Thursday, June 07, 2018

Curiosity continues to deliver

Our favorite, Curiosity, is in the news.  Who?  From USA TODAY:




The Curiosity Rover has been investigating various rock layers on Mars to better understand why the planet turned from wet and warm to dry and rocky. According to NASA, the Curiosity is the "largest and most capable" rover ever to make contact with Mars.

NASA deems the Curiosity the "largest and most capable" rover ever to make contact with Mars. It's about the size of a car, has a seven-foot-long arm, carries 10 science instruments, 17 cameras and a laser to "vaporize" rocks.



So that’s Curiosity who we love here.  Ashley Strickland (CNN) reports:



Organic matter has been found on Mars in soil samples taken from 3 billion-year-old mudstone in the Gale crater by the Curiosity rover, NASA announced Thursday. The rover has also detected methane in the Martian atmosphere.


The search for life outside Earth focuses on the building blocks of life as we know it, which includes organic compounds and molecules -- although these can exist without life. Organic matter can be one of several things: a record detailing ancient life, a food source for life or something that exists in the place of life.

No matter its purpose, these work as "chemical clues" for researchers about Mars.




See, Curiosity.  That should have been the person of the year for TIME magazine.  It would have made a real difference.  It would have celebrated science and knowledge.  Instead, we got a bunch of idiotic choices and, each year, Curiosity continues to increase our knowledge of Mars.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, June 7, 2018.  Burn pits get some media attention (and a hearing later today), the Iraqi Parliament decides to toss out the election results and -- what's that smell?  Oh, it's Medea and Jodie of CodeStink -- somebody crack a window.

"After watching in horror how the US invaded Iraq and the terrible consequences for the Iraqi people, I am determined to do everything I can to stop a similar situation in Iran."

Oh, Medea and CodeStink, sometimes I wish I didn't have the memory I do -- just as I'm sure you wish I didn't either.

Medea is making a spectacle of herself in the photo above.  It's from a September 16, 2014 hearing -- we reported on it in that day's snapshot:

 This morning in DC, the US Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the issue of Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State which they insist upon calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  They shorten it to "ISIL" which they insist upon pronouncing as a word making it sound as if they're referring to a renegade von Trapp family member, one who goes around singing "Sixteen Going On Seventeen."
The hearing opened with a small number of protesters declaring "No more war!" and other statements before Committee Chair Carl Levin brought down the gavel and called the hearing to order.

Once the hearing started, CodeStink's Medea Benjamin would attempt to grab some headlines by yelling at the top of her lungs.

Chair Levin would ask her to take a seat or leave -- repeatedly.  It was hard to tell what offended Carl more, Medea's screeching or her visual frightmare of her camel toe and exposed muffin top (her shirt rode up because she was holding a sign which read "MORE WAR = MORE . . . EXTREMISM").

As she was escorted out of the room, Carl Levin offered, "Thank you for leaving and thank you, good-bye."

Fake Ass Medea was the topic of Isaiah's comic on Sunday and, in "TV: Barack's Delusional Love Slaves," Ava and I noted her ridiculous and craven whoring for the White House which found the alleged peace activists (reality, she's just an attention seeker) insisting:

I think President Obama has been hounded by the media, by the war hawks in Congress, mostly from the Republican side but also from the Democrats, and is going into this insane not only bombing in Iraq, but also talking about going into Syria, at a time when just a couple of months ago the American people had made it very clear that we were very tired of war.

Poor little Barack.  President of the United States, bullied by those mean members in the press, putting ice on the bruises left by Maureen Dowd's printed punches, oh, poor Barack on the ropes again.  Poor baby.  If only he had power, if only he had a spine and a mind and . . .

 Let's go back to CodeStink's ridiculous Tweet:

"After watching in horror how the US invaded Iraq and the terrible consequences for the Iraqi people, I am determined to do everything I can to stop a similar situation in Iran."

 You're determined to do everything you can to stop this from happening in Iran?  What are you determined to do in order to end the 18 year Iraq War -- the war continues?

Not a damn thing.

Medea was talking Syria, that day.  She'd again lost interest in Iraq.  I remember it so well.

I also remember when CodeStink tried to sell the Afghanistan War after Barack became president but, big surprise, Jodie Evans was a bundler for Barack -- not her own money, she had none, she had to marry a dying man to get money because she has no agency of her own.  The marriage?  She was like a nun who gave herself to Christ in a sexless marriage.  What a proud moment for womankind, you go, Jodie, be the 'political' Anna Nicole Smith.

A Republican is in the White House so CodeStink want's to return to 'action.'

What's this 'brave' 'women's' group to do next?

Call for another hunger strike?

Because what says women action more than a hunger strike?

In a country where an estimated 10 million women suffer from eating disorders, what's better than women the media has put into fake leadership declaring that women should starve themselves?

CodeStink, you long ago made yourself a joke so now you're just an old joke.

And all who can't let go of Hillary's loss in 2016 -- please read what Jodie and Medea wrote and said about Hillary in 2008 and please remember that though John Edwards voted for the Iraq War and Barack stated to THE NEW YORK TIMES that he didn't know how he would have voted in 2002 if he had been in the US Congress, CodeStink only bird dogged one candidate: Hillary Clinton.  They showed up at every one of her rallies to heckle her and shout over her.

CodeStink won't fool the anti-war left but they might have had a chance at fooling the so-called 'resistance.'  Don't worry, Jodie and Medea, I'm here to remind everyone of just how fake you are.

While we're telling truths, a number of e-mails are asking about Vet Voice and about privatization of the VA.  I have never called for privatization.  I do, however, recognize that there are needs are not being served.

Vet Voice doesn't recognize that because they're not a veterans organization.

Vet Voice Poll: two-thirds of oppose plans to replace VA with vouchers.

“Privatization is a fancy way of saying we’re taking tax dollars out of the VA and putting it into the pockets of millionaires & billionaires." - Iraq war vet ,



A veterans organization serves veterans.

The VFW, the American Legion, PVA, etc.

They serve veterans.

Voice Vet is for veterans of 21st century wars.

There's nothing wrong with serving one segment of veterans.

But don't pretend you're speaking for most veterans.

And when it comes to healthcare -- veteran or civilian -- the ones most in need of it are the older population.

In other words, Voice Vet's population is in need of healthcare at much lower rate than groups like PVA and the VFW.

Voice Vet's not encountering the 74 year old man I encountered last week.  He needs a heart cath.  The VA has sent him to a doctor in one geographic region.  That cardiologist can't do the cath.  The veteran is in the Choice program -- which isn't really the VA -- as he found out every time he'd speak to a choice rep.  He needed to go to a different cardiologist.  The cardio doctor the VA referred him to went through the program to refer him to another doctor.

The VA is okay with this, are we following so far?  The doctor's not with choice but they bill by tax i.d. and others in the clinic are so, the VA says, they can just bill under another doctor in the clinic.  Choice is okay with that as well.

Until . . .

Well, he's not just in Choice.  He is in some form of Choice called PC3.  It's a tiny subset and if you're in it, you are screwed.  Very few doctors of any kind are available.

He'd needed a heart cath and had been going through this nonsense for 8 weeks.  He is on warfarin and each time he thought he'd be about to get the procedure -- because it was scheduled -- he'd start to tape off on that medication only to have the PC3 aspect of the program repeatedly cancel his appointments.

(A member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee kindly got the issue taken care of when I reported this to his office.  Otherwise, the 74 year old man might still be waiting.)

There's nothing wrong with Voice Vet.  And hopefully it will grow its membership and become a strong VSO.  However, it is not the voice of all veterans and it is not about serving the needs of all veterans.

Different populations have different needs.  Voice Vet can serve a population whose voice might not be heard otherwise.  But that does not mean it speaks for every population in the veterans community.

Let's stay with the topic of veterans for a bit more.  Perry Chiaramonte and Lea Gabrielle (FOX NEWS) report:

Thousands of veterans and former contractors have developed cancer, respiratory problems and blood disorders from their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits, and many have died. More than 140,000 active service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Veterans Administration.
[. . .]
By the time [Lt Dan] Brewer arrived in Iraq, the pits had already been burning for more than two years, spewing a toxic compound of smoke and soot from smoldering trash, medical waste and hazardous chemicals.
“Everybody thought this is the way you do it, and I’m saying to them at the time, you know, ‘This isn’t good,’" Brewer said.
"I saw early on that this was going to be a problem for the health of our troops. A problem of liability for the U.S. government down the road, and I didn’t know how we’d ever win over the Iraqis when we were doing this in their country.”

Brewer can still recall what it was like to be up close to the burn pits.
“I’ve had times I’d be around burn pits and you’d go wash your clothes and you still smelled it,” he recalled. “It’s odor…you’re smelling it and it’s just…the fumes are everywhere.”
Troubled by his findings, Brewer returned back to the United States to present his findings and recommend to superiors at the Pentagon’s Central Command (CENTCOM) the use of industrialincinerators. His audience was less than receptive.
“They, for probably a year and a half, stonewalled me and wouldn’t let me publish it,” he recalled.

Remember that today is BURN PITS 360's lobby day in DC.

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In other news, ALJAZEERA reports that Iraq's 11 million votes are now in question because the Parliament has demanded a full recount.  The Parliament, of course, does not have this power.  Nor is it the new Parliament.  Instead, it's composed of people who may not have been re-elected.  Totally non-biased group, right?

They don't like the results so, a month after the election, they insist that the machines did not work properly.

The results saw Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc win.  Overthrowing the vote, as the Parliament is doing, isn't the only issue effecting Sadr's followers today.  BBC NEWS reports:

At least 17 people have been killed and 80 wounded by explosions that destroyed a mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, medical sources say.
The government said the blasts on Wednesday night were the result of the detonation of an ammunition cache in the Shia Muslim district of Sadr City.
It did not give an exact location of the cache, but some security officials said it was inside the mosque.
The mosque was used by supporters of the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

The following community sites -- plus LATINO USA, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and THE GUARDIAN -- updated:

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Selling dinosaurs

I hope you read Kat’s “Who sells dinos? ” yesterday.  It was an important point about a newly discovered set of dinosaur bones being auctioned off.  I agree with everything she says.  And we’re not alone.  Katherine Highnett (NEWSWEEK) reports:




The sale of the 30-foot theropod has sparked an outcry among some paleontologists, who argue the well-preserved specimen—new species or not—may now be “lost to science.”


The specimen’s completeness makes it “very rare,” paleontologist and Aguttes adviser Eric Mickeler told the Guardian. The specimen was “fantastic,” he added, “With an extraordinary skull, lots of teeth and the claws.”



Some paleontologists have said the creature is a member of a new species, possibly within the Allosaurus genus of large, bipedal dinosaurs. But others have rubbished this claim. “It's just hype — they're just trying to get a higher price for it," biologist Thomas Carr of Carthage College in Wisconson told Live Science. "It looks no different from any Allosaurus that I've ever seen."



If the dinosaur isn’t made available to researchers, scientists may never officially identify its species.


A price tag on everything, apparently.  And if interferes with the world and its knowledge, oh well, greed rules.


This really is disgusting.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, June 6, 2018.  Iraq . . . where democracy goes to die via assisted suicide.

AP can't get it right this morning.  It's Wednesday, Hayder al-Abadi has done his weekly speech as prime minister of Iraq.  In the speech, he announces that a body no one's heard of before, one he appointed from his own Cabinet has found 'irregularities' -- no details on what they are -- that will require calling off the votes of the displaced outside of Iraq and the displaced inside Iraq.

This would be the same Hayder, remember, who may be the outgoing prime minister because he did not win the elections last month.  Hayder did not come in first, that was the Moqtada al-Sadr's alliance.  Moqtada is the Shi'ite cleric and movement leader who was vastly underestimated by gas bags.  Hayder did not come in second, that was the party of the militias.  Hayder came in third.  Distant third.

And now he's saying the election results are being tabled -- for the displaced.

Oh, and it gets worse.

Hayder's announced there will be recounts.

Why is that worse?

Because it's not allowed.

Ibrahim Saleh (ANADOLU AGENCY) reports:

Iraqi law does not allow election results to be annulled or manual vote recounts to be conducted, Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said Tuesday.
“Article 8 of the Electoral Commission Law No. 11 of 2007 gives voters the right to challenge [poll] results before the Independent High Electoral Commission’s board of commissioners,” the judicial council said in a statement.
“If the plaintiff is not satisfied by the board’s decision, they can bring the issue before an electoral tribunal, which must rule on the appeal within 10 days of referral,” the statement read.
It added: “There is no provision within the law giving the judiciary the authority to partially annul election results.”
“Nor is there any provision within the law giving the judiciary the authority to request a partial recount of poll results,” the judicial council asserted.

So the loser, Hayder, who thought he'd win campaigning on his alleged defeat of ISIS doesn't like the results and thinks that's all it takes.

He doesn't have to follow the Constitution, he doesn't have to listen to the courts, he can just do whatever he wants, create his own commission and what he decides goes?

That's how it works now?

Let's drop back to note the hysterical reaction to Moqtada's win.

For example, Danny Sjursen (NATIONAL INTEREST) insists:

Sadr has since re-branded himself as an enemy of corruption and a cross-sectarian proponent of governance reform. Nonetheless, to my men and most U.S. troopers, he’ll always be the fiercely anti-American thug who sent his impoverished, hopeless fighters out into the streets to kill soldiers and marines.

So sorry, Danny, but you don't get to vote in the Iraqi elections.  Yes, you invaded their country, yes, US weapons were used on the Iraqi people, but that doesn't mean you get to decide for them. 

And, Danny, I'll take your hysterics a little more seriously after you call out the 2009 deal that released the leader of the League of Righteousness from US custody -- despite the fact that he did have US blood on his hands.  You've never called that out.  You've never even acknowledged it. 

For any late to the party on that reality,  let's drop back  to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

Still waiting for honest discussions on that reality.

In the meantime, US troops don't get to decide who runs Iraq -- whether the US government sent them there or not.  Guess that wasn't covered in basic training?

Didn't turn out quite the way you wanted
How were you to know
Boom town broke down
What a let down
Where did the mountain go?
-- "Chalice Borealis," written by Carole King and Rick Sorensen, first appears on Carole's SPEEDING TIME

The turn out for the latest election was low -- historically low.

Why might that be?

Maybe because Barack Obama nixed Nouri al-Maliki's plans for a third term and installed Hayder al-Abadi as prime minister.  And -- or -- maybe because Nouri lost the election in 2010 and Ayad Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate.  Instead, Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward.  He dug his heels in.  For eight months, Iraq was at a standstill.  The political stalemate ended because Barack okayed The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract brokered by the US government which was signed off on by all party leaders -- but not by the Iraqi voters.  This contract gave Nouri a second term in exchange for concessions to various parties.  Nouri used the contract to get a second term, then stalled on honoring his side of the contract until his attorney announced that the contract wasn't valid.

Nouri, of course, was installed by the US in 2006.  A nobody, a nothing.  But he did have a CIA profile which found him to be highly paranoid and the US government felt that this could be worked, they could use it to control him.

Golly gee, after 2006's result, 2010's result and 2014's result, why do you suppose Iraqis might not feel the need to turn out and vote?

But Moqtada's supporters did.

Why was that a surprise?

He's demonstrated repeatedly over the years that he can get his followers to turn out.  And to turn out in public, mind you, where they might be attacked.  Getting them to turn out at the polls was so much easier.

The US government has been sputtering over Moqtada's win for weeks now.

And it's not even like Moqtada's going to be prime minister.  He can't be.  He didn't run for Parliament and the prime minister has to be an elected Member of Parliament.

But it's been non-stop hand wringing over Moqtada.

So now Hayder al-Nobody thinks he can disregard Iraq's Constitution and Iraq's judiciary.  And you don't think that further destroys the average Iraqi's faith in democratic institutions?

Hayder's whining about the new electronic voting machines.  We might manage to care if we weren't raising issues about that in March, long before the elections.  If he's only concerned after he loses, then he's really not concerned about the machines, he's just got sour grapes over losing.

It's almost a month since elections.  And yet again Iraqis have to wait because the process is not honored, the rules are not respected.

This is not how you grow democracy.

And at a time when the Islamic State is still active in Iraq, you need a peaceful and reasonable transfer of power.  The longer this draws out, the more questions there will be for leadership.  The more attacks by the Islamic State, the more this inability to follow the process becomes an issue.

The following community sites updated: