Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Borzou Daraghai

Remember when reporters were supposed to be impartial?

I do.

And I'm really bothered by social media whore Borzou Daragahi's Tweet.

Seriously. Congress could vote to cut off fuel funds for any Air Force One trips outside the US

I don't think so.  I don't think the executive branch has to defend their travel.  It certainly wasn't required for any First Lady trip over the years of my life time.

Nor should it have been.

Borzou Draghai was always a lousy reporter.  It's why he keeps flipping from outlet to outlet.  If I remember correctly, he wrote a really bad piece on films for The Los Angeles Times -- he didn't understand the films and he got facts about them and their plots and box office all wrong.  It was his one and only attempt at film writing.

Borzou, for those who don't know, probably invented the blast e-mail where he would e-mail any and every blogger to let them know he had a new piece up and please provide a link to it.

He's the original social media whore.  It's a pity he's not much of a reporter.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, July 16, 2018.  Protests continue as Hayder al-Abadi sicks the military on civilians in Iraq.

Iraq's going to hell but all the corporate whore like Christiane Amanpour can do is have hissy fits on air because Donald Trump has upset their status quo.  How sad. But she's been sad and stupid for years.

In fairness to the whore, most say CNN lost interest in Iraq when they could no longer spin on CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST (that show ended in 2007). Which would explain why even Sunday's CONNECT THE WORLD (with guest host Lynda Kinkade) "a very special CONNECT THE WORLD" (Lynda insisted) that focused on . . . The World Cup.

Yes, yes, please give us the news we need, CNN.  Please let's celebrate the whorish and the awful trash that they serve up day after damn day.

CONNECT THE WORLD?  No, distract the poor sap who thinks they're going to get news by tuning into CNN.

The world is watching Iraq, even if the US isn't.  Bel Trew (INDEPENDENT) notes:

At least three protesters have been killed and dozens injured in Iraq, after week-long rallies against soaring poverty gripped the oil-rich but neglected south of the country.
On Sunday, security forces fired into crowds in Samawa town, 170 miles south of Baghdad, killing at least two people, when a mob stormed a courthouse.

It followed the death of another protester last Tuesday in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, where the rallies first erupted.

If his facts are a little shaky, he's reporting from Israel.

The death toll is far greater.  IRAQI SPRING MC has been noting it repeatedly.  Here's ALJAZEERA:

Protests have spread to more Iraqi cities after a week of violent demonstrations in the oil-rich city of Basra where at least seven people were killed, dozens wounded, and hundreds arrested, police and activists said.

And ALJAZEERA updates the death toll to eight in this video report.

The situation in Iraq now is like that:
The civilian are protesting against the government because of the miserable situation in Iraq,
the government's answer is:
- cutting of the internet service.
- shutting down the electricity power in a lot of cities.

ALL IRAQ NEWS reports prime minister Hayder al-Abadi met with a delegation from Najaf today and he insisted that the Iraqi government respected the right of the people to protest.

Sunday, 3 protesters were killed in Samawah with fifty more injuredMaysan province saw twenty-three people injured.  Curfews were imposed, social media sites were blocked and the internet was taken down in some areas.

Who is behind the attacks on these protesters?

Is it ISIS?

No, it's not.

It's Hayder.  Hayder al-Abadi ordered the attacks.  These attacks started on Saturday.

: Now, |i Army Counter Terrorism units are using machine guns to suppress pro- armed protesters in , . They are protesting due to after decided to not sell water to due to in .
The media could not be played.

  • : This is most recent video from which shows |i Army counter terrorism unit deployed from using machine guns to scare protesters & disperse them. Pro- media are falsely claiming these are |ian forces or militias!!

    While CNN can't find the story, NPR's MORNING EDITION covered it today:

    Let's turn now to Iraq. The most widespread protests since 2003 are sweeping through the southern part of the country right now. Demonstrators have been gathering for a week. They are demanding jobs, also better services. And in response to this, the Iraqi government has sent army and counterterrorism troops. NPR's Jane Arraf has been monitoring these protests, and she joins us from Amman, Jordan.
    Hi, Jane.

    JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: Hi, David.

    GREENE: So why are these protests happening, and what is the timing of them here?

    ARRAF: Well, first of all, this morning in Basra, it's 115 degrees.

    GREENE: That's hot.

    ARRAF: And the temperature's rising. It is hot. And so imagine you're sitting in that degree temperature, and you turn on the tap, and all you get is salty water, and then the electricity goes out. And they've been dealing with this for 15 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq and promised them better lives, and they just haven't got it. So they've been demonstrating.


    UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in foreign language, clapping).

    ARRAF: At this particular one, which is outside government offices in Basra, they're calling for the downfall of the Iraqi government. Now, that's something you hear a lot, but these protests are so widespread, they're a little bit different. One of the demonstrators, Haider al-Halfi (ph), who describes himself just as citizen, lists the reasons that they're out there.

    HAIDER AL-HALFI: (Foreign language spoken).

    ARRAF: Now, he's saying that employment has increased; there are no public services. He said they want what the rest of Iraq has. And another demonstrator says they want dignity. And when you're talking about young men, what they mean by dignity a lot of times and in this case is they want jobs.

    ARAB WEEKLY explains the job situation, "The oil sector accounts for 89 percent of the state budget and 99 percent of Iraq’s export revenues, but only one percent of jobs, as the majority of posts are filled by foreigners.  Officially, 10.8 percent of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high, in a country where 60 percent of the population is aged under 24."

    Where are the jobs?

    A protester told AP, "I will not leave my place here until I get all my rights. The government lies to us, they always give us such promises and we get nothing." Noel King observed on NPR's MORNING EDITION, "They're demanding jobs and better services. And in response to these protests, the Iraqi government has sent army and counterterror troops into the south."

    Let's be clear what's going on because it is a War Crime but it's also supposed to mean that -- per the Leahy Amendment -- the US cut off all aid and assistance.  Hayder's using weapons supplied by the US and training conducted by the US to attack the Iraqi people.

    A protester tells Sofia Barbarani and Naser Al Wasmi (THE NATIONAL), "They are firing live ammunition and teargas."  And why are the rallies spreading?  Barbarani and Al Wasmi explain, "Demonstrations in southern Iraq are not unusual in scorching summer weather, but they boiled over last Tuesday, when security forces opened fire, killing one person and wounding five."

    War Crimes.

    This is what the War Whores of CNN and elsewhere are ignoring.

    Why?  Well, they're whores and they don't do very well about calling out the US government.  Oh, they can whine about how Donald Trump upset their delicate sensibilities but they're not going to call out official US policy, they never really do.

    So most Americans don't know what's going on.

    They certainly didn't hear about it from Goody Whore or her hideous DEMOCRACY NOW! which couldn't even note Iraq in a headline today.  Amy Goodman doesn't give a damn about Iraq.  She only used it to bilk PACIFICA -- a public radio network that begs for donations -- out of millions.  Amy got rich off the Iraq War.  That's the truth.

    XINHUA notes that today was the 9th day of protests and that, today, the protests spread to Baghdad:

    In Baghdad, demonstrators rallied in Tahrir Square in downtown the capital, raising Iraqi flags and confirming their solidarity with demonstrators in the southern cities of the country.

    The protestors raised banners and placards, urging the security forces to stop using violence against the demonstrators who demand their rights of better public services.

    Some banners read "No to violence against demonstrators" and "Public services are rights guaranteed by the Constitution for all Iraqis."

    "The demonstrators pledged to continue to protest until the government meets their demands," Ali Akram, one of the protestors, told Xinhua.

    REUTERS has a photo essay of the protests here.

    REUTERS also notes, "Local officials said demonstrations have not affected crude production in Basra, whose shipments account for more than 95 percent of OPEC producer Iraq’s state revenues. Any disruption could have a severe impact on the country’s limping economy and push up global oil prices." BLOOMBERG rushes to reassure with, "Iraq is pumping oil at normal levels even as protests spread across the southern region from where OPEC’s second-biggest producer exports most of its crude, according to a government spokesman."

    Well maybe if the protests upset the oil supply, CNN, DEMOCRACY NOW and so many others can finally discover the protests and the Iraqi government's violent reaction to them.

    In other violence, the US Defense Dept announced today:

    Strikes in Iraq
    There were no reported strikes conducted July 10-15 in Iraq.

    On July 9, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets near Diyala. The strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS motorcycles, an ISIS-held building, an ISIS vehicle and an ISIS supply cache.

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated:

  • Sunday, July 15, 2018

    Dusty (by Karen Bartlett)

    Back in March, I posted "Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" about Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham's Dusty Springfield book.

    Again, in the US, Dusty, a singer, is known for "The Look of Love," "Wishin' & Hopin'," "Son of a Preacher Man" and, with the Pet Shop Boys, "What Have I Done To Deserve This" -- among other hits. She was England's biggest female singer of the 20th century. She triumphed in the sixties, then move to the US in the seventies.

    Though I enjoyed Valentine and Wickham's book, I just finished Karen Bartlett's DUSTY and I enjoyed it even more.

    Unlike Vicki, Karen did not know Dusty for decades but maybe that allowed more objectivity?

    I don't know

    I do know the book has a stronger overview and is also way less depressing.

    The heart aches are still here but a lot more joy is here too and the story doesn't make Dusty a victim of everyone -- while also allowing Dusty to take the blame for some of her own actions.

    Both books deal with Dusty's coming out in a 1970 article for The Evening Standard of London.  This book, however, goes into detail which includes this was not accidental, it was Dusty's decision ahead of the interview and that she made many comments throughout the interview other than that she was "capable of being swayed by a girl as by a boy."

    Dusty's death is handled with more detail here as well  People write her to tell her how much she meant to them (including Bette Midler) and she has good days and bad days after she found out the cancer had returned and it was terminal. 

    The dark days of the 70s in the US when she trashed her recording career are handled better as well.  There's an album she makes with Brooks Arthur that leads the label to drop her.  Because?  She spends too much time on it and won't wrap it up.  That's on Dusty.  And I'm fine with her not being the kindest and sweetest as long as she not always being victimized by others.

    Anne Murray?  There's another example.  She meets Anne and her husband after a concert.  And then, a little while later they meet up -- the three of them -- because Anne wants Dusty to be a guest on her show.  Dusty doesn't just come on to Anne, at one point, she fights with Anne's husband and scratches his face because she wants him to leave her and Anne.

    This is the Dusty that rings more true to Elton John's infamous Rolling Stone interview in the early 70s - where Dusty is the unnamed singer who is such a drunk at a party.

     This is an entertaining book and it offes a complex look at Dusty that I think many people will enjoy.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Friday, July 13, 2018.  Burn pits.

    I've never pretended I can't be a real idiot from time to time but even I'm shocked by my stupidity this go round.

    The Iraq War continues.  We stress that daily here.

    And burn pits were awful for the Iraqi people and for US troops (and US contractors).

    Did you see my ignorance above?


    I've thought this was a "were."

    It's not a "were."

    The US is still using burn pits in Iraq.  Still.

    Perry Chiarmonte (FOX NEWS) reports:

    FOX NEWS EXCLUSIVE – Service members overseas for our nation’s military forces continue to be exposed to toxic chemical clouds emanating from burn pits that are still being used near their bases.
    In a series of images obtained exclusively by Fox News, A burn pit near Camp Taji, Iraq is seen spewing thick clouds of black smoke into the air on a near-daily basis. According to one soldier stationed at the base, the pits are set ablaze as many as five times a week. The images were taken on and around June 3.
    “You know what it is once you smell it,” said the U.S. Army soldier, who requested that his name be withheld for fear of reprisal from his superiors. “That thing smokes and smolders. It’s got that acrid trash smell.”
    Thousands of veterans and former contractors have developed cancer, respiratory problems and blood disorders from their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits at U.S. military bases across Iraq and Afghanistan, and many have died. More than 140,000 active service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Veterans Administration.
    The soldier sent pictures he personally snapped after seeing recent reporting by Fox News on the issue. In that previous report, a top-level environmental officer from the Pentagon recalled how he warned top military officials of the dangers of the burn pit method as early as 2005 during the height of the war in Iraq.
    “The burning is still going on,” the service member said to Fox News. “It’s all around us. I don’t want to go 15 years down the road and wind up sick.”
    Like the Iraq War, the burn pits continue.

    And the burn pits remain in use in Iraq.

    “There’s no guessing at what we will experience down the road from all the pollution and toxins created in this smoke.” Burn pits near US military bases in Iraq keep smoldering, as the health debate rages.

    Burn pits near US military bases in Iraq keep smoldering, as health debate rages

    Again, I can be a real idiot and I was this time because I thought this was done.  I'm not the only one who thought that way.

    We have to get my bipartisan bill to help our heroes who have been exposed to toxic burn pits across the finish line. (It recently passed the Senate.) Our veterans are counting on us.

    Exposure to burn pits can produce serious & potentially life-threatening health effects on our troops. It’s time to take action. Congress must make passing the Burn Pits Accountability Act a priority to ensure proper care and services for veterans.

    Senator Klobuchar thought this was an issue that was in the past and our efforts now needed to focus on fixing what had taken place.

    I want to say that 2006 was the first hearing I attended about the burn pits.

    That's 12 years ago.

    And despite all the testimony to members of Congress, the US is still using burn pits in Iraq?

    This is outrageous.

    L. Russell Keith explained to the Democratic Policy Committee on  November 6, 2009,  "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units.".

    Then-Senator Byron Dorgan presided over the hearing.  Questioning Keith, Dorgan established that these burn pits would never be allowed to operate in the US due to the damages the pits cause to health -- they'd face fines and jail, agreed Keith, if they tried to get away with operating these same burn pits in the US.

    And there were regulartions -- even in Iraq and Afghanistan -- that were supposed to be followed but weren't which prompted the release of the US Government Accountability Office's 2010 report [PDF format warning] entitled "AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ: DOD Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open Pit Burning and Solid Waste Management."

    June 13th, 2012 then-US Senator Mark Udall explained burn pits while speaking to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

    In both Afghanistan and Iraq, open air burn pits were widely used at forward operating bases.  Disposing of trash and other debris was a major challenge.  Commanders had to find a way to dispose of waste while concentrating on the important mission at hand.  The solution that was chosen, however, had serious risks.  Pits of waste were set on fire -- sometimes using jet fuel for ignition.  Some burn pits were small but others covered multiple acres of land. Often times, these burn pits would turn the sky black.  At Joint Base Balad Iraq, over 10 acres of land were used for burning toxic debris.  At the height of its operations, Balad hosted approximately 25,000 military, civilian and coalition provision authority personnel.  These personnel would be exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals released into the atmosphere.  According to air quality measurements, the air at Balad had multiple particulates harmful to humans: Plastics and Styrofoams, metals, chemicals from paints and solvents, petroleum and lubricants, jet fuel and unexploded ordnance, medical and other dangerous wastes.  The air samples at Joint Base Balad turned up some nasty stuff. Particulate matter, chemicals that form from the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas garbage or other organic substances, volatile organic compounds such as acetone and benzene  -- benzene, as you all know, is known to cause leukemia --  and dioxins which are associated with Agent Orange.  According to the American Lung Association, emissions from burning waste contain fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. All of this was in the air and being inhaled into the lungs of service members. 

    KBR faqcilitated a lot of the burn pits.  And KBR knew they weren't following the guidelines. Former US Senator Blanche Lincoln pointed out, while serving in the Senate, that KBR would make additional money from cleaning the sites -- they would get paid for fixing their own mess -- even though they themselves wouldn't do the work -- they'd subcontract it out.

    This was about greed -- KBR refused to even move the burn pits downwind when the damages were being discussed openly in the press -- and it was about people.  People have died due to these burnpits.

    Staff Sgt. Steven Gregory Ochs and Staff Sgt. Matt Bumpus are two early examples of people who died who never even should have gotten ill.  They were betrayed by greed and by their own government.   October 8, 2009,  Steven Gregory Ochs' sister Stacy Pennington testified to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on behalf of her brother and her family and on behalf of Bumpus and his family.

    Stacy Pennington: Both of these brave soldiers you see before you dodged bullets, mortar attacks, roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Eventually their tours of duty would take their lives. The ultimate sacrifice for a soldier, for his country, is death. However, their deaths did not show up in the manner you may assume. In Balad is the site of the infamous enormous burn pit that has been called by Lt Col Darrin L. Curtis, USAF and Bio-environmental Engineering Flight Commander, as "the worst environmental site" he had ever visited. Staff Sgt Ochs and Staf Sgt Bumpus were both stationed in Balad and war, as strategic as it is, followed them home. Death lay dormant in their blood and waited for them to return safely home and into the arms of their loved ones. Like every silent ticking bomb, it eventually exploded. On September 28, 2007, just months after Steve's return home from his third tour, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, also known as AML. He spent the next ten months as a patient -- more like a resident -- at Duke University Hospital. Doctors at Duke said his aggressive form of AML was definitely chemically induced and, like Steve, both agreed it was due to the exposures he experienced while in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the doctors refused to go on record citing as the reason that they could not prove it. The aggressive AML that Steve endured was similar to bullets ricocheting in the body causing torturous pain. The graphic images embedded in my mind are of Steve's last screams for air as he was rushed into ICU. Steve waved goodbye to my husband. Steve, with very little strength, said, "I love you, sis" and my mom kissed his forehead and said, "We will see you when you get comfortable." Five minutes later, while in the ICU waiting room, the nurse came in to tell us Steve went into cardiac arrest and they were working on him now. My mom ran into ICU -- fell to her knees as she realized her son was dying. Screams filled the air as we begged God to keep Steve here with us. We know Steve heard us as tears were in Steve's eyes. Doctors and nurses pumped on Steve's chest trying to revive him. But I knew immediately he was gone. His spirit that surrounded my dear, sweet brother was gone. We were left alone with Steve's body for hours as we were all in pure shock. My mom looked upon my brother's face and wiped away the tears puddled in his eyes. And at that very moment, our lives were changed forever. Steve died on July 12, 2008. Two weeks later, on the opposite of the coast, Staff Sgt Bumpus would succumb to the same fate. For Staff Sgt Matt Bumpus, the ticking time bomb exploded with a vengeance on July 31, 2006. Matt was rushed to the hospital by ambulance with acute appendicitis. In Matt's own words, I quote, "The next thing I remember is hearing that I had been diagnosed with AML." Doctors declared that there was chromosome damage due to exposures he must have come in contact with while in Iraq. Matt ended his prestigious service to the Army one short year before the war zone chemical warfare showed signs of its presence. As if this was not enough suffering, Staff Sgt Bumpus' family was met by the VA with harsh claims of denial to benefits. This battle continues to this day as Lisa, Staff Sgt Bumpus' wife, is left alone with two small children to raise with no VA or military benefits for her family. The aggressive assault of the AML in Matt's body was taking claim. Jo, Matt's mother, recalls the haunted look in Matt's eyes as he revealed to her that the AML invasion was back. Matt's mother will never forget the discouragement and sadness that overwhelmed Matt as the realization that promises he made to his wife and children to provide for his family, to love and protect them, and that his sacred word would be broken. He knew now that the battle was over and he would be leaving his family behind. Tuesday, July 29, 2008, Matt once again entered the hospital with fever and septic infection that discharged throughout his body. Doctors notified the family that it would just be days before his demise. Matt was heavily sedated as the pain and incubation was unbearable. Nate, Matt's ten-year-old son, bravely entered his father's hospital room to lay on his daddy's chest as he said his final goodbye. Nate curled up by his dad and cried and cried. Despite Matt's heavy sedation, Matt too was crying. Matt, being a devoted Christian, appropriately passed away on a Sunday morning, surrounded by his wife, mother, father and sister as they expressed to Matt their everlasting love. They, too, were in shock and stayed with Matt's body as the realization overwhelmed them that Matt would not be going home. Matt died on August 3, 2008.

    Again, this was an outrage and it remains one today.  The burn pits are still being utilized.

    The US government is failing yet again.

    But we should point out that the Iraqi government is also failing.  They have a responsibility to protect the Iraqi people.

    Birth defects are on the rise in Iraq.  And burn pits is not a new or unknown topic.

    Why has the Iraqi government looked the other way and allowed the US to utilize burn pits in Iraq?  Why are they not protecting the Iraqi people?

    It's no wonder the Iraqi people are protesting.

    Following anti-corruption protests across southern , protesters in Najaf storm the governor’s office and airport, chanting “the people want the fall of the [political] parties”

    The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley -- updated: