Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Pumpkin Day and La Brea

Today is National Pumpkin Day. Didn't know that. Now that I do, not sure that it really means much. NPR reports:


Happy National Pumpkin Day! There's no time like the present to stock up on decorative gourds, carve a spooky jack-o-lantern or sip on a PSL (... at least according to the pumpkin lobby, aka Big Pumpkin, not to be confused with the Charlie Brown special).
Pumpkin spice everything has been everywhere since — literally — August. Whether you love it or hate it, you can't deny that it's a staple of autumn in America.
To find out why, Morning Edition spoke with Jason Fischer, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University. His team has been researching the science behind pumpkin spice's appeal and found that it has a lot to do with how we associate smells and flavors with fall.
"Those associations, they form year after year, they also give us this sense of familiarity," Fischer said. "And so when you start to smell the pumpkin spice things in the stores again it gives you a little feeling of nostalgia."

That's interesting. And the sense of smell is supposed to be a very strong sense when it comes to memory. If that's evolutionary, it's probably how we -- animals -- learned to avoid certain plants, etc.

And let me tell you to please read Ann's "The 'Peyton Place' Murder" and Betty's "John L. Williams' AMERICA'S MISTRESS: EARTHA KITT, HER LIFE AND TIMES" -- I need to do a book review myself.

Did you watch La Brea?  It was so good.  We found out about the people who were down in the tar pits and that they were there before because of another sinkhole.  And we learned that the schism/split between the two worlds was fading.  It was a really strong episode.      


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

 Tuesday, October 26, 2021.  'Protests could destroy democracy!' is among the insane claims being promoted regarding Iraq today.

Some are fretting over 'democracy' in Iraq.  The obvious point there is that Iraq hasn't had a democracy.  A democracy is not ruled over by prime ministers who fled Iraq.  Cowards who left the country and only came back after the US invaded in 2003 don't become leader of the country over and over.  They don't represent the country and they're not courageous people.  But since the US-led invasion, every prime minister has been someone who managed to skip out on Iraq.  

Some of the fretters are writing pieces about how the militias protesting the vote might destroy democracy.  What democracy?  More to the point, if it was in Iraq and it was that fragile, it didn't stand a chance to begin with.  I don't like the militias.  That doesn't mean that they do not have the right to protest.  They have every right.  And when you deny them the right to protest, it makes it easier to deny others the right.

The October Revolution.

That's a real movement.  And don't put a period to it because the movement is ongoing.  It replaced a prime minster.  Currently, it's forcing a global press to acknowledge that, gee, golly, things aren't great in Iraq.  This would be the same press that ignores Iraq over and over.  

But the decision of so many in The October Revolution to sit out the vote -- and to encourage others to as well -- helped lead to a record low turnout and the world suddenly notices that the Iraqi government hasn't been serving the Iraqi people.

People in The October Revolution risked their lives and continue to risk them.  They know that they can be killed or disappeared and that the government will look the other way and their killers will not face justice.  But they continue to stand up for what they believe in.

And they do so while the world press yawns and looks away collectively.   Their bravery, their hopes and their plans are ignored unless it's pre-election and the world press wants to hector them about the importance of voting.

Rand Tweets:

The 2nd anniversary of October 25th, the mass protest movement in Iraq that forced the resignation of the Iraqi PM, after thousands of civilians were injured and killed by the Iraqi security services and armed militias supporting them #٢٥_ذكري_بدايه_وطن #تشرين_العظيمة

There is no democracy in Iraq.  

Protesting isn't going to destroy something that doesn't exist.  But protesting could foster a democracy, one unique to Iraq.

There may at some point be reason to fret.  But protests who take a break to watch a game don't seem as out of control as certain outlets would like to pretend.

Wladimir Tweets:

Sarhang Hamasaeed, United States Institute of Peace, says the peaceful protest movement in Iraq has caused positive change through early elections, federal court, etc. He also says important for stability to hold provincial elections in the near future #MERIforum

Those are accomplishments of The October Revolution.  But that doesn't mean that the protests against the vote count (led by the militias) couldn't have some positive effects as well.

Layal Shakir (RUDAW) notes:

The election was held in response to Tishreen (October) 2019 protests complaining of corruption and ineptitude among the ruling class and political system. Turnout was a record-low 41 percent, reflecting voter disillusionment and mistrust in the country’s political system.

“I believe the main reason behind the early election that was held was that the political process in Iraq had reached a political blockage,” said Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) politician Khalid Shwani, noting that Iraqis had lost trust in the government and in the political process.

“We saw how the Iraqi citizen and Iraqi voter who went out to the streets was hopeless completely,” added member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Jaafar Imniki.

Iraqis commemorated the second anniversary of Tishreen protests on Monday, almost two weeks after their demand of an early vote was met. The October protests that shook the country are a “healthy” demonstration that all Iraqi and Kurdish forces need to be reminded of, according to Imniki. 

The protests were concentrated in Shiite areas of central and southern Iraq, but Imniki said that every political party and group must listen to the protesters’ concerns, “because the situation that occurred in Baghdad and the south could prevail in the Kurdistan Region and in western Iraq.”

Limited manual recounts are supposed to conclude tomorrow.  This is apparently to much for the fretters.  They're bothered and alarmed -- and alarming.  They actually seem to be trying to invite chaos.

Thus far, the election process seems faily normal for post-invasion Iraq.  That includes Nouri al-Maliki attempting to return as prime minister.  Wladimir Tweets:

The State of Law Coalition, led by Nuri al-Maliki, said on Wednesday that the Kurdish and Sunni blocs would not ally with the Sadrist movement to form the new federal government

It's amazing how much Nouri is discussed on Arabic social media versus how little the western press is noting him.  King maker?  Right now that would appear to be Nouri.  Reality will make it clear shortly as to who the king maker was.  But Nouri's actions are more those of a king maker than the dithering of Moqtada al-Sadr at this point.

Robert Pether remains persecuted in Iraq.  Who? Robert Pether, Matthew Doran and Andrew Probyn (AUSTRALIA's ABC) reported two months ago:

An Australian engineer ensnared in a dispute between the Iraqi government and his Dubai-based employer is facing five years in jail and a $US12 million ($AUD16.5 million) fine.

Robert Pether, 46, has been languishing in an Iraqi prison since April after he and his Egyptian colleague, Khalid Zaghloul, were arrested in Baghdad, while working for engineering firm CME Consulting.

Mr Pether's wife Desree said the court decision was a "soul-destroying" travesty of justice. 

"It's just absolute hell," Mrs Pether told the ABC from her home in Ireland.

"We honestly thought that justice would prevail after nearly five months and we are so shocked that it didn't happen.

"It didn't matter what evidence they presented in their defence, which was scarce because they didn't have access to their laptops or their hard drives, and the accusations had no backup evidence at all. 

At THE NATIONAL, Patrick Ryan writes:

In a statement to The National, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the case should have not been dealt with in a criminal court.

“The Australian government is concerned by the criminal conviction of Mr Pether and an Egyptian colleague on fraud charges, their five-year prison sentence and the joint fine of USD$12 million,” a spokesman said.

“While the Australian government has shown respect towards Iraq’s judicial system, we have always expressed the view that commercial disputes should be conducted between corporate entities rather than individuals, and that this should be treated as a civil law case, not a criminal law case.

“The [Australian] government has consistently advocated for Mr Pether’s interests and is providing consular assistance to Mr Pether and his family.”

Australian citizens are advised not to travel to Iraq over concerns for their safety due to the the volatile security situation, and very high risk of violence, armed conflict, kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

Those who remember the Australian government's public silence -- and prolonged silence -- while Pether suffered will find some of those assertions laughable.  Ireland's government stood up for Robert and did so publicly.  His own country abandoned him.

 Meanwhile NEWS OF THE WORLD reports on a conviction in Germany.

We'll close with this from Glenn Greenwald's latest at SUBSTACK:

It is completely unsurprising to learn, as Politico reported last Wednesday, that the major financial supporter of Facebook "whistleblower” Frances Haugen's sprawling P.R. and legal network coordinating her public campaign is the billionaire founder of EBay, Pierre Omidyar. The Haugen Show continues today as a consortium of carefully cultivated news outlets (including those who have been most devoted to agitating for online censorship: the New York Times’ "tech” unit and NBC News's “disinformation” team) began publishing the trove of archives she took from Facebook under the self-important title "The Facebook Papers,” while the star herself has traveled to London to testify today to British lawmakers considering a bill to criminally punish tech companies that allow “foul content” or “extremism” — whatever that means — to be published.

On Sunday, Haugen told The New York Times that her own personal Bitcoin wealth means she is relying on “help from nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar only for travel and similar expenses.” But the paper also confirmed that the firm masterminding Haugen's public campaign roll-out and complex media strategy, a group "founded by the former Barack Obama aide Bill Burton,” is “being paid by donors, including the nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar." He is also a major donor to a shady new group calling itself “Whistleblower Aid” — bizarrely led by anti-Trump lawyer and social media #Resistance star Mark Zaid, who has been one of the most vocal critics of actual whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, both of whose imprisonment he has long demanded — that is now featuring Haugen as its star client.

Omidyar's net worth is currently estimated to be $22 billion, making him the planet's 26th richest human being. Like so many billionaires who pledge to give away large parts of their wealth to charity, and who in fact do so, Omidyar's net worth somehow rapidly grows every year: in 2013, just eight years ago, it was “only” $8 billion: it has almost tripled since then.

Omidyar's central role in this latest scheme to impose greater control over social media is unsurprising because he and his multi-national foundation, the Omidyar Network, fund many if not most of the campaigns and organizations designed to police and control political speech on the internet under the benevolent-sounding banner of combating "disinformation” and “extremism.” Though one could have easily guessed that it was Omidyar fueling Frances Haugen and her team of Democratic Party operatives acting as lawyers and P.R. agents — I would have been shocked if he had no role — it is still nonetheless highly revealing of what these campaigns and groups are, how they function, what their real goals are, and the serious dangers they pose.

Any time I speak or write about Omidyar, the proverbial elephant in the room is my own extensive involvement with him: specifically, the fact that the journalistic outlet I co-founded in 2013, and at which I worked for eight years, was funded almost entirely by him. For purposes of basic journalistic disclosure, but also to explain how my interaction with him informs my perspective on these issues, I will describe that experience and what I learned from it.

When I left the Guardian in 2013 at the height of the Snowden/NSA reporting to co-found a new media outlet along with two other journalists, it was Omidyar who funded the project, which ultimately became The Intercept, along with its parent corporation, First Look Media. Our unconditional demand when deciding to accept funding from Omidyar was that he vow never to have any role whatsoever or attempt to interfere in any way in the editorial content of our reporting, no matter how much he disagreed with it or how distasteful he found it. He not only agreed to this condition but emphasized that he, too, believed the integrity of the new journalism project depended upon our enjoying full editorial freedom and independence from his influence.

In the eight years I spent at The Intercept, Omidyar completely kept his word. There was never a single occasion, at least to my knowledge, when he attempted to interfere in or override our journalistic independence. For the first couple of years, adhering to that promise was easy: he was an ardent supporter of the Snowden reporting which consumed most of our time and energy back then and, specifically, viewed a defense of our press freedoms (which were under systemic attack from multiple governments) as a genuine social good. So our journalism and Omidyar's worldview were fully aligned for the first couple of years of The Intercept's existence.

The arrival of Donald Trump on the political scene in 2015 changed all of that, and did so quite dramatically. As Trump ascended to the presidency, Omidyar became monomaniacally obsessed with opposing Trump. Although Omidyar stopped tweeting in March, 2019 and has since locked his Twitter account, he spent 2015-2019 as a very active user of the platform. The content he was posting on Twitter on a daily basis was utterly indistinguishable from the standard daily hysterical MSNBC panels or New York Times op-eds, proclaiming Trump a fascist, white nationalist, and existential threat to democracy, and depicting him as a singular evil, the root of America's political pathology. In other words, the Trump-centric worldview that I spent most of my time attacking and mocking on every platform I had — in speeches, interviews, podcasts, social media and in countless articles at The Intercept — was the exact political worldview to which Omidyar had completely devoted himself and was passionately and vocally advocating.

The radical divergence between my worldview and Omidyar's did not end there. Like most who viewed Trump as the primary cause of America's evils rather than just a symptom of them, Omidyar also became a fanatical Russiagater. A large portion of his Twitter feed was devoted to the multi-pronged conspiracy theory that Trump was in bed with and controlled by the Kremlin and that its president, Vladimir Putin, through his control over Trump and “interference” in U.S. democracy, represented some sort of grave threat to all things good and decent in American political life. All of that happened at exactly the same time that I became one of the media's most vocal and passionate critics of Russiagate mania, frequently criticizing and deriding exactly the views that Omidyar was most passionately expressing on Twitter, often within hours of his posting them. 

The following sites updated:

Monday, October 25, 2021

More people weigh in on how Dune sucks

I'm not the only one who thinks Dune sucks (see my "Dune sucks").  



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

Monday, October 25, 2021. Climate change in Iraq has the Ministry of Water Resources considering filing a complaint with the United Nations, while Moqtada dithers Nouri stays busy, a historical finding in northern Iraq emerges and Anthony Fauci is a dog killer who needs to be shown the door.

As conflict over water resources increases, RUDAW reports:

Iraq’s water ministry has suggested Baghdad file a case against Iran with the International Court of Justice in order to guarantee its right to shared water resources, state media reported Sunday.

“The Ministry of Water Resources submitted a memorandum and an official letter to the higher authorities in the Council of Ministers, the president’s office, the [parliament] speaker’s office, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to file a case at the international court in The Hague to establish Iraq’s water rights with neighbouring Iran,” technical advisor to the ministry Aoun Dhiab told state media.

Iraq is heavily dependent on water sources that are shared with neighbouring countries Iran and Turkey, which are both building dams on their rivers. 

BBC NEWS notes that Iraq is one of the most climate sensitive spots on the earth.  

Iraq is hit heavy by climate change.  Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST via ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS) explain:

Dozens of farming villages are abandoned, but for an isolated family here and there. The intrusion of saltwater is poisoning lands that have been passed for generations from fathers to sons. The United Nations recently estimated that more than 100 square miles of farmland a year are being lost to desert.

Years of below-average rainfall have left Iraqi farmers more dependent than ever on the dwindling waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. But upstream, Turkey and Iran have dammed their own waterways in the past two years, further weakening the southern flow, so a salty current from the Persian Gulf now pushes northward and into Iraq’s rivers. The salt has reached as far as the northern edge of Basra, some 85 miles inland.

In the historic marshes, meanwhile, men are clinging to what remains of life as they knew it as their buffaloes die and their wives and children scatter across nearby cities, no longer able to stand the summer heat.

Temperatures in Iraq topped a record 125 degrees this summer with aid groups warning that drought was limiting access to food, water and electricity for 12 million people here and in neighboring Syria. With Iraq warming faster than much of the globe, this is a glimpse of the world’s future.

Climate change is impacting the entire world but Iraqis, as the BBC noted, a sensitive area.  US intelligence has indetified it as one of 11 countries that will hit hardest by climate change.  Last we noted this from ROYA NEWS:

Weeks before the COP26 Climate Conference, which will be held in Glasgow in early November, US intelligence said that "the geopolitical tension will worsen because there will be disagreements among countries over how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement."

The report, which includes a summary of the investigations of all US intelligence agencies, added that the melting of the ice in the Arctic "essentially increases strategic competition for access to its natural resources."

Elsewhere, with rising temperatures and more extreme weather extremes, "there is an increased risk of water conflicts and migration, especially after 2030," the report said.

Julie Watson, Ellen Knickmeyer and Nooman Merchant (AP) explain:

The estimate identified 11 countries of particular concern: Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea and Pakistan. It also lists two regions of concern: Central Africa and small island states in the Pacific Ocean.

Strains on land and water could push countries further toward conflict. In South Asia, much of Pakistan relies on surface water from rivers originating in India. The two countries are nuclear-armed rivals that have fought several wars since their founding in 1947. On India's other side, about 10% of Bangladesh's 160 million people already live in coastal areas vulnerable to rising seas and saltwater intrusion.

Intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity under agency rules said climate change could indirectly affect counterterrorism by pushing people seeking food and shelter to violent groups.

The intelligence community needs more scientific expertise and to integrate climate change into its analysis of other countries, the officials said.

The United Nations says there may be as many as 200 million climate-displaced people worldwide by 2050.

Olivia Gazis (CBS NEWS) notes:

Countries will increasingly compete to secure their own interests, including in places like the Arctic, where melting sea ice has fueled a race to access oil, gas and mineral resources and to establish new shipping routes.

While wealthier, more developed countries, including the U.S., are in a "relatively better position" to deal with the costs and risks associated with climate change, the report says that "impacts will be massive even if the worst human costs can be avoided."  

The assessment says some unforeseen events could alter its projections, including a significant technological breakthrough or, conversely, a global climate disaster that would mobilize countries to take action.

The Atlantic Council notes the findings and speaks with their own Sherri GOodman as well as the Scowcroft Center's Barry Pavel and Peter Engelke:

  • Most everyone understands the environmental threat of rising temperatures. But digging into the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on climate, among the other Biden administration reports, reveals “what we all are thinking but have not yet acted upon effectively,” Barry says. 
  • The big takeaway: “The boiling threat to the habitability of the planet represents both a central threat in and of itself, but also will spawn a multitude of new security challenges while exacerbating existing ones,Barry tells us.
  • What do those security challenges look like? The “scariest” takeaway “from a threat perspective is that parts of the planet will be uninhabitable from either heat or sea-level rise in the coming decades,” Sherri reveals, “and that many highly vulnerable parts of the world are ill-equipped to prepare for or manage this risk.”
  • It’s enough for the American public to start thinking about the threat posed by climate change in a similar way to how we’ve thought about terrorism for the past two decades, Sherri explains. “Climate change, like terrorism after 9/11, is not just about the ‘away game,’ but also about the ‘home game,’ in the US,” she says. “And yes, like terrorism, we can’t eradicate it in just one location. We must have a global strategy with allies and partners. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ effort.”

  • Peter opts for a different analogy for this “existential threat” to the United States: the Cold War, when “policy makers adopted a long-term mindset to design strategic whole-of-society responses to meet a generational challenge.”  

Earlier this month, the United Nations Environment Program noted:

A new report, published ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) has called for a radical change in how governments plan, deliver and manage infrastructure - emphasising the often-overlooked role infrastructure plays in combating climate change, mitigation, and adaptation efforts. The new report, Infrastructure for climate action, is co-published by UNOPS, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Oxford.

The research looks in detail at the influence of infrastructure on climate action across energy, transport, water, solid waste, digital communications and buildings sectors. The findings highlight that infrastructure is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 88 per cent of all adaptation costs and therefore the sector is centrally important to achieving the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“As we seek to bridge the infrastructure gap and improve the quality of life of people everywhere, it is critical that we invest in sustainable infrastructure that adapts to future uncertain climate conditions; contributes to the decarbonization of the economy; protects biodiversity and minimizes pollution. Sustainable infrastructure is the only way we can ensure that people, nature and the environment thrive together” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

The report calls on governments to treat infrastructure as a priority sector for climate action. It also calls for unified planning to tackle emissions from infrastructure.

The authors argue that in order to tackle climate change, governments need to radically rethink how infrastructure is planned, delivered and managed in order to make it suitable for a low-emission and resilient future.

Speaking on the publication of the new report, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director, Grete Faremo said: “Our world is facing a climate emergency, with changes that are unprecedented, intensifying and, in some cases, irreversible. There is still time to act, but we need to do this urgently.

“This report highlights that radical changes to how we approach infrastructure are needed to stop the worst effects of climate change. It is ultimately crucial that we get this right as the infrastructure decisions made today will determine the quality of our common future.”

In other news, THE JERUSALEM POST serves up an opinion column by Seth J. Frantzman that they try to pass off as news reporting.  It's condescending and distorting garbage that doesn't improve relations between Iraq and Israel but, in fact, gives Iraqis reasons to distrust Israeli outlets.  

The vote was not fair to some of the parties objecting and for Seth to not acknowledge that makes him dishonest.  How as it not fair?  The militias are part of the security forces.  I didn't support that move and I still say it was and remains a huge mistake, that's not the issue though.  The issue is that they were shipped off to various polling places for election day.  October 10th was when most of Iraq voted.  October 7th was when the security forces voted.  That was supposed to be all of them since they would be deployed to polling places around Iraq.  But the electoral commission announced a week prior to the early vote that it would not include some militia groups.  These militia groups who were excluded are among those unhappy with the results.  They're right to be.  They were taken out of their homes and home neighborhoods by the government to ensure security and safety at polling centers around the country.  Yet that same government did not support their right to early voting   Many of them were unable to vote on election day.  That's what you call the disenfranchised.

I'm not fan of the militias.  But I'm also not going to deny that they have a valid complaint.  And to pretend that they don' thave a valid complaint or worse, Seth goes with worse, to ignore that complaint is to be dishonest.

He then goes on -- in what is presented as a news article (when it is an opinion column) -- to argue that people protesting the count -- specifically the militias -- could undermine the government.

The government's decision to strip large numbers of their right to vote doesn't concern Seth.  But people protesting this move?  That's what he objects to.

This column is filled with lies.  Seth's better than that.  However, I won't be able to convince Iraqi readers of that.  And that's on Seth and no one else.

Equally true, there is a chance that what has taken place has created a powder keg.  If it has and if it goes off, those who were dishonest ahead of it have removed themselves from the discussion because they've exposed themselves as dishonest brokers.

On the elections, now two weeks old, RUDAW notes:

However, the political system in Iraq is “fundamentally flawed,” according to researcher Farah Sabir.

“It’s the same faces [in Iraq] since 2003,” she said. “I say the protests will be back with stronger force if the political system behaves with this deficient mentality from 2003.” 

IHEC last week announced the official preliminary results in the parliamentary election, following the manual count of polling stations that faced technical issues. It also gave parties the option to file complaints about the updated results

The elections handed unexpected victories and devastating blows. Sadr’s movement is leading the election by a large margin, securing more than 70 seats, according to preliminary results, and is expected to be the main force in forming the new government once the results are finalized.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr claimed victory a day after the vote. Three days later, he formed a negotiating committee to hold talks with other parties in order to form a government. In a statement on Sunday, Sadr said they will work on building coalitions that are “national” and not “sectarian” in order to form a “serving government that will protect the homeland and its security, sovereignty, and dignity of its people.”

He appears to be looking to form a mixed government, gathering the strongest parties of Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis, but “Sadr will not form the government,” according to Abdullah.

“In Iraq, whoever has won the elections, didn’t form the government … someone else came and formed the government,” he said.

There's a great deal more reality in the paragraphs above than the western press has been providing in their own coverage.   And did you catch this news:

Iranian controlled Shia political parties will hold a meeting in #Baghdad this evening to discuss results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections, led by Nouri al-Maliki. Older picture: #Iraqelection2021

Former Iraqi Prime Minister and the leader of the State of Law Coalition, Nouri Al-Maliki, has planned a meeting on Sunday evening to convene the Shia factions who are concerned with the results of the parliamentary elections.

Are you surprised Nouri's not just sitting on his ass in waiting?  That's not his style.  Moqtada is drifting around aimlessly and Nouri's plotting to steal the power from him.  The two are bitter enemies.  Does the western press not get that?  They have hated each other for years.  

Moqtada is a kingmaker?

He may become one.  At present?  He's not.  He's part of a stalled system.  And while Moqtada dithers and is unable to pull together an alliance, you better believe Nouri al-Maliki is working on putting together an alliance.  Or did we all forget 2010?

Nouri's State of Law bloc came in second to Moqtada's bloc.  Do we really think what happened in 2010 can't happen again?  Or are we just ignorant of recent history?  Or maybe we just discount Nouri's drive?  If it's the latter, we're wrong to do so.

It's amazing how little attention is being given to Nouri.  AL-MONITOR is one of the few outlets to emphasize the success Nouri had in this election:

Political parties affiliated with Iraqi militias faced significant defeat, while their ally Nouri al-Maliki earned a remarkable victory al-monitor.com/originals/2021

In other news, NDTV reports:

Archaeologists in Iraq revealed Sunday their discovery of a large-scale wine factory from the rule of the Assyrian kings 2,700 years ago, along with stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs.

The stone bas-reliefs, showing kings praying to the gods, were cut into the walls of a nearly nine-kilometre-long (5.5-mile) irrigation canal at Faida in northern Iraq, the joint team of archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities in Dohuk and colleagues from Italy said.

The carvings, 12 panels measuring five metres (16 feet) wide and two metres tall, show gods, kings and sacred animals. They date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.

"There are other places with rock reliefs in Iraq, especially in Kurdistan, but none are so huge and monumental as this one," said Italian archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacossi.

THE DAILY SABAH notes, "The carvings, 12 panels measuring 5 meters (16 feet) wide and 2 meters tall, show gods, kings and sacred animals. They date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 B.C.) and his son Sennacherib."  AFP quotes archaeologist Daniele Morand Bonacossi:


“The paintings depict the Assyrian monarch worshipping in front of the Assyrian gods,” he explained, saying that all seven major gods are depicted, including Ishtar, the goddess of love and battle, who is depicted riding atop a lion.

The irrigation canal was carved out of limestone to transport water from the hills to the fields of farmers, and the carvings were done to honor the king who ordered its creation.

“Not only was it a religious picture of prayer, but it was also a political moment, a sort of propaganda scene,” Morandi Bonacossi continued.

“In this way, the monarch intended to demonstrate the locals that he was the one who built these vast irrigation systems, so… the people should remember this and be faithful.”

Like the militias, my opinions on Anthony Fauci are on the record and well known.  The White House wastes too much time each news cycle defending him which is always an indication that the person needs to go.  Add in that he's been wrong too many times and we need to move beyond 2019  -- meaning Joe Biden, as president, needs to pick a new head and not carry over this embarrassment.  Leighton Woodhouse (SUBSTACK) has an appalling report on Fauci:

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the division of the National Institutes of Health run by Anthony Fauci, funded a recent experiment in Tunisia in which lab technicians placed sedated beagles’ heads in mesh cages and allowed starved sand flies to feast on them alive. Then they repeated the test outdoors, with the beagles placed in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights, in an area of Tunisia where sand flies were abundant and ZVL, the disease caused by the parasite that the sand flies carry, was “endemic.”

The experiment was just one of countless tests done on animals with the funding of the NIH, and of NIAID in particular, over the course of decades. Estimates of the number of animals experimented on each year in the United States range from the tens of millions to over 100 millionmost of them paid for with taxpayer money. The White Coat Waste Project, a non-profit that advocates against federal animal testing, says that more than 1,100 dogs are experimented on in federal labs annually. 

For the amount of money and the amount of suffering entailed, little is produced. Much of it is pointless to begin with, but even the experiments that purport to measure the safety and efficacy of drugs are all but useless. In NIH’s own words:

Approximately 30 percent of promising medications have failed in human clinical trials because they are found to be toxic despite promising preclinical studies in animal models. About 60 percent of candidate drugs fail due to lack of efficacy.

That’s a 90 percent failure rate.

Most of that failure is due to the fundamental differences between human physiology and the physiologies of mice, or rabbits, or dogs. But even between animals with much closer physiologies, the predictive power of animal tests is unimpressive. Between mice and rats, there’s only a sixty percent chance you’ll get the same result. And when you repeat experiments on the same species, only 4 out of 5 times is the result the same — and closer to 2 out of 3 times with toxic substances.

And yet the tests continue unabated, for three reasons: institutional inertia, NIH Director Francis Collins, and Anthony Fauci.

Fauci is a dog killer.  If nothing else makes the administration dump him, that should.


The following sites updated: