Saturday, June 6, 2020

Any good books lately?

I ask because one thing I want to do is to note voices that don't get as much amplification as they deserve.  That would especially include Michael Parenti. 

He is an author, an intellectual and an activist.  He is an important voice that has so much more to offer than a Noam Chomsky, for example.

So if you've never read Michael Parenti, his 1997 book Blackshirts and Reds is online.  Here is Chapter One of the book.

And here's a talk that Parenti gave regarding conspiracy and class power.

We're at a time when we need to be at our sharpest to press the change that is needed.  Michael Parenti is one way we can arm ourselves with knowledge.

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

Friday, June 5, 2020.  Iraq continues to face many issues, Joe Biden continues to get a pass on all of them.

Like elsewhere in the world, Iraq is grappling with the coronavirus.  THE NAMIBIAN reported on that issue earlier this week.

REUTERS offers a video report here of the cemetery in Najaf where those who have died from coronavirus are being buried.  On that cemetery where only the victims of coronavirus are being buried, REUTERS reports:

Established after an edict from Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, it is dwarfed by the nearby Wadi al-Salam cemetery, the largest in the world, but is expanding.
More than 200 people have died since the outbreak began in Iraq in February and the volunteers say they receive two to four corpses each day. The country’s confirmed coronavirus infections have doubled from around 3,000 to more than 6,000 in the space of just over two weeks, according to health ministry figures.
Ibrahim and his comrades joined the brigade part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) paramilitary umbrella grouping, to fight Islamic State several years ago.
While this enemy is very different, the work is both physically and emotionally draining.
Bodies often arrive at night. The volunteers, in full protective suits, wash and wrap the corpses in black burial shrouds before putting them back in the coffins. They carry the coffins to the graves under the headlights of their vehicles.

Iraq’s Health Ministry on Wednesday said that the total number of COVID-19 cases jumped to 8,168 after setting a new record of daily increase with 781 infections.

The new cases included 437 in the capital Baghdad, 52 in Duhok, 46 in Sulaimaniyah, 41 in Basra, 35 in each Maysan and Kirkuk, 33 in Babil, 28 in Dhi Qar, 19 in Najaf, 18 in Muthanna, 11 in Karbala, eight in Diyala, seven in Diwaniyah, six in Erbil and five in Anbar, the ministry said in a statement.

It also said that 21 people died from the coronavirus during the day, in the highest single-day rise, bringing the death toll in the country to 256, while 4,095 patients have recovered.
Any government count in Iraq is an under-count.  When REUTERS attempted to report on the actual count, an estimate, the Iraqi government briefly suspended them from reporting from Iraq.  Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) offers:

Iraq’s health care is on the verge of collapse, officials warned on Thursday, as the number of new coronavirus cases increased this week.
“We have concerns about the increase of daily cases. We anticipate the number will double which might result in the collapse of the system as it cannot manage the influx of cases,” director of the public health department, Riyad Abdel Amir, said in a statement.
The country recorded 672 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 8,840, with the majority of infections in Baghdad.
Authorities said 15 people died from the virus, eight of them in the capital, taking the total death toll in the country to 271.
Wednesday was the highest single-day jump in cases as health authorities recorded 781 cases and 21 fatalities. 

The coronavirus is only one major issue facing the Iraqi government.  May 7th, Mustafa al-Kadhimi became Iraq's latest prime minister.  That should not have happened.  Per the Constitution, he is supposed to form a Cabinet to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister -- not a partial Cabinet, not a sort-of Cabinet, a full Cabinet.  No one has followed the post-invasion Constitution with regards to that provision even though it's the only thing a candidate has to do to become prime minister.  The point of the Constitutional article is that it will show that the candidate can work with others, can make deals and can function.  Iraq's dysfunctional administrations since 2003 have demonstrated that the article is important.  But no one bothers to follow it.

May 7th, he became prime minister and Iraq still doesn't have a full Cabinet.  Lawk Ghafuri (RUDAW) reports:

Iraqi parliament has received the names of the seven remaining ministerial nominees for the vacant positions in Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi’s cabinet, the Office of Speaker of the Parliament announced on Thursday via Twitter.

Kurdish parties were granted their top pick Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s former finance minister, for the coveted foreign minister position, said Hamadamin Faris, Kurdish MP in Iraqi parliament.

“The KDP candidate for the foreign minister seat is Fuad Hussein,” Faris told Rudaw English. “While, the PUK’s candidate for the justice minister is Judge Salar,” referring to Salar Abdul Satar, a former judge in Kirkuk and Baghdad.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is the second largest political party in the Kurdistan Region and has 18 seats in Iraqi parliament.
A parliamentary session to approve or reject the nominated ministerial candidates is scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 6.

Again, a failure to form a full Cabinet has repeatedly led to an administration that struggles to govern.  Repeatedly.  Mustafa Habib (AL-MENESA) observed last month:

It really does feel as though Iraq is on the verge of another crisis – yet again.
“History is repeating itself,” says Samer al-Jibouri, a police officer in Tikrit, the capital of the province of Salahaddin.  “What’s happening now feels so similar to what happened in 2014 [when the security crisis sparked by the extremist Islamic State group began]. We only lack an insane caliph to declare an Islamic state!,” he jokes. “Although we won’t let that happen,” he said staunchly.
The last month has been tough though, al-Jibouri told Al Menasa. “We have been subjected to numerous attacks and ambushes by the terrorists,” he explained. “They’re happening almost daily now. The extremists come at night from remote villages in the desert, places we can’t go after dark. Then they disappear from there in the mornings when our forces enter the villages looking for them.”
From the beginning of April until May 4, security sources estimate that there have been around 50 attacks by armed extremists.
This has coincided with the arrival of the new leader of the Islamic State, or IS, group to Iraq. The man, known as Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi – whose real name is thought to be Amir Mohammed Sa’id Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi – apparently came back to Iraq from Syria because of the deterioration in security in Iraq. Al-Qurashi apparently comes from the town of Tal Afar and is one of the extremist IS group’s founding members.
The map of recent attacks and ambushes runs through the cities previously occupied by the IS group, starting from the west of the province of Diyala, passing through northern Salahaddin, over to the top of Ninewa and Kirkuk, and then through to the bottom of Anbar province. Dozens of Iraqi security forces, including members of the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF,  have been killed or injured in these attacks.

No, ISIS is not vanquished or gone -- despite the declaration of an Iraqi military spokesperson two weeks ago.  ISIS remains active in Iraq.  Khrush Najari (KURDISTAN 24) notes, "In recent months, the extremist organization appears to have taken advantage of several current crises Iraq now faces, including the coronavirus pandemic. The group also exploits the long-standing security gap between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the disputed areas to carry out attacks against civilians and members of the security forces."

May 26th, Iraqi politician Ayad Allawi Tweeted:

No public tribunal has yet been formed to try protestors’ killers; and neither have martyrs’ families, those wounded and made handicapped been compensated. In addition, there must be a fixed date for fair and early elections; a new electoral law; and an independent commission.

The Iraqi National Accord (INA) bloc accused the Ministry of Defence of circumventing a previous government decision to ban the installation of US Patriot systems, and put forward several principles for any negotiation with Washington.
The parliamentary bloc led by Iyad Allawi announced in a statement published on Thursday, that the Iraqi National Security Council (INSC) decided during the era of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to reject the installation and purchase of Patriot missile systems with the accompanying rockets from the US.
The statement added that the decision was taken: “By majority, not by consensus, and some of the current leaders voted to abstain,” wondering: “How can we respond today to the statements of the current defence minister that the missiles were installed in two bases in Iraq?”
The statement clarified the INA’s position regarding what is being discussed in the strategic dialogue with the US, stressing that the INA’s bloc: “Is not ready to participate in the strategic dialogue with the US or even be part of the negotiation committee now.”

Allawi led the Iraqiya coalition in the 2010 elections.  They were a new group and the US press -- following the dictates of the US State Dept -- wrote them off.  Quil Lawrence and others would tell the country that Nouri al-Maliki had a lock on the votes of the Iraqi people.  Right after the election, Quil would even falsely 'report' on NPR that Nouri had won -- before the votes were counted. 

Nouri did not win in 2010.  Iraqiya won.  And that was a major moment if anyone had bothered to care.  Iraqiya was a rejection of sectarian politics.  It was about forming an Iraqi identity.  It promoted all sects, all faiths, women as well as men, it was about a united Iraq.

And that's how it came to beat the incumbent Nouri al-Maliki.

This was an amazing moment in political history for any country.

But the US press didn't want to talk about that.

Nouri lost.  He stamped his feet and the UN did a recount and tossed him a few more votes but he still lost.

Nouri then refused to step down, creating a political stalemate in the country that would last for a little over eight months.  He was able to do that because the US government backed him.  That was the incompetent ambassador Chris Hill and that was Samantha Power, Susan Rice and, the man tasked with overseeing the whole thing, Joe Biden.

Supposedly, the US wanted Iraq to have a democracy.  But instead of backing up the voters -- and re-enforcing democratic impulses -- the US government backed Nouri al-Maliki for a second term.  He was a known thug at this point.  The world knew of his secret prisons and torture cells.  

But that's who the US backed.  And Joe Biden led that effort, pushing The Erbil Agreement, a contract that overturned the votes of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term.

That second term led to the rise of ISIS.  At what point will Joe Biden and others be held accountable for that?  More importantly, as Joe himself runs around trying to earn votes, why isn't he asked about overturning the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010?

We'll come back to Joe, before we do, let's note that the Baghdad government is also facing the issue of how to get along with the Kurdish government.  Currency 365 discusses some issues between Erbil and Baghdad.

Joe wasn't once the US telephone line to Kurdistan.  He angered the Kurds and betrayed them so he no longer has their ear.  That's another issue that the US press doesn't seem capable of exploring.

Joe has been accused by Tara Reade of assaulting her in 1993.  Mary Margaret Olohan (DAILY CALLER) reports:

Joseph Backholm is at least the eighth person to corroborate aspects of Reade’s claims, following her mother, brother, ex-husband, former neighbor, former coworker and at least of her two friends.
[. . .]
According to Backholm, the two were sitting with other law students on a hotel patio by the water chatting late at night during one of these conferences. Eventually everyone went to bed except Backholm and Reade, who continued discussing Reade’s plans to become a domestic violence advocate.
“She said, ‘When I was in Washington, D.C. I was sexually assaulted by someone you would know,’ and that’s how she phrased it, ‘someone you would know’ and she didn’t give a name,” Backholm said. “I didn’t ask for a name.”

Tara's assertion is credible.  Attacks on her finances have nothing to do with the assault she is claiming.  She has been bullied and smeared because it's just too uncomfortable for some to address assault.  The continued refusal to take this allegation seriously is harming all who are victimized and sending a message that you shouldn't come forward.

Joe Biden is disgusting.  Publicly, he's pretended to support a place for victims to come forward.  Privately, he's unleashed the hideous Anita Dunn on Tara.  

I have lost everything my job, my housing and my reputation I have been called every vile name imaginable & presented as a monster by the media for daring to speak about Joe Biden and what happened in 1993. I have lost all that & more but I am free.

A lot of people have things to answer for with regards to their refusal to address the allegations seriously.  Partisanship does not allow you to ignore this issue.

The following sites updated:

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