Friday, December 11, 2020

To the moon

 AP reports that people will be landing on the Moon again for the first time since 1972.


So they're hoping for a 2024 landing and there are 18 astronauts that are going to be part of the mission.  This is "Artemis" that we were covering earlier this week.  STANFORD UNIVERSITY NEWS reports:

On Dec. 9, NASA announced the members of the Artemis team of astronauts, who will participate in missions on and around the moon. Three Stanford alumni – NICOLE MANN, MS ’01; KATE RUBINS, PhD ’06; and JESSICA WATKINS, BS ’10 – are among the 18 astronauts chosen to be part of the “Artemis Team.”

According to the press release from NASA, the Artemis program will “land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.”

Mann was born in Petaluma, California, and grew up in nearby Rohnert Park. She received a Master of Science degree from Stanford in mechanical engineering with a specialty in fluid mechanics in 2001 and joined the astronaut corps in 2013. According to NASA, Mann is currently training for the first crew flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Rubins was raised in Napa, California, and earned her doctorate in cancer biology from the School of Medicine in 2006. She was chosen as an astronaut in 2009. She has flown aboard the International Space Station twice. During those flights, Rubins performed two spacewalks – totaling 12 hours, 46 minutes – and was the first person to sequence DNA in space. She has logged 115 days in space.

Watkins, from Lafayette, Colorado, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford in 2010. She interned at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. She joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A Stanford Earth story from 2018 reported that “one of Watkins’ fondest memories at Stanford is the work she did with Don Lowe, whom she met during her junior year when she was interning at nearby NASA Ames and exploring the feasibility of simulating Martian soil for a research project.”


Here are the 18 who were picked:

The Artemis Team members are:


Joseph Acaba was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004. He has spent 306 days in space and performed three spacewalks. The Anaheim, California, native holds a bachelor’s degree in geology, as well as master’s degrees in geology and education. Before coming to NASA, he taught high school science and middle school math and science.

Kayla Barron was chosen as an astronaut in 2017. Originally from Richland, Washington, she earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron was a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community. She is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.

Raja Chari joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He received a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School graduate worked on F-15E upgrades and then the F-35 development program, before coming to NASA.

Matthew Dominick was chosen as an astronaut in 2017. Born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, he holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in systems engineering. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was a developmental test pilot specializing in aircraft carrier launches and landings before coming to NASA. 

Victor Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013. The Pomona, California, native and U.S. Navy Commander earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and master’s degrees in flight test engineering, systems engineering, and military operational art and science. He piloted the Crew-1 Dragon Resilience and is currently serving as an Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the International Space Station.

Warren Hoburg joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science. Before coming to NASA, he was an assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a seasonal member of the Yosemite Search and Rescue team.

Jonny Kim came to NASA as part of the 2017 astronaut class. The Los Angeles, California, native enlisted in the U.S. Navy following high school. He became a Navy SEAL before earning his commission and going back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, followed by a doctor of medicine.

Christina Hammock Koch was selected as an astronaut in 2013 and holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, with 328 days in space and six spacewalks. She grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and received bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Kjell Lindgren was chosen as an astronaut in 2009. He spent 141 days in space and performed two spacewalks. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in cardiovascular physiology and a doctor of medicine. Before becoming an astronaut, he was a flight surgeon supporting space shuttle and space station missions.

Nicole A. Mann joined the astronaut corps in 2013 and is currently training as pilot for the Crew Flight Test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. Born in Petaluma, California, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.  The U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel was an F/A-18 fighter pilot and graduate from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Anne McClain, from Spokane, Washington, joined the astronaut corps in 2013. She has spent 204 days in space and conducted two spacewalks. The U.S. Army lieutenant colonel is a Senior Army Aviator and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as a helicopter test pilot. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical/aeronautical engineering, and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and international relations.

Jessica Meir was chosen as an astronaut in 2013. She has spent 205 days in space and performed three spacewalks. A native of Caribou, Maine, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in space studies, and a doctorate in marine biology. Before coming to NASA, she studied the physiology of animals in extreme environments.

Jasmin Moghbeli joined the astronaut corps in 2017. A major in the U.S. Marine Corps, she was raised in Baldwin, New York. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering. She also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and tested H-1 helicopters before she came to NASA.

Kate Rubins was chosen as an astronaut in 2009 and is currently orbiting Earth on her second flight aboard the International Space Station. She was raised in Napa, California, and holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in cancer biology. She was the first person to sequence DNA in space and has performed two spacewalks. 

Frank Rubio was selected as part of the 2017 astronaut class. The U.S. Army lieutenant colonel considers Miami, Florida, his hometown. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a doctor of medicine. He served as both a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and a flight surgeon in the Army before coming to NASA.

Scott Tingle came to NASA to join the 2009 astronaut class. The U.S. Navy captain has spent 168 days in space and performed one spacewalk. He considers Randolph, Massachusetts, his hometown and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. He also graduated from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.

Jessica Watkins joined the astronaut corps in 2017. The Lafayette, Colorado, native received a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, and a doctorate in geology. Before becoming an astronaut, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she served as a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Stephanie Wilson was chosen as an astronaut in 1996. A veteran of three space shuttle flights, she has spent 42 days in space. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering science and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Before becoming an astronaut, she worked on the Galileo spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Acaba, Dominick, McClain, Meir, and Watkins attended the announcement in person, representing their teammates.


WE ARE THE MIGHTY notes, "It’s no surprise that many of NASA’s astronauts have military backgrounds. However, it may come as surprise that one of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis team on December 9, 2020 is a submariner and another is a Navy SEAL. The Artemis program aims to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024. Ten of the astronauts chosen for this historic program have military backgrounds." WOMC notes:


The "mega rocket" assembly for the Artemis moon mission has begun, "Stacking the first piece of the SLS rocket on the mobile launcher marks a major milestone for the Artemis Program.  It shows the mission is truly taking shape and will soon head to the launch pad."

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS);

 Friday, Decemeber 11, 2020.  Protests continue in Iraq while the Pope notes the continued violence and the refugees.

Starting with Pope Francis.

He says of Iraq and Syria in the video above:

My thoughts go notably to the people who had to leave their homes to escape the horrors of war, in search of a better life.  We must work to ensure that the Christian presence in these lands continues to be what it has always been: a sign of peace, progress, development, and reconciliation between peoples

Here's a video segment from ROME REPORTS on the Pope's remarks.

Carol Glatz (CNS via THE TABLET) explains:

Pope Francis encouraged every effort, big or small, to foster peace amid the crises unfolding in Iraq and Syria, and to help Christians remain.

Highlighting the desire of refugees to return to their homes, the Pope appealed to the international community “to make every effort to encourage this return, guaranteeing the security conditions and the economic conditions necessary for this to happen”.

Ines San Martin (CRUX NEWS) adds:

Close to 50 people, between Vatican officials and representatives of local Catholic Churches took part in the Dec. 10 virtual summit organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Though the Zoom dialogue focused mostly on Syria and Iraq, the cases of neighboring Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan – all hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees – were also considered.

Pope Francis has announced his plan to visit Iraq in March of the new year (March 5th to March 8th, see Wednesday's snapshot).  If the visit takes place, it will be the first time a pope has visited Iraq.  VATICAN NEWS notes:

Even though details of the visit have not been decided, the bishop said that Pope Francis wishes to go “to Mosul, a stronghold of the Islamic State for a long time, where the worst crimes of jihadist madness were committed.”  “The Pope wants to go to Mosul and pray for the victims of the Islamic State” and the violence that took place in the city.

Catholics, Bishop Yaldo said, are “a small flock, but of great relevance.”  “This Christmas will be special as we wait for the visit.”  In the meantime, “we must do our best to ensure that it has the historical, cultural and religious importance it deserves.”  “This visit,” he said, “will give an enormous boost to the country’s future and will guarantee great visibility to Christians. The Pope will give great significance and relevance to their presence and their suffering.”

According to the bishop, the stop at Ur of the Chaldeans, regarded as the birthplace of Abraham, will be the high point of the visit because Christians, Muslims and Jews regard him as a prophet.  Abraham “represents the sign of unity for all of us who inhabit this land, for us who are in Iraq”.  “Seeing Abraham’s house will be a great symbol of unity for all religions that have this element in common,” Bishop Yaldo said. 

Like the rest of the world, Iraq is experiencing the pandemic.  XINHUA notes, "The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Thursday 1,380 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 571,253, while the recoveries surpassed 500,000."  In the face of the pandemic, Kevin Clarke (AMERIA: THE JESUIT REVIEW) wonders about the safety of the announced visit:

While a visit from the pope will no doubt provide a spiritual and psychological boost to Nineveh Christians, under the current pandemic conditions it is a prospect that must give local public health officials pause. “The people will go to see him even if there is coronavirus,” Mr. Towaya assures. “They don’t care about that; they will not stay home; they will go, and they will receive him.”

World Health Organization officials and the Holy See Press Office did not respond to questions about how the pope’s visit and related public events could be conducted safely, but W.H.O. guidelines currently in effect urge “that all countries with community transmission should seriously consider postponing or reducing mass gatherings that bring people together and have the potential to amplify disease.”

Though rates of Covid-19 in Iraq have declined since October, on average more than 2,000 new cases have been confirmed each day throughout November and December. More than 571,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Iraq since February, and more than 12,500 Iraqis have died.

Even as announcements are made of vaccine breakthroughs and wealthier nations like the United States and United Kingdom line up to reserve millions of vaccine doses, the World Health Organization predicts widespread distribution of a vaccine for coronavirus will not begin until sometime in the middle of 2021, long after the dates currently proposed for the pope’s visit to Iraq. A W.H.O. program to accelerate development and distribution of an affordable coronavirus vaccine faced a $28 billion shortfall in December.

A visit by the Pope would provide many benefits -- including uplift and excitement -- at a time when many Iraqis suffer -- continue to suffer -- in the ongoing war.

Let's again note this video about abuse in Iraq.

We'll again note The Wilson Center's Hanaa Edwar:

This year, we have launched the mapping report on Sexual and GBV in Iraq 2003-2018, which was developed by Iraqi Al-Amal Association, Impunity Watch and PAX. The report is part of a broader project entitled “Engendering the Transition to Peace and Security in Iraq” funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, since the outbreak of protest demonstrations on October 2019, we have documented the killing of six female demonstrators and activists in different provinces. The latest was Dr. Reham Jacob in Basra in August 2020. Plus, many demonstrators encountered assassination attempts, death threats, abduction, or sexual assault. Many activists went into hiding to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Due to the influence of militias in the political and security apparatus and the spread of corruption in Iraq, women’s rights defenders, activists and journalists lack basic legal and social protections. We are seriously concerned about the impunity of death threats, abductions, sexual assault, intimidation, online harassment, and smear campaigns against them. We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to adhere to justice, accountability, and transparency through effective investigations of these crimes. Without protections for activists and civil society leaders, Iraq will never move forward on ending GBV.

Iraq is a war zone.  It remains one.  The US-led invasion of 2003 set off an ongoing war and just because the US press largely withdrew at the end of 2008 doesn't mean that the war ended.  The violence continues.  UNICEF notes:


In Sinjar, two children were killed and another two injured when unexploded ordnance went off. This is a stark reminder that landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to threaten the lives of children in Iraq. In Sulaymaniyah, at least one child was killed during the ongoing wave of protests in the governorate.UNICEF strongly urges all parties to protect children and keep them out of harm's way. Children should be safe everywhere, in their homes, in neighborhoods, and on the streets. This continued violence and disregard for children's safety should stop. Children's right to live in safety, protected from all forms of violence, is a right that is enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child. Iraq is a signatory of the Convention and must therefore do all that it can to ensure that every boy and girl can live in safety and dignity.

School in the midst of a pandemic?  Not easy even outside a war zone.  In Iraq?  One Nation is working to provide education centers.

The people of Iraq have been living a war for many years now. Thousands have been killed and almost a million people have been displaced, forced to flee their homes. We would like to say a huge Jazakallah and thank you to everyone that donated to our ongoing projects in Iraq. Please continue to donate by visiting 100% donation policy 0300 500 1000

In the US, idiots puffed out their chests for wearing pink hats and marching (for nothing, by the way) in DC to protest Donald Trump's election as president in 2016.  It was a waste of time.  It's the Sam Seder of 'politics.'  It's meaningless.  It's a statement where none is needed.  Sam Sader doesn't do issues.  He does partisan talking points.  The late Kevin Zeese spend his life fighting for issue -- Medicare For All, an end to war, etc.  These are real issues and these are issues to go into the streets.  Corruption, violence against the people, a living wage, etc.  Putting on a pink hat and stomping around DC because you don't like an election outcome is, at best, really bad performance art/street theater.  It's not risking anything in terms of personal safety and it's not demanding anything.  

It's nonsense.  Get out in the streets to protest police violence, to demand a living wage, to scream that Congress gets off its ass and starts working for the people, real issues.  "My itty bitty feelings are hurt that my favorite person didn't win the election!"  That's cry baby nonsense. 

Well off or well funded cry baby nonsense, we should note.  Most Americans don't have the luxury of being able to travel to DC to stomp their feet over an election -- either they lack the funds or they have demands -- jobs, children, caregive for family members -- that don't allow them to just up and travel.

Real protests matter.  And real protests are taking place in Iraq.

Protests have been taking place in Iraq for over a year now.  You don't see our US 'left' outlets noting those protests.  But those protests take place.  And the Iraqi people risk their lives protesting.  Bullets are used on them, tear gas, sonic bombs.  They are bullied at protests by the security forces, they are often stalked on their way homes from a protest.  Many of the protesters have been disappeared -- an issue that Amnesty International is supposedly watching (according to a friend with Amnesty UK).  They are risking everything to make demands.  For?  Jobs.  An end to corruption.  Basic services like electricity and potable water.  A government that works for the people.  

They are making real demands. 

Nasiriyah has been carrying out protests for some time now.  At the end of last month, cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr turned his goons loose on the peaceful protesters.  Some were wounded (around 80) and some were killed (6 to 18 depending on the outlet).  Still they protest.


Today in Nasiriyah, protesters are rallying in support of the protests in the Sulaymaniyah and other parts of the KRI:
Quote Tweet
Ali Al_Mikdam علي المكَدام
محافظة ذي قار الآن خروج محتجي مدينة الناصرية بمسيرات حاشدة تأييدا ومناصرة لمحتجي إقليم كردستان العراق. #السليمانية_تنتفض

We'll note this Tweet as well:

Heavy large circle
To all the Iraqis, let us raise our voices to protest the arbitrary arrests carried out by the Nassiriya Crisis Cell against Al-Haboubi activists with orders from Al-Sadr? Who wants to silence those who demand the freedom of a nation.. #Nasiriyah will not-be subjugated

Another hot spot for protests in the last few weeks is Sulaymaniyah.

This morning, Hoshang Waziri Tweets:

Only one word to describe such a intimidating show of force; fear! While authorities in #sulaymaniyah #KRG try to show their teeth, they fail to conceal their fear of unarmed jobless, hopeless, & angry young people who have nothing to lose but their despair. #KurdistanProtests

Renas Hassan Tweets:

#securityforces firing rubber bullets & tear gas over peaceful protests in #sulaymaniyah #kurdistanprotests #krg #Kurdistan

Ibrahim al-Zobeidi (ARAB WEEKLY) offers this view:

What happened and is happening in Sulaymaniyah is no different from what happened and is happening every day in Baghdad, Nasiriyah, Basra and other Iraqi cities. Same reasons, same motives, and same results.

Yes, it is the same anger that is driving the masses to take revenge on the ruling parties, and the same cruelty that is used to suppress the demonstrators with batons, gas bombs and, finally real bullets, if they are not deterred at the first sign and return to their homes obediently, so that they do not, after today, dare attack their masters.

What is evidenced by the details of the Sulaymaniyah battles between the oppressed and robbed Kurdish citizens and their oppressors and exposed robbers, is that all that talk by Kurdish political leaders, from complaining about being oppressed for a long time to calling for protecting the citizen’s dignity, guaranteeing his security and independence, and restoring his legitimate rights to justice, equality, job opportunities and prosperity, was nothing but a smokescreen.

And they were no different in this from their Islamist allies who have monopolised power, money and weapons in the Arab half of Iraq; they are all made of the same clay and in the same mould.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Good question


All right, that’s it. I’ve run out of patience. No more excuses. Where’s the Hitler?

Yes, you heard me. I’m talking to you. You respectable journalists and political pundits. You Intelligence officials and politicians. You fanatical liberals. You pseudo anti-fascists. All you members of the GloboCap “Resistance” who have been hysterically shrieking that “Trump is Hitler!” since he won the nomination back in 2016.

Well, OK, it’s November 2020. The show is almost over. When do we get Hitler?

No, do not tell me “any day now.” You’ve been telling us that for four straight years. Do we look like a bunch of gullible idiots that you can whip up into a four-year frenzy of mindless hatred and paranoia by screaming “Hitler!” over and over, and then not produce an actual Hitler?

Well, we’re not. We remember what you said. You promised us Hitler, and we want Hitler, or at least a decent facsimile of Hitler.

And don’t even think of trying to pretend that you didn’t actually promise us Hitler. You did. You want me to prove it? OK.

Remember back in 2016, when The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Inquirer, and other such “leading respectable broadsheets,” and online magazines like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and countless others, warned that Trump was sending secret anti-Semitic “dog whistle” signals to his underground army of Nazi terrorists by talking about “international banks,” “global elites,” the “political establishment,” and even “corporations” and “lobbyists” … all of which was supposedly code for “the Jews,” who he was going to exterminate if won the election?

I do. I remember that, distinctly.

How about after he won the election, when The Guardian reported that “white supremacy ha[d] triumphed!,” and The New York Times, NPR, Keith Olberman, and other verified news sources warned that America had descended into “racial Orwellianism” or Zionist Anti-Semitism, or the “bottomless pit of fascism” or whatever? Or when Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post confirmed that “Donald Trump is actually a fascist”?

Do you remember all that? Because I certainly do.

Remember Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter warning her that millions of “Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans [were] shaking in their shoes” as they waited for Trump to round them all up and send them to the camps, along with the “Jewish Coastal Elites”?

 I'm on the left.  For me, Trump was a bad president.  He was not, however, the worst of my lifetime.  That title is held by Bully Boy Bush.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, December 10, 2020.  Protests continue in Iraq and more and more notice how little coverage western journalism provides.

Western troops (including US troops) are not popular in Iraq.  More and more, the same is true of western reporters.  John Davison of REUTERS Tweeted:

Protester killed in Iraq's Kurdistan region after days of unrest

Zahra Sadruddin responds:

Under 200 words and dateline is Baghdad. Reuters couldn't send their Erbil correspondent to Suleimaniyah to do some actual reporting?

And Yacoub al-Khder adds:

“Reuters couldn't send their Erbil correspondent to Suleimaniyah to do some actual reporting?” They might be at standby to be called to go to Nasiriyah anytime to do actual reporting!

What's going on?  People are fed up with so-called reporters.  A western reporter has far more protection in Iraq than does an Iraqi reporter.  No one has, for example, broken into the home/hotel room of a western reporter in Baghdad and killed them.  The same can't be said of Iraqi reporters.  Hadi al-Mahdi is only the best known example of an Iraqi reporter killed in their own home -- and let's be honest, outside of Iraq, few bothered to follow Hadi's case and few bother to remember him today.   See the September 8, 2011 snapshot if you're late to Hadi's story.

I don't want to act as though western reporters don't face threats.  Ned Parker was threatened on Iraqi television, AL-AHD (owned by the miliita Asaib Ahl al-Haq which is backed by the Iranian government) and not only did the Iraqi government do nothing about it, the sitting prime minister Hayder al-Abadi mocked Ned.  It gets worse, Hayder had the nerve to belittle Ned on American soil.  (Barbara Slavin was one of the few journalists present to push back.)  And certainly, Jill Carroll and others were targeted in the early years of the war (Carroll was kidnapped).  

But in the last years?  It's the Iraqi journalists risking everything to report on Iraq while the western reporters who have the backing of corporations refuse to report on the realities of Iraq.  Maybe they're scared of being banned?  Wouldn't that be better than to be, for example, Jane Arraf who has spent decades in Iraq and has nothing to show for it?  Not one major storyline the whole time.  That is, after all, how Jane got to stay in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in charge and how she has been able to stay there for many, many years after.  

The day a protester is killed with a tear gas canister -- it is shot at his head and kills him -- Jane's prattling on air on NPR about how restrained the security forces are -- they're just using tear gas and sonic bombs and --

Is that really going to be Jane's legacy?  Decades in Iraq without ever breaking one meaningful story?  

The western press didn't just go to Iraq to cover the war -- when they did go.  No, they were also there to teach the Iraqi people about a free press.  Surveying the western press today versus the Iraqi press, it appears it's the Iraqi reporters who have several things to teach western reporters, not the other way around.

THIRD's editorial "Editorial: When the press ignores violence" highlights Louisa Loveluck and Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Hardworking Louisa Loveluck."  

Louisa, if you missed it, entered the conversation about the Nassiryah protests last week when people on Twitter were noting that western outlets were ignoring Moqtada al-Sadr sending his goons to attack the protesters.  Not so, Lousia wanted people to know "for the record," she insisted, it was covered.  She then listed four outlets: ALJAZEERA (not a western outlet, Louisa, how is that news to you?), AFP, AP and REUTERS.  Lousia didn't mention THE WASHINGTON POST -- the paper she works for.  She didn't mention it because they didn't cover it.  And while Louisa's trying to push back, she didn't realize how lazy and entitled she came off -- she's not just a reporter for THE POST, she's the bureau chief . . . for Baghdad.  Iraq is her beat.  But she didn't protests on the dead and wounded and, when people were critizing the silence of the western press, she -- with no awareness or irony -- went on to list four outlets that she doesn't work at who covered the story while failing to own her own decision not to cover it -- or even to cop to it.

AFP reports:

Hundreds of people protested in several towns across Iraq's Sulaimaniyah province on Wednesday, local sources told AFP, as rights organisations slammed the Kurdish authorities' targeting of peaceful demonstrators.

Protests against the Kurdish regional government (KRG) and the region's main parties broke out last week over a major fiscal crisis that has caused delayed public sector salaries and pay cuts.

After a tense morning across Sulaimaniyah province, there were protests in Dukkan, Rania, Darbandikhan, Piramagrun and Chamchamal on Wednesday evening, local residents told AFP.

In Chamchamal, around 300 young men gathered outside the local headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and smaller parties, according to journalist Latif Fateh Faraj.


Seven people were killed in protests in northern Iraq as unrest shakes the region. Protesters and government workers in Sulaymaniyah are demanding salaries be paid as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the country.

Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reports:

Fourteen members of the Kurdistan Region’s parliament on Wednesday said they are protesting parliamentary meetings and sessions “to draw the government's attention to the well-being of the people."

The MPs, made up of representatives from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal or KIG) and Gorran (Change) Movement gathered in front of parliament urging both parties and protesters to refrain from violence.

“We call on all parties, in the cities and towns that are experiencing tensions, to vacate their offices and refrain from confronting the protesters, not to let the protests escalate,” said the MPs in a joint statement read by Gorran MP Ashna Abdulla Qadir.

“We call on the protesters to take a peaceful approach to their rights … and we urge them to refrain from violence and burning public places, which are public property,” they added.

Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes:

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) supports “peaceful and civilized” protests in the Kurdistan Region in a way that does not violate people’s freedom and rights, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Wednesday during a press conference in Erbil.

“We support civilized and peaceful protests of the Kurdistan Region’s people,” the prime minister said during a press conference, addressing journalists on the latest developments and tensions the Kurdistan Region recently witnessed.

One way to support peaceful protests, it should be pointed out, is to stop Kurdish forces from attacking the peaceful protesters to begin with.  Or is that concept too much for Barzani's mind?  Barzani's called for the US to broker a deal between the Baghdad-based central government and the KRG regarding oil.  Maybe he needs to call for someone to mediate between the KRG and the peaceful protesters?  To ensure that the protesters are actually protested?

This is a really bad time for Barzani to being making mis-steps publicly.  Elections are supposed to take place in June.  Gorran benefitted from the PUK's inability to speak to the Kurdish people.  Now it may be the KDP's turn.  Think the PUK doesn't grasp that?  Muwafaq Mohammed, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Aqeel Najim (CNN) note:

Iraqi President Barham Salih said authorities were watching the situation in the province with "deep concern," in a statement urging local officials to listen to protestors' demands. "Solving these problems with violence is a huge error," he said.

Salih is PUK, Barzani is KDP.

NRT reports:

The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are failing in their obligations under international and Iraqi law to bring to justice the “perpetrators of crimes” against journalists, activists, human rights defenders and protesters, eight Kurdish, Iraqi, and international watchdogs said in a joint statement on Wednesday (December 9).

“Despite repeated pledges by the authorities including Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to carry out investigations and hold perpetrators accountable, the authorities have failed to do so to date, in effect perpetuating and further entrenching decades of impunity that have left brave individuals without the most basic protection,” read the statement.

The organizations called on the federal government to investigate the detention of activists and others since the start of the 2019 protests and to free all those held “arbitrarily” for peaceful protests.

SIPRI Tweets:

'The social contract is broken, [and the] KRG is no longer able to fill its end of the bargain as it once did' — SIPRI's
discusses protests in #Iraq's #Sulaymaniyah province in this
article by

Journalist Didar Ali Tweets:

Last night hundreds of civilians and activits have been arrested by #PUK security forces across #sulaymaniyah province without arrest warrant.
#KurdistanProtests #TwitterKurds #Kurdistan #sulaymaniyah
Quote Tweet
Rebaz Majeed
Tonight, the Kurdish security forces are detaining the ones who took part in the #KurdistanProtests. Around 60 people have been detained in Ranya. The same is going on in Kalar, Chamchamal and other towns as well. They try to do everything to prevent any protests tomorrow.

Yasmine Mosimann (RUDAW) reports:

Several international and local human rights groups on Wednesday urged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq to end the arbitrary detention of activists, civil society members, and peaceful protestors, as demonstrations continue in the Kurdistan Region.

“The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government are failing in their obligations under international and Iraqi law to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists, activists, human rights defenders and protesters,” reads a statement by six Iraqi rights organizations, as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).  

The letter comes as tensions rise in the Kurdistan Region. Protests began in Sulaimani city, started by civil servants who have gone unpaid for much of this year amid budget disputes between the KRG in Erbil and the federal government in Baghdad. Demonstrations have since spread to other towns in the province, as well as in Halabja province and the Garmiyan administration. 

We focused on the KRG protests in the above but protests continue in Nassiriyah.  THE BAGHDAD POST Tweets:

Watch| Protesters in #Nasiriyah refuse the ongoing attempts by militias to remove the tents at al-Haboubi Square #BaghdadPost #IraqProtests #saveIraqipeople #FreeIraq

Today is International Human Rights Watch Day and the following statement was issued:

Eight organisations released the following statement today calling on the Iraqi government to investigate the detention of activists and others since the start of the 2019 protests and to free all those held arbitrarily for peaceful protests.

As we mark International Human Rights Day on 10 December, the undersigned organisations call on the Iraqi authorities to fairly, thoroughly and effectively conduct investigations into the cases of detention that have taken place since the start of the popular protests in October 2019 and the forcible disappearance and unlawful killings of dozens of Iraqi activists, journalists, lawyers, and other civil society members, to release those held arbitrarily in relation to their right to free speech or peaceful assembly, and to bring to justice all those responsible for these acts.

The undersigned organisations are especially concerned about the lack of accountability for the extrajudicial executions that have taken place this year, targeting individuals for their peaceful expression.

On 6 July 2020, four unidentified men on motorcycles fatally shot journalist and security expert Dr. Hisham Al-Hashemi in front of his house in the Zayouna area in the capital, Baghdad. Local sources  confirmed that Dr. Al-Hashemi had received repeated threats in the weeks prior to his murder from members of armed groups due to his participation in various television programs, talking about the illegal activities of armed militias in Iraq.

On 15 November 2020, the Iraqi government stated that Al-Hashemi’s killers had fled the country after the authorities seized the motorcycles in Baghdad and identified two of the killers. A government spokesman told state television that “one party smuggled them outside the country,” without naming the party.

On 2 October 2020, seven United Nations experts issued a statement calling on Iraq to investigate the cases of two women human rights defenders targeted for assassination. In August 2020, unidentified gunmen murdered Riham Yaqoub, a doctor and activist who also advocated for the right of women to physically exercise in public spaces.

On 17 August 2020, Lodya Remon Albarti, a defender of women’s and environmental rights, was shot during an assassination attempt. “It is outrageous that women in Iraq have to risk or lose their life to defend human rights,” the UN experts said. “The impunity that allows these crimes to continue must end.”

In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, local authorities have been targeting civil society activists by arresting them for their work and curtailing public freedoms, including media freedom and freedom of peaceful assembly, including since August 2020. Dozens of activists, teachers, and peaceful protesters have participated in protests to demand an end to corruption in the region, the improvement of public services, payment of salaries of employees that were delayed for months, and the implementation of comprehensive reforms. Although some have been released, many remain in detention.

The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government are failing in their obligations under international and Iraqi law to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists, activists, human rights defenders and protesters. Despite repeated pledges by the authorities including Prime Minister Mustafa Al–Kadhimi to carry out investigations and hold perpetrators accountable, the authorities have failed to do so to date, in effect perpetuating and further entrenching decades of impunity that have left brave individuals without the most basic protection.

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