Tuesday, June 9, 2020

No vaccine and criminal police -- bummer news

Where's the vaccine? Isn't that what we all want to know? From CNET:

Coronavirus cases are still increasing in a third of US states, according to new data reported over the weekend -- from South Carolina and Florida to Arizona and Illinois -- raising concern that a second wave of the virus could soon be building up momentum. For people in the US who've grown weary of lockdowns, social distancing and the polarizing issue of face masks, a vaccine can't arrive soon enough.
In the meantime, some or all of the measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 could return, even as schools begin to open and sports tentatively resume. (Although large-scale events like music festivals, tech conferences and the Olympics continue to be on hold.) What will it take to get a coronavirus vaccine?
The answer, unfortunately, is time. Vaccines typically take years -- sometimes even decades -- to develop, approve, manufacture and distribute globally. That said, there have never been so many doctors and scientists working this hard and fast at it. Just six months since SARS-CoV-2 was first discovered, at least half a dozen vaccine development projects are already reporting encouraging progress, with many more in development.

You can continue reading beyond the excerpt but here's the ending: No one knows when a vaccine will be ready.

Staying with the disappointing:

Two law enforcement agencies acknowledged Monday that officers patrolling Minneapolis during the height of recent protests knifed the tires of numerous vehicles parked and unoccupied in at least two locations in the midst of the unrest.
Video and photo images posted on the news outlet Mother Jones show officers in military-style uniforms puncturing tires in the Kmart parking lot at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue on May 30.
Images from S. Washington Avenue at Interstate 35W also showed officers with knives deflating the tires of two unoccupied cars with repeated jabs on May 31. Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon confirmed that tires were cut in "a few locations."
"State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires … in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement," Gordon said.

I'm sorry, "strategically"? In what world are the police allowed to slash tires or take the air out of them? Oh, that's right, they aren't. Defund the police now.

AP adds:

All four tires on the car of Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres were slashed in a Kmart parking lot while he was on foot covering the protests and unrest, the newspaper reported. Other journalists from around North America also had their tires ruined. A CNN reporter was arrested live on-air during coverage of the initial unrest in Minneapolis.

I think some police officers need to be arrested. Clearly, they cannot be counted on to police their own behavior so it will have to be up to us. What do you think would have happened if someone had seen the police officers vandalizing the cars and walked up and tried to place them under a citizen's arrest?

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2020.  A US military plane crashes in Iraq, a Moqtada al-Sadr foe gets a prominent position in the new Iraqi government, and much more.

A US military transport plan has crashed in Baghdad leaving at least four service members injured.  The US military says the plane "overshot the runway" while the Iraqi Revolutionary Group states it shot the plane down.

Of the four injured, Stephen Losey (AIR FORCE TIMES) notes, "The service members’ injuries were not life-threatening, and they are being treated at the base’s medical facility, according to a release by Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve."  THE DRIVE adds, "The C-130H, which is assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, crashed at Taji, which is situated approximately 17 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, at around 10:10 PM local time. "

Holly Johnston (RUDAW) explains, "Taji military base,  located north of Baghdad, hosts US military personnel in the country to advise and train troops in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS)."

Over the weekend, journalist Mustafa Habib offered his thoughts on a US withdrawal from Iraq:

The US will likely have one main goal, curtail Iran influence. To achieve this, the US should support Iraqi govt with medical & economic crises. The success of govt which is generally not close to Iran influencers, would be one way to enhance Iraqi sovereignty & independence...

The US shouldn’t withdraw all of its soldiers from Iraq, only the combat units that so anger Iran. It should leave advisers & trainers together w members of global coalition, to provide air cover & intelligence that can aid Iraqi anti-terrorism troops in fight against extremists

Should the US troops be forced to withdraw will make a lack of international partners could see the Shiite forces loyal to Iran getting stronger, even in Sunni cities, and it would also jeopardise the new Iraqi govt’s ability to run the country & to hold elections.

The Iraqi people have long favored all US troops leave Iraq.  Some in the Iraqi government agree with that, some do not.  Those who do not tend to realize that the US military presence props up the government in Iraq.  It has not represented the people -- hence the protests -- it has not made life better for the Iraqi people.  It maintains power only because of the US forces on the ground.

When ISIS seized control of Mosul, for example, then-US President Barack Obama didn't really give a damn.  When it was thought that ISIS was about to seize Baghdad, Barack began ordering more US troops into Iraq.

US officials gave lip service to 'democracy' and 'self-rule' but they never meant it.  Nouri al-Maliki was put in place by Bully Boy Bush because his CIA profile noted how paranoid Nouri was and how that could be used to control him.  With no experience at all, Nouri was made prime minister.  He was a disaster.  

In 2010, the Iraqi people went to the polls and voted him out.  But not only would Nouri refuse to step down, the US government also backed the thug up.  Joe Biden went to Iraq to sell a contract (The Erbil Agreement) that overturned the votes and gave Nouri a second term.

This was never about democracy.

Joe's actions would result in Nouri feeling more emboldened and he would become even more of a thug.  ISIS would rise in Iraq as a result.  Joe Biden is the mid-wife to ISIS.  

At some point, the US press might get around to addressing that.  And since Joe is now seeking votes, maybe ask him how he'd feel if he won in November and Iraq's government stepped in and overturned the results?

As for Mustafa Habib, I don't doubt that his intentions are sincere.  But the reality is that the training wheels have to come off at some point.  The alternative is that Iraq is occupied by US forces forever.  Had the governments of Iraq not been so corrupt, they could have taken even small steps that would develop some form of a relationship with the Iraqi people.  They chose not to dot hat.  They have no real roots and they will be knocked over when the Iraqi people are in charge.

US forces should not be used to keep in place a do-nothing government that exploits and attacks its own people.

Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reports, "A rocket landed late Monday near Baghdad International Airport, according to the Iraqi Security Media Cell. "  AFP notes:

A rocket landed inside Baghdad airport near to where US forces are based in the latest attack on American forces in the country, the Iraqi military said on Monday night.
While a wave of similar attacks that began in October has since slowed, the latest strike came three days ahead of US-Iraqi talks as part of a "strategic dialogue" including on future military co-operation.
A security official told AFP that the attack caused "no casualties or damage".
Baghdad International Airport is closed under coronavirus lockdown measures in Iraq, which has reported some 13,000 cases including 400 deaths from the disease.
Monday's rocket fire was the 29th such attack against American troops or diplomats since October.

Meanwhile, protests continue in Iraq.

That's video from Sunday in Najaf.  MIDDLE EAST MONITOR ONLINE notes

Violent clashes between protestors and police in Iraq erupted in front of local government headquarters in the country’s Najaf governorate yesterday, with demands including government reforms and the identification of those who previously killed demonstrators.
According to Iraqi media, the confrontations reached all the way to the home of Najaf’s Governor Luay Al-Yasiri, which was set on fire while several members of the security forces were injured by the protestors.
Among the protestors’ demands was for Al-Yasiri, his deputies, and the directors of the governorate’s districts to be dismissed by the Iraqi government. Witnesses reported that police and security forces fired live bullets and tear gas at the protestors to disperse them, while the governorate’s police department called on the protestors to exercise restraint and to prevent their ranks from being exploited by “infiltrators”.

On Twitter, Sally notes:
serious injuries now could lead to amputation among the demonstrators as a result of violent repression by the repressive forces. And cases of suffocation in the ranks of the demonstrators

Heshmat Alavi explains that "tear gas and live bullets" were used on the protesters.

Angry protesters took to the streets of southern Iraq on Monday to vent their frustration with a lack of public services and employment opportunities, calling for the dismissal of local officials.
Hundreds of demonstrators from the southern cities of Najaf, Muthanna, Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah clashed with Iraqi security forces amid a revival of the anti-government protests that erupted last October.
“The movement, which is now synchronised between the southern governorates, is now demanding the resignation of officials, especially the dismissal of Najaf Governor Louay Al Yasiri,” an Iraqi official told The National.
Riot police gathered in front of government buildings in Najaf late on Sunday to block protesters from entering the building, leading to violent clashes between the two.
The mostly young protesters accuse the political establishment of rampant corruption and are demanding an end to a political system that is divided along sectarian and ethnic lines. 

The mostly young protesters accuse the political establishment of rampant corruption and are demanding an end to a political system that is divided along sectarian and ethnic lines.
The Iraqi Human Rights Commission called on the government to refrain from using violence against protesters.
“This is a constitutional right [for people to protest] and we urge the government to respond to the economic and social rights that protesters are demanding,” Ali Al Bayati, a member of the commission told The National.
“These claims have been made before but have not been implemented although we lost many lives due to months of instability so it’s very important for the new government to provide a main source of livelihood for the public,” Mr Al Bayati said.
We'll note Parliament later in the week but we have to note this from Zhelwan Z. Wali (RUDAW):

The Iraqi Parliament has approved the resignation of prominent Shiite leader and head of the Fatah Alliance Hadi al-Amiri, rumoured to be eyeing the presidency of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Amiri sent his letter of resignation to Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi on June 1, and was officially replaced on Saturday by his assistant Abdulkarim Younis Elan - who is yet to be sworn in.
Though it remains unclear as to what prompted Amiri to resign from the parliament, it is rumored that he is vying for the post of head of the PMF, known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic. 
Hadi al-Amiri is a thug.  If you've never seen photos of him, he's also very ugly.  Very.  Ugly.  And we're noting the above because I can't stop laughing as I survey Arab social media and keep seeing jokes about how he's really resigned from Parliament because he plans to run for Miss Iraq.  

Mustafa Habib notes another political twist:

Wild move, Iraqi PM Al-Kadhimi appoints judge Raed Jouhi as the director of the his office, Jouhi became known as he issued judicial warrant to arrest Muqtada Sadr in 2003 for the murder of Majid al-Khoei, & he the first judge who investigate with Saddam Hussein after his arrest

What message do you suppose that's intended to send to Moqtada al-Sadr?

With a great deal of rhetoric accompanied by a political stunt, the Democratic congressional leadership on Monday released its “Justice in Policing 2020” bill.
Prior to the press conference to present the measure, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers, all wearing African kente cloths, knelt in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing the 46-year-old African American worker.
The group of Democrats included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Black Congressional Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass and senators Corey Booker and Kamala Harris.
At the press conference, Bass, Pelosi, Schumer and other sponsors of the bill repeatedly cited the nationwide mass demonstrations against the murder of Floyd and touted their bill as a “transformational” and “bold” attack on police violence and systemic racism. But their statements and the token character of the reforms included in the bill make clear that the measure is nothing of the kind.
Rather, it is a political maneuver designed to provide cover for Democratic governors and mayors who have overseen brutal police attacks on protesters, not to mention the pro-police record of the Obama administration. It is also aimed at containing and dissipating social protests by workers and youth against not only racism and the fascistic Trump administration, but also the social inequality, repression and poverty that are embedded in the capitalist system and magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

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