestrated and funded by the imperialist powers. The coup provoked not only Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, but also an eight-year-long civil war in which Russian-backed separatists, fighting against the imperialist-armed Ukrainian military, came to control significant portions of East Ukraine.

Above all, the 2014 coup formed the basis for the open transformation of Ukraine into the launching pad for an imperialist war against Russia. In the eight years between February 2014 and February 2022, the imperialist powers spent tens of billions of dollars to train, arm, expand and restructure the Ukrainian army. Neo-Nazi forces in the Ukrainian state apparatus and military were built up and armed as the principal shock troops of imperialism for the war against both Russia and the working class in the region.

I think Josephine Nobody or Ned Never Heard Of Before could win in 2024 just by promising to focus on the needs of the American people and stop sending billions to Ukraine.  There is no real support for this war of choice.  They deployed their whores to pimp this war.  They tried to hijack the Academy Awards (they did hijack the Grammys) to sell this disaster.  It didn't sell.  The American people are not in favor of sending billions of their dollars to Ukraine.  This is the biggest theft of tax dollars.  

Joe Biden isn't fit to be president.  He supported war on Iraq and all these years later US forces remain in Iraq.  Yes, unlike the idiot Tulsi Gabbard, I will call him out on the Iraq War.  And I will never, ever forget her fake ass being exposed in that debate where she was given a chance to call Joe out for the Iraq War and she took a pass.  And then several minutes later, moderator Jake Tapper brought it back to her again to let her have another shot and she took another pass.  Just a fake ass, that's all she is.  

Again, US troops remain in Iraq.  And Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

US troops in Iraq and Syria are on “high alert” for attacks by Iran-backed groups, a senior US commander said on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden authorised military strikes on Tuesday against bases the Defence Department said were being used by Iran-aligned groups to attack the US-led coalition in Syria.

The strikes in oil-rich Deir Ezzor province "targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps".

About six weeks ago, U.S. President Joe Biden boasted in the Washington Post that the Middle East was “more stable and secure” than when he inherited the region from his predecessor, Donald Trump. Among other examples, Biden named Iraq, where rocket attacks against U.S. troops and diplomats had diminished. While he’s correct that fewer Americans have been targeted, this single metric alone is hardly enough to support his claim of stability. By nearly every other measure, Iraq is less stable today than in January 2021—and U.S. interests there more threatened.

It’s a remarkable turn of events. Just 10 months ago, Iraq improbably appeared poised to form a government committed to diminishing the destructive role played by Iran-backed militias and enforcing Iraqi sovereignty against its bigger neighbor. Now, Iran’s political allies in Iraq have the upper hand, the country’s fragile democracy is threatened as never before, and, for the first time in a decade, violence even among Shiite groups is a possibility.

But ten months ago, Iraq held elections.  And all this time later, still no one named prime minister or president.  I am saying this part (and have said since August when the money exchanged hands), not FOREIGN POLICY, the Joe Biden administration paid off Moqtada -- who they were backing -- to cancel his public call for the elections to be boycotted.  Moqtada bloc won the most seats (not enough to form a government) and, month after month, he failed at forming a government despite hype and praise from the US press.  Back to FOREIGN POLICY:

Then the Iran-backed Coordination Framework coalition—Sadr’s Shiite rivals—played their ace card. To prevent Sadr, the Kurds, and Sunnis, who had secured a majority of the seats in parliament, from selecting a prime minister and cabinet, the Iran-backed opposition used their control of the corrupt judiciary to move the goalposts. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that now—for the first time—not just a simple majority but a two-thirds supermajority would be needed to form a government. Unable to reach that threshold, Sadr’s 73 members of parliament resigned en masse in June, and their seats were reallocated to Iran-aligned parties.

Who masterminded this judicial coup? None other than Nouri al-Maliki, who served as premier from 2006 to 2014 and is best known for his prodigious corruption and vicious sectarianism, which in no small part contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. In January 2021, he reportedly narrowly escaped being sanctioned by the Trump administration. As kingmaker, Maliki would once again be pulling the strings.

Sadr and Maliki have been rivals for the mantle of Shiite leadership in Iraq since at least 2008, when government forces led by Maliki attacked and defeated Sadr’s Mahdi Army in the Battle of Basra. Given this history of bad blood, Sadr responded to the Coordination Framework’s July 25 nomination of a Maliki ally—Mohammed Shia al-Sudani—for prime minister by directing his supporters to occupy the parliament and prevent a vote for prime minister, which they duly did. It was as if Sadr had taken a page from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionists in Washington.

What is Joe Biden doing?  Nothing.  Congress keeps sending him letters.  Trying to remind him.  But he's living one senior moment to the next, wondering to himself, "Why did I walk into this room again?"

Ellie Sennett (THE NATIONAL) covers the latest attempt to wake up Joe:

Congress is urging the administration of US President Joe Biden to enhance engagement with Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government over "a range" of ongoing disputes, while condemning Iran's "blatant violations of Iraqi sovereignty".

Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government's escalating disputes over natural resources have threatened Washington's investment in "supporting a stable, sovereign and democratic Iraq free from malign foreign influence", Michael McCaul, Republican leader of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The natural resources dispute has been exacerbated by infighting among Iraq's political parties, which have failed to form a government since elections in October last year.

"Meanwhile, the Iraqi people suffer, lacking a government that represents their interests and unable to reap the full benefits of revenues from Iraq’s oil, gas and other natural resources," Mr McCaul wrote.

Joe reads the letter, stares off into space for a second, looks up and says, "Tapioca.''  Then he wanders off down the hall smacking his lips and wondering where he is?

The deep political deadlock in Iraq has entered its 10th month with no solution in sight and fears there could be a violent escalation.

Why it matters: Many are concerned the political crisis — the longest in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein — will lead to a flare-up of armed conflict on the streets between supporters of the different parties.

  • A civil war in Iraq could lead to a larger conflict in the region with neighboring countries weighing in.

State of play: Iraq held early elections in October 2021 in response to a nationwide, pro-reform protest movement that began in late 2019.

  • Since the vote, a political deadlock, mainly among Shiite parties, has prevented the formation of a new government.

Last October's elections made Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Sadrist movement the largest bloc in Parliament.

  • His rivals — the Coordination Framework grouping of Shiite parties, which includes Iran-backed former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — have thwarted al-Sadr’s efforts to form a coalition government with leading Sunni and Kurdish parties.
  • The Framework, for example, has been able to prevent enough MPs from attending parliament to vote on forming a new government.
  • Al-Sadr has ordered his own MPs to resign and blocked the Framework from nominating its own prime minister.
  • Both camps, which command heavily armed militias, also organized protests in the capital Baghdad in recent weeks.

The stalemate continues, all these months later.  Moqtada stomps his feet and insists that the Parliament dissolve itself.  It says no.  Moqtada stomps his feet and demands the judiciary dissolve the Parliament.  The judiciary says only Parliament has the power to dissolve itself.  Moqtada continues to stomp his feet.  And Iraqis are getting so tired of him, ten months later he's failed to form a government and now he's preventing others from doing so.  They're tired of the fat man and his cult.

With the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court finally resuming its activities after suspending them due to a protest by supporters of controversial cleric and political agitator Muqtada al-Sadr, questions have been raised about the Shia leader’s own credentials after he tried to force Iraq’s highest court to overturn last year’s election result.

With Sadr raising doubts over the legality of the elections he himself had won, there are signs that Iraq’s disparate political forces are manoeuvring to seal a deal that will finally see a government formed 10 months after the vote.

Kurdish groups and Sunni coalitions are moving closer to overtly Iran-sponsored parties in a move that may sideline Sadr and dampen his rising star once again.

Sadr may be marginalised after Supreme Court gambit fails

With feelings of public fury and apathy at the Iraqi political process growing rapidly and in equal measure, there are signs that the players involved in last year’s elections are starting to cut deals that will not only bring about a new government but will also marginalise the election winner.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist-led Sairoun coalition that won last year’s poorly attended vote, may find that he will face significant blowback from the risky gamble he took over the summer to have all his deputies resign their parliamentary seats, effectively ceding them to his erstwhile rivals in the Coordination Framework.

His most recent gambit last Wednesday was to threaten and then blockade the Federal Supreme Court, demanding that Iraq’s most powerful judges issue a ruling to order new elections and to overturn October’s result – which was almost entirely in Sadr’s favour and gifted him more than 50 seats in parliament.

Initially, the Supreme Court announced that it would cease its activities and close its offices as it could not conduct its business while being besieged by Sadrist protesters. However, the Shia leader has now called on his followers to withdraw from Iraq’s highest court, leading to it announcing it is once more open for judicial business.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

HULU and Patrick Martin

So, if you missed it, PEACOCK is pulling NBC programming from HULU..  PEACOCK will be the next day go-to for NBC airing programs.  At the end of the '00s, you could watch HULU for FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC and THE CW.  Those days are going, going gone.  Would you subscribe to PEACOCK to see NBC?  I won't.  There's not enough worth watching on NBC.   I don't care for the Chicago shows or law stories so that's basically their entire programming.  The only thing I've enjoyed on NBC in the last 12 months was THE TRUTH ABOUT PAM.  

HULU used to mean so much to me.  I can remember when it was brand news.  You'd watch something like DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE or Doris Day in CAPRICE.  

Then shows were on like MODERN FAMILY and FRINGE.  I loved both.  MODERN FAMILY I would stream while I ate breakfast on Thursday morning.  FRINGE?  I wouldn't have been a fan if it wasn't for HULU.  I'd stream it on HULU and avoid the gross.  Meaning, I wouldn't see them and could keep watching.  I'd be doing classwork or something on my main screen but having it streaming.  And I'd listen and check out what was going on visually from time to time.  But if I had watched that on a TV, I would have bailed near immediately.  That outbreak on the plane in season one, for example, would have sent me packing.        

I really loved HULU.  For years, it was my go-to.  Then they did that annoying make over and ignored us subscribers when we complained which showed how little they now valued us.  When it started, it was free.  And they wanted your input and used it.  Now?  It's obvious that they don't want our thoughts at all. 

So I use YOUTUBE TV and I really enjoy it.  But when HULU started, it was magical.  NETFLIX wasn't even streaming then.  When they first started streaming, NETFLIX just streamed STARZ -- and it was live.  You were streaming what was on the channel at the time.  (I think there was more than one STARZ channel.)  So HULU was just so incredible.  

I remember the first time I streamed it on a tablet and not my laptop!!!  That was fun.  Back then, the '00s, every thing was a new discovery with HULU.

Changing topics, Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:

Democratic candidates coming from the CIA and military, and Republican candidates espousing openly fascist and racist views won numerous primary contests Tuesday, the last major day of candidate selection for the two capitalist parties before the general election in November.

The further rightward shift by both of the officially recognized parties of the financial aristocracy has been the overriding feature of this year’s election campaign, although it has been largely concealed by the media. Their coverage has instead focused on candidate personalities, the ups and downs in the influence of Republican ex-President Donald Trump and horse race projections of likely outcomes in November.

The August 23 primaries in New York and Florida were no different, with most attention given to the member-on-member contest in New York’s 12th Congressional District between two longtime Democratic Party representatives, Gerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, thrown together by redistricting, and on the outcome of a special election for an open seat in New York’s 19th Congressional District, won narrowly by Democrat Pat Ryan over Republican Marc Maldonado, who had been favored.

The first contest had little significance, although Nadler adopted a slightly more liberal posture than Maloney. He was also far better known through his role as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which handled some of the preliminaries of the first effort to impeach then-President Trump in the fall of 2019.

The second contest was for the Hudson Valley seat left vacant when two-term Representative Antonio Delgado resigned in order to accept the position of New York’s lieutenant governor, chosen by Governor Kathy Hochul to replace her initial choice, Brian Benjamin, who quit in a bribery scandal. Delgado only narrowly won the district in 2018, and given the presumed shift towards the Republicans in the 2022 midterms, the Republican candidate Maldonado was expected to win.

Democrat Pat Ryan, however, won by a 52-48 percent margin in a heavier turnout than usual for a mid-August special election. The result was an indication of the political impact of the Supreme Court’s reactionary decision two months ago in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization to repeal Roe v. Wade.

Ryan focused on the issue of abortion rights, declaring repeatedly that “choice is on the ballot,” one of the main slogans floated by the Democrats for the general election. While abortion is a democratic right of fundamental importance to the working class, the Democratic Party’s professions of devotion to it are duplicitous in the extreme.

Democrats did nothing to strengthen right to abortion

In the 50 years since Roe v. Wade, no Democratic president or Democratic-controlled Congress, including the current ones, has made the slightest effort to strengthen the legal position of abortion rights or push back against state efforts to encroach on it. Rather, the Democrats have themselves collaborated in chipping away at abortion rights, particularly through acceptance of the Hyde Amendment, which bars most federal funding for the medical procedure.

Viewing the special election as a “referendum on Dobbs,” as Ryan put it, allowed the media to ignore a more significant and sinister aspect of Ryan’s own primary contest and of many others, particularly in New York state: the continuing transformation of the Democratic Party into a direct political instrument of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon.

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

Wednesday, August 24 2022.  US President Joe Biden sends more billions of US tax dollars to Ukraine as he continues to make time to persecute Julian Assange, Cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr continues his tantrums, and much more.

Last night, Mike noted:

Joe's done nothing to help us -- by "us," I mean citizens of the United States.  If I meant the nazi regime in Ukraine, well, he's done a great deal for them.

Joe destroyed our country and that's reality.  As C.I. noted repeatedly, the price of milk may or may not go down.  But when Campbell's soup increases its price, it doesn't knock it back down.  So thanks for destroying people's lives, Joe Biden.  People are already dealing with job insecurity and food insecurity and fears over COVID and monkeypox.  Joe's inflation -- while he gives billions to Ukraine -- helped no one in the US.

Americans suffer and Joe sends the taxpayer money to Ukraine.  

The dead but still disgusting Zbigniew Brzezinski, noted coward and hate monger ("Castro's sent exploding cigars that will kill us all! Get that box out of the White House!"), used to brag about how he destroyed the USSR's economy by dragging them into Afghanistan where all their money went for that endless war.  


Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the national securty advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?

B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them . However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war." Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Now it's the US getting trapped.  Thanks, Joe Biden, you blustering fool.

Doing his best to deprive generations of any future, Joe's now sending more money to Ukraine.  Clara Weiss (WSWS) explains:

One day before the six-month anniversary of the imperialist-provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, US officials told the Associated Press that the White House is about to announce another $3 billion in spending to aid and train Ukraine’s military. This comes on top of $10.6 billion in direct military funding provided by the Pentagon since the beginning of the war, as well as over $17 billion for US weapons manufacturing for Ukraine. 

Based on anonymous US officials, the AP reported Tuesday that the new package is intended to provide weapons and ammunitions that may not arrive in Ukraine for a year or two. In other words, it is designed to fund the new “forever war” by US imperialism in Ukraine, which has already killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers and thousands of civilians, while displacing over a fourth of the country’s population. 

Speaking in a similar vain, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on Tuesday, “Winter is coming, and it will be hard, and what we see now is a grinding war of attrition. This is a battle of wills, and a battle of logistics. Therefore we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term.” 

Another three billion in US tax dollars.  When not destroying the US income, President Joe Biden works on destroying the US Constitution as he continues to persecute Julian Assange.  Stella Assange Tweets:

Julian #Assange won the Sydney Peace Foundation's prestigious Gold Medal for his work exposing crimes against humanity committed by our governments in wars we were lied into. The US government wants him in prison for the rest of his life because he exposed US crimes. #FreeAssange

Yesterday, Tariq Ali appeared on DEMOCRACY NOW!.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, before we go, we have 30 seconds, and I wanted to ask you about the situation of Julian Assange. We just did a segment on the Julian Assange lawyers and journalists suing the CIA and Mike Pompeo personally, the former CIA director, for working with a Spanish company in bugging the embassy, videoing, audioing, taking visitors’ computers and phones, downloading them, interfering with client-attorney privilege. Could this stop the extradition of Julian Assange, who faces espionage charges in the United States?

TARIQ ALI: Well, it should, Amy — that’s the first answer — because this has been a political case from the beginning. The fact that senior officials discussed whether to kill Assange or not, and that’s the country to which the British government and judiciary, acting in collusion, are sending him back, claiming this isn’t a political trial, this isn’t a political victimization, it’s deeply shocking.

Well, I hope that this trial brings some more facts forward and some action is taken, because this extradition really should be stopped. We are all trying, but the politicians, by and large, and mainly of both parties — and the Australian new prime minister in the election campaign pledged he’d do something. The minute he becomes prime minister, he just completely caves in to the United States — barely a surprise. But in the meantime, Julian’s health is bad. We are extremely worried about how he’s being treated in prison. He shouldn’t be in prison, even if he is going to be extradited. So, I hope for the best but fear the worst, because one shouldn’t have any illusions about this judiciary.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, historian, activist, filmmaker, author of Uprising in Pakistan: How to Bring Down a Dictatorship. His latest book, Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes.

Around the world people are watching as Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden.   Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death. 

Yesterday, VICE TV posted this video about the Iraq War.

Meanwhile, the political stalemate continues in Iraq.  Cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr continues to fail in public.  He failed for months at forming a government.  Then he threatened to pull his MPs out of the Parliament thinking that would get him his way.  He pulled them, no one cared.  He sent his cult followers into the Parliament to occupy it and demand that the judiciary dissolve the Parliament.  The judiciary responded that they had no power to do such a thing.  So he sent his cult to the judiciary to protest.  How's that working out?

Iraq's security forces will not be dragged into the political conflict the country is facing, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said as the Supreme Judiciary Council resumed work on Wednesday.

Supporters of Moqtada Al Sadr continued to hold their sit-in outside the judiciary's headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, forcing the institution to close and stoking tension between the populist cleric and his rivals, the Co-ordination Framework.

Mr Al Sadr's supporters demanded the dissolution of Parliament and an to end corruption.

Late on Tuesday, the cleric called on his followers to withdraw from the gate of the Supreme Judicial Council. However, they continued with their sit-in, which began on July 30.

On August 10, Mr Al Sadr gave the country's top court a week to dissolve Parliament to end the political standoff. However, the court said it lacked the authority to do so.

The sit-in in front of the judiciary coincided with a move by supporters of the Co-ordination Framework to hold a protest against Mr Al Sadr's followers and call for the formation a new government after the October legislative elections.

They want a transitional government before new elections are held.

The US Embassy in Baghdad expressed concern over the "unrest in Baghdad today at the Supreme Judicial Council" and urged "all parties to remain calm, abstain from violence and resolve any political differences through a peaceful process guided by the Iraqi Constitution.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq also criticized the move against the Judiciary and told protesters that the “state institutions must operate unimpeded in service of the Iraqi people, including the SJC.”

Upon his arrival, Kadhimi met head of the Badr Organization and prominent leader of the Coordination Framework Hadi al-Amiri.

They discussed the prime minister's initiative for national dialogue and how to revive it under the recent escalation.

Following the abovementioned statements and positions by national and international figures and parties, Sadr ordered his followers to withdraw from the Judiciary building; some tents were left behind as a sign of protest against the politicization of the Judiciary.

Soon after, the Judiciary Council said it was returning to its normal work schedule.

The Coordination Framework, which is the rival Shiite group against Sadr, also issued a strong statement calling for the protection of state institutions and rejecting any kind of assault against them.

What raised more concerns, however, was a statement issued by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — which has some some political parties affiliated with the Coordination Framework — accusing the government of not taking responsibility in protecting state institutions and expressing readiness to protect the state.

“As the Popular Mobilization Authority declares its readiness to defend state institutions that guarantee the interests of the people, foremost of which is the judicial and legislative authority, the political system and the constitution, it calls on the caretaker government to take responsibility, and seriously, in protecting the constitutional state institutions,” the statement read.

 Since Moqtada's string of tantrums began a few weeks back, it's been noted repeatedly that The October Revolution protesters were targeted, were beaten, were stalked and were killed.  However, 'caretaker' prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is clearing waving these protests through.  The security forces do nothing over and over.

And this is part of the reason that Iraqi Shi'ites are growing so tired of Moqtada and his antics.  

As has all elements of Iraq.  Gina Lennox Tweets:

Lastly, on Kurdistan and Turkey, Amberin Zaman (AL-MONITOR) reports:

As Turkey escalates its campaign against Kurdish militants in the north of Syria and Iraq and Kurdish politicians within its borders, Masoud Barzani, the preeminent leader of Iraq’s Kurds, recalls a time when Ankara’s policy toward his people was distinctly different.

In the fifth volume of his memoirs published on Aug. 16 and titled “Barzani and the Kurdish Freedom Movement,” Barzani describes how Turgut Ozal, the iconoclastic liberal who governed Turkey first as prime minister and then president from 1983 until his sudden death in 1993, floated the idea of “annexing” Iraqi Kurdistan and the oil-rich province of Kirkuk as well as Mosul, which had been “unjustly” taken from Turkey and made part of Iraq by the League of Nations in 1924. It’s the first time Barzani has publicly shared this information.

Barzani says he was “puzzled” by Ozal’s frankness and decided to raise the matter with the Americans. The Americans said they would get back to him on “this great subject that is worthy of further research” but then never did.

The conversation between Barzani and Ozal took place after the first Persian Gulf War. The United States had kicked the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain out of Kuwait and declared no-fly zones over the Shiite-majority south and the Kurdish-majority north of Iraq while crippling Baghdad with sanctions. US jets shielding the Kurds and the Shiites from further attack would fly out of the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. The first seeds of the American- and Turkish-midwifed Kurdish statelet in Iraq were thus sown.

Today, with thousands of Turkish forces deployed across northern Iraq and Turkish spies sprouting from every corner, a growing number of Iraqis, including their leaders, believe that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan harbors similar ambitions. That’s unlikely.

 We'll wind down with this from The Feminist Majority:

Common Ills, Friday is Women’s Equality Day.

Women’s Equality Day in years past has been a celebration of winning women’s right to vote. But this year does not feel like a celebration. 2022 will be the first time in United States history in which women have had a basic right taken away, that was previously awarded.

Give now to Vote Equality ’22

Let’s face it, the US Supreme Court Dobbs decision reversed Roe v. Wade and took away a basic right to privacy for women and pregnant people to make decisions about whether or not to have an abortion Rather, it gives to states the right to ban legal abortions or severely restrict access to abortions. This decision also threatens future access to contraceptives and same-sex marriages which are currently permitted in all 50 states by US Supreme Court decisions using the right to privacy.

That is why the Feminist Majority is not celebrating but working very hard to help get out the vote to elect a majority in both the House and Senate, that will stand up for women’s rights and gender equality.

With your generous contribution, we can do this. Keep scrolling to read more about our campaign Vote Equality '

-Ellie, Kathy, and all of us fighting for the ERA

New content at THIRD:

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