Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Stacey Abrams struggles, women of the west emerge

A "voting rights" group that Democratic Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams founded has given millions of dollars to a law firm led by the chairwoman for Abrams's gubernatorial campaign, tax records show.

Fair Fight Action spent $9.4 million in 2019 and 2020 with Lawrence & Bundy, a boutique Atlanta law firm that counts Abrams's campaign Chairwoman Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, a close friend of the candidate, as one of its two partners, according to the nonprofit group's 2019 and 2020 IRS tax filings.

It is unclear how much Lawrence-Hardy's firm has received from Fair Fight Action in 2021 and 2022, the years the lawyer was lead counsel for the nonprofit group's lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Fair Fight Action filed the lawsuit in November 2018 after Abrams lost her 2018 gubernatorial bid to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, whom she is currently running against, claiming the secretary of state engaged in voter suppression.

Stacey is a national media hero.  It's a shame she isn't as popular in Georgia.  Barbara Stanwyck wanted to do an anthology show about women of the west.  She would later star in THE BIG VALLEY but the networks would not let her do the show she wanted.  They insisted -- she disagreed -- that there weren't enough stories for a series.  She was right, they were wrong.  I thought about that while reading this LOS ANGELES TIMES book review:

Katie Hickman’s riveting new history, “Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West,” works to correct this imbalance by foregrounding the historical experiences of Western women — Black, white, Mexican, indigenous, mixed race and Chinese. It covers the period from 1836, when Presbyterian missionaries Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spaulding, the first “westering” women, set out with their husbands for Oregon country, to 1890, when the U.S. Census Bureau pronounced the frontier closed.

By then, half a billion dollars’ worth of gold had been hammered out of the earth, buffalo had been hunted to virtual extinction, Native children were being de-patriated in boarding schools and the massacre of entire Sioux families at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota marked the harrowing last gasp of “expansion.”

Hickman organizes her mosaic narrative by place (mines and forts, sites and territories, a half-baked utopian colony) and travel routes (the Oregon-California and Mormon trails; the cutoffs that sent some pour souls, like the famed Donner-Reed party, on catastrophic shortcuts).

The women she spotlights met various fates, few of them happy. Whitman, who left the day after marrying a fellow missionary she barely knew, was later killed by the people to whom they proselytized. Others succumbed to typhoid, cholera, exposure, starvation or sheer madness en route. One weary pioneer hopped down and refused to continue; when her husband finally left her behind, she overtook his party, circled back and set his wagon on fire.

Perhaps no woman in these pages inspires more awe than Biddy Mason, one of the first African American women to go West. Born into slavery, she was “given” as a wedding present to a Georgia plantation owner and his wife, who answered Brigham Young’s call to build his desert Zion in 1848. She joined a wagon train of 56 travelers, 34 of them enslaved. During the seven-month journey, Mason nursed her baby, tended to her two other children, served as a midwife and herded her enslavers’ livestock across plains and prairie, mountains and desert. When the family moved to California, in 1851, she secured her freedom after a harrowing legal battle.

Sound like a very interesting book. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Tuesday, October 25, 2022.  Pimping a candidate when they aren't worth it, an arrest takes place in Iraq, potable water and farming impacted by climate change, and much more.

The garbage never gets picked up -- it just stays out there and stinks everything up.  Steve Early and  Suzanne Gordon prove that with the parcel they left by the side of the road at COUNTERPUNCH.  They tell you how rotten this Democratic candidate and veteran is and how awful this veteran and Republican candidate is and then, at the end, they offer even more garbage:

To find a veteran willing to challenge the military-industrial complex, one has to look outside the two major parties in this election cycle. In North Carolina, his name is Matt Hoh, a former Marine and ex-State Department official with a very impressive resume and record of anti-war activism. Hoh is campaigning for an open US Senate seat against Democrat Cheri Beasley, a former state supreme court justice, and a Trump-backed Republican, Congressman Ted Budd.

The national Democratic Party invested heavily in a failed legal effort to keep him off the ballot. He’s been excluded from debates and ignored in national press coverage of the race. And if Hoh, as a Green Party candidate, contributes in any claimed way to a narrow defeat of Beasley by Budd on November 8, he will be forced to endure the same lasting opprobrium heaped on Ralph Nader and Jill Stein, past GP presidential candidates.

But, like both of them, Hoh is defending democracy by adding to the range of electoral choices in his own state-wide race, while demanding major election reform that would protect the right to vote and reduce the role of big money in politics. Sadly, that’s a “unique perspective” not shared by most military veterans seeking votes this fall, whether as centrist Democrats or right-wing Republicans.

I don't see him changing a damn thing mainly because I don't see him getting eleected.  But I see him as a clear danger to the left.  If you don't, you're not paying attention.

Ava and my "TV: The media that begs for criticism" covers some of the media failures last week -- including Joe Biden apparently falling asleep in the middle of an interview with Jonathan Capehart.  It also covers a very disturbing segment regarding Matthew Hoh.

Hoh is about defending democracy?  We didn't see that.  We saw him talking about his buddy Grover SMASH GOVERNMENT Norquist and holding their relationship as a model of what he wants the left to do.  Sorry but those who parrot the false talking point of 'welfare queens' should not be our friends unless we despise the safety net.  Grover wants to do away with Social Security even.  Is Matty Hoh aware of that?  Is he also endorsing that?

He may not be aware of it.  He's not a very smart person.  He decided to tackle media criticism in that video segment and didn't feel the need to know a damn thing.  How does media consolidation hurt a society?  That's not a new topic.  Yet Matty Hoh would probably respond, "Consolawhat?"

It takes a real idiot to argue that what the left needs is to all get in line after they aired their 'problems.'  No, you stupid idiot, the answer is never to become more like (how you see) Republicans.  And if getting in line is your goal for success, then you get your little ass and drop out of your election race.

It's cute how these men -- and it's usually a man -- think they can tell everyone what is important and what isn't based on their limited lives.

Everything he says in that segment is repugnant and wrong.

Serving in the Iraq War was apparently his grad school and, he believes, taught him everything he knows or needs to know.

It clearly didn't teach him a damn thing or he wouldn't try to do a lengthy segment offering his 'media critique' that only demonstrated he didn't know a damn thing and thought he could bluff his way through a topic that he himself choose to speak about.

The left doesn't need to 'fall in line.'  That's never going to be the answer and how appalling that the notion is proposed by a supposed third party candidate.  Equally true, the Iraqi people suffer to this day.  And Matthew Hoh didn't just go over to Iraq.  He was part of the stateside team planning and executing the Iraq War for Bully Boy Bush.  How telling that Grover's cock-knocking buddy made a showy resignation . . . months after Barack Obama was president but never felt the need to do so when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  Barack was no saint and this site has never pretended that he was.  But Bully Boy Bush was one of the great War Criminals of the 21st century.  Matthew Hoh could and did work with Bully Boy Bush.  It was only Barack that offended Hoh's delicate sensibilities.

And his Afghanistan remarks that he's so famous for?  They're not worth being famous for, not in a good way.  

Hoh has had a very limited life and he's obviously not reflected on any of it.

Instead of glorifying people who idolize Grover and demand that the left "fall in line" behind whatever he orders -- is that what he took away from his military service? -- I support people with lived lives, some woman who struggled to raise a family and grasp the real realities and the real network that holds this country together.  

Next Matthew Hoh feels the need to speak, maybe it can be to take accountability for is part in planning and executing the Iraq War on behalf of Bully Boy Bush.  I don't want his simpering 2021 remarks again about how the media is putting so much attention into covering Afghanistan but they will forget it in a few months until he can point out that this long ago happened to Iraq.

Matthew Hoh did serious damage to the Iraqi people.  

And shame those idiots who eat up his remarks 'on Afghanistan' -- remarks like, "This war is a living legacy of the cold war. I was born in 1973; that’s the year the king was deposed."  He always centers everything around himself, doesn't he?  His scope is that limited and that's really sad for a man who's about to be 50.

Turning to Iraq where last week's big story was the discovery that $2.5 billion was stolen by government officials.  RUDAW reports this morning:

Iraq’s interior ministry on Monday announced the arrest of one of the main suspects in the theft of $2.5 billion in tax funds as he was attempting to flee the country from Baghdad International Airport.

An investigation by the Iraqi finance ministry earlier this month concluded that $2.5 billion dollars in tax funds were stolen from a bank by five companies during the tenure of former finance minister Ali Allawi.

Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council issued arrest warrants and travel bans for three individuals suspected of involvement in the colossal theft on Thursday. One of the suspects, Noor Zuhair Jassim, the managing director of an oil services company, was arrested by security forces on Monday evening.


AFP adds:

A security unit "arrested Nour Zuhair Jassem at Baghdad International Airport while he was trying to flee the country on a private jet," Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanemi said in a statement.

The state's anti-corruption agency described the suspect as "the director general... of a petrol services company", according to a separate statement.

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) offers:

Legislator Mustafa Sanad, who has been following the case, described him as "the main accused" in the case, saying he hired a private jet and planned to head to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

The businessman is one of four who are sought by the authorities over the case. The whereabouts of the others is unknown.

Trading companies and people who have dealings with the government are required to deposit a specific amount of money, from which taxes will later be deducted.

Afterwards, the companies and people can apply to withdraw what is left from their deposits.

According to the findings of internal investigation conducted by the Finance Ministry, the companies, at least three of them established last year, submitted fake documents for their claims.

The money was paid through 247 cheques between September 9, 2021, and August 11, 2022, from the commission's account at the state-run Rafidain Bank.

In other news, Wladimir van Wilgenburg (KURDISTAN 24) notes:

Farming communities in Iraq have seen their wheat, vegetable, and fruit harvests decline for the second year in a row because of severe drought conditions, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warns in a new survey.

The survey was published  ahead of the UN climate change conference (COP 27) in Egypt next month.

A quarter of the 1,341 households surveyed by NRC across five governorates this year said they witnessed over 90 per cent of wheat failure this season, a direct result of water shortages according to those interviewed.

A further 25 per cent said they had made no net profit out of their wheat crop for the entire year. "Prolonged drought spells have forced one-quarter of farming families to rely on food assistance amid a lack of harvest," the NRC said.

“We are seeing the continued damage from Iraq’s climate and water crisis,” said NRC’s Iraq Country Director James Munn in a statement. “People are witnessing their fertile land and crops vanish year after year. The lands that have fed a nation are drying up fast.”

Iraq is battling several years of drought, the governments of both Iran and Turkey are blocking the flow of the two big rivers running through Iraq (the Tigris and the Eurphates), everyone is expected to be effected by climate change; however, Iraq has been named the fifth most vulnerable country in the world.  Dust storms are increasing in frequency and in force.  Speaking to the United Nations at the start of the month, the US Deputy Rep to the UN, Ambassador Richard Mills, noted that climate change was one of the challenges Iraq is facing, "Complicated challenges face the next government – including passing a budget, developing oil and gas legislation that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, improving the provision of electricity, combatting climate change, promoting private sector development and job growth, and increasing women’s participation in the workforce."  Also this month, the International Organization for Migration pointed out, "Displaced families are likely to be among the most vulnerable to climatic and environmental changes that can impact livelihoods, food security and social cohesion. Sustainable return and rein-tegration can be determined by many factors but the role of climatic change and environmental degradation in return dynamics is insufficiently understood."

AFP notes:

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an aid group active in the oil-rich but war-scarred country, surveyed 1,341 households in August in five provinces including Basra, Nineveh and Anbar.

“We are seeing the continued damage from Iraq´s climate and water crisis,” said James Munn, the NRC´s country director, in a statement released alongside the survey findings. “People are witnessing their fertile land and crops vanish year after year.”

The NRC study found that “the crisis has had an immediate impact on access to drinking and irrigation water as well as on the production of crops,” causing 35 percent of households to reduce the amount of food they consume.

Turning to the US and the film BROS which is now available on streaming platforms, we'll note this discussion with Harvery Fierstein.

And we'll note this interview with Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane.

The following sites updated: