Thursday, February 25, 2021

Perseverance on Mars

Perseverance, the NASA rover, is on Mars.

Take a guided tour around the first high-definition 360-degree view of Jezero Crater provided by NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover. Mission experts will walk us through the new Martian terrain, explain why it’s got scientists excited, and answer your questions. The image shows the crater rim and cliff face of the ancient river delta in the distance. The camera system can reveal details as small as 3 to 5 millimeters across near the rover and 2 to 3 meters across in the distant slopes along the horizon. Speakers: • Jim Bell — Mastcam-Z principal investigator, Arizona State University • Elsa Jensen — Mastcam-Z uplink lead, Malin Space Science Systems • Kjartan Kinch —  Mastcam-Z calibration target lead, Niels Bohr Institute of The University Of Copenhagen #CountdownToMars

Christopher Smith (MOTOR1) reports:

We interrupt your regularly scheduled dose of Earth-based car news to bring you an interplanetary update. We're not talking about Elon Musk's space-exploring Tesla Roadster, which is presently much closer to Earth than Mars. NASA's Perseverance Rover made a spectacular landing on the Red Planet last week, and as pictures come rolling in by the thousands, we're discovering pseudo-secret fun features on this car-sized Martain explorer.

NASA said there were all kinds of Easter eggs hidden on Perseverance, but perhaps the coolest is a small family portrait of Mars rovers currently on the planet's surface. Zooming in on some of NASA's images showing the top of the rover, we see a small black plate with blocky renditions of five rovers.

Starting on the left, the smallest rover is Sojourner which landed on the Martian surface back in 1997 as part of the Pathfinder mission. The next two rovers look identical because they are the twins Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars early in 2004. Spirit arrived three weeks ahead of Opportunity, but both rovers morphed into legends by exceeding their mission parameters in a biblical fashion. Originally designed for a short-distance 90-day exploration, the rovers operated for years on Mars. Spirit went silent in 2010, but Opportunity endured through 2018, turning a three-month mission into a fourteen-year odyssey.

The last two rovers are NASA's super-sized explorers. Curiosity touched down at Gale crater in August of 2012, and it's also an overachiever. Originally slated for a two-year mission, Curiosity is still active today and its mission has been extended indefinitely. The final rover in the portrait is Perseverance, which is at the very beginning of its Mars mission.

And NASA issued the following:

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Gives High-Definition Panoramic View of Landing Site

This is the first 360-degree panorama taken by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.
This is the first 360-degree panorama taken by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The panorama was stitched together on Earth from 142 individual images taken on Sol 3, the third Martian day of the mission (Feb. 21, 2021).
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover got its first high-definition look around its new home in Jezero Crater on Feb. 21, after rotating its mast, or “head,” 360 degrees, allowing the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument to capture its first panorama after touching down on the Red Planet on Feb 18. It was the rover’s second panorama ever, as the rover’s Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, also located on the mast, captured a 360-degree view on Feb. 20.

Mastcam-Z is a dual-camera system equipped with a zoom function, allowing the cameras to zoom in, focus, and take high-definition video, as well as panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface. With this capability, the robotic astrobiologist can provide a detailed examination of both close and distant objects.

The cameras will help scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater and will assist in identifying rocks and sediment worthy of a closer look by the rover’s other instruments. The cameras also will help the mission team determine which rocks the rover should sample and collect for eventual return to Earth in the future.

Stitched together from 142 images, the newly released panorama reveals the crater rim and cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance. The camera system can reveal details as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 millimeters) across near the rover and 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) across in the distant slopes along the horizon.

The detailed composite image shows a Martian surface that appears similar to images captured by previous NASA rover missions.

“We’re nestled right in a sweet spot, where you can see different features similar in many ways to features found by Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity at their landing sites,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the instrument’s principal investigator. ASU leads operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.

The camera team will discuss the new panorama during a question and answer session at  4 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 25, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, and will livestream on the agency’s Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Daily Motion, and YouTube channels, as well as the NASA app. Speakers include:

  • Jim Bell of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the instrument’s principal investigator
  • Elsa Jensen of Malin Space Science Systems, who leads the uplink operations team that sends commands to Mastcam-Z
  • Kjartan Kinch of the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen, who led the design, construction, and testing of Mastcam-Z’s color calibration targets, which are used to tune the instrument’s settings

Mastcam-Z’s design is an evolution of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s Mastcam instrument, which has two cameras of fixed focal length rather than zoomable cameras. The two cameras on Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z dual cameras are mounted on the rover’s mast at eye level for a person 6 feet, 6 inches (2 meters) tall. They sit 9.5 inches (24.1 centimeters) apart to provide stereo vision and can produce color images with a quality similar to that of a consumer digital HD camera.

The Mastcam-Z team includes dozens of scientists, engineers, operations specialists, managers, and students from a variety of institutions. In addition, the team includes deputy principal investigator Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

More About the Mission

A key objective of Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance, go to:


For more information about NASA’s Mars missions, go to:

To see images as they come down from the rover and to vote on the favorite image of the week, go to:


Alana Johnson / Grey Hautaluoma
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-672-4780 / 202-358-0668 /

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

I'd also recommend that you read Bryan Dyne's "The Mars rover and the Texas catastrophe: Scientific possibility vs capitalist reality" (WSWS).

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, March 25, 2021.  In the US, the war on speech continues, the Pope prepares to visit Iraq, and much more.

"I think," failed everywhere personality Soledad O'Brien, "that you should not be allowed -- and this should be for the news organization -- should not want people on the air if they are liars and they are in fact lying."

Soledad said that.  While sporting the most ridiculous eyebrows you will ever in your life see.  But she said that.  This pimp for the Iraq War said that.  This liar who used her position as a co-anchor of NBC's WEEKEND TODAY to lie constantly about the Iraq War.  

As for not allowing lying to occur?  They'd have to fire pretty much every person they have.  They lie and they lie again.  Carrying out the lies of Bully Boy Bush, NBC's David Gregory went on the air to attack Paul O'Neal for Ron Suskind's THE PRICE OF LOYALTY and how dare Paul steal these memos and how . . .  And I'm on the phone with a friend at TODAY asking, "Did the fool read the introduction to the book he's waving around right now?"  Because it's right there in the introduction that the White House, at Paul's request gave him the memos on a disc.  The lies of the media have been big and small and the incompetence always gets rewarded -- which is how the hideous David Gregory ended up later becoming the host of MEET THE PRESS and running off a huge portion of the audience before he was finally dismissed.

Soledad was speaking at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday (stream it here).

"I am a proponent of debating," proclaimed known liar Soledad.   "I do not believe that lies deserve equal time"

Really?  Because she wasn't when she was at TODAY.  Not only did she cheerlead the Iraq War, she mocked TODAY proper for the debate they did offer -- a townhall discussion on the war -- moderated by Katie Couric.  She trashed that segment, she mocked and insisted to everyone who would listen that if she were the co-host of the Monday through Friday broadcasts of TODAY that never would have happened.  

"There are verifiable facts," Soledad insisted.  Where were the verifiable facts when you're cheerleading the Iraq War, Soledad.

The news media whored for the Iraq War and they think they can just walk away from that.  You can't.  You betrayed the trust of the American people and you never took accountability and you never apologized or did anything to fix it.

Did anything to fix it?

They rewarded the liars.  And that's not just NBC and THE NEW YORK TIMES, that's MOTHER JONES which has Kevin Drum, for example.  

The people who told the truth about Iraq didn't end up with columns or talk shows.  

They weren't rewarded.

The media has lied repeatedly -- not just about the Iraq War -- and they have earned the low opinion that the public has of them.

But what does Soledad think happens?  And what business does the government have in regulating speech?  None.

Earlier this week, Glenn Greenwald (SUBSTACK via ICH) weighed in on efforts of some Democratic members of  Congress attempting to attack the First Amendment:

Not even two months into their reign as the majority party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress, key Democrats have made clear that one of their top priorities is censorship of divergent voices. On Saturday, I detailed how their escalating official campaign to coerce and threaten social media companies into more aggressively censoring views that they dislike — including by summoning social media CEOs to appear before them for the third time in less than five months — is implicating, if not already violating, core First Amendment rights of free speech.

Now they are going further — much further. The same Democratic House Committee that is demanding greater online censorship from social media companies now has its sights set on the removal of conservative cable outlets, including Fox News, from the airwaves.

[. . .]

Since when is it the role of the U.S. Government to arbitrate and enforce precepts of “journalistic integrity”? Unless you believe in the right of the government to regulate and control what the press says — a power which the First Amendment explicitly prohibits — how can anyone be comfortable with members of Congress arrogating unto themselves the power to dictate what media outlets are permitted to report and control how they discuss and analyze the news of the day?

But what House Democrats are doing here is far more insidious than what is revealed by that creepy official announcement. Two senior members of that Committee, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Silicon-Valley) and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) also sent their own letters to seven of the nation’s largest cable providers — Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, Dish, Verizon, Cox and Altice — as well as to digital distributors of cable news (Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and Hulu) demanding to know, among other things, what those cable distributors did to prevent conservative “disinformation” prior to the election and after — disinformation, they said, that just so happened to be spread by the only conservative cable outlets: Fox, Newsmax and OANN.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq March 5th through March 8th.  It would be the first visit by a pope to Iraq.  

At THE DAILY BEAST, Barbie Latza Nadeau offers:

Like people in the rest of the world, Pope Francis is clearly going a little stir-crazy staying cooped up at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The globetrotting pontiff has been grounded since November 2019 when he visited Thailand and Japan. But if all goes to plan, Francis will hit the road again on March 5 with a four-day, six-city visit to Iraq, which has seen a spate in violence with three attacks on the U.S.-led coalition in the course of a week and a surge in coronavirus cases that sent the country into a strict two-week lockdown. The Iraq Health Ministry said the new wave is “being driven by religious activities—including Friday prayers and visits to shrines —and large crowds in markets, restaurants, malls and parks, where greetings with handshakes and kisses are the norm.”

While the Pope plans to visit, the US intends to stay and stay forever.  Bonnie Kristian (DEFENSE ONE) reports:

The new administration’s goals for the war in Iraq, at least as briefly outlined last Tuesday to the United Nations Security Council, are likely to prolong U.S. involvement indefinitely.

“Among its top priorities, the United States will seek to help Iraq assert its sovereignty in the face of enemies, at home and abroad, by preventing an ISIS resurgence and working toward Iraq’s stability,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Mills told his fellow diplomats. That means facilitating free and fair elections, Mills continued, plus fighting Iran-linked militias and terrorist groups like the Islamic State, as well as funneling money toward economic development, humanitarian improvements, and the elimination of corruption. “The United States will remain a steady, reliable partner for Iraq, and for the Iraqi people,” he concluded, “today and in the future.”

That’s an understatement. With goals as expansive and flexible as these, the United States will have a military presence and roster of associated nation-building projects in Iraq not only through the end of the Biden administration but for decades to come. 

Biden campaigned on a promise to “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.” “Staying entrenched in unwinnable conflicts,” he rightly reasoned, “only drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.” And Biden had a record as a voice of comparative restraint in the Obama administration to give that pledge some credence, as campaign pledges go. In those years as vice president, he opposed the surge in Afghanistan. He was also against U.S. regime change in Libya, and he was willing to accept a federalized Iraq to reduce violent internal rivalries with less U.S. involvement.

We'll wind down with this from Human Rights Watch:

On February 15, Iraqi authorities detained at least four men, with alleged ties to a unit within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashad, formally under the control of the prime minister) who are alleged to have killed at least four protesters in the southern city of Basra in January 2020. One of the detained men holds a senior police position. These arrests represent an important step in government efforts to fulfill its promise to hold accountable those who have abused or killed protesters, but authorities should take swift action to carry out further arrests of abusive forces where there is evidence that they are linked to recent attacks, Human Rights Watch said today.

“These arrests in Basra may represent a real change in the government’s willingness to hold its own forces accountable for perpetrating serious crimes and will help deter such abuses in the future,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government should also ensure that the trials of the men are fair and devoid of any political influence.”

Protests broke out in south and central Iraq in October 2019, with violence and excessive force killing at least 487 protesters and wounding thousands more. At the same time, a range of armed forces targeted protesters with harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and enforced disappearances. In May 2020, then-newly appointed Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced the creation of a committee to investigate killings and other attacks on protesters but until now no information has been made public about the work or findings of the committee.

On February 15, al-Kadhimi announced on Twitter that “The death squad that terrorized our people in Basra, and killed innocents, are now in the hands of our heroic forces, on their way to a fair trial.” On the same day, a local media outlet publicized the names of four men detained for their alleged role in this death squad linked to the PMF Hezbollah Brigades with potential ties to another PMF unit as well. According to other media coverage, authorities arrested them for their roles in the killings of Jinan Madi, a paramedic who had been treating wounded protesters at demonstrations when she was killed, Ahmed Abdessamad, 37, a journalist, and his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 26, who had been covering the protests for Dijlah, a privately owned local station, and Mojtaba Ahmed al-Skini, 14, a protester. A source close to the government said that authorities had identified 16 men implicated in the killings, but most had already fled the country.

Given extensive documentation of the unfair nature of Iraq’s criminal justice system, which often relies solely on confessions to convict, the government and judicial authorities need to preserve the credibility of measures to rein in abusive security forces by ensuring that these trials are fair, Human Rights Watch said.

While the Basra arrests mark a positive step when it comes to accountability, PMF attacks on protesters have continued. Ali Naseer Alawy, 25, a prominent member of the protest movement in Najaf, told Human Rights Watch that on February 12, four armed masked men in black uniforms picked him up off the street within view of a police patrol, which did not intervene, at around 6:30 p.m. He said they put him into a white pickup truck with no license plate and drove him to an office where they blindfolded him and started beating his back and legs with the butts of their guns. He said,

I could tell there were many men in the room who were asking me all sorts of questions about other activists’ names and who was leading the protests in Najaf. They saw I had tattooed October 25, the first day of protests in Najaf, on my arm and they tried to remove it with an acid mixture. They also attached electric cables to me and shocked my chest and legs before I fainted.

Alawy said that when he regained consciousness, he found himself lying on a highway outside the city near his house. It was about 1 a.m. He went to the hospital where he spoke to police but said that because he did not know who the kidnappers were, there was no point in filing a complaint. He said he believes that they must wield power since nearby police had done nothing to intervene in his abduction. He shared two photographs with Human Rights Watch that show bruising and blood on his face and scarring on his shoulder and back around his tattoo. Alawy is currently in hiding and said he still receives threatening messages on Facebook.

In addition, there has been no accountability for other killings of protesters in Basra since 2019, despite the government’s commitments. For example, on October 3, 2019, Hussein Adel Madani was shot dead along with his wife by masked gunmen who stormed their house. The couples were taking part in ongoing protest. On August 14, 2020 two masked armed men in civilian dress shot and killed activist Tahseen Osama Ali, 30, in his apartment. On August 19, 2020, Reham Yacoub, a doctor and activist in the local protest movement since 2018, was shot by an unidentifiable armed man on the back of a motorcycle. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, the authorities have yet to arrest any suspects of these killings.

“The government can prove there has been meaningful change only when protesters no longer fear getting hauled off the streets in broad daylight and held and tortured with impunity,” said Wille.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

My daughter and I are fighting (Jonas Brothers)

If you've read my site here for very long, you know I have three kids.  I have two sons, both in college now, and a daughter.  Often that's all I ever say about her because there are days when she doesn't want to be mentioned.

Now she wants to be mentioned.

We were arguing -- not a serious one -- about the Jonas Brothers.

She is team Nick all the way, 100%.  Now I like Nick Jonas.  He's a good singer and he's really talented.  

But we were watching this video for "Sucker." 

We'd missed that song before yesterday.  C.I. and Wally were playing guitars and they did that song,  sang and played it on guitar,  and my daughter loved it and asked who it was by?  They explained it was the Jonas Brothers and she didn't know it and couldn't believe it.  So later, we ended up watching the video together.

Oh, Nick, she said, he's so wonderful, he's the best singer and he's the cutest brother.

I think Nick's gorgeous and, again, he's a great singer.

But I think Kevin does the best job singing on "Sucker."  And I honestly believe Joe is the cutest brother.  That doesn't mean Nick's not cute, I just think Joe is cuter.

We got into thirty minutes back and forth with each of us making our case.

That was Tuesday.  Today, I get done with work (I was working from home today) and she said, "We need to talk."  Okay.  What's up?

Jonas Brothers.  She said (a) that I need to have my eyes checked for glasses because Nick is clearly the cutest and (b) that I needed to share our argument here.  She was laughing but she was serious.

Okay, Jonas Brothers, you're making a mother and daughter fight over who is the better singer and who is the cutest brother.  :D

She really does love Nick.  She's only become a Jonas Brothers fan with "Whatta Man Gotta Do."  But she's got all of Nick's solo work.  And the only song she knows on the piano is Nick's "Jealous."  She asked C.I. to teach her that song and they spent a week or so and my daughter got it down and it's the only song she'll play but she can sing and play along to that song.

She loves Nick.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):  

 Wednesday, February 24, 2021.  The pope prepares for his Iraq visit and more.

Starting in the US.  Angela Walker, the Green Party's vice presidential nominee last year, speaks about Tara Reade.

Tara made credible accusations against Joe Biden last year.  She stated he assaulted her -- I believe Tara.  Tara was bullied and intimidated and lied about.  The corporate press -- and much of the 'independent' media -- allowed Joe Biden's hideous campaign to set the parameters of the discussion. Tara had more proof than anyone else in a he said/she said.  And yet she was attacked.

I believe Tara.  You don't have to believe her.  That's your choice.  If you examine the issue and find you don't believe her, that's your business.  But if you were a woman self-presenting as a feminist who, for example, wrote an NYT column insisting you believed Tara but you were voting for Joe Biden, the question is what are you doing now?  You got Joe elected.  What are you doing now?

As a self-proclaimed feminist who stated you believed Tara, what are you doing now?

The sad reality is: Not a damn thing.

Again, you don't have to believe her or anyone else.  We have brains for a reason.  We should use them.  And if someone's telling doesn't ring true, fine.  

I don't believe that Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow.  I say that not as a Woody fan.  I do know Woody, through Mia, we are not friends.  We were never friends.  I didn't like Woody and he didn't like me.  And none of that was the end of the world.

Then, in 1992, as the scandal brewed -- we'll come back to that -- being Mia's friend, I supported my friend.  And continued to do so for years.  It wasn't until the Golden Globes gave that honorary award to Woody that I changed my viewpoint.  Mia, remember, was all upset on Twitter: How dare they!!!!

That honorary award was preceded by clips from Woody's films.  Every actor who had appeared in a clip had to sign off on it, a permission slip, if you will.  Mia signed off on it.  That's when I thought about all the times Mia has lied and manipulated.  By the time Dylan was attacking Diane Keaton, I was speaking out against this nonsense.

This has been an organized campaign and it's built on one lie after another.  The scandal, I said we'd get back to it, is on display in HBO's hideous ALLEN V. FARROW which needs to be pulled immediately.  It features calls with Woody that Mia taped.  The calls don't prove anything except that Mia is a criminal.  She taped those calls without Woody's consent or knowledge and did so from her Connecticut home -- it was a violation of Connecticut law.  Woody should sue HBO, the filmmakers and Mia Farrow.  As Ava and I noted in "TV: Back into the cesspool," Mia knew she was breaking the law -- she had been told that before she started taping and that's why her friend was suggesting getting people to wear wires instead.

A lot of idiots, this includes JEZEBEL writers, are insisting that the documentary makes the case.  Not only does it not make the case, it weakens the case.

What was episode one about?  Woody Allen's consensual affair with an adult: Soon-Yi.  

Mia's babbling away and rewriting history but just stop there.  

Woody and Soon-Yi remain a couple to this day, they have two daughters.

Their affair has nothing to do with Dylan Farrow. 

But it's still being used to work up rage against Woody.  As Mia's friend (then, not now), I was appalled that Woody had an affair with Mia's daughter.  I was appalled because of the hurt that caused Mia.  I was not appalled on any other level because, like all of Mia's friends, I knew the relationship was pretty much over and hadn't been 'exclusive' since around 1985 when Woody was having his semi-public affair with Dianne Wiest.  That's why Mia wanted a child with Woody, to try to bring them back together.  It didn't.  Woody would go house hunting with her but he would not a buy a house for them to live in together.  They hadn't been having sex for years, per Mia.

It's been decades since Woody first slept with the adult Soon-Yi.  

Get over it, Mia.  Get over it.

But she can't and so a bunch of trash does a 'documentary' about Dylan that uses Soon-Yi because they have no case to make for Dylan.  

Soon-Yi and Woody having an affair and building a life together has nothing to do with the allegations made by Dylan and Mia.  But the affair is used by the 'documentary' to stoke outrage.  I'm not outraged.  I felt sorry for Mia in 1992.  Then I saw Mia trying to break up Mike Nichols' marriage to Diane Sawyer (she failed, he had no interest in her and quickly withdrew a job offer because of her crazy attraction to him -- a one-sided attraction).  I long ago lost sympathy for her and I long ago realized the media was playing Soon-Yi as the dragon lady and how racist that was.

Soon-Yi was beaten by Mia and so was Moses.  HBO and their program?  They avoid that reality.  And it's getting tired and it's getting old.  In 1992 and 1993, Dylan's charges were heard and found to be wanting, repeatedly.  

But because she is White, she gets a platform in the media over and over again.  She gets to keep telling 'her' story.  It's not her story.  Opening with Woody and Soon-Yi's affair is not Dylan's story.  But that's used to try to make you hate Woody Allen.

I don't love Woody, I don't hate him.  (And, again, Woody and I do not like each other -- we didn't like each other when he was with Mia.  Carly Simon loved Woody.  She might want to explain that.)  But I do value the truth and when I look at what's going on, I don't see the truth.  I see a jealous and disgraced woman (Mia) still upset that Woody is with a younger woman, that he actually married her (he refused over and over to marry Mia).  And that's why Soon-Yi is so featured in a documentary that supposedly is about Dylan's claims of molestation.

I don't find the tale truthful or logical and I don't believe that the molestation happened as a result.  And it's not the end of the world.  I could be right, I could be wrong.  Not being present when the event supposedly took place, I have to use my abilities to evaluate and analyze.  That's what I've done.  So if you don't believe Tara, that's your take on it.  Fine.  But if you say you do, or said you did, why are you silent now?  

Jonathan Turley.  We're going back to an issue that was raised weeks ago.  I thought I'd have time before and didn't.  Joe Scarborough wanted to sue Donald Trump, or said he did, for Donald implying/stating that Joe had involvement in the death of his intern when Joe was in Congress.  Joe declared on MSNBC that his attorney said the time ran out on it or something.  Jonathan did a post where he stated the time hadn't run out and though Joe had a strong case.

No, Joe didn't.

Jonathan knows the law.  I think he's our brightest legal scholar.  Doesn't mean I always agree with his take on the law (I generally do).  In this regard, I didn't disagree with his take so much as I knew more on the topic than he did.

Joe Scarborough?

Never knew him or of him when he was in Congress.  He may have been on MSNBC when I learned of him or he might have gotten that right after.

But I learned of him in 2004.  And I learned of him because of the death of his intern.

Did I learn that from Donald Trump?  No, I did not.  I learned that over the airwaves.  AIR AMERICA RADIO.  Sam Seder repeatedly noted that and noted that he thought Joe was guilty.  He did that on THE MAJORITY REPORT.  In addition, Rachel Maddow and Lizz Winstead spoke of that on UNFILTERED.  Al Franken spoke of it on his program as well.

My point?  If Joe wanted to sue, he could sue.  Anyone can.  But I think a court would look down upon a case that sued Donald Trump for this years after the rumors were broadcast -- as reality -- on a radio network over and over and over again.

Did Joe have anything to do with the intern's death.  I don't believe so.  I could be wrong.  But if he wants to be outraged by it, all Donald Trump would have to say is, "The news media covered this" -- meaning AIR AMERICA RADIO.  And they did, over and over and over.  I'd never heard of Joe before that.  (Joe and Mike Pap of RING OF FIRE were law partners, I don't know if most people realize that.  Or if they grasp that Sam Seder now works for RING OF FIRE.)

I don't think there was a strong case on Joe's behalf.  It would look selective and vengeful and it would tie up the courts which the court would not look fondly on.

On that, I'm not going to name the idiot that has been on Twitter telling everyone to sue Donald for frivolous reasons with the plan that Donald would lose some of them because he would be too busy and too cash strapped to respond to all the suits.

I'm not going to name the idiot.  But if that plan goes into action, that idiot can be held responsible.  The courts are not there to adjudicate your rage and anger.  They are there for genuine legal issues.  If you start trying to tie someone up with frivolous lawsuits, you are tying up our legal system.  

I saw the idiot Tweet that twice this week already.  It needs to stop.  If the plan were to go into action, these Tweets could be used by a judge to move court costs over to the person Tweeting this nonsense -- and anyone reTweeting them.

Moving to Iraq.  March 5th through 8th, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq.  If the visit takes place, it will be the first visit by a sitting pope to Iraq ever.  The visit is scheduled to take place while Iraq, like every other country, struggles with the COVID pandemic.  Jonathan Stevenson Tweets:

The Iraqi Ministry of Health and environment registered 13 fatalities, 4,306 new cases and 2,110 recoveries of #COVID19 in the past 24 hours. #Iraq

The visit is hoped to inspire many.

The following sites updated:

  • Tuesday, February 23, 2021

    Woody Allen needs to sue HBO and Mia Farrow

    I hope you read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Back into the cesspool" already.  They take on the nonsense that is HBO's ALLEN V. FARROW.  They note:

    The police.  The Judge.  Legalities.

    The documentary has a lot of clips from Woody's films.  

    That does make sense.  Mia has no career without Woody.  She's a one-time movie actor -- ROSEMARY'S BABY.  It's only under Woody's direction that Mia truly comes alive onscreen -- ZELIG, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, his segment in NEW YORK STORIES, RADIO DAYS, etc.  But while it makes sense to feature those films remember how Mia launched this wave of the ongoing vendetta?  Using the Golden Globe tribute and playing on Twitter like she was surprised and aghast.

    And that played with a lot of people ignorant on the issue of usage.  They didn't realize that for Mia's clip to have appeared in that tribute, the Golden Globes had to get her permission.

    Guess who didn't get permission?  The filmmakers behind ALLEN V. FARROW.  They're using those clips without permission which can result in a lawsuit.

    Now that lawsuit wouldn't hurt Mia.

    That one.

    But another one?

    From the state of Connecticut, Mia taped Woody Allen on the phone without his knowledge.  What's the law in Connecticut?  Glad you asked: "It is illegal for a person to record a telephone conversation without the knowledge of all parties to the conversation (CGS§ 52-570d)."  So Mia handing that over to the film makers, that audio?  She can be sued.  She broke the law.  Woody can sue her for that and, in our opinion, he should.  He should also sue the filmmakers who chose to amplify an illegal act.  HBO should be sued for airing the documentary -- they should have demanded, before airing, a look at all the permission forms required and they should have immediately asked, "When Mia taped Woody, she was in Connecticut, before we air this documentary, what was the law there at the time she taped him without his knowledge?"  Ignorance of the law is no excuse but, to be clear, Mia knew the law and knew what she was doing was illegal because her friend Chris Rush had told her that in 1992 as they were plotting to tape various people (Woody, his chauffer Don Harris and others).  

    Maybe if she finally faced some legal challenges, Mia would give up her vendetta?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  

    Woody needs to sue HBO and Mia and the filmmakers.  The 'documentary' is a violation -- a legal violation.  And they can't profit from illegality.  

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

     Tuesday, February 23, 2021.  Rocket attacks continue in Iraq as the Pope gears up for his visit.

    Monday saw another rocket attack in Iraq.  Not in Balad or Erbil this time but in Baghdad, specifically the Green Zone.

    Lara Seligman (POLITICO) reports:

    Two rockets fell near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Monday, the third such attack in Iraq in the span of one week.

    The Katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone on Monday evening Iraqi time, a spokesperson for the Defeat ISIS coalition wrote in a social media post, citing Iraqi officials. The attack caused no injuries or casualties. The Green Zone is several miles wide and houses the embassy and other government buildings.

    Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) adds:

    The leader of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia group on Tuesday questioned who was benefiting from a rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone the previous night.

    “The continued targeting of the Green Zone despite the clear decision of the Coordinating Body for the Iraqi Resistance and in a way that every time rockets fall on residential areas without any real casualties or losses at the embassy puts many question marks on the side that benefits from them,” tweeted Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, on Tuesday. 

    The Green Zone and sites hosting foreign personnel across Iraq have often been targeted by rocket attacks, mostly attributed to Iran-backed militias.

    Ray Hanania (ARAB NEWS) notes, "No one has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks and the militants have been identified only as 'Iraqi armed groups'."  AP notes Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also stated that the US government does not "know of any attribution for the recent attacks."  And AFP explains, "The Iraqi security services later announced that they found the rockets' launchpads, which were fired from Baghdad's Al Salam street."  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes that KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has condemned Monday's rocket attacks:

    The Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Tuesday that foreign diplomatic representatives take “enormous risk” to be in Iraq and urged federal authorities to make sure they are safe. 

    Barzani’s statement came the morning after a volley of rockets targeting the US Embassy fell in Iraq’s capital Baghdad. The attack on Monday caused no casualties and only minor material damage, according to security sources. 

    In other news, former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is itching to get back into the spot of prime minister.  The man whom the US installed in 2006 because the CIA assessment of Nouri's paranoia indicated he would be easy to manipulate ran for re-election in 2010 and lost but the US government refused to support democracy or the will of the Iraqi people and brokered The Erbil Agreement (a legal contract) that gave Nouri a second term.  Ahead of this, Nouri had sworn he wouldn't seek a third term.  A month and a few weeks later, Nouri's spokesperson was insisting that those remarks were not binding.  Sure enough, as Nouri oversaw the rise of ISIS in Iraq, he felt that he was just the person to rule Iraq.  Mosul had been seized by ISIS but Nouri just knew he was the one.  Barack Obama had to strong arm Nouri into stepping aside.  Now?  Nouri wants back in.

    ARAB WEEKLY reports:

    Maliki’s two terms as head of government from 2006-2014 were catastrophic for the country, with the state seeing a major decline at various economic, social and security levels.

    Corruption, during Maliki’s premiership, reached unprecedented highs, and hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue was wasted. The two mandates then ended in disaster, with ISIS controlling about a third of the country’s territory.

    Maliki, the leader of the Islamic Dawa Party who lost the premiership following 2014 elections, criticised the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and presented himself as the best candidate to lead the country in the future.

    Claiming a “relation of understanding” with US President Joe Biden, Maliki offered to mediate between Tehran and Washington to ease their differences on the nuclear deal and the severe economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States.

    Observers of Iraqi affairs ruled out that Maliki, whose political status has declined locally, would be capable of mediating a thorny international dispute, considering that his statements were just part of an early election campaign.

     In other news, Pope Francis' scheduled trip to Iraq approaches.  REUTERS Tweets:

    Pope Francis is due to hold an inter-religious prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week, an event local archaeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the site
    Pope's visit to put Iraqi ziggurat back on tourist map - Lifestyle

    The trip, scheduled to begin March 5th and to conclude March 8th, will be the first trip by a sitting pope to Iraq.  Joshua J. McElwee (NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER) notes:

    Yet, given all the possible difficulties, Iraqi analysts and Christian leaders told NCR that the mere fact of the pope's coming should outweigh any problems.

    As Baghdad-based Marsin Alshamary said when asked if Iraqis would be looking for Francis to broach specific subjects or themes while in the country: "The symbolism of the pope visiting Iraq is quite enough of a gesture."

    "Even if he came and said the very typical things we expect a religious leader to say, it's still something very important and very symbolic that he has done for Iraq," said Alshamary, an Iraqi and post-doctoral fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, who leads the Chaldean Catholic community in Erbil, also highlighted the simple meaning of the pope choosing to come and visit.

    "Right from the beginning of his papacy he spoke about the marginalized groups," said Warda. "He is coming to be face to face, to show us he cares about us."

    Ludovic Pouille Tweets:


    In other news, BLOOMBERG excerpts from Javier Blas and Jack Farchy new book:

    It’s not likely that any of Pennsylvania’s public school teachers paid attention to it, but a brief announcement in early 2018 held some unwelcome news for their retirement savings.

    Public pension funds have a reputation for being conservative investors. Yet, on March 19, 2018, a terse corporate notice alerted the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System to the fact that its latest investment was anything but bland. “We hereby inform you,” the notice began, “that as a result of the independence referendum held by Kurdistan Regional Government on 25th September 2017, KRG’s exports have decreased by almost 50% due to the takeover of Kirkuk oilfields.”

    A sliver of the teachers’ retirement savings had been directed to one of the most febrile regions of the Middle East. They weren’t alone. In South Carolina, the savings of over 600,000 police officers, judges, and other public sector workers had been funneled into the same investment. So had the savings of the teachers, firefighters, and police officers of West Virginia.

    relates to The Trade That Tied Pennsylvania Teachers to an Oil War in Iraq
    Excerpted from The World for Sale, to be published by Random House Business in the U.K. on Feb. 25 and Oxford University Press in the U.S. on March 1.
    Source: Oxford University Press

    If the pensioners had looked at the annual reports of their funds, they probably wouldn’t have been any the wiser. Buried in the list of investments held by their funds, they would have seen the name “Oilflow SPV 1 DAC.” Digging a little deeper, they would have found that Oilflow SPV 1 DAC was an Irish company whose address was a nondescript, four-story building in central Dublin where some 200 other companies were also formally incorporated.

    The most unusual element of Oilflow SPV 1 DAC was how good an investment it looked to be. In a world of ultra-low interest rates, its notes, registered on the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, promised to pay 12% annually over five years. Of course, the high yield reflected the fact that the investment product carried a significant risk. For the pension funds, it was a relatively small investment—less than .1% of the Pennsylvania teachers’ total holdings. But it was also one that pulled them into the Middle East’s power struggles over oil riches.

    Turning to the US, Texas continues to struggle.  Richard Medhurst addressed the issues yesterday.

    We spoke to some community members in Texas for THIRD's "Texans are suffering."  Texas was a topic brought up in yesterday's White House press briefing by spokesperson Jen Psaki.

    Jen Psaki:  In the meantime, the President has asked FEMA to do everything it can to rapidly distribute aid to the state of Texas.  So far, more than 1 million meals have been shipped to Texas; more than 4 million liters of water have been shipped to Texas.  The Department of Defense’s fixed-wing aircraft continue to deliver water in bulk to multiple locations in Texas.  They have completed nine missions so far, with an additional 10 missions planned for today.  Sixty-nine emergency generators and more than 120,000 blankets have been delivered to Texas.

    And over the weekend, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese called Governor Abbott to update him on the broad federal effort.  The President has requested to support citizens of the state in coping with the impacts of the storm and, of course, the recovery from here. 

    [. . .]

    Q    Hey, Jen.  Thanks.  Two questions.  The first is on Texas.  Some folks have come on to astronomical electric bills, and there are, you know, stories about those being the result of deregulation, and other issues being the result of light regulation.  I wonder if the President plans to weigh in on talk to that or talk to that.  Does he still plan to go to Texas, or does he plan to go to Texas this week?

    MS. PSAKI:  Sure.  Well, the President is eager to go to Texas.  I traveled with him on Mich- — on Michigan — to Michigan, I should say, on Friday, and he was closely tracking, of course, the work that FEMA was underway.  He spoke with his Acting Administrator on the way back from that trip.  He has been getting updates from his national security team over the course of the weekend, and he wants to go and show his support. 

    He also is fully aware of the footprint of a President of the United States and everything that comes with that — traveling to a disaster area.  But we are hopeful that that trip can happen as early as this week.

    Bill Chappell (NPR) reports:

    Some 8,707,769 people remain under boil water notices in Texas, as utilities struggle to get water pressure back up to safe levels in the wake of catastrophic winter storms and record cold temperatures.

    The 8.7 million figure is a sharp drop from the more than 12 million people who were under boil-water notices on Sunday – but it's still roughly comparable to the entire populations of states such as Virginia or New Jersey.

    Across the state, 1,259 boil water notices remain in effect, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said on Monday. The extreme cold weather has caused chaos in Texas for more than a week; only 285 boil-water notices have been lifted so far, according to the agency's data.

    The state regulator requires water companies to issue a boil-water notice if unsafe conditions arise, such as if water distribution pressure drops below 20 psi, or if a utility's water disinfection equipment cannot function properly. Because of power outages and burst pipes, those conditions have plagued many Texas communities in the past week.

    And we'll wind down with this from the US Defense Dept:

    The commission to examine the problem of sexual assault in the military should begin work soon, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is looking forward to their recommendations, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a news conference this afternoon.

    Video Player

    The commission has 90 days to compile its recommendations. Kirby said the secretary will not wait until the end of the commission to implement recommendations he feels would be helpful.

    Kirby also said DOD officials will consult with congressional leaders as the commission comes together. Austin met with senior Pentagon leaders today to give them his feedback on their inputs for combating sexual assault. "As you know, it was his first directive on his second day in office to ask the services to provide him input on what they felt they were doing right, what they needed to improve and the ideas they had going forward," Kirby said. "He had the opportunity to review that work and talk to them about that today. It was a good productive discussion."

    Austin told the leaders, which included the service chiefs, that by the end of the week he will formally announce the formation, make-up and start of the 90-day commission. With more granularity and more detail. 

    Kirby was also asked about the dearth of information about extremism in the ranks. He said everyone would like better information on the extent of the problem of extremism in the department but it is not really something people readily admit to. "We get a sense that the problem is largely driven by conduct and behavior," Kirby said. 

    Even then it is sometimes difficult to ascertain if the conduct is driven by ideology or some other factor, he said. 

    Kirby also spoke about the missile attack in Baghdad today. That attack followed one in Erbil last week that killed an American and wounded others. He said there is no attribution for the attacks. 

    He could not tie the attacks together. "It's difficult to say with certainty whether there's a strategic calculation driving this … recent uptick in attacks, or whether this is just a continuation of the sorts of attacks we've seen in the past," he said.

    U.S. officials will work closely with Iraqis — who are leading the investigation. "We're there to counter ISIS, at the invitation of the Iraqi government," Kirby said. "Our commanders — just like the Iraqi commanders — have the right of self-defense."

    New content at THIRD:

    The following sites updated: