I love sci-fy. Here's Looper earlier this year noting some of the best sy-fy films of the year so far.
Now here's a look at some of the best sci-fy books of the first part of this year.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, December 3, 2020. Joe Biden's picks just get worse while the press ignores Moqtada al-Sadr's assault on people and one reporter rushes in to explain that others did report it, honest!, forgetting that she was supposed to report it for her own paper.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST speaks with Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Scott Spaulding.
The wars go on. And so does the incompetence of Joe Biden who, please remember, helped start the illegal war and continued it. He's putting together a cabinet and it's a cabinet of eye sores. Neera Tandem, for example, presided over a toxic work culture at the Center For American Progress where women were repeatedly harassed on the job and where their complaints were not taken seriously. Neera finally 'addressed' the issue after the media reported on it -- she did so by holding a staff wide meeting where she outed one of the women who had gone to the press.
That should mean the end of any career in management Neera might have. But Joe looked at it and said, "Hey, she's my kind of girl. I'm accused of harassment by multiple women and accused of assault by one woman. I could send a strong message that I will not tolerate harassment in my administration but, what the hell, let's run with Neera instead."
I don't believe Gina Raimondo tops Neera but she's certainly just as bad. Julia Rock and Andrew Perez (DAILY POSTER) report:
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has presided over one of the deadliest COVID outbreaks in the country — and new documents obtained by The Daily Poster detail how she helped nursing home lobbyists shield health care companies from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Now, Raimondo — a former Wall Street executive — is reportedly being considered for the nation’s top health care policy job in the incoming Biden administration.
Politico reported last week that Raimondo, who made her name slashing state workers’ pensions, is one of the finalists to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President-elect Joe Biden. Raimondo was also previously considered for Treasury Secretary, according to the American Prospect.
As governor, Raimondo has slammed proposals to expand Medicare to cover everyone. Amid the pandemic in August, her administration approved health insurance companies’ steep premium increases that were criticized by the state’s Democratic attorney general as “unnecessary and ill-advised.” Health insurers have been raking in record profits, with fewer people seeking care because of the pandemic.
Raimondo has also pushed for Medicaid cuts that nursing home workers warned would result in unsafe staffing levels — and in April, she issued an executive order sought by health care industry lobbyists that shielded nursing homes from lawsuits when their business decisions injure or kill people. The order was later expanded to shield nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers.
While the Biden transition is reportedly considering Raimondo for HHS Secretary, residents and workers in Rhode Island’s nursing homes have faced deadly consequences. Documents obtained by The Daily Poster show that Raimondo quickly responded to lobbyists’ demands for an executive order granting them legal immunity during the pandemic.
“What immunity has done is allow nursing homes to act unreasonably without accountability,” one personal injury lawyer told the Providence Journal last month.
Rhode Island currently has one of the highest coronavirus death rates by population in the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state have been linked to long-term care facilities — only two other states have seen similar nursing home death rates, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The state’s hospitals are completely full. On Monday, patients were admitted to field hospitals for the first time in Rhode Island during the pandemic.
There are many qualified women -- and men -- the ones Joe continues to pick are not qualified. At BLACK AGENDA REPORT, Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III points out:
When you look at Biden's cabinet announcements it takes me to former Giant's coach Bill Parcels who said, "you are what your record says you are." In this case, you are what your cabinet says you are. It is the people who make the policy; policy does not make itself. The history of many of these nominees reflects America’s darkest impulses not its better angels.
“Biden has it backwards.”
What was good about America “green lighting” the NATO bombing of Libya and the resulting execution of Muammar Gaddafi? This led to the destabilization of the country and the region. According to The Atlantic , “The Libya intervention marked the third time in a decade that Washington embraced regime change and then failed to plan for the consequences.” America’s better angels? I think not.
What good has come from America “green lighting” Saudi Arabia’s invasion in Yemen and the continuing logistical support for what the UN has called the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world? Per the UN, after nearly six years of conflict, “14.3 million people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2 million requiring treatment for acute malnutrition; that includes two million children under-five, and more than one million pregnant and lactating women.” If America were winning the battle of our better angles, we would stop our support of the Saudi’s and provide these starving people food, water and medicine. Instead, America is losing the battle to the MIC, big oil and its darkest impulses. These impulses convince you that it is more important to sell weapons and take resources than provide humanitarian aid.
America’s imperialist, hegemonic and evil regime change policies did not make themselves. Again, it is the people who make the policy. Look at the record of some of Biden’s cabinet nominees and their involvement in these atrocities.
“America is losing the battle to the MIC, big oil and its darkest impulses.”
Biden’s choice for Secretary of Defense is projected to be Michele Flournoy. She was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy during the Clinton administration. During her tenure she authored the May 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The founding principle of this document is that the unilateral use of force is acceptable to defend any US interest the US deems important and the US is the sole arbiter of these issues. She is the proponent of permanent war or as she calls it, “full spectrum dominance.” As the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Obama administration, she was instrumental in designing the horrific regime change policies that led to the invasions of Libya and Syria.
Biden’s choice for Secretary of State is Tony Blinken. He was a top advisor to then Sen. Joe Biden who was Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They played a major role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.
We can also thank Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to be Director of National Intelligence for her role in the Yemen, Libya and Syria policies. Haines also supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
On the domestic policy front, Biden has named Neera Tanden as his nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. It should be troubling that a nominee for this position has advocated for cuts to Social Security and other vital social safety net programs. During a pandemic, an economy in recession and 30-40 million Americans facing eviction, austerity is not the appropriate response.
“Flournoy is a proponent of permanent war.”
Tanden also has a hawkish foreign policy side. Leading up to the Libya bombing she was advocating taking Libya’s oil as repayment for the US backed bombing of the country. “If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me…” This is the same mindset that Trump articulated in Syria.
In his speech, “Time to Break Silence” Dr. King warned us about austerity, “A few years ago…it seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor…through the poverty program…Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.” Just replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen, etc. We are still “a society gone mad on war”.
In the three weeks since former Vice President Joseph Biden and Senator Kamala Harris declared victory in the 2020 presidential election, it has become clear that the Democrats are assembling a right-wing administration that represents the interests of corporate America, the financial elite and US military-intelligence.
The truth of this assessment is demonstrated by the tech policy of the president-elect, which has been articulated in policy statements, media reports and comments made by Biden himself prior to the November 3 elections.
Although tech policy is not identified as a top priority on the Biden-Harris transition website, it is evident that the relationship of the new administration with Silicon Valley is a critical element of the overall of strategy of the Democrats.
According to a report by CBS News on November 11, the Biden transition team is being advised by a “cadre of tech industry types, including executives with political data company Alloy, formed by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and Google chairperson Eric Schmidt’s firm Rebellion Defense.”
After leaving Google in 2019, the multi-billionaire Eric Schmidt has become an evangelist for the integration of big tech with the US military. Schmidt sits on at least two government advisory boards that promote the use of artificial intelligence technologies by the Defense Department and he has invested in military tech startups such as Rebellion Defense.
Rebellion Defense is a Pentagon contractor that specializes in analyzing video filmed by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company website says, “Artificial Intelligence is redefining the art of the possible. Consumers worldwide benefit from it—but our adversaries are using it against us. Our national defense urgently needs to harness Silicon Valley’s best technologies and talent to address this challenge. We help our defense and national security agencies unlock the power of data across all domains. … Rebellion Defense builds for the warfighter.”
Meanwhile, members of the incoming Biden-Harris cabinet are being drawn from private consulting and investment firms with deep ties to the technology sector and the military. According to a report in the New York Times on Sunday, both Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and one of the leading candidates for defense secretary, Michele Flournoy, are co-founders of WestExec Advisors.
The Times report says that among WestExec’s clients is a firm called Shield AI, “a San Diego-based company that makes surveillance drones and signed a contract worth as much as $7.2 million with the Air Force this year to deliver artificial intelligence tools to help drones operate in combat missions.”
Jimmy Dore offers the following commentary on Biden's picks.
THE KATIE HALPER SHOW offered the following discussion.
Looking at this landscape, Osita Nwanevu (THE NEW REPUBLIC) argues:
It’s been noted elsewhere that the left has responded much more quickly and aggressively to Biden’s selections than it had to Obama’s as he put together his first presidential cabinet. If so, it doesn’t seem like the flurries of statements, social media posts, and articles that have been written to counter every stray rumor and announcement have mattered very much at all—the process is chugging along and Biden’s nominees are just a couple of notches left of the Obama team; activists might take a small victory in torpedoing an Emanuel nomination. There was never good reason to expect more. This is partially because a Republican Senate, should Democrats lose in Georgia’s runoff elections next month, will be an obstacle to the confirmation of even moderate nominees. But it’s more substantially because the moderates in the Democratic Party don’t share the left’s policy goals and would oppose giving them a meaningful presence in the Biden administration even if they could.
The conventional wisdom about the left’s relationship with the Democratic Party has fully reversed itself in the space of six to eight months. As the Democratic primary ended, it was often argued that Sanders and the left lost because they had marginalized themselves—anti-establishment rhetoric, refusals to accept compromise, and the toxicity of prominent voices had alienated not only most of the Democratic electorate but also Democratic elites who might have otherwise been won over. “Twitter isn’t real life,” it was said. But naturally, after election day, Democratic underperformance down-ballot from Biden was blamed mostly on the left’s influence. Democratic elites, it’s said now, were persuaded by the left into taking on or accepting unpopular messaging about socialism and policing—thanks in part, evidently, to the awesome and terrible power of tweets from left activists, writers, and podcasters.
Both arguments are wrong, but the first was closer to the truth than the second. The left’s influence on Democratic elites has indeed been extremely limited. This is less a consequence of any particular feature of the Sanders era—over many years, many different progressive candidates with many different political styles and orientations toward the party establishment have similarly failed to move it—than of elite hostility to the left and their policies, which they consider substantively bad, politically risky, or both.
And while elites and major candidates have shifted noticeably on several issues in recent years—the minimum wage, healthcare, climate, and so on—those shifts, which are unlikely to make their way into federal legislation, are probably best understood as the product of specific conditions. First, a remarkable decade in organizing spurred in part by a massive financial crisis helped a left-wing candidate turn in a surprisingly strong performance in the 2016 Democratic primary. And second, Clinton’s narrow loss led to a wide-open primary this year in which multiple candidates made self-interested efforts to appeal to the constituency that Sanders revealed and activated. The period from the launch of his first campaign in April 2015 to his concession this past April was an unusual half-decade in American politics, and a window of opportunity for the left that has now closed. Another will not open for another eight years at an absolute minimum. Yes, a left-wing candidate might mount a challenge to Biden or Kamala Harris in 2024. But it is almost certain that they will lose, as incumbent challengers in the modern primary system always have.
[. . .]
So much, then, for voice. But what about exit? The structural barriers that would limit the viability of another alternative left-wing party in the United States have been written about extensively elsewhere and won’t be repeated here. That said, it seems fairly clear at this point that the left should, somehow, put itself at a more meaningful remove from the Democratic Party—that it should abandon the notion it might significantly move Democratic elites from below, and instead build out a detached movement adjacent to the Democratic Party that might interact with it only when it makes strategic sense to do so. Democratic socialists refer to this as an “inside-outside” strategy; frankly the inside portion of the term should probably be dropped. After all, a party that’s unwilling to turn over the reins even to younger moderates ideologically aligned with leadership isn’t ripe for further ideological transformation on a timescale adequate to meeting the crises the country faces, including, obviously, climate change.
Meanwhile, over at THE NATION, Jonathan Smucker is insisting the answer is not to abandon the party but to take it over. Smuchker? Schmucker? At any rate, the scmuck seems to think he's just invented the wheel when the idea he's advocating is the same idea that's been repeatedly advocated. The student left of the sixties? Remember when they were going to take over and change everything. That never happened. It never happens so maybe schmucky can tell us in his following column exactly how the latest attempt will end any differently?
Maybe he can ponder that during all the time THE NATION takes off from covering Iraq? The Iraq War continues. The violence continues. It's just the press coverage that ceased.
We'll note this Tweet:
The November 30th snapshot detailed the assault Moqtada al-Sadr organized and implemented against the peaceful protesters in Nassariya. He set his cult loose on them and they killed and wounded many. Some reports have put the dead at 18 and over eighty were left injured. Where is the coverage?
No, Louisa, they didn't. REUTERS and AP were first out of the gate with their stories filed on Saturday. REUTERS offered a bit stronger story than AP. AFP followed. ALJAZEERA waited two days to file and largely just picked through the reporting of AP, REUTERS and AFP. They do have reporters on the ground in Iraq, ALJAZEERA does. Is there a reason that they didn't have a truly original report? Is there a reason that it took them so many days to compile?
Is there a reason that Louisa ignores ARAB WEEKLY's coverage?
More to the point, Louisa, you work for who? THE WASHINGTON POST? Don't you find it strange that there's no story from THE POST? Especially since you're the one who should be writing it for the paper?
Does it get more feather brained than that? A question is rightly raised about the lack of coverage in the western press and Louisa, the Iraq reporter for THE WASHINGTON POST, rushes in to say, "Hey, other outlets covered it!"
The following sites updated: