Thursday, September 16, 2021

Diana Ross

Breaking from science for this post. Longterm readers know this most likely means one thing: Diana Ross. And you are right. VULTURE notes:

First the hologram, now this? Nearly three decades after The Bodyguard was released in theaters and became a cultural phenomenon with stars Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner (and, of course, the third star known as the soundtrack), the film is being remade with a script from Tony-nominated playwright Matthew López. Variety reports that López, best known for writing Broadway’s The Inheritance, has been hired to pen a “reimagining” of the romantic drama set in the present day. While Variety states that nobody is attached in the two leading roles yet, “combos from Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to Channing Tatum and Cardi B have been floated.” Free idea: Mix it up and do a gender-swap with Donald Fagen and Kate Winslet.

And HUFFINGTON POST notes that people are losing their heads on Twitter over "Whitney's movie" been remade.

Whitney's movie?

I guess that let's racist Sue Mengers off the hook, right? They want to make a film about that racist and make her a hero. For those who don't know, Sue didn't like African-American actors and actresses. She worked overtime to destroy their careers. Diana Ross was a popular target, for example. Sue stole THE MAIN EVENT for her pet Barbra Streisand. She steered Diana away from other projects or bad mouthed her to keep her from getting real offers. There's a reason Diana's three theatrical films were all made by MOTOWN and Berry Gordy.

THE BOYDGUARD was supposed to be a film starring Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross. Ryan had a hissy fit after he broke up with Diana saying mean things about her. It's cute how his manager (Sue) talks Diana out of doing the film and he only rages at Diana. But his film career was ending by then and he danced for

Kevin's the one who found the script and he's the one who had faith in Whitney. If he's upset by the remake, I care about that. But right now, at this moment, how about we make it a teachable moment of how Barbra Streisand's racist manager worked overtime to go after all African-American artists and especially went after Diana Ross whom Barbra was threatened by going back to the 60s. She had a fit when she found out that the Supremes were recording the songs from FUNNY GIRL She couldn't stand the fact that Diana had all the hits she did -- Diana is in THE GUINESS BOOK OF RECORDS for most charting songs in the 20th century.

In October 1993, Diana Ross was inducted in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, as " THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF ALL TIME " in history, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 150 hits , singles and albums ,with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. Ross has sold, certified, more than 100 million records [[ certified ) worldwide when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are tallied. As solo artist, in UK only, she received 10 PLATINUM records, 20 GOLD records and 30 SILVER records.
In the U.S..A singles charts , Diana Ross has had a record of 18 number one. Also, is the only female singer to have received 3 PLATINUM records for singles : “ Someday will be together “,1969 – “ I’m gonna make you love me “, 1969 and “ Endless Love”, 1981 [[at the time, in USA, singles were certified platinum records for sales over two million copies).

 And this is her latest release "If The World Just Danced."

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Thursday, September 16, 2021.  Elections gear up in Iraq, War Criminals get praised in the US.

Journalist, activist, theorist Glen Ford passed away recently.  BLACK AGENDA REPORT notes:

The memorial service for Glen Ford will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. The event will be live streamed on Youtube.

Richard Medhurst notes BLACK AGENDA REPORT and Glen Ford this video from yesterday.

The opposite of truth telling?  Lying, whoring, the people working overtime to make War Criminals look better.  Whether it's throwing soft balls to War Criminal Condi No One Could Have Guess Rice like THE WASHINGTON POST did at the start of the week  or now NEWSDAY publishing Cathy Young's lunatic ravings entitled "Reconsidering Bush . . . for the better."  No link to a text version of the work of Leni Riefenstahl.

Jack Tajmajer (Brown's DAILY HERALD) notes a recent panel on the cost of war:

Discussing the costs of the war in Iraq, Nadje Al-Ali, director for the Center for Middle East Studies and professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at the Watson Institute, said Iraq had already been “decimated radically” through “thirteen years of the most comprehensive sanction system ever imposed on a country” by the time the U.S. invaded. 

That reality escapes Cathy Young.  She has no time to study.  She has no time to research.  But reconsider?

It sure is nice that Cathy Young can reconsider.  The dead in Iraq don't have that luxury, do they?  Nor do the ones who continue dying in the US.  An obit on a man under fifty that doesn't include the cause of death?  Six ran this week.  All men were single.  The youngest was in his 30s.  All were former US service members who served in Iraq.  

Did they all kill themselves?  I have no ida.  I know two did because I heard from family members about it.  Unlike Cathy Young, those two had to live with the effects of Bully Boy Bush's actions.  Cathy just has to reflect on how much she can get paid for whoring.  

There are people in need in this country -- in need in so many ways, but, don't worry America, Cathy Young's going to use her space in a daily newspaper to try to clean up the reputation of a War Criminal and to act as though he's someone society should embrace.

Condi, Colin, Bully Boy Bush and the rest are War Criminals.  They lie about their crimes and pretended they helped when all they did was hurt.  Tracy Keeling (THE CANARY) observes:

The International Witness Campaign is remembering the last 20 years of the “failed War on Terror”. This decades-long war has seen its fair share of illegality and incompetence by those who’ve waged it. As with all wars, it’s hawks also paid no regard to the huge environmental costs involved.

Now, after these decades of war, the Middle East is facing another security threat: the climate crisis. Indeed, authorities around the world are increasingly recognising the environmental emergency as the greatest security threat we face.

As In These Times recently contemplated, imagine if those who waged the War on Terror had spent the last 20 years fighting the climate crisis instead. The populations targeted in the failed war, and the global community as a whole, would undoubtedly be better equipped to deal with the crisis if they had.

Indeed, there might not be a crisis to speak of if the vast amounts of money spent on the war had been directed to tackling the climate crisis from the start of the millennium onwards.


Paul Antonopoulos (ANTIWAR.COM) notes the 'success' lying brings for some:

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw entire infrastructures destroyed, hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions of refugees, and over $6 trillion of American taxpayer money wasted. Much of this devastation was caused by American soldiers, often with impunity. In fact, the Americans were not alone in such war crimes, with many British, Australian and other soldiers from partnered countries responsible for murder, rape, extortion and theft in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What is most concerning though is that the upper echelons of the US military had little to no concern for the war crimes perpetrated by NATO forces. Instead, they focused on creating a narrative, portraying the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq as constantly improving. Journalist Craig Whitlock’s new book, "The Afghanistan Papers," provides evidence that military leaders knew the war in Afghanistan was failing but lied about it. Colonel Bob Crowley claims in the book that "every data point was altered to present the best picture possible" and Whitlock described the military’s positive assessments as "unwarranted and baseless" that "amounted to a disinformation campaign."

The main question is why the top military leaders were adamant in their claims that the war situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was improving. It can be suggested that their lies about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq was motivated by self-interest to advance their own careers and capital. They were certainly not going to allow the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as over 1.3 million cases of ill-discipline in the military, including rape, torture and murder, ruin their prospects.

Take for example the current US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Austin was the assistant commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. The Intercept recounts an exchange in May 2013, just weeks after the US captured Baghdad, between Austin and Dathar Khashab, director of the Daura oil refinery. No matter about Khashab’s insistence that Baghdad was more crime-ridden under US occupation then under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Austin could only say that "two months ago was a brutal dictator who killed thousands of people."

Austin, who from the very beginning of Iraq’s occupation insisted everything was fine, eventually became the commander of US forces in Iraq, then took charge of Central Command that covers all operations in the Middle East, retired with a $15,000 a month pension, and then joined several corporate boards, including the board of directors of United Technologies Corporation, the military contractor that merged with Raytheon in 2020. With these corporate gigs, he became a multimillionaire with a $2.6 million mansion that boasts seven bedrooms, a five-car garage, two kitchens and a pool house in the Washington D.C. area.

 People got rich off the ongoing war.  The Iraqi people suffered.  The people sent to Iraq to fight, invade and occupy suffered.  Iraq is a failed-state where secret prisons are once again on the rise.  Big rumor currently: State Of Law is considering airing that dirty laundry ahead of the planned October 10th elections but are concerned about the blowback -- Nouri al-Maliki is the head of the Sate of Law coalition.  He was a two-time prime minister of Iraq and ran secret prisons and torture centers during both terms.  

The current prime minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi is backed by the US government.  Turnout for the election is expected to be low.  Some have announced that they are boycotting the elections.  Others face obstacles to voting.  Human Rights Watch notes one such grouping:

People with disabilities in Iraq are facing significant obstacles to participating in upcoming parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Without urgent changes, hundreds of thousands of people may not be able to vote.

The 36-page report, “‘No One Represents Us’: Lack of Access to Political Participation for People with Disabilities in Iraq,” documents that Iraqi authorities have failed to secure electoral rights for Iraqis with disabilities. People with disabilities are often effectively denied their right to vote due to discriminatory legislation and inaccessible polling places and significant legislative and political obstacles to running for office.

“The government should ensure that polling places are accessible to all voters,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While some steps will take time, like amending legislation, others are easy, and the Independent High Electoral Commission has no excuse to continue to fail to address accessibility.”

Between January and August, Human Rights Watch interviewed 14 people with disabilities as well as activists, authorities, and the staff of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC).

While the Iraqi government has not collected any reliable statistics on the number of people with disabilities, in 2019, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said that Iraq, plagued by decades of violence and war, including the battles against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) from 2014-2017, has one of the world’s largest populations of people with disabilities.

Iraq’s Parliament acceded to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2013. Article 12 requires state parties to “recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life” and article 29 calls on states to respect the political rights of people with disabilities. Iraq’s domestic law, however, falls short. The 1951 civil code does not recognize the right to legal capacity for people with disabilities, allowing the government to deprive people with intellectual, psychosocial (mental health), visual, and hearing disabilities of their legal capacity. People without legal capacity are not allowed to vote.

Article 29 of the covenant requires states to ensure that voting facilities and materials are “appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use.” However, Iraqi authorities offer little to no accessible information to people with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. Electoral materials are not presented in accessible formats such as audio, Braille, large print, sign language, and easy-to-read. Videos on the website are not accessible for people with hearing and visual disabilities. Because of the complete ban on operating vehicles on election day for security reasons, people who use mobility assistive devices can face difficulties reaching polling places.

The election commission almost exclusively uses school buildings, many of which are inaccessible, for polling places. It locates many ballot boxes on the second floor in buildings without elevators. It has no mobile voting stations, electronic voting, or postal voting, perhaps because of Iraq’s weakened postal system.

“Every election day is the most depressing day for me,” said Suha Khailil, 44, who uses a wheelchair and who has never participated in an election. “Everyone goes to vote and I am stuck at home waiting for the day to end,” she said.

People with disabilities said they sometimes must rely on assistance to reach the polling place. When that assistance comes from political party members, they sometimes try to influence how the person votes. The need for some people to get assistance to fill in their ballot or reach a ballot box raises concerns about privacy.

Ahmed al-Ghizzi, director of Voice of Iraqi Disabled Association, a Baghdad-based organization, said that his group’s survey of 2018 parliamentary elections found that only 200 members out of the about 5,000 who replied said they had been able to vote.

Available evidence suggests that people with disabilities also face significant obstacles to running for public office. Despite extensive research, Human Rights Watch was only able to identify eight people who had run for public office since 2005, including six in parliamentary elections and two in governorate elections. All candidates were men, and all had physical disabilities. The obstacles stem from discriminatory legislation, including provisions that require candidates to be “fully competent” or “fully qualified,” a lack of financial resources, and the unwillingness of political parties to seek out and support people with disabilities as candidates.

“It really makes me sad when I see all the members of parliament and there is no one to represent us,” said Naghim Khadir Elias, 47, who uses a wheelchair.

The commission has defended its policies. “Our institution is an executive one that is only concerned with implementing the electoral law that organizes all details of the electoral process,” the commission told the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in December 2020, in response to critical findings from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But the commission has the authority to select accessible voting sites and to offer transportation and disseminate accessible information.

For election day, the commission should ensure that transportation is available and that polling places are accessible. It should ensure that its election information materials are accessible and easy to understand for persons with intellectual, visual, and hearing disabilities. It should also ensure that assistance is available to those who need it and that it does not interfere with the right to cast a private and independent vote.

Iraq’s newly elected parliament should amend the relevant legislation to comply fully with the covenant. It should amend the civil code on legal capacity so the right to legal capacity is respected for anyone with a disability and that they have access to supported decision-making, if needed.

People with disabilities and their representative organizations should be consulted and included in all these efforts.

The United Nations and European Assistance Missions’ election monitoring bodies should include people with disabilities as expert monitors and include in their monitoring mandate documentation and reporting on discriminatory treatment and limitations that people with disabilities face.

“Countries financially supporting Iraq’s elections and monitoring missions, including those who have been part of the conflict, should ensure that they help make Iraq more accessible for people with disabilities, including its political system,” Wille said.

Meanwhile, there's a call to postpone the election in one oil-rich area of Iraq.  RUDAW reports:

Three members of the Iraqi parliament who identified themselves as representatives of the city’s Arab and Turkmen communities have called for the postponement of the Iraqi election for a week in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Turkmen MP Ersat Salih and Sunni Arab MP Mohammed al-Tamimi held a press conference on Wednesday in Kirkuk, attended by a number of other politicians, including Hasan Turan, the head of the Turkmen front. 

A statement read by Khalid al-Mafraji, a Sunni Arab member of Iraqi parliament, claimed that Peshmerga forces are trying to move into Kirkuk territories under the guise of fighting remnants of the Islamic State in the disputed areas. It called on Iraqi forces to take on the ongoing threat posed by ISIS without the support of their Kurdish partners.

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) notes, "On July 8, the IHEC approved the final list of candidates eligible to contest the elections. There are a total of 3,249 candidates, including 951 women, competing for 329 seats. Nine seats are reserved by minorities and there are 67 candidates vying for these spots."

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Genetic resurrection?

Starting with NPR where science reporting is really getting a strong (and needed) push. Scott Neuman reports:

Using recovered DNA to "genetically resurrect" an extinct species — the central idea behind the Jurassic Park films — may be moving closer to reality with the creation this week of a new company that aims to bring back woolly mammoths thousands of years after the last of the giants disappeared from the Arctic tundra.
Flush with a $15 million infusion of funding, Harvard University genetics professor George Church, known for his pioneering work in genome sequencing and gene splicing, hopes the company can usher in an era when mammoths "walk the Arctic tundra again." He and other researchers also hope that a revived species can play a role in combating climate change.
"We are working towards bringing back species who left an ecological void as they went extinct," the company, Colossal, said in answer to questions emailed by NPR. "As Colossal actively pursues the conservation and preservation of endangered species, we are identifying species that can be given a new set of tools from their extinct relatives to survive in new environments that desperately need them."

What do you think? I'm not sure. A part of me is opposed to it. Not because it seems 'unnatural.' They died unnaturally. They are extinct unnaturally. We're basically doing that to bees right now and if we did kill them off, it would be great to know that we could bring them back. Let me note another article and then I'll share my anti-thoughts.. Justine Calma (THE VERGE) adds:

Funding de-extinction could hurt other conservation efforts by siphoning off limited resources, Bennett’s previous research has found. Spending the same amount of money on traditional conservation efforts could save up to eight times more species than if the money was to be spent on de-extinction. The Asian elephant itself could use help; its numbers have dropped in half over the past three generations.

It is a question of resources and is this really the best thing to be funding? That's a serious question. Especially with the very real peril we're facing as a result of the climate crisis. And I'm using that term from now on, by the way. That study probably disturbed a lot of people (see yesterday's "The climate crisis") but it helped me. I was really thinking I must be crazy or something because the world seemed to be just chugging along with no real efforts being made and a lot of people okay with that. I'm glad to know that is not the case.

 "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Wednesday, September 15, 2021.  The lies, like the war, continue.

Starting with California.  Gavin Newsom remains governor of California.  That will make some people mad -- some out of California.  To those who predicted his demise, sorry you were so stupid.  I don't know what else to say.  You were an idiot?  I'm not saying that to those who don't like him but I am saying that to those of you who 'just knew' he was going down.  As long noted, I've known Gavin for years.  Yes, I did do outreach for him for this vote.  No, I did not turn this site into: We must support Gavin!!!!

Three e-mails to the public account ( whined that I didn't note Rose McGowan's support for one of Gavin's opponents.  When did I note Gavin's supporters?  I haven't turned this site into a recall website.  Second, if Rose endorsed she did so on Monday of this week. That's a little late in the game to have any effect.  At least three weeks ago, it was obvious from internal polling that Gavin stood no real threat of being turned out from the governor's mansion.  I wasn't 'censoring' Rose.  We weren't using THE COMMON ILLS to promote the recall.  If I'm not going to be noting, "Support Gavin" here, I'm certainly not going to be noting, "Rose McGowan is supporting Gavin's opponent . . ."  If Rose wanted to make an impact, she should have endorsed at least three weeks ago and turned up at some functions for her candidate of choice to get attention for that campaign.

During this time, we noted every clip THE CONVO COUCH did (they hate Gavin) about Gavin.  So this site was not used as a campaign site.

The only 'censorship' I'm aware of was that I didn't note a passing here.  The last few weeks have been really busy with news out of the Middle East so I might not have noted it anyway.  But a relative -- once, by marriage -- of Gavin's passed away.  JACOBIN, among others, was in tears over the passing.  The man was a raging homophobe.  His beef with Charlton Heston is purposely misremembered, for example.  It was political.  And then the man called, in front of the press, Heston a "cocksucker."  That's part of why the man's show was cancelled.  The man's politics had been tolerated -- leftwing -- but the network was not going to tolerate that.  The man realized he'd gone too far and tried to then lie, a day after, to the press that it was a term of affection.  Mm-hmm.  He was trash his whole life.  I don't care what his politics were.  He was a known homophobe and everyone looked the other way.  Then he did that to Heston and that was a step too far.  Ask Molly Ringwald who, a few years later, ended her own career by making remarks about a living film legend who was a lesbian -- it involves a LIFE magazine photo shoot.  Most people outside the industry don't know about that either but that is what killed Molly's career.

And not because the industry cared so much about LGBTQs in the 80s but because the industry was determined to hush up their existence as had been the m.o. since the 'pictures started to talk.'  Nancy Reagan's godmother Nazimova could be a star in the silent films, but the industry went reactionary shortly there after. 

(The man calling Heston a "cocksucker" was intending it as an insult.  Whether Heston was gay or bi or whether the man was just trying to land the worst insult he can imagine, I don't know.  I never met Heston and I have no knowledge of what he did or didn't do in the bedroom.)

Gavin still holds his post.  A lot of time and energy was wasted by people outside California who just knew he was going to be ousted.  This is why I don't endorse in elections I can't vote in.  What may be perfectly obvious on the ground may not be obvious from a distance.  

Those who hate him on the left have their reasons and I'll assume they are solid ones.  But I have reasons for supporting Gavin and every time I spoke to a group -- in person or virtual -- I was able to list many reasons to support him, many things I am proud of him for.  I was not scripted -- by the campaign nor did I use my own list of talking points.  I think Gavin's done a solid job.  

I also understand the difference between what our state legislature can do and what our governor can do and I'm not sure that all of Gavin's critics on the left grasped that difference -- again, if you're not able to vote in the election you may not grasp what's going on.

I'm happy for Gavin and I'm happy for the state of California.  If Gavin had been ejected?  I'd be upset but the state would have gone on and it wouldn't have been the end of the world despite the hype and drama so many try to bring to political races.  I'm sure it's gotten worse but since THE NATION dubbed an election "the torture election," I've been immune to the hysteria.

Iraq is gearing up for elections which are scheduled to take place next month.

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reports:

With only weeks to go until a parliamentary election, Iraq's politicians are not merely putting on their best smiles and making promises but also providing services the government was supposed to.

The election on October 10, the fifth since the end of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in 2003, is an important test for Iraq’s fledgling democracy amid widespread sentiment against its political elite. A mass protest movement that began in October 2019 forced a change of government last year and elections are to be held early under a new electoral law.

Iraqis will cast their ballots to choose among 3,249 contenders for the 328 seats in Parliament. The new electoral law means independent candidates are standing for the first time. Out of about 25 million registered voters, slightly more than 23 million have updated their information to become eligible to take part.

Candidates are using every possible method to attract voters, from the traditional billboards and shaking of hands to sponsored advertisements on social media and holding rallies with speeches, song and poetry.

Some candidates are even paving streets, replacing electricity transformers and repairing or installing water treatment plants in rural areas at their own expense.

Bribery?  ARAB WEEKLY notes:

At least 30,000 former members of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces-PMF) are to be reinstated and receive their salaries, the paramilitary coalition announced Monday.

The announcement, which came weeks before the country’s October 10 parliamentary elections, follows months of demonstrations by ex-members whose jobs had been terminated.

Faleh al-Fayyad, a senior Hashed official, said on television that the organisation would use its own funds to finance the rehiring operation and urged the government to re-enrol others who had been laid off.

Observers said the move comes at a crucial timing as Iraq prepares for the October 10 elections and just a few days after the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi approved a draft law for compulsory military service, 18 years after its abolition, in attempt to end sectarian polarisation caused by such powerful groups as the Hashed.

The Hashed decision to reinstate former members, observers added, is a direct message to Kadhimi, who has been struggling to restore the government’s control over the security file, something that the Hashed does not accept and sees as a threat to the militias’ influence.


Back in June, Brookings offered an assessment by Marsin Alshamary:

To understand the likely and unlikely outcomes of Iraq’s early parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, we need to understand both who is running and who is voting. Although these early elections were an answer to the demands of the October 2019 protest movement, they are likely to be boycotted by the same activists who demanded them due to an inhospitable pre-electoral environment. The impact of the boycotts will be tempered by the formal and informal coalitions being formed among established political parties but will likely result in outcomes similar to the previous elections in 2018.
Among the established party leaders in Iraq, only former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Ammar al-Hakim have formally formed a coalition, the Power of the National State Coalition. Al-Hakim, who is both a cleric and a politician, formerly headed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq before breaking away from it to establish the National Wisdom Movement (al-Hikma), claiming to be a “civic” rather than Islamist party.
The informal coalitions, expected to form post-hoc, are between Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement and Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and between Hadi al-Ameri’s Fateh coalition and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), co-led by Lahur and Bafel Talabani. While the former may style themselves as the anti-Iran coalition, both al-Sadr and the Barzanis enjoy close ties to Iran. Al-Sadr is a populist cleric with a cult-like following and a reputation for being politically inconsistent. In Iraq’s 2018 elections, his Sairoon alliance won the most seats, largely due to low voter turnout as a result of the boycott movement. Mohammed al-Halbousi, the current speaker of parliament, is expected to align with them. Such a coalition would be disastrous for the already waning freedom of speech in Iraq, as both the Sadrists and the KDP have been known to curtail freedoms.
For these established parties and big-name politicians, Iraq’s new and smaller electoral districts — a demand of the 2019 protests — means that they are less inclined to run many candidates, but rather to focus on the districts in which they can win. This has resulted in a precipitous drop in the number of candidates registered from 7,178 candidates in 2018 down to 3,532 parties in 2021. The ability to win at the provincial level, but not district level, will deter some party leaders from running for office. Though this is a positive development, it comes with repercussions including the fear amongst activists that they are easier to target when running in smaller communities.

Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera Tweets:

 Head of #Iraq’s Electoral Security Committee says a comprehensive plan has been developed to provide the highest and unprecedented level of security for the upcoming elections on Oct. 10, with specially trained forces in charge during the #elections.

Turning to violence, Layal Shakir (RUDAW) reports:

Unknown airplanes targeted Iranian militias based on the Syrian-Iraqi border late Tuesday night, reported a conflict monitor. The US-led coalition has denied involvement.

Sounds of explosions were heard in Deir ez-Zor province, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding there was no immediate information on casualties of material damage.

Telegram channels affiliated with Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) claimed that “US airstrikes targeted PMF bases.”

The US coalition said they are not responsible for the attacks. “We can confirm these are NOT our airstrikes,” it said in an email sent to Rudaw English.

Morgan Artyukhina (SPUTNIK) adds, "Lebanese outlet Al-Mayadeen reported that two vehicles were on fire, citing a reporter in Baghdad. They reported no casualties, but noted three explosions were heard. Video posted on social media showed two fires raging in the night purported to be the struck vehicles." ABNA offers that SABEREEN NEWS "said the convoy was struck by four missiles fired from US F-15 fighter jets, and that the attack left no casualties."  NEWSWEEK's Tom O'Connor states, "The official Syrian Arab News Agency contradicted the Popular Mobilization Forces position, claiming to cite a member of the Iraqi militia collective in Iraq's Al-Anbar province as saying 'warplanes and drones directed four missiles at the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization regiments that are securing the Syrian-Iraqi border strip'."

Moving to more claims, MEMO notes, "Terror threats emanating from Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq pose a greater danger to the United States than those that might emerge from Afghanistan, the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said yesterday."  Is that their assessment?  Take it about as seriously as you would a pronouncement from Condi Rice.  Or, for that matter, one from Colin Powell.


Collie and his 'blot.'  All the lies of Bully Boy Bush and Tony Blair.  At Australia's NEW AGE, Mohammad Abdur Razzak reminds:

TONY Blair, who was then prime minister of the United Kingdom, at a joint media briefing at Camp David in the United States on September 7, 2002, said, ‘The threat from Saddam Hussein and [his] weapons of mass destruction chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons capability, that threat is real.’ US president George W Bush supported the statement, adding, ‘I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were finally denied access to a report… that they were six months away from developing weapon.’

In addressing the British parliament on September 24, 2002, Tony Blair said, ‘… Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, … he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability…. The history of Saddam and WMD is not American or British propaganda. The history and the present threat are real.’

Fifteen days before the invasion of Iraq, US secretary of state Colin Powell went to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 ‘with evidence of WMD in Saddam’s arsenal and his terror link with al-Qaeda’. But his ‘ham-fisted speech and pictorial evidence’ in multimedia presentation lacked credibility. Consequently, the Security Council did not authorise the Untied States to invade Iraq.

The idea of attacking Iraq was floated in the late 1990s and the plan to invade Iraq began in 2001. President George W Bush’s State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 was the formal public disclosure of making the case for war against Iraq. Besides linking Saddam Hussein to terrorism, the US president also deliberated on Iraqi president’s decade-long resolve to develop anthrax, nerve gas and nuclear weapon. The president delivered the speech after making the decision, ‘Saddam Hussein must be removed’ before the election of 2004.

After the US president’s State of the Union speech, Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, said on February 4, 2002 that ‘they had no choice but to change the regime.’ US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz said on May 9, 2002, ‘It was fair to say that Saddam’s days were numbered.’ During a press briefing on September 3, 2002, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary told journalists, ‘The policy of the United State is regime change with or without [UN] inspectors.’



A lot of lives were lost because of those lies.  But, hey, a lot of money was made for the greedy.  David DeCamp notes:

    Brown University’s Costs of War Project released a new report Monday detailing post-9/11 spending by the Pentagon. The study found that of the over $14 trillion spent by the Pentagon since the start of the war in Afghanistan, one-third to one-half went to private military contractors.

The report, authored by William Hartung of the Center for International Policy, said $4.4 trillion of the total spending went towards weapons procurement and research and development, a category that directly benefits corporate military contractors. Private contractors are also paid through other funds, like operations and maintenance, but those numbers are harder to determine.

Out of the $4.4 trillion, the top five US weapons makers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman — received $2.2 trillion, almost half. To put these huge numbers into perspective, the report pointed out that in the 2020 fiscal year, Lockheed Martin received $75 billion in Pentagon contracts, compared to the combined $44 billion budget for the State Department and USAID that same year.

Besides getting paid for weapons and research, US corporations profit from private contractors that are deployed to warzones. The most notorious private security contractor previously employed by the Pentagon is Blackwater, the mercenary group whose employees massacred 17 people in Iraq’s Nisour Square back in 2007.


The following sites updated:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The climate crisis

When we look at news about climate change, we're looking at bad news. And it's bad news because we don't do what we need to. And I should say "our governments" don't do what they need to. Anyway, AP reports:

A new report from the World Bank suggests climate change could push more than 200 million people to leave their homes in the next three decades and create migration hotspots unless urgent action is taken to reduce global emissions and bridge the development gap.
The second part of the World Bank Groundswell report published on Monday examines how the impacts of slow-onset climate change such as water scarcity, decreasing crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what the report describes as "climate migrants" by 2050 under three different scenarios with varying degrees of climate action and development.
Under the most pessimistic scenario, with a high level of emissions and unequal development, the report forecasts up to 216 million people moving within their own countries across the six regions analyzed. Those regions are Latin America; North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; and East Asia and the Pacific.
In the most climate-friendly scenario, with a low level of emissions and inclusive, sustainable development, the number of migrants could be as much as 80% lower but still result in the move of 44 million people.

As the Lennon and McCartney song starts out, "I read the news today, oh, boy." I find the following by Julia Jacobo (ABC NEWS) completely expected:

Children and young people around the world are experiencing increasing anxiety over the fate of the planet -- specifically climate change and how lawmakers are handling the looming crisis, according to new research.
Scientists who surveyed 10,000 young people, ages 16 to 25, across 10 countries, found "widespread psychological distress" among them, and, for the first time, discovered that the anxiety was significantly related to perceived government inaction, according to a study published Tuesday in Lancet Planetary Health.

Are the rest of us not being honest? I can't believe we all just don't care. I have to be careful, as I've noted here before, in covering this topic because it just leaves me so upset. I think the kids are right to feel this way. And I think they're especially right regarding this:

Of the young people surveyed, 58% said governments are betraying hem, while 61% said governments are not protecting them, the planet or future generations.


 "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, September 14, 2021.  War Criminal Condi Rice thinks she has wisdom to share.

Starting with a War Criminal.

Mad Maddie's gal Condi Rice wants to talk Iraq.  On her terms.  Kind of like she wanted to talk 9-11 on her terms.  Remember that?   Former US Senator Bob Kerrey was trying to get her to answer questions when she appeared before the 9/11 Commission and she repeatedly attempted to evade answering.  Remember?  Bob warned her not to try to filibuster.  She claimed no one could have guessed that planes would be used.  Remember?  He had to repeatedly insist that she 

In fact, because people may have forgotten, let's note some of that exchange:

KERREY: You've used the phrase a number of times, and I'm hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future.

You said the president was tired of swatting flies.

KERREY: Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11?

RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...

KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?

RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on...

KERREY: No, no...

RICE: ... when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah...

KERREY: He hadn't swatted...

RICE: ... or go after this guy...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't...

RICE: That was what was meant.

KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?

RICE: We swatted at -- I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been -- we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan.

Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration -- military plans in the Clinton administration.

In fact, since we're in the mood to declassify stuff, there was -- he included in his January 25 memo two appendices -- Appendix A: "Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al Qaeda," Appendix B: "Political military plan for al Qaeda."

So I just -- why didn't we respond to the Cole?

RICE: Well, we...

KERREY: Why didn't we swat that fly?

RICE: I believe that there's a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you're going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every -- on a kind of tit-for-tat basis.

By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit-for-tat, doing this on the time of our choosing.

I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.

That's a strategic view...

And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -- quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it's a brilliant speech. It talks about really...

... an asymmetric...

KERREY: I presume you read it in the last few days?

RICE: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It's an asymmetric approach.

Now, you can decide that every time al Qaeda...

KERREY: So you're saying that you didn't have a military response against the Cole because of my speech?


KERREY: That had I not given that speech you would have attacked them?

RICE: No, I'm just saying that I think it was a brilliant way to think about it.

KERREY: I think it's...

RICE: It was a way of thinking about it strategically, not tactically. But if I may answer the question that you've asked me.

The issue of whether to respond -- or how to respond to the Cole -- I think Don Rumsfeld has also talked about this. Yes, the Cole had happened. We received, I think on January 25, the same assessment -- or roughly the same assessment -- of who was responsible for the Cole that Sandy Berger talked to you about.

It was preliminary. It was not clear. But that was not the reason that we felt that we did not want to, quote, "respond to the Cole."

We knew that the options that had been employed by the Clinton administration had been standoff options. The president had -- meaning missile strikes or perhaps bombers would have been possible, long-range bombers. Although getting in place the apparatus to use long-range bombers is even a matter of whether you have basing in the region.

RICE: We knew that Osama Bin Laden had been, in something that was provided to me, bragging that he was going to withstand any response and then he was going to emerge and come out stronger.

KERREY: But you're figuring this out. You've got to give a very long answer.

RICE: We simply believed that the best approach was to put in place a plan that was going to eliminate this threat, not respond to an attack.

KERREY: Let me say, I think you would have come in there if you said, "We screwed up. We made a lot of mistakes." You obviously don't want to use the M-word in here. And I would say fine, it's game, set, match. I understand that.

But this strategic and tactical, I mean, I just -- it sounds like something from a seminar. It doesn't...

RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have.

And with all due respect to Dick Clarke, if you're speaking about the Delenda plan, my understanding is that it was, A, never adopted, and that Dick Clarke himself has said that the military portion of this was not taken up by the Clinton administration.

KERREY: Let me move into another area.

RICE: So we were not presented -- I just want to be very clear on this, because it's been a source of controversy -- we were not presented with a plan.

KERREY: Well, that's not true. It is not...

RICE: We were not presented. We were presented with...

KERREY: I've heard you say that, Dr. Clarke, that 25 January, 2001, memo was declassified, I don't believe...

RICE: That January 25 memo has a series of actionable items having to do with Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance.

KERREY: Let me move to another area.

RICE: May I finish answering your question, though, because this is an important...

KERREY: I know it's important. Everything that's going on here is important. But I get 10 minutes.

RICE: But since we have a point of disagreement, I'd like to have a chance to address it.

KERREY: Well, no, no, actually, we have many points of disagreement, Dr. Clarke, but we'll have a chance to do in closed session. Please don't filibuster me. It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me.

I understand that we have a disagreement.

RICE: Commissioner, I am here to answer questions. And you've asked me a question, and I'd like to have an opportunity to answer it.

The fact is that what we were presented on January the 25th was a set of ideas and a paper, most of which was about what the Clinton administration had done and something called the Delenda plan which had been considered in 1998 and never adopted. We decided to take a different track.

RICE: We decided to put together a strategic approach to this that would get the regional powers -- the problem wasn't that you didn't have a good counterterrorism person.

The problem was you didn't have an approach against al Qaeda because you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan. And you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan because you didn't have an approach against Pakistan. And until we could get that right, we didn't have a policy.

KERREY: Thank you for answering my question.

RICE: You're welcome.

KERREY: Let me ask you another question. Here's the problem that I have as I -- again, it's hindsight. I appreciate that. But here's the problem that a lot of people are having with this July 5th meeting.

You and Andy Card meet with Dick Clarke in the morning. You say you have a meeting, he meets in the afternoon. It's July 5th.

Kristen Breitweiser, who's a part of the families group, testified at the Joint Committee. She brings very painful testimony, I must say.

But here's what Agent Kenneth Williams said five days later. He said that the FBI should investigate whether al Qaeda operatives are training at U.S. flight schools. He posited that Osama bin Laden followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards and other personnel. He recommended a national program to track suspicious flight schools. Now, one of the first things that I learned when I came into this town was the FBI and the CIA don't talk. I mean, I don't need a catastrophic event to know that the CIA and the FBI don't do a very good job of communicating.

And the problem we've got with this and the Moussaoui facts, which were revealed on the 15th of August, all it had to do was to be put on Intelink. All it had to do is go out on Intelink, and the game's over. It ends. This conspiracy would have been rolled up.

KERREY: And so I...

RICE: Commissioner, with all due respect, I don't agree that we know that we had somehow a silver bullet here that was going to work.

What we do know is that we did have a systemic problem, a structural problem between the FBI and the CIA. It was a long time in coming into being. It was there because there were legal impediments, as well as bureaucratic impediments. Those needed to be overcome.

Obviously, the structure of the FBI that did not get information from the field offices up to FBI Central, in a way that FBI Central could react to the whole range of information reports, was a problem..

KERREY: But, Dr. Rice, everybody...

RICE: But the structure of the FBI, the restructuring of the FBI, was not going to be done in the 233 days in which we were in office...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, everybody who does national security in this town knows the FBI and the CIA don't talk. So if you have a meeting on the 5th of July, where you're trying to make certain that your domestic agencies are preparing a defense against a possible attack, you knew al Qaeda cells were in the United States, you've got to follow up.

And the question is, what was your follow-up? What's the paper trail that shows that you and Andy Card followed up from this meeting, and...

RICE: I followed...

KERREY: ... made certain that the FBI and the CIA were talking?

RICE: I followed up with Dick Clarke, who had in his group, and with him, the key counterterrorism person for the FBI. You have to remember that Louis Freeh was, by this time, gone. And so, the chief counterterrorism person was the second -- Louis Freeh had left in late June. And so the chief counterterrorism person for the FBI was working these issues, was working with Dick Clarke. I talked to Dick Clarke about this all the time.

RICE: But let's be very clear, the threat information that we were dealing with -- and when you have something that says, "something very big may happen," you have no time, you have no place, you have no how, the ability to somehow respond to that threat is just not there.

Now, you said...

KERREY: Dr. Clarke, in the spirit of further declassification...

RICE: Sir, with all...

KERREY: The spirit...

RICE: I don't think I look like Dick Clarke, but...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, excuse me.

RICE: Thank you.

KEAN: This is the last question, Senator.

KERREY: Actually it won't be a question.

In the spirit of further declassification, this is what the August 6 memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking.

That's the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6 of August.

And let's watch the video of Condi trying to lie to Richard Ben-Veniste at the hearing.

Condi: "I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike In The United States'."

"Condi Lousy" -- that's what Fred Kaplan called her at SLATE due to that testimony:


One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser—passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

The key moment came an hour into the hearing, when former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste took his turn at asking questions. Up to this point, Rice had argued that the Bush administration could not have done much to stop the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yes, the CIA’s sirens were sounding all summer of an impending strike by al-Qaida, but the warnings were of an attack overseas.

One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser—passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

The key moment came an hour into the hearing, when former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste took his turn at asking questions. Up to this point, Rice had argued that the Bush administration could not have done much to stop the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yes, the CIA’s sirens were sounding all summer of an impending strike by al-Qaida, but the warnings were of an attack overseas

Ben-Veniste brought up the much-discussed PDB—the president’s daily briefing by CIA Director George Tenet—of Aug. 6, 2001. For the first time, he revealed the title of that briefing: “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US.”*

Rice insisted this title meant nothing. The document consisted of merely “historical information” about al-Qaida—various plans and attacks of the past. “This was not a ‘threat report,’ ” she said. It “did not warn of any coming attack inside the United States.” Later in the hearing, she restated the point: “The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States.”

To call this distinction “academic” would be an insult to academia.

Rice acknowledged that throughout the summer of 2001 the CIA was intercepting unusually high volumes of “chatter” about an impending terrorist strike. She quoted from some of this chatter: “attack in near future,” “unbelievable news coming in weeks,” “a very, very, very big uproar.” She said some “specific” intelligence indicated the attack would take place overseas. However, she noted that very little of this intelligence was specific; most of it was “frustratingly vague.” In other words (though she doesn’t say so), most of the chatter might have been about a foreign or a domestic attack—it wasn’t clear. 

This is who we now want input on Iraq from?

She's a War Criminal.  And she's a liar.  And she's lying about Iraq.  She's claiming that Iraq is "increasingly stable" and, no, it is not.  That's a damn liar from a damn lying War Criminal who should be hanging her head in shame but instead seem to think that anyone wants to hear from her.  If she offered to stand still while various Americans threw rotten fruit at her, she could fill a stadium.  But that's the only way she could ever attract a crowd.  

THE NEW ARAB reports:

While Basra governorate lies on an ocean of oil - receiving foreign investments to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year - local people live in grinding poverty and suffer high unemployment

They are also left vulnerable to the violent disputes which frequently erupt between armed tribes in a region where the state and security forces are almost absent.

Last year, Muhammed Al-Waeli and his family were forced to leave their home in Abu Sakhir, northern Basra, in fear of their lives due to ongoing clan disputes, Fadhil al-Gharawi, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR Iraq) told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication. Many fall victim to clashes they have no connection to.

General Amjad Qasim, who heads the Basra police force, confirms that 13 families have left their homes in the city for the same reasons. 

That's 'stability'?  Condi's a damn liar.

Next month, Iraqis are supposed to vote.  And yet RUDAW reports:

 Turnout for Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary election is expected to be a record low, with a recent poll predicting just 29 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots.

The random survey conducted by the Kulwatha Center polled 3,600 voters from all provinces. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they intend to vote and 14 percent are still undecided.

The election was called ahead of schedule to meet the demand of anti-government protesters, but interest in the vote is low. Several parties from across the spectrum have announced they will not participate. Parties and voters are questioning the legitimacy of the vote in an environment where powerful militias operate outside of government control, activists and election candidates are threatened, and the electoral commission and political elites are accused of fraud.

The vote will take place with electronic voting and counting, but 74 percent of those surveyed by Kulwatha Center said they don't think new technology will reduce fraud and 64 percent said they support a manual recount of votes.

The survey was conducted between June 6 and August 14 and results were published on Sunday.

That's stability?  

Condi Rice is not a trusted source, she's nothing but a War Criminal and outlets that treat her like anything else are dirty jokes.

The following sites updated: