Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Milky Way

Okay, this grabbed my attention.  From LIVE SCIENCE:

Space: It’s dark, cold and, in most parts of the galaxy, probably pretty sticky.
Swirled amid the dust, soot and electromagnetic radiation that sits among the stars of the Milky Way, there is also a whole mess of toxic grease.  This “space grease” – actually an oily form of hydrogen-bound carbon called aliphatic carbon – is one of several types of carbon leaked into empty spaces by blazing stars, and may be among the key ingredients in the formation of new stars and planets, astronomers say.
Let’s note Stevie Nicks’ “Planets of the Universe.”
The bright light is lying down
The earth and the sea and the sky
Is at rest with the ocean
And the days go by
They go into the seas that have no shores
Haunted by that same closed door
Looking up at skies on fire
Leaving nothing left of us
To discover
And the planets of the universe
Go their way
Not astounded by the sun or the moon
Or by the day
You and I will simply disappear
Out of sight
But I'm afraid soon there'll be
No light
No doubt, no pain
Come ever again, well
Let there be light in this lifetime
In the cool, silent moments of the nighttime
And the planets of the universe
Go their way
Not astounded by the sun or the moon
Or by the day
You and I will simply disappear
Out of sight
But I'm afraid soon there'll be
No light
We will never change again
The way that we are changing
Well, you'll forget the chill of love
But not the strain
Around half the carbon found in space is pure carbon, while the other half is chemically bound in two forms. One is a bond that resembles a mothball, called aromatic carbon, while the other resembles grease and is called aliphatic.
Carbon in interstellar dust is the outflow of what are known as carbon stars, typically a red giant that contains more carbon than oxygen. Powerful stellar winds can blow away around half of a carbon star's total mass, creating interstellar dust.
Far from detritus, that dust plays a crucial role in the continued growth and evolution of the universe by providing the raw materials for future stars. Essentially just particles, interstellar dust has amazing traveling capabilities. Back in 2014, interstellar dust became the first material scientists had ever collected from outside the solar system.
I probably do this every time I note the Milky Way but I love Three Muskateers and forever confused – you know what?  I’ve told it before so I’ll just stop.   Instead, I’ll say that – about the grease in space – I wonder if our bodies are similar?  I always wonder if the universe is a larger version of us?
Does that make sense?  Like some unifying principle to the whole universe?
So the week after next, I’m going to go ahead and do what so many of you have e-mailed about and, yes, Robyn really did guilt me into this in the roundtable this week for the gina & krista round-robin.  I’ll do an entry that will be a chapter to wrap up Betinna’s story. 
If you’re new to the site, I used to do a comic novel here and Betinna was the main character.  She was ‘rescued’ by Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof which, of course, means she was used.  But I’ll do a wrap up chapter, I’m curious to know how Betinna’s story ends too.  Curious and a little sad.  I really grew to lover her and she became like a real person to me. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, June 29, 2018.  Executions accelerate in Iraq and a candidate's statements against war disappear.

We noted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez victory in the Democratic Party primary in yesterday's snapshot and offered:

Whether she will win in November's general election (and whether, if she does, she will fight for what she believes) is not known at this point.  But what is clear?  That if you give people a reason to vote, they will show up.

Has she already caved?

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has entangled itself in war and occupation throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As of 2018, we are currently involved in military action in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. According to the Constitution, the right to declare war belongs to the Legislative body, not the President. Yet, most of these acts of aggression have never once been voted on by Congress. Alex believes that we must end the forever war by bringing our troops home and ending the air strikes and bombings that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism and occupation throughout the world.

This was at her website, as Eric Garris (ANTIWAR.COM) points out, was.  She pulled it.

I feel sorry for the few real lefties left. They’re so starved for integrity that they’re celebrating a warmed over social democrat (not a socialist) like she’s the second coming of Emma Goldman. Meanwhile, just deleted all antiwar text from her web site. Sad!

David Swanson Retweeted Margaret Kimberley
Image of war/peace section of website that she has already deleted. The support for ignoring this and pretending it means nothing is thus far accompanied by no argument whatsoever.
David Swanson added,

Patrick Martin (WSWS) notes:

In her first post-election interview on CNN. Ocasio-Cortez affirmed her undying loyalty to the Democratic Party, declaring, “I’m proud to be a Democrat. I was raised in a Democratic family, with Democratic values.” She has stated that her main goal is to help the Democrats recapture control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm election.
One might ask, in response to such political boilerplate, what in Ocasio-Cortez’s 28 years of life has the Democratic Party done to deserve such loyalty? What are the great achievements of the Democratic Party in that period of time: The abolition of welfare? The deregulation of the financial system? The bombing of Serbia? The bailout of Wall Street? The slashing of wages for autoworkers? Drone-missile warfare? The destruction of Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries? The build-up of NSA spying? More deportations than in any other period in US history?

Ocasio-Cortez does not address such questions. Instead, she has committed herself to support “without question” whomever the Democratic Party nominates in 2020 to run against President Trump, including a corporate Democrat like Hillary Clinton or the junior senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand. While declining to declare at this moment her support for Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democrats, she said, “It’s entirely possible to support her.”

On the issue of the vanishing statements from her own website, it's not a minor issue.  Her claim that it was done by someone -- who?  that 'hacker' of Joy Reid's old blog? -- and she had no knowledge of it does not build trust.

Is she really wanting to suggest she's so weak as a person that someone on her campaign felt they could delete the words and she wouldn't do anything?  It doesn't ring true nor does her laid back reaction.  If someone deleted it without her permission or approval, it seems she would rush out a strongly worded statement on peace.

If it was deleted by someone working/volunteering on her website and this is her laid back response to it, how strong is she going to be when/if she's in Congress?

She needs to address this issue.  It's far more important than her national media blitz where she's making a fool of herself (she really is making a fool of herself as she does one interview after another with preening men who reduce her as a politician).

An issue that's largely gone unaddressed would be the huge number of executions in Iraq since the 2003-invasion -- official government carried out executions.  Amnesty International has paid attention and they've found Iraq in the top three each year when it comes to most executions officially carried out.

Iraq PM calls for 'immediate' execution of all 'terrorists' on death row

Executions are moving even faster in Iraq.  Doubt it?  BBC NEWS reported this morning, "raq has executed at least 12 people convicted of terrorism offences."  AP had also gone with 12 but quickly had to up it to 13 and noted, "Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is facing fresh questions over gaps in security after bodies of eight policemen and members of a pro-government Shiite militia were found on the side of a highway north of Baghdad this week. The eight were believed to have been abducted by Islamic State militants earlier this month." (Picking up a thread from earlier this week, we've never claimed that ISIS was defeated, unlike various news outlets.  Donald Trump supporters are correct that if a news outlet is claiming ISIS has been defeated, that would be a victory credited to Donald Trump.  If we believe ISIS had been defeated, we would have given Donald credit.  But it's not defeated.)

Corrupted Government . Corrupted Justice Department . Fake election Results . And still have executions in this Country .

Iraq's legal system remains a joke.  Trials take mere minutes.  There are few who receive even adequate defense.  Evidence is not required for a conviction.  Women whose 'crime' consists of being married to a member of ISIS or someone suspected of being a member of ISIS can be imprisoned and sentenced to death.

Charges -- related to ISIS or otherwise -- are often based on personal grudges and not actual events.  The whole system is a mess.

Need an example?

tareq al-hashemi

That's Tareq al-Hashemi.

While serving his second term as vice president of Iraq, he was targeted by then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

December 2011, saw a drawdown where most US troops left Iraq (many -- over 15,000 -- to go to Kuwait).  The drawdown was completed December 15th and Nouri began going after his political rivals.  Two days later, December 17th, Liz Sly (WASHINGTON POST) was reporting that Iraq was "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Adding, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."

Sunday December 18, 2011, Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, along with bodyguards, attempted to leave out of Baghdad International Airport for the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government -- three semi-autonomous provinces in Iraq). Nouri's forces pulled all off the plane and detained them for approximately an hour before allowing some bodyguards and al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq to reboard.

From that day's "And the war drags on . . .:"

AFP reports, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane was Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister whom Nouri has asked Parliament to strip the powers of. al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane. 

After being detained, the two were allowed to re-board the plane and travel to the KRG.

 The next day, December 19th, Nouri issued an arrest warrant for al-Hashemi whom he charged with 'terrorism.'  From that day's snapshot:

CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "political crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."

For reality, we'll drop back to December 24, 2011 for this:

Mustafa Habib (Al Mada) notes that Nouri al-Maliki's targeting Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with terrorism charges and calling for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq [to be stripped of his office] have many noticing that both are members of Iraqiya and political opponents of Nouri and that while the political crisis has revealed a diminished role for the US it has underscored that the Kurds remain the heart of the country's political process. Dar Addustour reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi announced the postponement of the scheduled meeting yesterday of the political blocs while Nouri's spokesperson floated the notion that there are other charges waiting in the wings. Reportedly this includes charging the Minister of Finance, Rafie al-Issawi, with terrorism, specifically with killings in Falluja back in 2006. Like Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, Rafie al-Issawi is a member of Iraqiya. Dar Addustour also notes Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister, issued a statement declaring the matter should have been resolved by the political blocs but has instead played out in the press. Al Mada adds that Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani and US Ambassador James Jeffrey spoke yesterday and are calling for a meeting among the political blocs and that State of Law was whining about the Friday meet-up, whining that Iraqiya is boycotting Parliament but they want to attend the meet-up. Aswat al-Iraq notes, "Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Alawi described recent events in Iraq as 'liquidation of differences', warning an explosive era waiting Iraq in the coming days, according to an interview with Arabia TV late yesterday (Friday)."

Here's where we pull up on judicial misconduct carried out in public.  Thursday, February 16th 2012, an incredible act of judicial abuse took place as the 'independent' Supreme Court in Baghdad issued a finding of guilt against Tareq al-Hashemi. Was a trial held? Because Article 19 of Iraq's Constitution is very clear that the accused will not be guilty until convicted in a court of law. No. There was no trial held. But members of the judiciary -- who should damn well know the Constitution -- took it upon themselves not only to form an investigative panel -- extra-judicial -- but also to hold a press conference and issue their findings. At the press conference, a judge who is a well known Sunni hater, one with prominent family members who have demonized all Sunnis as Ba'athists, one who was then demanding that a member of Iraqiya in Parliament be stripped of his immunity so that the judge can sue him, felt the need to go to the microphone and insist he was receiving threats and this was because of Tareq al-Hashemi, that al-Hashemi was a threat to his family.

Having already demonstrated that they will NOT obey the Constitution, the judiciary then indicated -- via the judge's statement -- a personal dislike of Tareq al-Hashemi. What they did that Thursday was demonstrate that Tareq al-Hashemi had always been correct in his fear that he would not receive a fair trial in Baghdad.

Nouri's regime kidnapped Tareq al-Hashemi  bodyguards as well as at least two other employees.  In February 2012, Tareq noted that his bodyguards had been tortured  and that he was in possession of photos demonstrating the torture. ALJAZEERA quoted him stating, "We have pictures of bruises on their faces and bodies." AFP quoted him in full, "All the arrested people from my bodyguards and the employees of my office are being held in secret prisons over which the ministry of justice has no authority, and confessions are being taken from them through torture. We have pictures and evidence proving that the bodyguards were tortured, physically and psychologically." CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq reported:

Al-Hashimi criticized the investigation, saying, "How come they finished investigating 150 cases against me and my bodyguards within a few days?
"Where did my bodyguards plan for these 150 attacks? On the surface of the moon?" he asked.

Only AFP noted that employees of Tareq al-Hashemi, besides bodyguards, are also being held. January 30th, Amnesty International issued a call for "Iraqi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president. Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January. Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi" and quoted Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, declaring, "The Iraqi authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of Rasha al-Hussain and Bassima Kiryakos. At the very minimum they should have immediate access to their family and a lawyer." The alert noted that, in the middle of the month, Bassima Saleem Kiryakos phoned her husband to say she was being released, but she was not heard from again and that, in December, she was also taken by Iraqi security forces and beaten.

Moving on to the March 22, 2012 snapshot:

Since December, those working for Tareq al-Hashemi have been rounded up by Nouri's forces.  At the end of January, Amnesty International was calling for the Baghdad government "to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president.  Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January.  Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi authorities on terrorism-related charges."  Yesterday, al-Hashemi noted that his bodyguard had died and stated that it appeared he had died as a result of torture.
 Alsumaria notes Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is calling for the international community to call out the death of his bodyguard, Amer Sarbut Zeidan al-Batawi, who died after being imprisoned for three months. al-Hashemi has stated the man was tortured to death. The photo Alsumaria runs of the man's legs (only the man's legs) appear to indicate he was tortured, welts and bruises and scars.  They also report that the Baghdad Operations Command issued a statement today insisting that they had not tortured al-Batawi and that he died of chronic renal.  They also insist that he was taken to the hospital for medical treamtent on March 7th and died March 15th. Renal failure would be kidney failure.  And that's supposed to prove it wasn't torture?
If you work for an outlet that just spits out what you are told and didn't actually learn a profession, yes.  Anyone with half a brain, however, apparently that's half more than the average journalist possess today knows to go to science.  The Oxford Journal is scientific. This is from the Abstract for GH Malik, AR Reshi, MS Najar, A Ahmad and T Masood's "Further observations on acute renal failure following physical torture" from 1994:
Thirty-four males aged 16–40 (mean 25) years in the period from August 1991 to February 1993 presented in acute renal failure (ARF), 3–14 (mean 5) days after they had been apprehended and allegedly tortured in Police interrogation centres in Kashmir. All were beaten involving muscles of the body, in addition 13 were beaten on soles, 11 were trampled over and 10 had received repeated electric shocks.
Out of that group? 29 did live. Five died.  I don't think the Baghdad Command Operations created any space between them and the charge with their announcement of renal failure as the cause of death.  But, hey, I went to college and studied real topics -- like the law and political science and sociology and philosophy -- and got real degrees not glorified versions of a general studies degree with the word "journalism" slapped on it.  So what do I know?

Tareq never should have been tried.  Any trial was illegal.  Until 2014, he remained one of Iraq's vice presidents.  Nouri tried to get the Parliament to strip him of his role but they refused.  He could not legally been put on trial while in office unless he was stripped of his office per the Iraqi Constitution. He was tried in absentia.  His attorneys request that Jalal Talabani testify (and Talabani agreed to testify) was refused by the prejudiced judiciary which had already announced his guilt months before the trial began.

All of this took place despite being illegal and unconstitutional and the Iraqi judiciary was part of this process.  (Charges have long since been dropped against Tareq and he's not on INTERPOL's list any longer.)

This is the legal system that is putting people to death in Iraq.

BREAKING: Iraq's prime minister calls for the "immediate" execution of all "terrorists" on death row; as many as 3,000 people are on death row for terror offenses
Iraq PM orders ‘immediate’ execution of IS members on death row

Iraqi PM orders immediate execution of 'all convicted terrorists': At least 300 people, including around 100 foreign women, are on death row in Iraq and hundreds bagged life imprisonment.

= No justice , or a Fair trial .. Execution Orders comes from Prime minister Twitter account.

Let's close with this from Veterans for Peace:

Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam War Documentary Series Deserve an Emmy?

To fully communicate the terrible reality and continuing legacy of the American war in Vietnam, one must have the courage to admit that the United States rained incredible violence on the Vietnamese people for no defensible cause, as it sought to replace France as the dominant power in Southeast Asia.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick assert at the beginning of their documentary series that the war “was begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings.” Even a cursory reading of the Pentagon Papers disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg demonstrates the falseness of this claim of American innocence.

The series pays scant attention to the millions of civilian deaths in Southeast Asia, the devastation of the land, and the enduring impact of Agent Orange contamination and of unexploded ordnance (10% of the 7 million tons of bombs dropped never exploded), all caused mainly by the American military. Instead, Burns and Novick in The Vietnam War—while justifiably critical of American Presidents and military leaders—mainly focus on the harm visited upon U.S. soldiers who were ordered to fight in Vietnam. They reinvigorate Cold War myths that the Vietnamese anti-colonial struggle was carried on as an extension of Soviet/Chinese Communist expansion.

Instead of being honored for its accomplishments, the profound U.S. antiwar movement is belittled as self-interested and self-indulgent, with stress on its supposed deep antagonism toward American soldiers. The documentary does not put forth an honest moral critique of the war. Instead, the views of pro-war career professionals are put forward. Daniel Ellsberg is absent, while Martin Luther King’s opposition is sanitized by omitting his powerful words: “The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.”

In this war-torn world, what is desperately needed and what Burns and Novick fail to convey is an
honest rendering of that war to help the American people avoid yet more catastrophic wars. The Emmy Award is a powerful recognition of truth in art. Crowned with an Emmy, this defective history of the Vietnam era will become required viewing for generations of young Americans—a seductive, but false, interpretation of events.

As veterans who served during that time and during subsequent wars, and as civilians who actively oppose them today, we ask that these issues be seriously considered when voting for the “Best Documentary Series” this year.

The following community sites updated: