Thursday, February 10, 2022

Dinosaur or Dino-sore-throat?

Dolly The Dinosaur?  She was discovered back in 1990.  She's in the news again.

CNN reports:


About 150 million years ago, a young long-necked dinosaur fell ill, likely coughing and suffering from a fever as it wandered what is now southwest Montana.

The fossil of this dinosaur, nicknamed "Dolly" for Dolly Parton, has revealed what could be the first evidence of a respiratory infection in a dinosaur, according to new research. A study detailing the findings published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
The diplodocid, an herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck, reached about 60 feet (18 meters) in length and was between 15 and 20 years old when it died, according to Cary Woodruff, lead study author and director of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Montana.
Dolly's remains, including a complete skull and neck vertebrae, were first discovered in 1990 at a site in Montana yielding other dinosaur discoveries. They aren't able to determine Dolly's gender based on the fossils.


 Sid Perkins (SCIENCE NEWS) notes:

Lesions found in the vertebrae of a 150-million-year-old juvenile sauropod dubbed “Dolly” point to a lung infection that moved into her bones, vertebrate paleontologist Cary Woodruff and colleagues report February 10 in Scientific Reports. That’s at least 50 million years older than the previously reported respiratory infection in a titanosaur unearthed in Brazil.

Dolly, a long-necked dinosaur, was probably closely related to Diplodocus. At the time of her death in what’s now southwestern Montana, she was about 18 meters long and less than 20 years old, Woodruff estimates.

The fossils that the team analyzed include the dinosaur’s skull and the first seven neck vertebrae, which contained air sacs connected to the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. The bones of many of today’s birds, which are modern-day dinosaurs, have similar features. 

On the fifth through seventh vertebrae, the fossils have bone lesions at spots where the air sacs would have intruded into the bone, the team found. The oddly shaped and textured bumps protrude from the bone as much as 1 centimeter, says Woodruff, of the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, Mont.

And here's one more video report.



"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, February 10, 2022. with all the problems Iraq is facing, the Iraqi people really can't afford the ongoing political stalemate.

In Iraq, there's still no government.  There are, however, ridicuslous stories insisting that the Parliament is managing things just fine.  


The Parliament has a clear role, the three presidencies have a role and the prime minister (and the council) have a clear role.  We have seen, for example, biased bills work their way through the Parliament and be blocked by the President or one of the vice presidents.  One component of government cannot function on its own.  Pretending otherwise is lying.  

RUDAW notes:

The second largest lake in Iraq has dried up, threatening people's income and agriculture, with locals saying they have been forced to abandon their homes and move to urban areas.

Milh Lake was once a popular destination for tourists to cool down during scorching summer temperatures. It is now experiencing a dangerous drought, threatening the lives of local Iraqis.

The second-largest lake in Iraq, also known as Razzaza Lake, is located west of the city of Karbala.

Water levels here have plummeted and the once-thriving touristic spot currently resembles a desert. The only things to see now are dead animals and large amounts of salt.

How is the Parliament addressing the climate crisis in Iraq?  It's not.  It can't.  It doesn't have the powers needed to address it all by itself.  Without a functioning government, there's not even a pretense of forward movement on the battle against climate change.  

Back in July, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent noted:

The Iraqi marshlands are a wetland with a unique ecosystem at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.  

In the early 1990s, these marshlands were intentionally dried up as a means of retaliation against a population considered to be rebellious.

By 2001, an estimated 90 per cent of the marshlands had disappeared (UNEP), leading to a loss of biodiversity and large-scale displacement.

If you go back even further to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, iconic date palms were cut down for military purposes in places like Fao, south of Basra.

“There were more than 30 million palms before the Iran-Iraq war, today there’s less than half that number,” said Adel Al-Attar, an ICRC water and habitat advisor, from Basra.

“Conflict, neglect, soil salinity, there are several reasons that have contributed towards their loss. It is deeply upsetting. The whole atmosphere has changed since we lost the palms.

“They aren’t only about fruit. They give shade for certain crops. The leaves are used to make furniture like chairs and beds. No palms mean no business. So people have left the land and moved to the cities to find jobs.”

The loss of palms and the drying of the marshlands are visible reminders of the direct damage that war has inflicted upon the environment in southern Iraq.

Less visible, but arguably more detrimental, are the indirect consequences of war – whether in Iraq or anywhere else.

For example, conflict will often weaken a government’s ability to manage natural resources, the environment and infrastructure.

Remnants of war, such as unexploded weapons or anti-personnel mines, can render land unusable and harm wildlife, while camps for people uprooted by conflict place additional pressure on the surrounding environment.

Enter climate change

Average temperatures in Iraq have risen by at least 0.7C over the last century, while extreme heat is becoming more frequent. Rainfall is on a slight downward trend in the south-east of the country.

The mean annual temperature is projected to rise by 2C by 2050, while the mean annual rainfall is projected to decrease by 9 per cent (World Bank Group).

“I’ve lived in Basra all my life,” said Al-Attar. “As a boy, the summer temperature never went much beyond 40C in summer. Today, it can surpass 50C.”

Sand or dust storms have also increased dramatically in frequency, in large part due to soil degradation.

Between 1951-1990, there were an average of 24 days per year with dust storms in Iraq, compared to 122 in 2013 (UN). Again, projections suggest they are likely to increase.

“When there’s not enough rain or vegetation, the upper layers of earth become less compact, meaning the chance of dust or sandstorms increases,” explained Al-Attar.

“These weather events contribute to desertification. Fertile soil is turning into desert.” 

Historically fertile areas in southern Iraq are disappearing, according to local authorities. In Fao, arable land has decreased from 7.5 sq km to 3.75 sq km, while in Thi Qar it has dropped from 100 sq km to just 12.5 sq km. 

Desertification in the south has decimated the agricultural sector, which used to employ a sizeable part of the population.

When people are unable to depend on the land for their livelihoods, they migrate to urban areas like Basra or Najaf in the search for jobs.

As an example, the population of the port town of Fao has decreased from 400,000 to 50,000 people in four decades as people move to the larger cities.

“The future is emigration,” said Al-Attar. “It hurts when you see the younger generation leaving rural areas to go work in unskilled labor jobs in urban areas or in the oil fields.

“There aren’t enough jobs for them in these sectors. Unemployment is high, as are tensions, which doesn’t bode well for recovery and stability.” 

Last month, THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) reported on climate change in Iraq:

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In November, nearly 200 nations gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit. The outcome was disappointing for experts, who wanted stronger commitments to ensure capping global warming. The conference also failed to ease vulnerable countries' concerns about long-promised climate financing from rich nations.

    One of the countries lacking international support is Iraq. As NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn reports, the country is already facing the alarming effects of climate change.

    This story is part of our ongoing series, "Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change."

  • Simona Foltyn:

    Sunrise in Iraq's Mesopotamian marshes. These historic wetlands are nestled in southern Iraq, where human civilization emerged 7,000 years ago.

    But water scarcity is threatening this habitat and the humans who rely on it.

  • Jassem Ali, Fisherman:

    There's no water. And if there's no water, there's no more fish. There's only bare land left. The water has dried.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    In this area, average annual rainfall for the last twenty years was 10 percent lower than in the three decades prior.

    Declining water levels means the water that is left is increasingly salty , making it largely unfit for humans, animals and vegetation alike. Only small fish survive here now, but they fetch a lower price for the fishermen. Their catch earned them $15 dollars each, the result of two days of hard work.

  • Hassoun Daoud, Fisherman:

    Of course this is not enough. I have a family that depends on me. But this is our life now.

  • Jassem Ali, Fisherman:

    I have four children sitting at home. Two are married and two aren't.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    I ask Jassem Ali if he's thinking about leaving fishing to find work elsewhere.

    "And do what?" he asks in return.

  • Also last month, ALJAZEERA noted, "The World Bank recently warned Iraq would be hit particularly hard by climate change, with a significant effect on the economy and employment.  The country could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050, with nearly one-third of the irrigated land in Iraq left parched."

    This is a pressing issue, not something to shove on the backburner but that's what's happening.  In fact, every thing is being shoved on the back burner in Iraq as the country remains without a president or prime minister.  No, the Parliament can't rule the country by itself.  It's not how it works, it's not how it's set up.  There are many issues that need to be addressed daily and they aren't being addressed.

    This week, HURRIYET reported:

    A report prepared by the European Union draws attention to the possibility of conflict due to water sharing between Turkey, Syria and Iraq in the Euphrates-Tigris basin as a result of global climate change.

    Striking findings regarding the future period have been included in the research titled “Climate Change and Water Report for the Tigris and Euphrates Basin” prepared by the European Union Cascades project.

    This study examines future impacts of climate change on water resources and the ensuing economic and political challenges in the Euphrates-Tigris basin shared by the countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

    “More severe water shortages and water quality problems aggravated by climate change will make it harder to sustain farming and livelihoods depending on ecosystems.,” the report said.

    “A failure to mitigate climate-related water risks can contribute to poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment in rural farming communities, and eventually lead to displacement and internal migration at a larger scale than is seen today,” it added.

    Noting that climate change would complicate and aggravate water-related challenges that are already significant in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria, the report said that the incurred economic losses would reduce the government’s resources for an adequate adaptation response.

    A problem of that magnitude needs a comprehensive strategy and, no, Parliament can't devise and implement that.  

    Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reports:                                                                             

     Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said on Wednesday that it will meet on Sunday to hear the case against the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) candidate for the Iraqi presidency, as reported by state media. 

    The court decided on Sunday to temporarily suspend the KDP’s Hoshyar Zebari’s nomination for the Iraqi presidency after a number of parliamentarians filed a case against him. Zebari has said he respects the ruling.

    The legislature was scheduled to meet on Monday to elect a new president for the country. However, the meeting was postponed indefinitely because a quorum of two-thirds attendance was not met as the prominent political parties, including the KDP, boycotted the session.

    Iraq held snap parliamentary elections on October 10. The speaker of parliament was elected last month following a deal between Kurdistan Region’s ruling KDP, Sadrist bloc and most Sunnis. 

    The KDP has fielded Zebari, who has previously held several positions in Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has nominated the incumbent Iraqi President Barham Salih for the position. Both candidates are the strongest by far.

    There's some misunderstanding regarding Zebari's run.  It has not been blocked or stopped.  It's halted while the court reviews matters.   

    Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki often used bodies like the court to circumvent candidates who were rivals.  Many times, they'd be cleared by whatever body.  But his point was to cause problems for those candidates.  Here?  If he's a part of this, he most likely knows Zebari stands a very good chance of being cleared.  The oint of this would be to demonstrate to Moqtada's alliance how unprepared Moqtada is and how he is unable to handle basic politics which is why the October 10th elections have still not resulted in a prime minister or president.

    The point of the move is to frustrate Moqtada's alliance and to make them question Moqtada's leadership.  

    Iraqi-Kurdish politician Hoshyar Zebari's bid to run for the presidency faces a major hurdle, dealing a blow to kingmaker Moqtada al-Sadr's ambitions to form a government without Iran's allies.

    Ibrahim al-Zoebeidi (ARAB WEEKLY) offers:

    Current Iraqi realities demonstrate that the country's political arena is devoid of a leader who can unite Iraqis across party lines and beyond selfish calculations. Realities also show that Moqtada al-Sadr is not the person who can fulfil the dreams of the few who voted for him.

    For those who have forgotten them, it is useful to recall the confessions of Qais Khazali, a dissident leader from the Sadrist movement, to US forces when they arrested him in 2007.

    According to his interrogation file, of June 18, 2007, Khazali confirmed that his repeated visits to Iran in company with Sadr and later alone as Moqtada's envoy, were aimed at obtaining money, weapons and political support from Tehran.

    Khazali said that Sadr wanted him to be the channel of communication with Iran and to receive funding from Tehran while he, Sadr, maintained the appearance of independence from Iran.

    Further fleshing out this reality, recent electoral statistics have shown that the total number of those who voted for the Sadrist movement, the Coordination Framework groups, the Muhammad al-Halbousi bloc and Khamis al-Khanjar, and the party of Massoud Barzani, does not exceed ten percent of the overall population of Iraq.

    This means that the number of those under the influence of the current political leaders does not exceed two million Iraqis at best, many of whom were driven by need, fear, or racial, sectarian or regional loyalties. The remaining 29 million Iraqis are just fence-sitting. They are simply watching while the battles for the winners and losers rage on.

    There is more than meets the eye in the political class and what it means for Iraqi society.

    What the bloody uprisings have proven, since 2003, is that the Iraqi Shia popular constituencies, in particular, are unhappy with the pro-Iranian political class in power. They consider it a duty to resist that class, to work to bring it down and to get rid of its corruption.

    We'll note this Tweet:

    A close associate of the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, revealed on Wednesday that the decision to exclude the leader of the State of Law coalition, Nuri al-Maliki in the new government, "will not be retracted" regardless of Iranian pressures.

    He's arguably Iraq's best-known face abroad. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, was the country's longest-serving foreign minister, often hobnobbing with Western diplomats and journalists, but also cultivating strong ties with neighboring Arab states to make his country's case.

    But a bid to crown his political career with a run for the presidency faced a major hurdle last week when Iraq's federal court suspended his candidacy due to past corruption charges, causing an election delay that risks exacerbating existing factional divisions.
    The presidential election was indefinitely postponed on Monday, stalling the already delayed formation of a new government. The results of October's parliamentary vote, in which pro-Iran factions were dealt a significant loss, were only confirmed in December due to political bickering over the results. A new president would be tasked with asking the winning bloc to form a government.
    The suspension was a blow to the ambitions of Zebari's key backer Moqtada al-Sadr, the populist Shiite Muslim cleric who has emerged as a kingmaker and is bent on pushing through a government that excludes his pro-Iran Shiite rivals. 

    The following sites updated:

  • Wednesday, February 09, 2022

    Early humanity

    Humanity.  Early humanity.  That's the focus for this post.  Tom Metcalf (NBC NEWS) reports

    The earliest evidence of modern humans in Europe has been unearthed in a cave in southern France, showing they lived there at the same time as Neanderthals — something long suspected but never established before now.

    The findings at Grotte Mandrin, a cave in the Rhône Valley about 80 miles north of Marseille, focus on a single Homo sapiens tooth and on distinctive fragments of flint points that are thought to be for the arrows and darts used for hunting by early modern humans. 

    The discoveries push back the earliest date of our species Homo sapiens in Europe by roughly 10,000 years, to about 54,000 years ago, according to a study on the findings published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

    Here's a video report.

    AP's Frank Jordans adds:

    In a paper published Wednesday by the journal Science Advances, researchers from Europe and the United States described finding fossilized homo sapiens remains and tools sandwiched between those of Neanderthals in the Mandrin Grotto, named after an 18th-century French folk hero.

    “The findings provide archaeological evidence that these hominin cousins may have coexisted in the same region of Europe during the same time period,” the team said.

    Using new techniques, the authors dated some of the human remains to about 54,000 years ago — almost 10,000 years earlier than previous finds in Europe, with one exception in Greece.

    At CNN, Katie Hunt explains:

    The discovery of the molar from Grotte Mandrin, near Malataverne in the Rhône Valley in southern France, along with hundreds of stone tools dating back about 54,000 years ago, suggests that early humans lived in Europe about 10,000 years earlier than archaeologists had previously thought.
    What's more, the Homo sapiens tooth was sandwiched between layers of Neanderthal remains, showing that the two groups of humans coexisted in the region. These findings challenge the narrative that the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe triggered the extinction of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and parts of Asia for about 300,000 years before disappearing.
    "We've often thought that the arrival of modern humans in Europe led to the pretty rapid demise of Neanderthals, but this new evidence suggests that both the appearance of modern humans in Europe and disappearance of Neanderthals is much more complex than that," said study coauthor Chris Stringer, a professor and research leader in human evolution at the Natural History Museum in London.


    Lastly, here's a Tweet.


    The Néronien at #GrotteMandrin has +1300 Levallois points, a uniquely huge amount, plus some are tiny (smaller than from any #Neanderthal contexts) & suggest light projectile weapons. Even before tooth ID, this was culturally distinct & much more like IUP assoc w/ H. sapiens.



    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

     Wednesday, February 9, 2022.  The western press continues to make time to sell new wars while ignoring the ongoing war in Iraq as well as the strings being pulled by Nouri al-Maliki.

    Cheap, tacky whores like Meryl Streep need to be held accountable for covering for predator Harvey Weinstein all those years.  If you were stupid enough to trust Meryl when Rose McGowan rightly called her out, you're pretty damn stupid.  Since Ronana Farrow's book came out, you're even more stupid.  When he told Meryl what he was working on -- documented in his book -- she had a meltdown and told him to focus on something else because Harvey contributed so much to Democratic Party campaigns.  Whore.

    That's all she is.  And Rose told the truth and Meryl thought it was over, then Ronan's book came out and the industry paid attention.  Whore hasn't gotten any nominations of late for films, has she.  She was overly petted at one time but that appears to be over.  She's lost her support that she once had.  That's what happens when whores get exposed.  

    It's a shame it took so long.  It allowed the nit-wit (she's not a smart person and calling her "educated" is a gross stretch of the term) to preen in public and lecture.  For example, when she had a film to promote she wanted us all to know how THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST were our only hope and they were the God's truth and they were . . .

    As the saying goes, bitch, please.

    Right now, the outlets she praised are trying to sell a war.  The same outlets, please remember, that sold the Iraq War just a little while back.  They're back to doing what they do best. 

    Alan Macleod (MINTPRESS NEWS) explains:

    Amid tough talk from European and American leaders, a new MintPress study of our nation’s most influential media outlets reveals that it is the press that is driving the charge towards war with Russia over Ukraine. Ninety percent of recent opinion articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have taken a hawkish view on conflict, with anti-war voices few and far between. Opinion columns have overwhelmingly expressed support for sending U.S. weapons and troops to the region. Russia has universally been presented as the aggressor in this dispute, with media glossing over NATO’s role in amping tensions while barely mentioning the U.S. collaboration with Neo-Nazi elements within the Ukrainian ruling coalition. 

    Western media and governments have expressed alarm over a suspected buildup of Russian military forces close to its over-1200-mile border with Ukraine. There are reportedly almost 100,000 troops in that vicinity, causing President Joe Biden to warn that this is “the most consequential thing that’s happened in the world in terms of war and peace since World War II.”

    Yet this is far from the first media panic over a supposedly imminent Russian invasion. In fact, warning of a hot war in Europe is a near yearly occurrence at this point. In 2015, outlets such as Reuters and The New York Times claimed that Russia was massing troops and heavy firepower, including tanks, artillery and rocket launchers right on the border, while normally sleepy frontier towns were abuzz with activity.

    In 2016 there was an even bigger meltdown, with media across the board predicting that war was around the corner. Indeed, The Guardian reported that Russia would soon have 330,000 soldiers on the border. Yet nothing came to pass and the story was quietly dropped. 

    With the next spring came renewed warnings of conflict. The Wall Street Journal claimed that “tens of thousands” of soldiers were being deployed to the border. The New York Times upped that figure to “as many as 100,000.” A few months later, U.S. News said that thousands of tanks were joining them.

    In late 2018, The New York Times and other media outlets were again up in arms over a fresh Russian buildup, this time of 80,000 military units. And in the spring of last year, it was widely reported (for instance, by Reuters and The New York Times) that Russia had amassed armies totaling well over 100,000 units on Ukraine’s border, signaling that war was imminent.

    Therefore, there are actually considerably fewer Russian units on Ukraine’s border than there were even 11 months ago, according to Western numbers. Furthermore, they are matched by a force of a quarter-million Ukrainian troops on the other side. 

    Thus, many readers will be forgiven for thinking it is Groundhog Day again. Yet there is something different about this time: coverage over the conflict has been enormous and has come to dominate the news cycle for weeks now, in a way it simply did not previously. The possibility of war has scared Americans and provoked calls for a far higher military budget and a redesign of American foreign policy to counter this supposed threat. 

    The Biden Administration is pressing the idea that Russia will invade Ukraine within the next two months, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan asserting that an attack could now come “any day.” The statement came shortly after the State Department announced that US intelligence believes Russia is preparing a video of a fake attack to create a pretext for war.

    The Washington Postamplified the White House’s warning, citing several unnamed sources who said the US military and intelligence community believes Russia has 70% of its troops in place for President Vladimir Putin to exercise his maximum option. Should Moscow opt for a full-scale invasion, the assessment says, it will result in 50,000 civilian casualties, up to 25,000 military casualties, and 5 million refugees.

    The assault is expected to come “after the ground freezes” sometime in mid-February and the window will remain open until late-March, sources told the Post.

    Despite the anticipated humanitarian toll, Sullivan indicated that the Biden administration believes arming and training Ukrainians is working and could present an opportunity to land a blow on Russia. “If war breaks out, it will come at an enormous human cost to Ukraine, but we believe that based on our preparations and our response, it will come at a strategic cost to Russia as well,” he said.

    However, the Europeans do not seem to match the Americans’ more bellicose attitude, with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissing US forecasts of imminent war as “apocalyptic predictions.” That followed similar remarks from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said Washington’s breathless rhetoric was creating a crisis and that he doesn’t believe the threat of a Russian invasion has increased since last April.


    Eager to start new wars while the previously new ones continue to drag on.  XINHUA reports, "Three Iraqi soldiers and a civilian were killed on Wednesday in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a security source said."  The violence never ended in Iraq.  Equally true, US service members remain on the ground in Iraq.  But it's time to pimp the new wars, right?  Don't worry, America, Meryl will be on board.  There's a Democrat in the White House, after all.

    For those of us who care about actual lives more than some political party -- especially some corrupt political party -- the political party of the war monger in chief really don't matter.

    And we're aware that Iraq remains a US_created disaster.  We're also aware that there is no government.  SAWAH PRESS hopes there ia a break in the political stalemate and that the following will get things moving:

    Today (Wednesday), for a period of 3 days, the Iraqi parliament opened the door for candidacy for the post of the country’s president after it failed to secure a quorum in its first session. Political observers suggested that this step would open the door to consultations again, which could lead to resolving the political stalemate after the Sadrist movement froze the negotiations to form a government and the continuation of the division between the two main Kurdish parties “the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Union”, against the background of each of them sticking to their presidential candidate.

    The Kurdistan Union insists on supporting the current president, Barham Salih, while the Democratic Party adheres to its candidate, Hoshyar Zebari, whose candidacy procedures have been suspended by the Federal Supreme Court, accusing him of corruption cases. However, an informed source from the Democratic Party revealed that the party intends to present Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein as a reserve candidate for the presidency, pending the Federal Court’s decision regarding Zebari.

    I don't think it iwll.  I'd be thrilled to be wrong about that.  I see why SAHWA believes that.  They see a roadblock that went up and they hope this will address that.

    I don't see one road block.  I see organized opposition.  Nouri al-Maliki has been leading it from the start.  The former prime minister and forever thug is largely recycling the actions he took in previous election cycles.

    For example?  The road blocks didn't start with Zebari's nomination.  They started pubicly when the Speaker of Parliament's election was challenged in court last month.  What was the point of that?  It wasn't about who was the Speaker despite being portrayed as such by many western outlets when they bothered to note the matter going before the courts.  What was at stake was who is recognized as the winning power.  Nouri used the courts to win on that issue in 2010 -- actually got the veredict in 2010 prior to the March elections that year and pulled it out when his State of Law did not get the most votes.  

    Time and again, we're seeing moves opposing Moqtada al-Sadr and his band and these moves are ones Nouri has used in the past.  The Iraqi press has no problem speculating -- they're on strong ground there -- that Nouri is the one leading this.  But the western press can't even utter his name.  The challenge of Hoshyar?  Doesn't it echo the way Nouri brought up old claims against then-political rival Saleh al-Mutlaq?  (Yeah, it does.)

    Over and over, we're seeing the same plays executed again.

    And Nouri does fight that way, he will throw out anything to win.  But don't think he's short term.  He plans out.  He goes long term.  And my guess would be all of these battles are about frustrating the alliance that Moqtada's formed.  If he could chip off the KDP, for example, that would be a victory.  But he really just needs to chip off a few MPs.  He's built his own coalition and has promises from MPs not yet officially with him to move towards him if Moqtada suffers more bruises.

    Moqtada al-Sadr was never ready for thsi fight and clearly didn't expect it.  A novice when it comes to the political game, Moqtada's been out played repeatedly.

    And that's why the elections took place October 7th and yet there is still no president or prime minister.  Tim Borlay (TURNED NEWS) observes, "After four months of quarrels, the Iraqi barons have still not succeeded in forming a majority parliamentary coalition, which is crucial for subsequently designating a new prime minister."

    ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports on help that someone in Iran is attempting to offer the floundering Moqtada:

    Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has joined efforts to address the crisis between Iraq's Sadrist movement leader, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the pro-Tehran Coordination Framework as they grapple to form a new government.

    Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Khamenei has forced the Coordination Framework to remain united, barring its members, specifically Hadi al-Ameri's Fatah alliance, from joining the rival Sadrist camp.

    It was revealed that late last month leaders of the Framework had drafted a letter asking Khamenei to allow members of the alliance to join Sadr's coalition in spite of the reservations against him.

    The letter was supposed to be sent by head of the State of Law coalition, led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but the decision to send it was never taken.

    Maliki, however, "leaked it from behind their backs" because he knew that Khamenei's response would put an end to any chance of striking an alliance between the Sadrists and the Fatah alliance.

    Poor Moqtada, so many are struggling to pull him across the finish line.  And, you caught it right, who's pulling the actual strings?  You saw who knows what he's doing and is playing longterm strategy?  Nouri al-Maliki.

    Maybe the western press just doesn't get it.  Certainly, when he was in power, we spent years here noting how much damage he was doing and, in 2012, we were predicting the rise of ISIS because of Nouri.  We've always taken him seriously.  It's a shame the western press hasn't and that they're still missing the point with regards to him.   ASHARQ AL-AWSAT notes remains "adamant on the exclusion of the State of Law coalition, specifically its leader former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."

    Meanwhile, Ali Hussein (ALARABIYA NEWS) notes:

    Does the United States of America ever feel guilty? Do its politicians know that they were behind dragging Iraq into the labyrinth of sectarianism and were partners and witnesses of the big lie?

    For a while I used to assume that the actual events on the ground are outside the control of the decision-makers at the White House, but it turned out these events are a daily testimony that those decision-makers were fully aware and conscious when they enabled particular politicians in Iraq to run the affairs of this country.

    In utter frankness, we are continuously at extreme danger, and the flames raging in our country are expanding further and further so that they will reach everything. To sum up, the entire destiny of Iraq is hanging by a thin thread, and no one can predict when this thread will snap, or what will happen next?

    Every day the Iraqis feel that they are going through the most difficult and dangerous era in the entire history of their land, an era that started with the major transition that took place back in 2003, when those same Iraqis who had lived for decades under dictatorship and tyranny became hopeful of new horizons and perspectives of a bright future. However, the new politicians erupted with their ugly faces, disintegrating the country, and turning it into an arena for warring sects and parties. We should be so grateful to those wise and skillful politicians who never fell short of advocating all kinds of fallacies and fabrications and of spreading rumors that promote a culture of violence and cruelty.

    Again, the war never ended.  Aziz Al-Rubaye (AMWAJ) reminds:

    Mass abductions have become a widespread and harrowing phenomenon in Iraq over the past two decades. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Iraq has one of the highest numbers of missing people in the world, with hundreds of thousands reportedly abducted over the years.

    The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq set off the kidnapping sprees, as various armed groups took advantage of the chaos to settle scores and collect ransoms. Not even government institutions have been spared from being stormed by kidnapping assailants who act without fear of legal repercussions.

    Indeed, many kidnapping operations are sophisticated and have been tied to government officials, security forces, and armed groups. The victims include civil society and human rights activists, journalists, and members of religious minorities. In this context, a review of kidnapping cases and the testimonials of survivors underscores the failure of Iraqi authorities to address this issue...

    We'll wind down with this from Ann Garrison's latest for BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

    Frank Sterling is a KPFA Radio reporter, a KPFA First Voice Radio Apprentice Instructor, a Native American, and an advocate for the homeless and victims of police brutality. He lives in Antioch, California on the northern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, in far eastern Contra Costa County. As an activist journalist he first began covering high profile police brutality cases that had already received wide media attention, like those of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, George Floyd, and locally, Oscar Grant. Eventually he began to realize that similar cases were happening around him in Antioch, but that without media coverage, they were going largely unnoticed.

    In September 2021, Frank was arrested protesting on the edge of a going away party for Tammany Brooks, Antioch’s first Black police chief . I spoke to Frank after his pre-trial hearing last week, which I also attended to support him. While I was outside court, a Black woman who had also come to support Frank told me that police had shot and killed her son, once in the head and twice in the back, in the parking lot of a nearby Nation’s Hamburgers, where they alleged he had been trying to buy some drugs.

    Ann Garrison: Frank Sterling, tell us what you’re doing out here at Contra Costa County Superior Court in Pittsburgh, California.

    Frank Sterling; I'm out here because they're trying to charge me with resisting arrest during a protest against the last Antioch Police Chief.

    AG: That would be Chief Tammany Brooks, Antioch’s first Black police chief, now the deputy police chief in Boise, Idaho . Right?

    FS: That’s him.

    AG: Antioch is a city of roughly 111,000 on the northern outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Boise, the capital and largest city in Idaho, is a city of roughly 226,000. So this was an upward career move for Tammany Brooks even though he’s not chief there yet.

    FS: I think that’s fair to say.

    AG: So what were you protesting?

    FS: It was a going away party for Brooks as he was leaving for his new job in Boise. He was being celebrated by a group called Antioch Backs the Blue and a couple other community organizations. And a small group of activists, including myself, came to say that he should not be celebrated because of the crimes, we felt, he had committed against our community.

    AG: This was September 21 last year, 2021, in an Antioch public park, right?

    FS: That’s right.

    AG: And what happened?

    FS: Well, basically, the people that “back the back the blue” and the other people that were there to celebrate the chief—not everybody, but a couple of instigators—wanted to rip our signs out of our hands, and urged others to join in blocking us from getting near their party.

    Basically, they were doing goodbye photo ops with the chief. There was a lot of handshaking and taking their pictures with the chief. They gave him a plaque and told him how much they loved him.

    While that was going on, we were in the background trying to hold up our protest signs and get them into their photo ops, so that, unless they cropped us out, we’d be there.

    So they started trying to block us out of their photos. Some of them started trying to take our signs and blocked us physically. Then the band started playing some music and they all started dancing in our direction until it turned into a melee. People tried to take our signs and our bullhorn from us. I wasn't in a physical altercation, but other members of my group were being physically attacked, especially by one angry woman.

    AG: Was she a police officer?

    FS: No, but she was one of the organizers of the event. Eventually the police sort of pushed them aside and arrested us.

    AG: In the pictures there are three or four officers holding you down on the ground. It looked a lot like the George Floyd arrest.

    FS: Yeah, one of them tackled me, then they surrounded me on the ground, zapped me twice with a taser, and cuffed me.

    AG: What was it you were protesting about Tammany Brooks history as Antioch Police Chief?

    FS: There were a few things. First, he had been celebrated when he first got there as someone who was going to make serious change. And he was our first African American police chief. The outgoing chief hailed him as a team player, and he had this great story about growing up poor in San Francisco’s Bay View Hunter’s Point neighborhood, having a troubled childhood, and rising up to be this chief of police in spite of it.

    But one of the things that he did was to authorize surveillance of our activists by tracking their phones and their cars through data tracking apps and other surveillance technologies.

    The following sites updated: