Friday, October 05, 2018

Curiosity, MURPHY BROWN and more

Okay, Opportunity is the name of the other rover on Mars,  Thank you Jenny, DeShawn, Linda and Ethel for e-mailing after I explained I forgot the name of the rover.  As for what Opportunity is up to, Victor Phillip (FACTS HERALD) explains:

In the recent development, Mars rover Opportunity has been operating on the surface of the Red Planet since the year 2004. The dust storm which has occurred in this summer has proved that the mission toughest challenge. The storm is so huge that it has blocked the sunlight to get to the rover. Sunlight is the main source of energy for the rover which keeps the batteries out there running. But for now, there is no guarantee about the batteries whether they dead or good.

So the dust storm . . .  Hopefully, we'll find out soon that Opportunity is still functioning. 

Now here's a Tweet I love about Curiosity.

Thinking about if I could have stowed away with the mars Curiosity rover... Seems like a cool personality to be around...likes science, knows “happy birthday”, likes to travel, has/is a car.

Okay, MURPHY BROWN came back to CBS.  Why?

"TV: MURPHY BROWN was bad but Channing Dungey's far worse" is Ava and C.I.'s piece about that awful show.  They were right, by the way, Thursdays show did show Murphy pushing around two Black journalists.  This really is a show with racism.  So I'm glad it's doing badly in the ratings.


Although it attracted a sizable overall audience, last week’s “Murphy Brown” revival premiere posted a disappointing adults 18-49 rating.
This week’s episode posted a slightly lower rating.

The show is just an embarrassment.  I think it was a huge mistake to bring it back.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Friday, October 5, 2018.

News out of Iraq today includes the sickness of the European Union's representative Ramon Blecua:

Thanks to all that have checked on my health . I did fell sick this morning and had to cancel several meetings. UNICEF doctor diagnosed the cause as water pollution. I did not intended to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel.

As The BRussels Tribunal's Dirk Adriaensens has noted, over 100,000 in the last few months have required hospitalization as a result of drinking the water.

The drinking water is poison.  And where's the Iraqi government?

For that matter, where are the international oil companies?

The Rumaila oil field has not helped drinking water, not when pipes leak hundreds of barrels a day and the oil pools on either side of the highway.  There is no effort to stop the leaks, there is no effort to clean up the spills.  Luke Mitchell noted it in his December 2007 report for HARPER'S MAGAZINE.

There are no protections for the people of Iraq.  The same government that steals from the Iraqi treasury turns an eye as problems fester and increase, issues that harm the very safety of the Iraqi people.

A functioning or even just semi-functioning (and partially independent) Iraqi government would have long ago brought a law suit against the US government and various weaponmakers for the use of Depleted Uranium, White Phosphorus, etc in Iraq in the early years of the Iraq War.  They would note the birth defects that followed.

But Iraq's government is largely puppets and they are more interested in stealing from the Iraqi people.  They don't even have the strength to try to leverage the US government to build and fund up to date facilities to treat those effected by the various weapons used in Iraq.

Last year, Vijay Prashad (THE CITIZEN) noted:

Fallujah is one of the most forgotten contemporary US battlefields. In that battle to defeat the popular insurgency against the American occupation, the United States used chemical (white phosphorus) and radioactive (DU) weapons with great abandon. The fierceness of the war destroyed three quarters of the city and sent most of its population to the grave or into flight. At this time, General Mattis headed the 1st Marine Division that was key to the Fallujah war. 

Ironically, the United States went into Iraq in 2003 with the claim that it wanted to destroy weapons of mass destruction. In turn, it was the United States that used weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq. 

The United States dropped at least 116,000 kgs of DU ammunition during the bombing campaign of the 2003 Iraq War. At that time, A-10 fighter jets were used for these missions, the same planes used in Syria. Strike logs released to George Washington University in 2013, shows that in the early months of the war (March-April 2003), DU ammunition was used against cars and trucks as well as buildings of all kinds. 

The widespread use of these radioactive weapons across Iraq contaminated large swathes of the country. What transpired in Fallujah the next year was merely the continuation of what had become normal policy. The data from that war has not been released as of yet. It would show that DU weapons were fired not only from A-10 jets, but also from tanks and other ground-based devices. These not only contaminated the soil, but also endangered US troops. 

It is not as if the US military did not know that DU weapons are dangerous. The US Environmental Protection Agency calls these weapons ‘a radiation health hazard when inside the body’. A 1975 US Air Force review suggested that these weapons not be used against troops, but only against ‘tanks, armored personnel carriers or other hard targets’. 

This prohibition was routinely violated during the US War on Iraq. In 2003, the UK’s Royal Society of Medicine and the UN Environment Program warned against the use of such weapons. None of these warnings were heeded. People like Mattis and Kelley had their fingers on the trigger. There is no available evidence that they cautioned against what is tantamount to a war crime. 

Last Friday, we noted the death of Tara Fares.  Her murder continues to resonate.

Tara Fares is not the only beauty entrepreneur to have met her death in Iraq in recent months.

Three well-known women involved in the beauty industry were reported murdered in in last 30 days: Today: Tara Fares, 22, blogger and model Wednesday: Suad al-Ali, human rights activist 4 Weeks ago: Rafeef al-Yaser, surgeon and beauty expert.

Robin Smith (NEWS.COM) notes this morning:

“I’M not afraid of the one who denies the existence of God, but I’m really afraid of the one who kills and chops off heads to prove the existence of God.”
That’s what Tara Fares wrote on Instagram to her 2.8 million followers in July. Two months later she was murdered in a brazen, daylight attack.
The model known for her risque posts was shot several times by a man who leaned in to the window of her white Porsche as she drove through Baghdad last week.
Her death is the latest in a string of attacks on popular women and activists who dare to speak up for change in Muslim-majority Iraq.
It follows the death of a woman known as “Iraq’s Barbie”, plastic surgeon Dr Rafeef al-Yassiri, who many believe was poisoned over her work offering cosmetic surgery victims of war.
Soad al-Ali, another prominent female activist, was gunned down in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in what police described as a “purely personal” attack.
The Baghdad Post reports a former Miss Iraq, Simaa Qasim is so concerned she’s “next” on the hit list that she’s leaving social media. Ms Qasim, who was “close” with Ms Fares, said she had received death threats.

The ongoing Iraq War destroyed the rights of women in Iraq.  What bombs didn't destroy, the US government did by installing thugs as part of the shock therapy that was supposed to silence Iraqis and allow for an easier takeover and occupation.  The 'brain drain' that first took place led to many technocrats and doctors and other professionals fleeing Iraq -- little noted by the press during this wave or others was how many fleeing were women.  That's because women are targets in Iraq.  Baria Alamuddin (DAILY TRIBUNE) explains that the women being targeted go beyond the beauty industry:

A grainy video showed a motorcyclist fatally pumping bullets into the car of 22-year-old Iraqi model and social media star Tara Fares last week. This horrifying attack was the latest in a succession of murders of prominent Iraqi women; including others from the beauty industry, Basra activist Suad AlAli, and the killings of protesters by sectarian militants.

That's Cat Power (with Lana Del Rey) with her video "Women."  It's from her just released album WANDARER ("Horizon" is my favorite song off the album currently).

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and DISSIDENT VOICE --  updated:

  • Thursday, October 04, 2018

    Curiosity's two brains

    Tired? Sluggish? Wouldn't it be great if you could just switch your brain to a better functioning version? Well, that's a privilege you can enjoy if you're the Mars Curiosity rover. NASA's intrepid explorer has been subject to a few technical problems over the last two weeks, which means it's been struggling to send its data back to Earth, so engineers have decided to activate Curiosity's second brain.
    That’s Rachel England (ENDGADGET) and, yes, that would be great.

    Like many NASA spacecraft, Curiosity was designed with two, redundant computers—in this case, referred to as a Side-A and a Side-B computer—so that it can continue operations if one experiences a glitch. After reviewing several options, JPL engineers recommended that the rover switch from Side B to Side A, the computer the rover used initially after landing.
    The rover continues to send limited engineering data stored in short-term memory when it connects to a relay orbiter. It is otherwise healthy and receiving commands. But whatever is preventing Curiosity from storing science data in long-term memory is also preventing the storage of the rover's event records, a journal of all its actions that engineers need in order to make a diagnosis. The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer.


    NASA’s next Mars rover will be named by a schoolkid, just like the agency’s previous wheeled Red Planet explorers. 
    The agency plans to run a naming competition for the vehicle, which is currently known as the Mars 2020 rover, during the 2019 scholl year, NASA officials announced today (Sept. 24).  The contest will be open to U.S. students from kindergarten to 12th grade,, who will be asked to write an essay explaining their choice.
    That is so great.  I didn’t know it existed or was already in play.  This needs to be heavily promoted because we need, as a country, to be more focused on science.  I am grossly offended that a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, is yet again all over TV – I think it was Kimmel this week – and yet we can’t talk science.  We can have gossip – especially tawdry gossip – but we can’t have science.  It’s ridiculous.

    Instructional videos for building the rover, as well as other “missions” or educational activities, are available using the free Android or iOS littleBits Invent app.  Also online video tutorials and educational courses are available on
    The littleBits Inventor Kits redesigned to inspire kids’ own passions for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), littleBits said in a statement.
    That is great and another way to instill a love of learning in our kids.   P.S. I’ve forgotten the name of the other Rover on Mars, just remembered.  I’ll look it up and blog about it next time.  (It was lost in the dust storm last month.)

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Thursday, October 4, 2018.  Let's look at Iraq's new prime minister today.

    Iraq finally has a president and an prime minister-designate.  Possibly the long delay (elections were held May 12th, Tuesday they finally named a president) has left some confused?  Martin Chulov, for example, wrote at THE GUARDIAN:

    Under Iraq’s postwar constitution, the president must be a Kurd, the prime minister a Shia, and the speaker of parliament a Sunni. The divisions of authority give the three dominant sects a stake in the country’s affairs. However, power is often bitterly contested along sectarian lines leading to regular governance breakdowns and a long list of grievances – including complaints of rampant corruption, sclerotic services and a bloated, inefficient public sector.

    That's wrong.  That's just flat out wrong.

    When I saw it yesterday afternoon, I almost posted about it but thought, "Oh, they'll correct it in an hour or two."  They still haven't.  That doesn't speak well for THE GUARDIAN.

    The Constitution of Iraq calls for the president to be an Iraqi by birth.

    That's it.

    There is nothing in the Constitution saying they must be a Kurd.

    The president a Kurd, the Speaker of Parliament a Sunni and the prime minister a Shi'ite is something that has been worked out from outside of the Constitution.  It can be argued it is now custom; however, it can not be argued that it is law and you certainly cannot state that it is written into the Constitution when it is not.

    Chulov notes that Adel Abdul-Mahdi has been named prime minister-designate and that "Abdul Mahdi, 76, a former oil minister, has been given 30 days to assemble a cabinet to be approved by Iraq’s parliament."

    Balsam Mustafa has some issued with Mina Aldroubi's latest for THE NATIONAL:

    Balsam Mustafa Retweeted Mina Aldroubi
    Some issues in this article: 1st: He was not elected but tapped Second:why there isn't any reference to his previous political alignments as a communist, and most importantly, as a member in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq? (1)
    Balsam Mustafa added,

    Third: there is no reference to claims of his association with a bank robbery a few years ago. Fourth: I don't think, and this is just my opinion, that Kurds from KDP will be satisfied w 'leftover scraps' from ministries distribution as notes

    I can only think of the word 'hypocrisy' to describe someone who spent plenty of time over the past few months criticising the whole political system in to then become key part of it through a deal brokered by many actors

    As noted in yesterday's snapshot, since 2006, CIA analysts have argued that Mahdi was the best equipped Iraqi to be prime minister.  It's taken a long time for him to get there.  A long time.  76 years old right now.  A long time.  The Bully Boy Bush White House saw the analysis but they preferred Nouri al-Maliki in 2006 because the CIA write up on him argued that his immense paranoia would make him easy to handle and manipulate.

    76 years old.

    What lesson do learn of political events yesterday? When things get complicated, don’t be part of it, leave politics for a while, don’t run for election, take off formal suits, enjoy with tourism tour, write morning articles with a cup of coffee, then you will get PM post

    Ages of Iraq's post-2003 prime minister when they assumed their functions: Ayad Allawi: 60 Ibrahim Jaafari: 58 Nouri al-Maliki: 56 Haider al-Abadi: 62 Adel Abdel Mehdi: 76 AAM is the oldest by 14 years.

    Like the previous prime minister Hayder al-Abadi, Mahdi is a very short man.  Like all the previous prime ministers post-invasion, Mahdi is a flee-er.  He fled Iraq and only returned years later after the US-led invasion.

    Mustafa Habib reflects on Hayder in two Tweets:

    Which disappointed PM , not political class, Iran, US, or bad luck, but his party "Dawa" which gave up him over 4 hard years, the man forced to based on support of other parties, while he keep loyal to his party even when asked him to leave it to become their hero

    When Maliki (leader of the party) lost PM post in 2014 he insisted on take that in personally against Abadi over 4 years!, while Dawa leaders ignored Abadi's achievements & the nice impress of people for him, which could have bring good popularity for Dawa in the future

    At NIQASH, Mustafa Habib shares:

    There are many challenges in Iraq: a stagnating economy, recovery and reconstruction after the security crisis caused by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, drought, corruption and mismanagement. But to the optimists among Iraqis, all these challenges could also be a historic opportunity to improve the situation, especially as Turkey and Iran, the two neighbours of Iraq, are busy with their own internal problems.

    For the first time in years, there is a rare state of national unity brought about because locals had to unite during the security crisis. The sectarian discourse and the exchange of insults between Sunnis and Shiites are not as common any more and it is not strange these days to read friendly and respectful comments, exchanged by residents of Anbar, Basra, Mosul, Dhi Qar, Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan. The ongoing demonstrations have revealed the growing awareness of Iraqis, who now know that the country’s problem is not its people, but its politicians.

    Iraqi politicians must respond to these developments before it is too late. There are more protests on the way. And they will be bigger and lead to more chaos, Iraq’s highest Shiite Muslim religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, warned Iraqi politicians last week.

    Since the federal elections held in May this year, Iraqi parties have been living in a state of anxiety. Negotiations to form a government are happening under pressure as demonstrators seem to be watching closely. Politicians appear to be afraid of going with Iraq’s long-used quota system to form the government, as it would go against the reform the protestors are calling for.

    THE NEW ARAB offers:

    Mahdi becomes the first elected prime minister in post-Saddam Iraq not to hail from the Shia Islamist Dawa party.
    With a burly physique and a face framed by spectacles and a thin moustache, Abdul Mahdi is an economist by training who has served as oil minister.
    He will be able to call on years of experience as a regular on Iraq's diplomatic scene for the balancing acts he is expected for perform.
    Abdul Mahdi has the blessing of both Iran and the United States, a required consensus in the country caught between its two major allies who are foes.

    Per the Constitution, Mahdi has 30 days to form a government (Cabinet) but this provision has never been enforced.  For all intents and purposes (unless the Parliament suddenly decides the Constitution must be followed), Mahdi is now prime minister of Iraq.

    The United Nations Special Representative for , Ján Kubiš, on Wednesday, welcomed the designation of a new Prime Minister, Adel Abdel-Mahdi, and urged political leaders to promote women’s meaningful representation in politics.

    In Iraq, UN welcomes new President, and Prime Minister-designate, calls for ‘truly representative’ new cabinet

    Here's Cat Power's "Woman" with Lana del Rey.

    Cat's album WANDERER is released tomorrow.

    The following community sites updated: