Thursday, April 29, 2021

NASA grades itself


That's a video from NASA which explores what they have accomplished in the last 100 days.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, April 29, 2021. Today, we focus on the Kurds and the Turkish government.

AP reports, "Turkish warplanes were continuing on Wednesday to strike suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq, while commando troops were conducting a search and sweep operation, Turkey’s defense ministry said, as the military pressed ahead with its latest incursion into the neighboring region."  AP gets the wording right: "suspected."  Suspected.  Also should include "populated" because that's what these areas under assault are -- populated. We deface humanity when we ignore that reality.  There are many ways that we ignore reality with regards to the Turkish government's never-ending assault on the Kurdish people.  "Five PKK terrorists were neutralized in drone strikes in northern Iraq, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said on Thursday."  ANADOLU AGENCY is a good example of an outlet that regularly ignores reality and defaces humanity.  In an AA report carried by HURRIYET DAILY NEWS, we are told that two Turkish soldiers were "killed in northern Iraq.  In another AA report, we are told "Five PKK terrorists were neutralized in drone strikes in northern Iraq, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said on Thursday."  The five people -- who had not been convicted of any crime nor stood before a judge and jury -- were killed.  Not neutralized.  Killed.  Via a drone, they were killed.  They were at or near their homes and they were killed.  

Wording matters.  How the story is told matters.  The Turkish government is a bully.  There was a brief period where Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared willing to try to find some peace for both sides in the conflict.  That was in 2013, that' how long ago it was.  He persecutes Kurds in Turkey and he tries to kill them in Iraq.

The PKK is not the problem anymore than the IRA was the problem in Ireland.  The PKK, like the IRA before it, was a response, not an initiating action.  We tell our children, "Actions have consequences" but then we want to ignore that truism when we're talking about adults.

But the ones talking certainly aren't adults.  Omer Ozkizilcik offers a column at TRT entitled "Drones and checkpoints: Turkey's blueprint for success against PKK in Iraq."  That's complete and utter nonsense on every level  In fact, it's one outright lie after another.

For example, the KRG is part of Iraq so the notion that checkpoints in Iraq, carried out by uninvited Turkish troops could ever be a success is just outright stupidity.  

And it's a lie to even speak of ''success.'  This conflict has been going on for decades now.  Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." 

1984 it began, 2021 it's still ongoing.  Who can honestly call any recent efforts at killing a "success."

No one. 

This is not success, this is not peace.  

What is it?  A government that's allowed itself to stick to a hideous position and now has its back against the wall and is unable//unwilling to reset.  

Turkey has long been an power of empire.  The Kurds?  They have no homeland, the largest ethnic minority in the world without a homeland.  They have been attacked and targeted for decades and decades.  The PKK is a response to the attacks.  You can't win a conflict when you dehumanize the other side.  The PKK isn't afraid to go down and no one wants to be the adult in the room to make that point.  

Death is not a fear  They believe that they are engaged in a struggle on behalf of the Kurdish people.  They are willing to engage in and endure the cycle of violence because they believe that their efforts are the only thing that will end the ongoing persecution of the Kurds.

Look at the battle in northern Iraq.  Drones, War Planes and armed troops are utilized by the Turkish government.  All that military might.  And it hasn't scared off the PKK -- a rag-tag roupd with no national resources or aid to back them up.  But in the face of those odds, the PKK continues to engage in the conflit.

They are led by a sense of purpose.

More and more, the Turkish military has no purpose.  It's killing Kurds (on the orders of the Turkish government) and the lies of the Turkish government have been used too many times to be easily swallowed now.

Reality is that Turkey -- and other neighboring countries -- have harmed the Kurdish people and victimized them for decades.  They got away with it for a very long time.  But now there is an awakening taking place in the same way that there was on the Palestinian issue.  The roots of the conflict are not noble nor are its aims. 

There's no real sense of purpose in it for the Turkish military at this point.  The government lied repeatedly -- a "noble" lie to use Plato's terms -- but a noble lie can't be used indefinitely.  It has an end date.  And the point of questioning has arrived.

The PKK is a response to how the Kurds have been treated and are being treated.  Lies don't last forever.

Five days ago, US President Joe Biden issued the following statement:

Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.
Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. With strength and resilience, the Armenian people survived and rebuilt their community. Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.
Today, as we mourn what was lost, let us also turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security. Let us renew our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world. 
The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.

It was a genocide.  And while liars like Cenk Uygur have repeatedly attempted to lie and distort reality, stronger and smarter voices like Heidi Boghosian have led on this issue for years now.  

The genocide took place 104 years ago.  Not only are liars like Cenk unable to admit reality, so is the Turkish government.  

Madeline Roach (TIME) notes:

The U.S. is now among 30 countries, including France, Germany and Canada, that have formally recognized the Armenian genocide, according to the Armenian National Institute. Other U.S. allies, including the U.K. and Israel, have not. Turkey’s foreign ministry said that Biden’s statement “opened a wound” in Ankara-Washington relations and “deeply injured the Turkish people,” in a statement, according to the Financial Times.

But to Armenians, the statement was a long-awaited acknowledgement of an atrocity against their people they believe has been persistently understated. Over a century later, the events are “primary identity markers” of Armenians around the world, says Mary Kouyoumdjian, a 38-year old Armenian-American composer based in New York. “It means we are constantly looking to the past. I think my generation experiences survivor guilt,” she says. 

[. . .]

Simon Maghakyan, a human rights activist and lecturer in international relations at the University of Colorado, Denver, says that Biden’s statement was an important step in “healing the Armenian community’s intergenerational trauma”. During the genocide, his great-grandfather, who served in the Ottoman army in World War I, fled to Syria, where he met his future wife, an Armenian refugee. They later settled in Soviet Armenia, where Maghakyan’s parents were born. In 2003, Maghakyan’s family moved to the U.S.

REUTERS notes:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on President Joe Biden to immediately reverse his declaration that 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, a move he said was upsetting and diminished bilateral ties.

Biden's historic declaration on Saturday has infuriated its NATO ally Turkey, which has said the announcement had opened a "deep wound" in relations that have already been strained over a host of issues.

In his first comments since Biden's statement, Erdogan said "the wrong step" would hinder ties and advised the United States to "look in the mirror," adding Turkey still sought to establish "good neighborly" ties with Armenia.

"The U.S. President has made baseless, unjust and untrue remarks about the sad events that took place in our geography over a century ago," Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting, and repeated a call for Turkish and Armenian historians to form a joint commission to investigate the events.

104 years later and instead of moving to maturity, Erdogan can only throw a tantrum in public.

You never should allow yourself to be painted in a corner.  But that's what Erdogan does repeatedly and why there is still no solution to the conflict with the PKK.

In other news, we've been covering the case of Robert Pether this week -- the Australian citizen tossed into prison in Iraq.  The Australian government has been a failure in protecting one of their own citizens.  Christopher Knaus (GUARDIAN) reports:

The family of a businessman arrested in Iraq say the Australian embassy assured him he would be safe before he travelled to Baghdad to resolve a contractual dispute with the nation’s central bank.

Mechanical engineer Robert Pether, 46, was detained three weeks ago in Iraq after travelling from Dubai on behalf of his firm to revive a stalled project to build the Central Bank of Iraq’s headquarters.

He was held in solitary confinement and given no access to a phone or computer, his family alleges, and was not told what he was charged with or the reasons for his detention.

Pether’s wife, Desree, said her husband had had concerns about his safety before travelling to Iraq and called the Australian embassy to discuss the situation.

He had been invited back to Iraq by the bank and was assured it was ready to resolve the dispute.

Desree said her husband asked the embassy specifically if there was any risk that they would arrest him. The embassy told him no, according to Desree.

“Three days before he left Dubai he rang the Australian embassy in Baghdad and he explained the situation and he said: ‘My employer is having a dispute with the client. Is it safe for me to travel there for a meeting to resolve the issues? Am I at any risk of being arrested or anything like that?’

“The embassy in Baghdad said: ‘No, no, they can’t do that. You’re fine.’ ”

We'll wind down with this statement Black Alliance for Peace issued earlier this month:

The ruling class has long deployed propaganda meant to obscure the rule of capital and normalize capitalist interests as the general interest of society. But lately, the liberal Western intelligentsia has elevated that deployment to a science.

The concept of humanitarian intervention and its logical derivative, the Responsibility to Protect, have proven to be one of the most innovative ideological weapons ever produced. By combining normalized assumptions of white Western civilizational superiority and the liberal anti-authoritarianism encoded in the DNA of the liberal project, imperialism has been able to win broad support for everything from direct military interventions and drone warfare to punitive sanctions against whole societies. These actions are framed as defending human rights, and even as “democracy.”

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) has consistently from its inception attempted to confront this ideological weapon. We named it for what it is: The 21st century version of the “white man’s burden.” We have sought to shed light on the white supremacist nature of the white man's burden's murderous consequences, in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Africa as a whole, and in Latin America, where NATO has expanded.

We have continued our work in solidarity with the peoples of Haiti, who are in a life-and-death struggle with a U.S.-supported regime and a U.S.-supported president, Jovenel Moïse. He ironically got the full support of the Biden-Harris administration and Democrats when he refused to leave office at the end of his term. We say "ironically" because just a few weeks earlier, Democrats were squealing about the possibility of Trump not leaving office.

On the issue of Afghanistan, BAP has been consistent and clear in demanding an end to that war and full compliance with the peace accord that required the United States to withdraw all forces from the country, including its mercenaries called private contractors, as well as NATO, its ally in white global supremacy.

And then we come to China. It is the new enemy, not because they are demonstrating by just existing as a nation the contrasting limitations and contradictions of the capitalist model to provide basic things, like protection against a pandemic. No, China has been deemed the enemy because they are so-called “human rights violators" with an “authoritarian” government that just released a report documenting old news: The United States has been the main threat to international peace since the end of the Second World War.

Who will save us? It will not be the Western saviors who align with their rulers. It will be us, the colonized and oppressed, the workers and peasants, the newly emerging “peoples” who recognize the primary contradiction in the world today is between the colonial-capitalist world order and collective humanity.


The April 6 episode of “Voices With Vision,” kicked off with BAP’s call for an “International Day of Action on Afghanistan” which was held on April 8. Netfa Freeman, who represents BAP member organization Pan-African Community Action (PACA) on BAP’s Coordinating Committee, and co-host Craig Hall, got a chance to speak with Comrade Brother Eugene Puryear of the Party for Socialism & Liberation, fresh from his trip to Haiti, where he was able to tell them first-hand what is happening on the ground as the uprising against Jovenel Moïse and U.S. imperialism grows stronger. In the second half, they chopped it up with BAP member Dr. Jared Ball on the issue of anti-Black multiracialism in commercial media. But as is customary, the show began with a commentary by political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal as he fights through poor health to talk about the environment of oppression that the wretched of the earth live under at the hands of the state.

The April 13 episode of “Voices With Vision” began with a deeper dive into BAP’s call for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan as the original May 1 deadline to get out of the country—troops and all—gets closer. BAP member Jacqueline Luqman of “Luqman Nation” had some choice words on that, followed by BAP Solidarity Network Coordinator Julie Varughese. Then in the second half, a special segment on the crypto currency, Bitcoin and anti-imperialism. For that, Netfa and Craig speak with Liberation Psychologist and activist Nozomi Hayase. This episode included beats "Wild Wild West" by Kool Moe Dee, "The 4th Branch" by Immortal Technique, "Banksters Paradise (A Bitcoin Song)" by Mr Maphs, and "Behind These Prison Walls" by David Rovics.

BAP called for an International Day of Action on Afghanistan on April 8 before the Biden-Harris administration announced the September 11 troop withdrawal, which violates the agreement between the Taliban and the previous administration. Julie joined hosts Jacqueline and Sean Blackmon on Radio Sputnik’s “By Any Means Necessary” to discuss the day of action. Then Julie and BAP National Organizer Ajamu Baraka were on Black Power Media with Jared the morning of the International Day of Action on Afghanistan. BAP also published an article in Black Agenda Report titled, “Biden-Harris Look Ready to Keep U.S. in Afghanistan—Say No!

Julie then joined Radio Sputnik’s “The Critical Hour” 31:09 minutes in to discuss Biden’s announcement that the United States will withdraw troops September 11, a possible tactic to provoke the Taliban to resume attacks, thereby requiring the United States to delay withdrawing U.S troops from Afghanistan.

Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor Danny Haiphong announced the International Day of Action on Afghanistan at the start of an April 4 webinar titled, "Yellow Peril and Red Scare: Forum on the Rise in Anti-Asian Racism."

Journalist Richard Medhurst did an episode of his YouTube series about the International Day of Action on Afghanistan. You can watch it on his Twitter page. Ajamu’s public-service announcement on the International Day of Action on Afghanistan was played 14:30 minutes into Popular Resistance’s “Clearing the Fog.”

Black Alliance for Peace Solidarity Network member Matt Almonte gave a presentation on April 7, 2021, to a group of students at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, New York. He explained Afghanistan's history leading up to the United States invading the country in 2001 for its "War on Terror." Matt also discussed the use of women's rights to justify the war and occupation.

Sobukwe Shukur of BAP member organization All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) reflected on Bobi Wine's meeting with Juan Guaido in a Hood Communist piece titled, “Why Bobi Wine Met With Juan Guaido.”

Egypt and Sudan rejected an Ethiopian proposal to share data on the operations of the "Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam," its hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, after negotiations this week between the three countries in Kinshasa ended without progress. Netfa contextualized the issue.

Netfa joined Radio Sputnik's "The Critical Hour" to discuss Haiti 74:01 minutes into the show. NNV News also interviewed Netfa about Haiti 45 minutes in.

Workers World newspaper highlighted BAP's Haiti rallies in a recent article.

Ajamu was one of the featured speakers at a No Cold War international webinar titled, “For a Peaceful Pacific: opposing NATO's military aggression.” He discussed the U.S. military global command system alongside allies and members of Indigenous communities of the Indo-Pacific region.

Ajamu was interviewed on Black Agenda Radio with Margaret Kimberley and Glen Ford discussing the importance of de-centering Europe from discussions of fascism in a segment titled, “Black Alliance for Peace: Fascism Born in the Colonies, Not Europe.” A transcript also was published in Hood Communist.

BAP member Erica Caines spoke at an emergency press conference for Mumia Abu-Jamal on April 15 alongside Marc Lamont Hill, Angela Davis and others.

Margaret appeared on the Fred Hampton Leftists podcast to discuss the Black political agenda.

BAP member organization Ujima People’s Progress Party criticized the Black misleadership class in a Hood Communist article titled, “The Black Working Class Must Defend Itself, Not the Black Misleadership Class.” Hood Communist has remained permanently banned from Twitter without any explanation.

Danny Haiphong laid out why revolutionaries should critique the Democratic Party in a Black Agenda Report article titled, “Criticizing the Democratic Party is not “Privileged: It Is the Duty of a Revolutionary.”


April 11-22: Join California actions to bring home political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who recently has been hospitalized.

April 22: Join BAP's next webinar, "The Role of Culture in Resistance and Revolution." Register today.

April 22-25: Join the "Post-Capitalism Conference: Building a Solidarity Economy." Register here.

April 24 (1-4 p.m.) and April 25 (1-3 p.m.): PACA and Black Lives Matter-DC will rally outdoors in Washington, D.C., for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 67th birthday. Speakers, food, drink and musical entertainment will be available. Please wear a mask.

April 28: The Claudia Jones School for Political Education, Black Women Radicals and the Paul Robeson House & Museum are hosting an evening with Professor Dayo Gore who will speak on her book, "Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War." Register here.

April 29: Pencil in your calendar 7-8:30 p.m., EST, for the BAP Solidarity Network's webinar, "#MayDayAfghanistan: Building a People's Movement to End U.S. Imperialism in Afghanistan and Around the World." Check our events page for registration information in the coming days.


  • Sign BAP petitions calling for an end to the 1033 program and peace in Afghanistan.

  • Dedan Waciuri, who represents Black Workers for Justice on BAP’s Coordinating Committee, is being charged for inciting a riot and damaging government property. Sign this petition to demand charges be dropped.

  • Our brother, former political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim, faces the possibility of re-incarceration for filling out a voter registration form. Sign this petition to demand charges be dropped.

  • The Black Latina Girls and Women Fund was created by BAP member organization AfroResistance, a Black Latina women-led organization in the service of Black Latinx women in the Americas. This fund offers financial support by giving money directly to Black Latin womxn, girls and femmes who are experiencing severe financial need across the region, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether in Brazil, Colombia, United States or Panama, Black Latina girls, women, and femmes are organizing in their local communities in the fight against several forms of state violence. You can donate here and people are encouraged to use the hashtag #BlackLatinaGWFund.

  • Sign up to join BAP’s U.S. Out of Africa Network to receive the bi-weekly AFRICOM Watch Bulletin in your inbox.

  • Make sure you keep up with us throughout the week by subscribing to our YouTube channel, liking us on Facebook, and following us on Instagram and Twitter.

No Compromise, No Retreat!

Struggle to win,
Ajamu, Charisse, Dedan, Erica, Jaribu, Margaret, Netfa, Nnamdi, Paul, Rafiki

P.S. Freedom isn’t free. Consider giving today.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Science post

I wasn't planning to cover science tonight. Then I saw John Amos' article at BBC:
: It's an unassuming rock, greenish in colour, and just over 4cm in its longest dimension. And yet this little piece of sandstone holds important clues to all our futures. It was recovered from muds in the deep ocean, far off the coast of modern-day West Antarctica.
: The scientists who found it say it shouldn't really have been there.
: It's what's called a dropstone, a piece of ice-rafted debris.
: It was scraped off the White Continent by a glacier, carried a certain distance in this flowing ice, and then exported and discarded offshore by an iceberg.
: What's remarkable about this particular cobble is that researchers can say where it originated.
: Using the latest "geo-fingerprinting" techniques, they've established with strong confidence that it comes from the Ellsworth Mountains - some 1,300km from where the rock was pulled up from the floor of the Amundsen Sea by a drilling ship.

: I really thought that was interesting.
: Let's pair it with Laura Allen (SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS)::
: Many green algae are made of single cells. They tend to spend much of their day soaking up sunlight, turning it into energy. These swimming plankton appear plant-like. Unless, that is, one gobbles up a nearby bacterial cell. Now it has become an animal-like predator.
: When ecologist Eunsoo Kim first witnessed this back in 2013, she was shocked. Until then, she and other scientists had thought the sun provided all the energy green algae need. They are green, in fact, because they contain chlorophyll. Just as in plants, these algae use chlorophyll to derive energy from the sun through photosynthesis.
: But seeing some algal cells dine on bacteria upended this worldview. Now, Kim and her team at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City show that the first bacteria-eating algae they found were hardly unique. They have turned up five more oceanic species that do the same thing.
: Kim’s group shared its latest findings March 2 in The ISME Journal. The journal specializes in microbial ecology.
: Some green algae “combine both a plant-like lifestyle, through photosynthesis, and an animal-like lifestyle, through predation,” explains Sophie Charvet. “These special algae can swallow whole bacteria and digest them.” Charvet is a postdoctoral scientist who helped carry out the new experiments.

: We noted SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS earlier this week. Laura has two kids and is trying to foster an interest in science in both of her children. So she asked to tell April thank you for passing that on.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Wednesday, April 28, 2021.  The failure of the Iraqi government continues to garner attention following Saturday's hospital fire in Baghdad, an Australian man is being held in a prison with no reasons for his arrest being provided, and much more.

In a desperate attempt to stop protests following the fire at Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had declared three days of official mourning. It may have caused some to cease protesting but protests have taken place this week and they continue to take place such as in Basra today.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports:

Hundreds of Iraqi workers shut the main headquarters of the Electric Power Production and Transmission Company in the southern city of Basra on Wednesday in protest of delaying their salaries.

Protesters say the company has refused to pay employees with temporary contracts for the past six months.

Demonstrators prevented employees from entering the building and threatened to stage an open-ended sit-in in front of the company if they were not paid, according to eyewitnesses.

The hospital fire has yet again exposed the corruption in Iraq.  At least 82 people died with 110 more left injured is the official count from the Iraqi government.  The official count.  The actual number may be much higher.   Sura Ali (RUDAW) reported earlier this week:

The death toll of a massive fire that ripped through Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib Hospital Saturday night has risen to around 130, according to Iraq’s human rights commission.

A report released following a fact-finding mission by the government-funded Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reports a higher number of casualties than the government’s previous toll, on Sunday, of 82 deaths. It notes that many of the bodies have yet to be identified due to being burned beyond recognition.  

Regardless of the number, this is on the government of Iraq which is supposed to protect the people.  It hasn't protected them.  It hasn't protected protester, it hasn't protected widows, it hasn't protected anyone.  This is part of the corruption -- a direct result of the corruption in Iraq.

This wasn't ''Oh, how sad a fire resulted in all of these deaths."  This is not just a tragedy, it is an injustice because it could have been easily prevented had the government followed written safety measures.  This is a governmental failure and the Iraqi people are expressing outrage.  Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power in May of last year.  Like all of the post-2003-invasion prime ministers, he pledged to end corruption.  He did not.  And now the same interests involved in the corruption that led to the loss of so many lives in Saturday's fire?  Mustafa needs their support if he's to remain prime minister  after this year's election.  Julia Marnen (NEWSWEEK) notes:  

A deadly fire raged Saturday at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital's coronavirus ward in Baghdad, Iraq, where medical officials said the building was a firetrap with safety shortcomings such as blocked emergency exits and broken fire extinguishers, the Associated Press reported.

[. . .]

Doctors have warned of widespread mismanagement in Iraq's hospitals, citing concerns over safety rules, particularly regarding oxygen cylinders, and a lack of smoke detectors, according to AP.

Samer said if a fire safety system was in place, lives would have been saved.

The  Iraqi people have every right to be outraged, the government is not representing the Iraqi people and it is ot protecting their interests.  One of Iraq's militias, The Hezbollah Brigade, is demanding the government resign.  To try to protect his own position, Mustafa has publicly insisted that the blame falls on health officials.  He forgets to note that the blame falls on him.  He's been in office for 11 months (May 7th, 2020 he became prime minister).  He is the head of the government, the buck stops with him.  He can try to push it off on underlings but why were the issues not addressed by the government once Mustafa became prime minister?  He was informed of this problem on two occasions -- one by health administrator in June of last year and again by two doctors in November of last year.  Real concerns were expressed directly to him.  Why didn't he act?

The deaths are an injustice and the blame goes to the government -- the one that Mustafa is the head of.  Shame on him for trying to push the blame off on others.


Staying on the subject of government's not serving their own citizens, Robert Pether.  We noted him in yesterday's snapshot..  Steve Jackson (THE AUSTRALIAN) explained, "An Australian father of three has been able to speak to his family for the first since he was seized by Iraqi police and thrown in prison three weeks ago after being tricked into attending a fake business meeting with one of the country’s leading institutions."   Today, Christopher Knaus (GUARDIAN) reports:

Mechanical engineer Robert Pether, 46, was arrested in Baghdad roughly three weeks ago, after travelling to Iraq from Dubai to attempt to restart work on the construction of a new headquarters for the Central Bank of Iraq.

After roughly four years of work, the project became mired in a contractual dispute between Pether’s employer and the bank.

Pether, originally from Sydney, was invited to Iraq for a “meeting” by the bank, which indicated the dispute was over and the work could be resumed.

His wife Desree Pether, speaking from Ireland, said the bank was, in fact, laying a trap.

“He and his colleague had their suits on and got arrested immediately,” she told the Guardian. “There never was any resolution and there was never any meeting scheduled. It was trap.”

Her husband has been thrown into an Iraqi prison.  They have limited any contact she can have wth her husband.  She reaches out to the Australian government -- which hasn't even issued a statement publicly.  Brittany Chain (DAILY MAIL) reports:

Ms Pether has sought answers from the Australian embassy, but claims she has been told she is not authorised to liaise on his behalf. 

'They have no idea how to help him,' she said. 

'They just keep repeating that they can't discuss the case with me without consent from my husband. There is no support for me at all.' 

Daily Mail Australia understands consular staff are not able to communicate with family and friends unless they are a nominated contact. But Ms Pether claims given she is the one who reported his arrest, and that her husband has been so hard to contact, she should be informed of any updates.

She is his spouse, that alone makes her the nominated contact.  This is beyond ridiculous, it is beyond a bad policy or practice.  This is an example of a government failing the people it is supposed to represent. 

Vedank Tweets:

One of my friend’s father is trapped in Iraq for no reason whatsoever. Twitter, do your thing. Help #RobertPether and his family. This needs to be addressed.

Public pleading is what Robert's family and friends have to resort to because the Australian government is not doing anything.  Desree and Robert live in Ireland.  The Irish government has done much more for Robert than his own country has.  THE JOE FINNEGAN SHOW Tweets:

Taoiseach says they will everything they can to help Robert Pether and his family

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Science Post: Dinosaurs

T-Rex. One of the most popular dinosaurs. Some new developments from SCITECH DAILY:

New research addresses longstanding mystery on the anatomy of the Tyrannosaurus rex jaw.
Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs chomped through bone by keeping a joint in their lower jaw steady like an alligator, rather than flexible like a snake, according to a study being presented at the American Association for Anatomy annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30.
The research sheds new light on a conundrum that has perplexed paleontologists. Dinosaurs had a joint in the middle of their lower jaws, called the intramandibular joint, which is also present in modern-day reptiles. Previous research has suggested this joint was flexible, like it is in snakes and monitor lizards, helping carnivorous dinosaurs to keep struggling prey in their jaws. However, it has been unclear whether the jaws were flexible at all, or how they could be strong enough to bite through and ingest bone, which Tyrannosaurus did regularly, according to fossil evidence.
“We discovered that these joints likely were not flexible at all, as dinosaurs like T. rex possess specialized bones that cross the joint to stiffen the lower jaw,” said John Fortner, a doctoral student in anatomy at the University of Missouri, first author of the study.

Staying with the topic of dinosaurs, Brett French (BILLINGS GAZETTE reports:

The unusual claw of a 3-foot-long dinosaur, which went extinct about 66 million years ago, has been unearthed in Montana — the largest specimen collected from the species so far.
“It’s a cute little dinosaur,” said Denver Fowler, curator of the Badlands Dinosaur Museum in North Dakota’s Dickinson Museum Center.
The fast, long-legged bird — which he named Trierarchuncus prairiensis — had short, strong forelimbs tipped with a large claw next to two smaller claws. One theory is the claws — coupled with the strong, tiny arms — were used to tear open logs to reach grubs to eat.
Earlier speculation was the claws may have been used to tear open termite mounds. The fact that the dinosaur ate insects is manifested by its peg-like teeth, similar to an aardvark’s.
Fowler imagines the dinosaur using its long hind legs to quickly flee an angry group of bees after breaking into a nest to feed.
“Finding one here in Montana was pretty cool,” said Greg Liggett, a paleontologist for the Bureau of Land Management in Billings. “From a BLM perspective, what this shows is that, even after 150 years of studying dinosaurs in the American West, there are still new ones.”

I bet that was a cute little dinosaur. WIKEPDIA notes:

The first remains ware discovered in Montana in 1980 and it was informally known as the "Hell Creek alvarezsaur".[5] The then unnamed species was not mentioned again until it was mentioned briefly in the 2018 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology abstract book. The species and genus were scientifically described by Denver Fowler and colleagues in 2020 based on three claw phalanges from MD-I-2, including the holotype MOR 6622, the distal end of a radius and fragmentary metatarsal.
The first part of the generic name, Trierarch, means "triarch" (the title of captain of the trireme in classical Greece); the second, uncus, is translated from Latin as "hook", thus forming Captain Hook, a reference to the villainous hook-handed pirate of Peter Pan. The specific name means "from the prairie" and refers to the plains of eastern Montana where the remains were discovered.

From a tiny dinosaur to a big one, PHYS.ORG reports:

Chilean paleontologists announced Monday the discovery of a new species of giant dinosaurs called Arackar licanantay.
The dinosaur belongs to the titanosaur dinosaur family tree but is unique in the world due to features on its dorsal vertebrae.
The Arackar licanantay—a Kunza indigenous language name that means "Atacameño bones"—lived in what is now the Atacama Region, during the end of the Cretaceous period, 80 to 66 million years ago.
The fossil specimen belongs to a large, quadruped, herbivore measuring some 6.3 meters (20'8") in length but scientists determined the remains are that of a juvenile.
Adults are estimated to have grown to reach 8 meters in length (26').
The bones—a femur, humerus, ischium and vertebral elements of the neck and back—were initially discovered in the 1990's by geologist Carlos Arévalo.
Arévalo excavated the specimen with experts from Chile's National Geology and Mining Service, during a dig 75 kilometers (46 miles) south of the city of Copiapó, in the Atacama Region.

Wait, we've got one more dinosaur article to note: Carolyn Gramling (SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS) reports:

Some 66 million years ago, a very different type of rainforest thrived in what is now Colombia. Ferns unfurled. Towering conifers reached for the skies. Flowering shrubs bathed in the sunlight that streamed down to them through large gaps in the canopy between those trees. Then an asteroid crashed into Earth. Overnight, everything changed.
The fireball’s impact set off a massive extinction event. It wiped out more than 75 percent of all life on Earth. It also kicked off a massive transformation of the planet’s tropical rainforests. Gone were the sun-dappled, semi-open woodlands. In their place came forests where large swaths of the ground now were covered by dark, dense, lush and moist trees — ones typical of today’s Amazon. Researchers described their new evidence for this forest-morphing April 2 in Science.
They had analyzed tens of thousands of fossils of pollen, spores and leaves. These came from 39 sites across what is now the South American nation of Colombia. All fossils dated from between 70 million and 56 million years ago.
The team then assessed what plants had left these remains. They gave clues to which had been dominant. They also pointed to what insects had been interacting with them. And the evidence was startling. It showed that once the Earth-shaking space rock struck, forest ecosystems abruptly changed.

We need more science knowledge and science coverage. April agrees and she noted that article in an e-mail. This is science coverage geared towards young adults and a great resource.


"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, April 27, 2021.   Fall out from Saturday's injustice continues in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr makes an alliance, is the Australian government doing anything at all to assist an Australian citizen imprisoned in Iraq, and much more.

Saturday, a fire broke out at  Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad, ignited when an oxygen tank exploded.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the death toll of 82 would likely increase.  Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:

The death toll of a massive fire that ripped through Baghdad’s Ibn al-Khatib Hospital Saturday night has risen to around 130, according to Iraq’s human rights commission.

A report released following a fact-finding mission by the government-funded Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights reports a higher number of casualties than the government’s previous toll, on Sunday, of 82 deaths. It notes that many of the bodies have yet to be identified due to being burned beyond recognition.  

The commission has found that the fire started after an oxygen cylinder exploded in a patient wing crowded with visitors. They say the number of people allowed in the space is evidence of the hospital’s failure to abide by the instructions of the ministry of health.

Fire extinguishing equipment present in the hospital was not used due to people not being aware of where it was stored, it says, also noting that many patients were rescued by companions and family members, rather than civil defense teams.


Widespread negligence on the part of health officials is to blame for a fire that ripped through a Baghdad hospital, Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, said Sunday.

Following a special cabinet meeting to discuss the blaze, Kadhimi suspended Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi — who is backed by the powerful Shia leader Moqtada Sadr — as part of a probe that also includes the governor of Baghdad.

The fire that killed more than 80 people triggered outrage on social media, with a widespread hashtag demanding the health minister be sacked.

The Hezbollah Brigades, one of Iraq’s most radical pro-Iran factions, on Sunday evening demanded that the government quit.

Kadhimi, in a tweet, urged Iraqis “to be united in solidarity and to refrain from playing politics with this national catastrophe.”

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ccame to power in May of last year.  Like all of the post-2003-invasion prime ministers, he pledged to end corruption.  He did not.  And now the same interests involved in the corruption that led to the loss of so many lives in Saturday's fire?  Mustafa needs their support if he's to remain prime minister  after this year's election.  

Offering him a possible life raft?  Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.  THE ARAB WEEKLY explains:

Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has pledged to support Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi for a second term, if the latter decides not to run a party of his own in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

An Iraqi political source familiar with the matter revealed to The Arab Weekly the existence of electoral understandings between Kadhimi and Sadr. According to these , the source said, the Sadrist movement will support the current prime minister  to remain at the head of the government in exchange for Kadhimi’s commitment not to form a party or a bloc and not to enter the parliamentary elections that are expected to take place this October.

The source confirmed to The Arab Weekly that these understandings are supported by Shia political forces represented by the former premier Haider al-Abadi and the head of the Wisdom Movement Ammar al-Hakim, as well as by Sunni forces represented by parliamentary speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi and Kurdish groups led by  the former president of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani.

Moqtada is supposedly riding a new cusp.  Supposedly.  I don't believe it and there's nothing to back it up.  He's still out of power and still reviled.  He broke with the protesters in February of 2021 and then engaged in embarrassing behavior including making demands and issuing orders that were not just ignored, but openly mocked.  One example, in April of last year, he demanded that males and females not protest together.  He looked out of touch and that was before the mocking began.  

Older people watched in amazement as he gave up his leadership role to throw a weeks long tantrum in public.  He hasn't recovered from that.  Equally true, the issue of corruption raised by the protesters?  Moqtada's got corruption issues of his own.  His base is in the Sadr City section of Baghdad which is a slum.  Which was a slum in 2003 and continues to be to this day.  He's delivered nothing for his cult.   And that became an issue on Arabic social media late last year.  

If Moqtada is making deals to back Khadimi, that's only one more indication that Moqtada is not riding as high as he and his followers claim.

On the issue of the government, Catherine Pepinster (THE TABLET) reports:

Christians in Iraq will only be able to live safely and securely if religion is separated from the state, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has warned. According to Cardinal Louis Sako, the Christian community continues to suffer discrimination in a country that does not recognise Christians as citizens with full rights. 

“We still have a problem with corruption and sectarianism”, he said, during a webinar hosted by the charity Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East. “We need a secular regime. In many Western communities this protects people. We need to focus on this strongly with political leaders”. 

Cardinal Sako’s comments came in a wide-ranging conversation with Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, with participants via Zoom from around the world. The discussion came just weeks after Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq, when Cardinal Sako accompanied him. It was a landmark visit, said the cardinal, with many Muslims in Iraq learning about the Pope, the Vatican and the Catholic Church for the first time through media coverage in the run-up to the visit. He said he believed that the impact of the visit was greater on Muslims than Christians. 

“It changed the mentality of people. It touched the heart of all Iraqis, perhaps Muslims more than Christians because it was the first time they could hear and see the Pope. He came for all Iraqis. After years of destruction we heard a message of peace and fraternity”. 

Amnesty International MENA has a thread on the hospital fire:

1. After the horrific #BaghdadHospitalFire at Ibn al-Khatib, we call on the
to bring justice to the victims, hold those responsible accountable & take steps to ensure this never happens again. A hospital must be a safe space for people battling for their lives.

2. A thorough investigation is needed for accountability & to prevent negligence resulting in such a catastrophe. Iraq’s neglected healthcare system is grappling with being one of the worst hit by #COVID19 in the region. Comprehensive safety measures need to be put in place now!

3. Justice for the victims must also include immediate steps to prioritize #Iraq’s fragile health system, further debilitated by lack of adequate procedures to ensure safety of staff and patients. Investigations must lead to urgent change to ensure this never happens again.

In other news, MEHR NEWS AGENCY notes yet another attack on a US convoy in Iraq:

Iraqi sources reported on Tues. that another US military logistics convoy was targeted in Al-Diwaniyah, the capital of Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, and Babil Governorate, to become the third convoy targetted on the same day.

No further data has been released about the damages. 

Earlier on Tues., Iraqi resources reported that two roadside bombs exploded Tuesday near US military convoys in Dhi Qar Governorate, in southern Iraq.

Does the Australian government ever do anything to protect its citizens?  They've done nothing to stop the persecution of Julian Assange.   Now they have a citizen in Iraq who's been tossed into a hole.  Steve Jackson (THE AUSTRALIAN) reports:

An Australian father of three has been able to speak to his family for the first since he was seized by Iraqi police and thrown in prison three weeks ago after being tricked into attending a fake business meeting with one of the country’s leading institutions.

Robert Pether, who grew up on Sydney’s north shore and attended Knox Grammar School, was arrested, along with an Egyptian colleague, when they arrived for an appointment set up by the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad on April 7.

The 46-year-old mechanical engineer had been in the country for about a week to try to resolve a contractual dispute between his Dubai-based building company and the bank over the construction of the financial institution’s landmark new headquarters which has been in the works for about four years.

Mr Pether’s wife, Desree, said he had spent a fortnight in solitary confinement after his arrest before being moved into a cell with his colleague and that she had only been able to talk to him for the first time since he was locked up on Tuesday night.

We'll wind down by noting this from Caitlin Johnstone:

This year has marked the first time ever that trust in news media dropped below fifty percent in the United States, continuing a trend of decline that’s been ongoing for years.

Mass media punditry is divided on where to assign the blame for the plummet in public opinion of their work, with some blaming it on Russia and others blaming it on Donald Trump. Others, like a recent Forbes article titled “Restoring Public Trust In Technology And Media Is Infrastructure Investment” blame it on the internet. Still others, like a Washington Post article earlier this month titled “Bad news for journalists: The public doesn’t share our values” blame it on the people themselves.

The one thing they all seem to agree on is that it’s definitely not because the billionaire-controlled media are propaganda outlets which manipulate us constantly in conjunction with sociopathic government agencies to protect the oligarchic, imperialist status quo upon which the members of the billionaire class have built their respective kingdoms. It cannot possibly be because people sense that they are being lied to and are fed up with it.

And actually it doesn’t ultimately matter what mainstream pundits and reporters believe is the cause of the public’s growing disgust with them, because there’s nothing they can do to fix it anyway. The mass media will never regain the public’s trust.

They’ll never regain the public’s trust for a couple of reasons, the first of which is because they’ll never be able to become trustworthy. At no point will the mass media ever begin wowing the public with its journalistic integrity and causing people to re-evaluate their opinion of mainstream news reporters. At no point will people’s disdain for these outlets ever cease to be reinforced and confirmed by the manipulative and deceitful behaviors which caused that disdain in the first place.

The following sites updated: