Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Science: Elon Musk, farming

Eric Mack (CNET) reports:


Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and leading orbital travel agent, was feeling a bit slighted by the world's most powerful man after President Joe Biden failed to acknowledge the company's landmark Inspiration4 mission that sent four civilians on a three-day trip in orbit of our planet.
The flight was bankrolled by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who commanded the mission aboard a Crew Dragon capsule, alongside geologist Sian Proctor, data engineer Chris Sembroski and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital employee Hayley Arceneaux. The quartet splashed down safely off the coast of Florida on Saturday.
The mission served as a fundraiser for St. Jude, with over $60 million raised from the public so far. Isaacman also pledged $100 million and Musk added $50 million.


And this is THE NEW YORK POST via FOX NEWS:


One of Musk’s 60 million Twitter followers pointed out that the White House and Biden had yet to comment on the mission, which successfully returned to Earth Saturday evening.
"The President of the United States has refused to even acknowledge the 4 newest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude," user @rhensing wrote. "What’s your theory on why that is?"
"He’s still sleeping," Musk responded Sunday afternoon.
As of Monday morning, the White House had yet to comment on the mission, dubbed "Inspiration4," which marks the first time an all-civilian crew has ever made it to Earth’s orbit.


So what do you think? I saw the headlines and was all ready to slam Musk but that's really not rude, he's just trying to be funny. I do think Musk has gotten to much flattery from the media for some time now. I've been feeling that way since around the time he did his guest spot on THE SIMPSONS, actually. Is he the new Tesla or just a man who tosses money around? That's my question.

From a science figure to climate science, this is from today's NPR's MORNING EDITION:


RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Agriculture is one of the sectors under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. But that can be a tall order for farmers. Researchers, however, may have found a way, and it is all about rocks. Here's Jonathan Ahl of St. Louis Public Radio.
JONATHAN AHL, BYLINE: According to the USDA, agriculture is responsible for more than 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The easiest way to reduce that number might be to increase the amount of carbon farmers put back into the ground and out of the atmosphere. Enter crushed basalt rock. Every two to three years, many farmers apply crushed limestone to their fields to regulate soil acidity and keep crops healthy. But scientists are now running tests in fields around the world to see if using crushed basalt will work as well on the soil while also reducing agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Chris Reinhard teaches earth and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech. He says while all rocks help sequester carbon when they're buried in the soil, basalt does it better than most.
CHRIS REINHARD: For every ton of rock, it turns out, because of the chemistry of the rock, is higher for crushed basalt than it is for limestone.
AHL: And it does work in the lab. Now researchers are testing how that works out in the field.
GAVI WELBEL: So these are all just kind of smaller beds that mostly we grow food. We have a little flower garden over here, some snap peas.
AHL: Gavi Welbel is pointing out the many fenced-in areas of her family's farm in eastern Illinois on this hot and windy day. She and her twin sister run this farm that is largely focused on small-scale agriculture, but they're also gathering information on how successful replacing crushed limestone with crushed basalt can be on big fields of row crops. She says the results they saw in their 12-acre hay field of alfalfa, oats and timothy grass were encouraging.


 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Tuesday, September 21, 2021. US troops leaving Iraq?  Just another wave of Operation Happy Talk, just another wave in an ocean of lies.




Starting with false promises.  The Iraq War has been filled with them.  These included the 'progress' claims -- we dubbed them Operation Happy Talk as far back as 2004 and noted that every claimed "turned corner" just led back to the same spot.  Recently, it became acceptable to note that the American people have been lied to over and over with claims of 'progress' in Afghanistan but they still can't note that reality about Iraq in the corporate press.  


Instead, every insipid claim is treated as reality -- even though the lies are now recycled and should be prompting a sense of deja vu if not outrage.  


A few people have e-mailed the public e-mail account (common_ills@yahoo.com) insisting that we are not covering the big story about US troops leaving Iraq.  Big story? You mean empty garbage?


Because that's what it is.


US troops will leave Iraq, the claim goes, after the elections.  (US President Joe Biden insisted in July that it would by the end of the year.)


That would be?


After.  The. Elections.


Now if you read coverage of the upcoming Iraqi elections where the reporter has spoken with some Iraqis, you will find some talking about their apathy and talking about how promises are made every election cycle and nothing ever changes, some will note that their streets haven't been paved in years, some will note the continued electricity shortages . . .


The US government was selling the claim to the press and it didn't get the traction it needed so Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi has taken to letting the empty words fall out of his mouth.


He is the point of the claim or, rather, his getting a second term.


The US is backing Mustafa for prime minister in the October elections.  The boast/claim (lie) is intended to increase his number of votes.  "Look!  He's getting US troops out of Iraq!  Let's vote fo him!"


He's doing nothing of the sort.  Which is why we haven't wasted a great deal of time on this garbage  But we're not the only ones catching on.  


Yesterday, we noted Dave Phillips's report for THE NEW YORK TIMES


A taut line of soldiers crossed the sprawling Army post’s parade ground in the afternoon, hoisting flags draped with a rainbow of streamers from past deployments: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, France, Civil War battles and even skirmishes with Plains tribes on horseback.

“Present colors!” a sergeant yelled. The soldiers turned and dipped the flags toward their commanding colonel, who stepped forward and carefully wrapped each one in camouflage sleeves.

At that very moment — 1:29 p.m. Mountain time on Aug. 30 — the last U.S. military plane took off from the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

American flags across the country had been lowered to half-staff to honor the 13 U.S. troops killed there by a suicide bomber. And at the front gate of Fort Carson, women set out 13 pairs of boots and 13 cold Bud Lights as a memorial.

But the ceremony on the parade ground was not marking the end of America’s war in Afghanistan. The 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade was wrapping its flags to mark the beginning of its latest deployment. It was going back to Iraq.

Although the mission may have dropped from public attention, the United States still has boots on the ground in the other nation it invaded in the wake of 9/11. About 2,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq now, the embers of what was once a scorching and divisive war, now carefully scattered to protect a few strategic bases. For the next nine months, roughly 2,000 soldiers from 1st Brigade will take over much of that duty.


US troops are not leaving.  


The qualifier?  "Combat troops."  It's a weasel word and one that various generals rejected with regards to the withdrawal of 'combat troops' under then-President Barack Obama.  


Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008 claiming that, if elected, he'd have US troops out of Iraq in ten months.  Check the archives, I'm not in the mood to spoon feed.  Among other things we noted in 2008 about this claim?  Samantha Power getting fired from the campaign because the BBC was about to air her interview where she revealed this wasn't a promise and that Barack would decide what to do after he got elected.


This was when Barack was hammering Hillary over the Iraq War.  That interview could have been very damaging.  Fortunately, Whore John Nichols was present to lie yet again.  When Barack's campaign was reassuring the Canadian government that NAFTA was staying, that talks on trade were just empty words to get votes, along comes Whore John Nichols.  Where does a whore take his wares?  Amy Goodman's DEMOCRACY NOW! of course.  This is where, after all, the conspiracy kooks proclaimed that Wes Clark wasn't really running for the nomination, that it was part of a Clinton conspiracy and that, at the convention, Hillary would be declared the nominee -- even though she wasn't campaigning that year.  They told a lot of lies on that program.


So Whore John Nichols knew to go there for his lie.  He was working on a new story, he explained, it would blow the AP scoop (about Barack and Canada) out of the water.  It wasn't Barack, no, he was as pure as as a teen with a chastity pledge.  It was Hillary!  AP got it wrong, it was Hillary!  And he had sources and his expose would be published shortly!


It was never published because it never existed.  I saw recently that someone -- Katie Halper? -- had John Nichols on.  We didn't highlight that clip.  We don't highlight lying whores.  John also wrote a book about impeaching Bully Boy Bush.  It had just come out when Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment "off the table" should Dems take control of the House in the 2006 elections.   John stopped promoting it.  He's a whore and if you think I'm angry about it, you should talk to the people at the publishing house of that book.  There's no term I could apply to John that they haven't already.


He's a dirty whore.  I have no idea why anyone on the left would want to pretend otherwise and sell him to their audience.


But there was John covering up for Samantha.  While we were talking about the interview, John was saying she was fired, Samantha was fired, for calling Hillary a "monster" -- that's not why she was fired.  And that it was silly because Samantha and Hillary were old friends and -- No.  No, they weren't friends, they weren't acquaintances, Hillary had never spoken to her.  But whores lie and there was John Nichols -- supposedly against the war -- so against it, please remember, that at one point he was blaming Barbra Streisand in print for the war (great column, people at THE NATION) -- distracting from reality.  He never wrote about Samantha's claim.  He's a dirty whore.  And I'm sorry but so are you if you bring him on your program.  We've talked about three examples of his lying and we could go on for two hours and still be on this topic.  That's his record.  Shame on you if you're presenting him as a voice worth listening to.  


(In July, Tom Hayden would lie that he'd just discovered what Samantha had said.  Dam liar.  We spoke face to face in April of 2008 about that when I called him out for pretending to care about Iraq and yet avoiding the news that Barack's promise wasn't a promise at all.  Wally and Ava were present at that encounter -- I think Kat was too.  But on the July 4th weekend, he would pen a column claiming to have just learned of the remarks by Samantha and then lying further by claiming Hillary Clinton's campaign did not draw attention to them.  They did.  It was the press that chose to ignore them.)


So Barack is sworn in as president at the end of January of 2009 and then, in February of the same year, does just what Samantha had told the BBC he would do: Announces that his ten month withdrawal is off, it will be ten months plus ten more months.  


"We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" he had thundered over and over at one campaign stop after another throughout 2007 and 2008 -- apparently he did so only because it was the biggest applause getter.  He staked his whole campaign on the Iraq War -- and the press let him get away with it -- and he hadn't even been in the White House for a full month before he broke the promise and the press was too busy tonguing his nuts to notice.


When the 'withdrawal' finally took place, it was "combat troops."  August 2010, no 'combat' troops in Iraq.  A lie that was called out repeatedly in Congressional hearings, but, hey, the press didn't care, they were too busy covering for Barack.  So when ugly realities were brought in about the 'withdrawal' at the end of 2011 -- of 'all' troops, not just 'combat troops' -- by the late Senator Kay Hagen and others, it was time to distract so they focused instead on nonsense between Senator John McCain and  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, treating it as the ultimate bitchfest and insisting that the two were at each other's throats.  It made for good soap opera if not for good reporting or honesty.  The two were laughing with each other moments after the exchange.


Time and again, the US press failed to tell the truth about Iraq.   


The 2011 withdrawal wasn't.  The DoD called it a "drawdown" because that's what it was.  They called it that before it took place and they called it that after it took place.  


But we've had "combat troops" leaving repeatedly.  Even when Barack got press attention in 2014 for sending US troops back into Iraq (he'd already done that in 2012 as Tim Arango reported though everyone looked the other way), he'd later claim that ''combat troops'' were out.  The US military would disagree when appearing before Congress and they'd note that if you're flying, for example, bombing missions, that's combat.


So with all the above, who's the idiot who's still going to believe that US troops are leaving Iraq because Joe Biden and Mustafa al-Kadhimi say so?


And now we know that approximately 2,000 more are being sent in for a rotation.  If you're not getting it at this point, it's because you are choosing not to get it.  PRESS TV notes, "The United States is deploying around 2,000 troops to Iraq despite an announcement to end the American combat mission in the Arab country, The New York Times reports."

   

Yesterday's snapshot noted Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner calling out Bully Boy Bush in Los Angeles.





THE DAILY SABAH covers Mike's brave action:


A veteran of the United States invasion of Iraq, Mike Prysner, publicly called out former U.S. President George W. Bush, a viral video circulating the internet showed late Monday.

“Mr. Bush, when are you going to apologize for the million Iraqis that are dead because you lied?” he asked.



Moving on to the upcoming elections in Iraq, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the United States of America.  She speaks with KURDISTAN 24 on that topic.



Meanwhile, THE NEW ARAB reports:


Campaign promises by candidates from political parties taking part in the Iraqi elections next month have stirred up fears among the families of thousands of disappeared civilians in Iraq that they will be 'bartering' on the issue of their relatives, as demands mount for the government to take responsibility.

Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been forcibly disappeared - arrested, detained or abducted without their family being informed of their whereabouts or fate - predominantly in the north and west regions of the country during the last decade.

With the pre-election period in Iraq underway, various promises have been made by numerous candidates and those political forces backing them. However, in the provinces of Anbar, Saladin, Diyala, Nineveh, Kirkuk, Babel and the Baghdad belt, candidates have focussed on the issue of the disappeared and promised to attempt to find out what happened to them.


The disappeared.  People have not stopped disappearing in Iraq.  There are secret prisons and torture chambers.  They existed in 'liberated' Iraq under Nouri al-Maliki and they exist under Mustafa al-Kadhimi.  In the last few years, the disappeared have included many activists from The October Revolution.


The The October Revolution  kicked off protests in the fall of 2019 which forced the prime minister to step down and early elections to be announced.  As ARAB WEEKLY notes, "Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds."  This is what forced the resignation of one prime minister and has led to national elections which are supposed to take place October 10th.  (Members of the Iraqi military will vote October 8thTwo election simulations have been carried out by the IEC and the third and final one will take place September 22nd.)    that the candidates for Parliament include 951 women ("close to 30% of the total number of candidates") who are running for the 329 seats.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) has reported Jeanine Hannis-Plasschaert, the Special Representiative in Iraq to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, declared that Iraq's "Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy." 



Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament  BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office.   RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.  The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office."  Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign.  Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq.  Halgurd Sherwani  (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday."  And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online.  THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."

THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003."  Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent  Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities."  Distrust is all around.  Halkawt Aziz  (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians." 


After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister.  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage."  Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group).  ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement."  Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that,  "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."



The following sites updated:





Monday, September 20, 2021

Trees and the climate crisis

From NPR's WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY, here is a report on the benefits of trees:

 
SCOTT SIMON, HOST: It's well known that trees help counter climate change by soaking up carbon dioxide. Now there is a growing body of research to point to many ways a dose of trees can improve our mental and physical health. Here's Martha Bebinger of member station WBUR on how and why.

MARTHA BEBINGER, BYLINE: The tiny sapling Robin Williams planted 30 years ago towers above her Boston home.

ROBIN WILLIAMS: I raised this tree when I raised my children. And look at this (laughter). Look at that.

BEBINGER: She says there's something about being near this tree.

WILLIAMS: It makes everybody a little bit happy around here. When you're looking for strength, you can't do better than looking at a tree.

BEBINGER: And there's evidence Williams may well be gleaning any number of direct or associated health benefits.

HOWARD FRUMKIN: A longer life, better birth outcomes, lower stress levels, lower risk of heart disease...

BEBINGER: Dr. Howard Frumkin is at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

FRUMKIN: ...Lower risk of diabetes, reduced symptoms of ADHD. Proximity to trees is associated with a ridiculously broad range of health benefits. I wish we had pills that were this good for health.

And I noted a study about the youth and the climate crisis last week in "The climate crisis."   NPR's WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY discussed it:

 
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: Storms, floods, wildfires, heat waves - many of us are now being impacted in some way by climate change. And maybe that makes you feel dread, fear - there is a name for that, climate anxiety. Young people are especially vulnerable to this. A forthcoming global study looked at 10,000 young people's attitudes towards climate change. And one of the authors is Caroline Hickman. She specializes in climate psychology at the University of Bath. And she's here to tell us more about what they found. Hello.

CAROLINE HICKMAN: Hello. Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You surveyed 10,000 young people across 10 countries, all of them between the ages of 16 to 25. And you asked them a variety of questions about their feelings and their thoughts about climate change. How would you characterize their answers?

HICKMAN: Well, the short answer is we found these answers quite devastating. We've known from our previous research with children and young people around the world that they were distressed, that they were finding climate change terrifying. What we didn't realize was quite how frightened they were. We didn't realize the depth of the feeling. And we didn't realize how that was impacting on their thinking and their daily functioning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I mean, did it vary country by country? And what were those numbers?

HICKMAN: Yes, there is some variation country by country. And not surprising, countries like India, Nigeria, the Philippines are reporting a much greater impact on their trust in governments and adults to be taking action and much higher levels of distress. But to be honest, the levels of distress across all of the countries were worrying. I mean, across the results, we found things like two-thirds overall were feeling sad, afraid, anxious. And half of young people were telling us they were feeling angry, powerless, helpless, guilty and ashamed. This was not a small percentage of children and young people. Eight out of 10 were telling us people have failed to take care of the planet. Eight out of 10 were saying, the future is frightening, you know? And then some of the worst findings - over half were telling us that they thought humanity was doomed. And 4 out of 10 felt reluctant to have children themselves because of their fears about climate change.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you mentioned that they said that their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily lives. Did they explain how?

HICKMAN: Yes, they did. They said it has a negative impact on eating, sleeping, going to school, studying, working and playing and having fun. I'm afraid there was no area of their life that they said wasn't impacted.


I'm glad the young people care. I wish the people my age and older were as bothered as the young are. I can remember being very frustrated as a young person that we were not doing anything to end the arms race. I really thought a lot of adults were stupid -- and I was right. So to the young people today, if you're thinking a lot of adults are stupid, you are right.

 



"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Monday, September 20, 2021.  A War Criminal roams free in California where a crowd embraces lies and the liar while booing and hissing an Iraq War veteran, in Iraq elections are looming.


In the video below, Richard Medhurst offers reality as he reviews the many lies told to start the Iraq War.  



Remember the realities that Richard Medhurst lists the next time a Condi Rice shows up whoring to claim that Iraq is better off because of the illegal war and the lies told to start it.  Or worse yet, when it's Bully Boy Bush lying today -- he's apparently done hiding under a rock.  A few hypocrites in the center and on the slight-left want to hug him out of fear of Donald Trump and suddenly he thinks the world is welcoming him back.



That's Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner raining reality down on Bully Boy Bush's paid speech yesterday on as The Saban Theater on Wilshire in Beverly Hills.  Tonight, the War Criminal will be heading to The Terrace Theater at 300 E. Ocean Blvd in Long Beach.  


While the series takes place at multiple locations, only Los Angeles and Long Beach were trashy enough to host War Criminal Bully Boy Bush.  Pasadena, Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach took a hard pass on that demonstrating that some still have standards.


There were no standards in Los Angeles as Mike was prevented from noting the friends he lost in Iraq and the Iraqi people who are being killed in the war.  They didn't want truth at the Saban Theater, they wanted lies and that's why they turned out for Bully Boy Bush -- a War Criminal, a known homophobe, a disgusting piece of trash.  And that's who those present elected to side with, not the Iraq War veteran trying to tell truth.


Some are far too invested in lies and hypocrisy to break free from them.


And so US troops continue to be deployed to Iraq.  Dave Phillips (NEW YORK TIMES) reports:


A taut line of soldiers crossed the sprawling Army post’s parade ground in the afternoon, hoisting flags draped with a rainbow of streamers from past deployments: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, France, Civil War battles and even skirmishes with Plains tribes on horseback.

“Present colors!” a sergeant yelled. The soldiers turned and dipped the flags toward their commanding colonel, who stepped forward and carefully wrapped each one in camouflage sleeves.

At that very moment — 1:29 p.m. Mountain time on Aug. 30 — the last U.S. military plane took off from the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

American flags across the country had been lowered to half-staff to honor the 13 U.S. troops killed there by a suicide bomber. And at the front gate of Fort Carson, women set out 13 pairs of boots and 13 cold Bud Lights as a memorial.

But the ceremony on the parade ground was not marking the end of America’s war in Afghanistan. The 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade was wrapping its flags to mark the beginning of its latest deployment. It was going back to Iraq.

Although the mission may have dropped from public attention, the United States still has boots on the ground in the other nation it invaded in the wake of 9/11. About 2,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq now, the embers of what was once a scorching and divisive war, now carefully scattered to protect a few strategic bases. For the next nine months, roughly 2,000 soldiers from 1st Brigade will take over much of that duty.



In other news, THE NEW ARAB oofers an AFP article which examines voter mood ahead of the upcoming national election:


Mohammed, an economics graduate who works in a shop selling olive-, almond and other types of oils, says he feels "the election won't bring change".

At age 30, he keeps postponing the idea of marriage because of the searing economic difficulties.

"Basic services are not provided to me. Why should I go to vote?" he said, as the country suffers daily power cuts.

"The last time roads were paved in my neighbourhood was before 2003," added Mohammed, who like many Iraqis prefers not to give his full name when discussing politics.

In his Baghdad constituency, he said he knows two of the five candidates, but hasn't bothered to check their electoral platforms.

"The political factions have been the same since 2003; the only thing that changes are the faces," he said.

He denounced Iraq's entrenched clientelism, saying "the only people who vote are those who've been promised a job, or people who vote for someone close to them or from their tribe".


The The October Revolution  kicked off protests in the fall of 2019 which forced the prime minister to step down and early elections to be announced.  As ARAB WEEKLY notes, "Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds."  This is what forced the resignation of one prime minister and has led to national elections which are supposed to take place October 10th.  (Members of the Iraqi military will vote October 8thTwo election simulations have been carried out by the IEC and the third and final one will take place September 22nd.)    that the candidates for Parliament include 951 women ("close to 30% of the total number of candidates") who are running for the 329 seats.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) has reported Jeanine Hannis-Plasschaert, the Special Representiative in Iraq to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, declared that Iraq's "Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy." 



Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) counts 3,249 people in all seeking seats in Parliament  BROOKINGS notes this is a huge drop from 2018 when 7,178 candidates ran for office.   RUDAW is among those noting perceived voter apathy, "Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots." Human Rights Watch has identified another factor which may impact voter turnout, "People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.  The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office."  Another obstacle is getting the word out on a campaign.  Political posters are being torn down throughout Iraq.  Halgurd Sherwani  (KURDiSTAN 24) observes, "Under Article 35 of the election law, anyone caught ripping apart or vandalizing an electoral candidate's billboard could be punished with imprisonment for at least a month but no longer than a year, Joumana Ghalad, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told a press conference on Wednesday."  And there's also the battles in getting out word of your campaign online.  THE NEW ARAB reported weeks ago, "Facebook is restricting advertisements for Iraqi political parties and candidates in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections, an official has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site."

THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweeted: of how "chromic mistrust in [the] country's political class" might also lower voter turnout.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) also notes, "Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003."  Mistrust would describe the feelings of some members of The October Revolution.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) notes some of their leaders, at the recent  Opposition Forces Gathering conference announced their intent to boycott the elections because they "lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities."  Distrust is all around.  Halkawt Aziz  (RUDAW) reported on how, " In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians." 


After the election, there will be a scramble for who has dibs on the post of prime minister.  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has 90 candidates in his bloc running for seats in the Parliament and one of those, Hassan Faleh, has insisted to RUDAW, "The position of the next prime minister is the least that the Sadrist movement deserves, and we are certain that we will be the largest and strongest coalition in the next stage."  Others are also claiming the post should go to their bloc such as the al-Fatah Alliance -- the political wing of the Badr Organization (sometimes considered a militia, sometimes considered a terrorist group).  ARAB WEEKLY reported, "Al-Fateh Alliance parliament member Naim Al-Aboudi said that Hadi al-Amiri is a frontrunner to head the next government, a position that can only be held by a Shia, according to Iraq’s power-sharing agreement."  Some also insist the prime minister should be the head of the State of Law bloc, two-time prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters do not agree and have the feeling/consensus that,  "Nouri al-Maliki has reached the age of political menopause and we do not consider him to be our rival because he has lost the luster that he once had so it is time for him to retire."


A new Parliament could mean a new president.  The post is held by a Kurd, a prime minster has to be Shi'ite and the Speaker of Parliament has to be Sunni.  ARAB WEEKLY reports:.


Sources close to Iraqi President Barham Salih say he wants to seek a second term in office.

The sources told The Arab Weekly that it is generally agreed in the region that Salih has discharged the role of president in a balanced manner and has worked hard on rapprochement between Iraq’s neighbours.

They add that Sunni and Shia political forces see him as the most suitable for job. However, the matter will depend ultimately on the Kurdish parties’ agreement on him serving for a second presidential term, after the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for October 10.

The Iraqi president’s Erbil visit on Friday, coincided with his announcement he would like a second presidential term. He noted that much will depend on the outcome of the elections.


The post of President of Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq has had Jalal Talabani as president (2006 to 2014), Fuad Masum (2014 to 2018) and Barham since 2018.  


On The October Revolution, Florian Neuhof (NEWSLINES) reports:


The family house of Ehab al-Wazni lies at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac in a warren of low-slung houses, one of the many nondescript residential blocks that make up the city of Karbala, southwest of Baghdad. The crumbling, sun swept facades bear no resemblance to the elegant, gilded spires of the Imam Hussein shrine at the edge of town, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Dusty and desolate in the sweltering summer heat, the alleyway hints at menace.

Wearing a black abaya and a worried look on her pale face, Ehab’s mother Samira keeps a watchful eye on the TV in the corner of the living room. Security cameras project onto its screen, picking up any movement outside. Their reach falls just short of the spot where her son was shot on May 8, felled by two bullets to the chest, three to the head.

Ehab had been one of Iraq’s most prominent political activists. In October 2019, a wave of protests had swept the country, fueled by anger at government corruption and failure to provide basic services or jobs.

Radiating from Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, the protests came to be known by the Arabic word for October: Tishreen. It was the young who took to the streets. With around 700,000 people entering the job market each year, at least 1 in 4 young Iraqis are unemployed. But the discontent went beyond economic grievances. A generation that had grown up with sectarian conflict after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion had wearied of rule of law being trumped by the rule of the gun. They were fed up with the outsized role of sectarianism in society and politics, and theocratic Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.

In Karbala and beyond, Ehab had fanned the flames of dissent by spending countless hours on the streets and on social media.

“Ehab was the engine of the protests. He was trying to unify the movement. He encouraged protests all over Iraq,” his brother Ali al-Wazni said.

Ehab’s murder was only one of a tragic and unbroken string of killings. As the largely peaceful demonstrations spread throughout the country, the protesters were met with a hail of bullets and teargas canisters. At least 700 perished at the hands of police and shadowy militia groups over the past two years.

There is little doubt among the protesters that the militias are behind Ehab’s murder. Formed in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the militias grew as a Shiite insurgent force and engaged in a brutal civil war with Sunni extremist groups. They consolidated their position during the war on the Islamic State group, when they were crucial in defeating the terror group. Many have deep ties to Iran and have formed their own political parties. Woven into the fabric of power, the militias have an interest in propping up the system. More powerful than the state itself, they are a law unto themselves and have few consequences to fear.



Thursday, September 16, 2021

Diana Ross

Breaking from science for this post. Longterm readers know this most likely means one thing: Diana Ross. And you are right. VULTURE notes:


First the hologram, now this? Nearly three decades after The Bodyguard was released in theaters and became a cultural phenomenon with stars Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner (and, of course, the third star known as the soundtrack), the film is being remade with a script from Tony-nominated playwright Matthew López. Variety reports that López, best known for writing Broadway’s The Inheritance, has been hired to pen a “reimagining” of the romantic drama set in the present day. While Variety states that nobody is attached in the two leading roles yet, “combos from Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to Channing Tatum and Cardi B have been floated.” Free idea: Mix it up and do a gender-swap with Donald Fagen and Kate Winslet.

And HUFFINGTON POST notes that people are losing their heads on Twitter over "Whitney's movie" been remade.


Whitney's movie?

I guess that let's racist Sue Mengers off the hook, right? They want to make a film about that racist and make her a hero. For those who don't know, Sue didn't like African-American actors and actresses. She worked overtime to destroy their careers. Diana Ross was a popular target, for example. Sue stole THE MAIN EVENT for her pet Barbra Streisand. She steered Diana away from other projects or bad mouthed her to keep her from getting real offers. There's a reason Diana's three theatrical films were all made by MOTOWN and Berry Gordy.

THE BOYDGUARD was supposed to be a film starring Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross. Ryan had a hissy fit after he broke up with Diana saying mean things about her. It's cute how his manager (Sue) talks Diana out of doing the film and he only rages at Diana. But his film career was ending by then and he danced for

Kevin's the one who found the script and he's the one who had faith in Whitney. If he's upset by the remake, I care about that. But right now, at this moment, how about we make it a teachable moment of how Barbra Streisand's racist manager worked overtime to go after all African-American artists and especially went after Diana Ross whom Barbra was threatened by going back to the 60s. She had a fit when she found out that the Supremes were recording the songs from FUNNY GIRL She couldn't stand the fact that Diana had all the hits she did -- Diana is in THE GUINESS BOOK OF RECORDS for most charting songs in the 20th century.



In October 1993, Diana Ross was inducted in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, as " THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF ALL TIME " in history, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 150 hits , singles and albums ,with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. Ross has sold, certified, more than 100 million records [[ certified ) worldwide when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are tallied. As solo artist, in UK only, she received 10 PLATINUM records, 20 GOLD records and 30 SILVER records.
In the U.S..A singles charts , Diana Ross has had a record of 18 number one. Also, is the only female singer to have received 3 PLATINUM records for singles : “ Someday will be together “,1969 – “ I’m gonna make you love me “, 1969 and “ Endless Love”, 1981 [[at the time, in USA, singles were certified platinum records for sales over two million copies).


 And this is her latest release "If The World Just Danced."




"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, September 16, 2021.  Elections gear up in Iraq, War Criminals get praised in the US.



Journalist, activist, theorist Glen Ford passed away recently.  BLACK AGENDA REPORT notes:

The memorial service for Glen Ford will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. The event will be live streamed on Youtube.


Richard Medhurst notes BLACK AGENDA REPORT and Glen Ford this video from yesterday.



The opposite of truth telling?  Lying, whoring, the people working overtime to make War Criminals look better.  Whether it's throwing soft balls to War Criminal Condi No One Could Have Guess Rice like THE WASHINGTON POST did at the start of the week  or now NEWSDAY publishing Cathy Young's lunatic ravings entitled "Reconsidering Bush . . . for the better."  No link to a text version of the work of Leni Riefenstahl.

Jack Tajmajer (Brown's DAILY HERALD) notes a recent panel on the cost of war:

Discussing the costs of the war in Iraq, Nadje Al-Ali, director for the Center for Middle East Studies and professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at the Watson Institute, said Iraq had already been “decimated radically” through “thirteen years of the most comprehensive sanction system ever imposed on a country” by the time the U.S. invaded. 


That reality escapes Cathy Young.  She has no time to study.  She has no time to research.  But reconsider?


It sure is nice that Cathy Young can reconsider.  The dead in Iraq don't have that luxury, do they?  Nor do the ones who continue dying in the US.  An obit on a man under fifty that doesn't include the cause of death?  Six ran this week.  All men were single.  The youngest was in his 30s.  All were former US service members who served in Iraq.  


Did they all kill themselves?  I have no ida.  I know two did because I heard from family members about it.  Unlike Cathy Young, those two had to live with the effects of Bully Boy Bush's actions.  Cathy just has to reflect on how much she can get paid for whoring.  


There are people in need in this country -- in need in so many ways, but, don't worry America, Cathy Young's going to use her space in a daily newspaper to try to clean up the reputation of a War Criminal and to act as though he's someone society should embrace.


Condi, Colin, Bully Boy Bush and the rest are War Criminals.  They lie about their crimes and pretended they helped when all they did was hurt.  Tracy Keeling (THE CANARY) observes:


The International Witness Campaign is remembering the last 20 years of the “failed War on Terror”. This decades-long war has seen its fair share of illegality and incompetence by those who’ve waged it. As with all wars, it’s hawks also paid no regard to the huge environmental costs involved.

Now, after these decades of war, the Middle East is facing another security threat: the climate crisis. Indeed, authorities around the world are increasingly recognising the environmental emergency as the greatest security threat we face.

As In These Times recently contemplated, imagine if those who waged the War on Terror had spent the last 20 years fighting the climate crisis instead. The populations targeted in the failed war, and the global community as a whole, would undoubtedly be better equipped to deal with the crisis if they had.

Indeed, there might not be a crisis to speak of if the vast amounts of money spent on the war had been directed to tackling the climate crisis from the start of the millennium onwards.

 

Paul Antonopoulos (ANTIWAR.COM) notes the 'success' lying brings for some:


The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw entire infrastructures destroyed, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of refugees, and over $6 trillion of American taxpayer money wasted. Much of this devastation was caused by American soldiers, often with impunity. In fact, the Americans were not alone in such war crimes, with many British, Australian and other soldiers from partnered countries responsible for murder, rape, extortion and theft in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What is most concerning though is that the upper echelons of the US military had little to no concern for the war crimes perpetrated by NATO forces. Instead, they focused on creating a narrative, portraying the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq as constantly improving. Journalist Craig Whitlock’s new book, "The Afghanistan Papers," provides evidence that military leaders knew the war in Afghanistan was failing but lied about it. Colonel Bob Crowley claims in the book that "every data point was altered to present the best picture possible" and Whitlock described the military’s positive assessments as "unwarranted and baseless" that "amounted to a disinformation campaign."

The main question is why the top military leaders were adamant in their claims that the war situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was improving. It can be suggested that their lies about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was motivated by self-interest to advance their own careers and capital. They were certainly not going to allow the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as over 1.3 million cases of ill-discipline in the military, including rape, torture and murder, ruin their prospects.

Take for example the current US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Austin was the assistant commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. The Intercept recounts an exchange in May 2013, just weeks after the US captured Baghdad, between Austin and Dathar Khashab, director of the Daura oil refinery. No matter about Khashab’s insistence that Baghdad was more crime-ridden under US occupation then under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Austin could only say that "two months ago was a brutal dictator who killed thousands of people."

Austin, who from the very beginning of Iraq’s occupation insisted everything was fine, eventually became the commander of US forces in Iraq, then took charge of Central Command that covers all operations in the Middle East, retired with a $15,000 a month pension, and then joined several corporate boards, including the board of directors of United Technologies Corporation, the military contractor that merged with Raytheon in 2020. With these corporate gigs, he became a multimillionaire with a $2.6 million mansion that boasts seven bedrooms, a five-car garage, two kitchens and a pool house in the Washington D.C. area.



 People got rich off the ongoing war.  The Iraqi people suffered.  The people sent to Iraq to fight, invade and occupy suffered.  Iraq is a failed-state where secret prisons are once again on the rise.  Big rumor currently: State Of Law is considering airing that dirty laundry ahead of the planned October 10th elections but are concerned about the blowback -- Nouri al-Maliki is the head of the Sate of Law coalition.  He was a two-time prime minister of Iraq and ran secret prisons and torture centers during both terms.  


The current prime minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi is backed by the US government.  Turnout for the election is expected to be low.  Some have announced that they are boycotting the elections.  Others face obstacles to voting.  Human Rights Watch notes one such grouping:


People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.

The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office.

“The government should ensure that polling places are accessible to all voters,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While some steps will take time, like amending legislation, others are easy, and the Independent High Electoral Commission has no excuse to continue to fail to address accessibility.”

Between January and August, Human Rights Watch interviewed 14 people with disabilities as well as activists, authorities, and the staff of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).

While the Iraqi government has not collected any reliable statistics on the number of people with disabilities, in 2019, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said that Iraq, plagued by decades of violence and war, including the battles against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) from 2014-2017, has one of the world’s largest populations of people with disabilities.

Iraq’s Parliament acceded to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2013. Article 12 requires state parties to “recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life” and article 29 calls on states to respect the political rights of people with disabilities. Iraq’s domestic law, however, falls short. The 1951 civil code does not recognize the right to legal capacity for people with disabilities, allowing the government to deprive people with intellectual, psychosocial (mental health), visual, and hearing disabilities of their legal capacity. People without legal capacity are not allowed to vote.

Article 29 of the covenant requires states to ensure that voting facilities and materials are “appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use.” However, Iraqi authorities offer little to no accessible information to people with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. Electoral materials are not presented in accessible formats such as audio, Braille, large print, sign language, and easy-to-read. Videos on the website are not accessible for people with hearing and visual disabilities. Because of the complete ban on operating vehicles on election day for security reasons, people who use mobility assistive devices can face difficulties reaching polling places.

The election commission almost exclusively uses school buildings, many of which are inaccessible, for polling places. It locates many ballot boxes on the second floor in buildings without elevators. It has no mobile voting stations, electronic voting, or postal voting, perhaps because of Iraq’s weakened postal system.

“Every election day is the most depressing day for me,” said Suha Khailil, 44, who uses a wheelchair and who has never participated in an election. “Everyone goes to vote and I am stuck at home waiting for the day to end,” she said.

People with disabilities said they sometimes must rely on assistance to reach the polling place. When that assistance comes from political party members, they sometimes try to influence how the person votes. The need for some people to get assistance to fill in their ballot or reach a ballot box raises concerns about privacy.

Ahmed al-Ghizzi, director of Voice of Iraqi Disabled Association, a Baghdad-based organization, said that his group’s survey of 2018 parliamentary elections found that only 200 members out of the about 5,000 who replied said they had been able to vote.

Available evidence suggests that people with disabilities also face significant obstacles to running for public office. Despite extensive research, Human Rights Watch was only able to identify eight people who had run for public office since 2005, including six in parliamentary elections and two in governorate elections. All candidates were men, and all had physical disabilities. The obstacles stem from discriminatory legislation, including provisions that require candidates to be “fully competent” or “fully qualified,” a lack of financial resources, and the unwillingness of political parties to seek out and support people with disabilities as candidates.

“It really makes me sad when I see all the members of parliament and there is no one to represent us,” said Naghim Khadir Elias, 47, who uses a wheelchair.

The commission has defended its policies. “Our institution is an executive one that is only concerned with implementing the electoral law that organizes all details of the electoral process,” the commission told the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in December 2020, in response to critical findings from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But the commission has the authority to select accessible voting sites and to offer transportation and disseminate accessible information.

For election day, the commission should ensure that transportation is available and that polling places are accessible. It should ensure that its election information materials are accessible and easy to understand for persons with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. It should also ensure that assistance is available to those who need it and that it does not interfere with the right to cast a private and independent vote.

Iraq’s newly elected parliament should amend the relevant legislation to comply fully with the covenant. It should amend the civil code on legal capacity so the right to legal capacity is respected for anyone with a disability and that they have access to supported decision-making, if needed.

People with disabilities and their representative organizations should be consulted and included in all these efforts.

The United Nations and European Assistance Missions’ election monitoring bodies should include people with disabilities as expert monitors and include in their monitoring mandate documentation and reporting on discriminatory treatment and limitations that people with disabilities face.

“Countries financially supporting Iraq’s elections and monitoring missions, including those who have been part of the conflict, should ensure that they help make Iraq more accessible for people with disabilities, including its political system,” Wille said.



Meanwhile, there's a call to postpone the election in one oil-rich area of Iraq.  RUDAW reports:


Three members of the Iraqi parliament who identified themselves as representatives of the city’s Arab and Turkmen communities have called for the postponement of the Iraqi election for a week in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Turkmen MP Ersat Salih and Sunni Arab MP Mohammed al-Tamimi held a press conference on Wednesday in Kirkuk, attended by a number of other politicians, including Hasan Turan, the head of the Turkmen front. 

A statement read by Khalid al-Mafraji, a Sunni Arab member of Iraqi parliament, claimed that Peshmerga forces are trying to move into Kirkuk territories under the guise of fighting remnants of the Islamic State in the disputed areas. It called on Iraqi forces to take on the ongoing threat posed by ISIS without the support of their Kurdish partners.


Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) notes, "On July 8, the IHEC approved the final list of candidates eligible to contest the elections. There are a total of 3,249 candidates, including 951 women, competing for 329 seats. Nine seats are reserved by minorities and there are 67 candidates vying for these spots."


The following sites updated: