Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Who they really work for

Joe Biden didn't worry much about ethics before he was president (look at his brother and his son) and he doesn't worry too much about it since. Andrew Perez (DAILY POSTER) reports

President Joe Biden’s top White House staffers previously consulted for ride-hailing company Lyft, an Israeli facial recognition firm, and billionaires’ philanthropic foundations, according to new financial disclosure forms obtained by The Daily Poster.
While Biden’s cabinet officials have already detailed their extensive corporate consulting work and paid speaking gigs, the Biden administration is just now starting to release the financial disclosure forms filed by senior White House staff, launching a new webpage on Friday where people can request the filings. The new disclosures provide more detail about links between top administration officials and corporations lobbying the Biden administration.

White House deputy chief of staff Jen O'Malley Dillon, a deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama in 2012, listed more than a dozen clients she worked for at the communications consulting firm Precision Strategies, including Lyft and General Electric.
Lyft helped bankroll a successful ballot measure campaign in California last year allowing the company to continue classifying its drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. Lyft and other gig economy companies are hoping to export the policy nationwide.
O'Malley Dillon also consulted for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization, known as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and for Gates Ventures, the private office of billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Her other clients included Arkansans for a Fair Wage, a committee that backed a 2018 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas to $11, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.


Read the whole article and grasp just who is supposed to represent you but also grasp just who they are actually representing. Politics isn't pretty. Sadly, it's also rarely ethical.




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

 Tuesday, March 23, 2021.  The war continues, the struggles continue, veterans continue to suffer.  The president of the US may have changed but nothing else did.

MEMO reports:

An Iraqi MP has said that the federal government in Baghdad and the northern Kurdistan Region have been unable to resolve their disagreements over the country's federal budget for 2021, local media have reported.

Mazen Al-Faisaly MP said that the Kurdistan Region delegation has refused to include clear and explicit details of the amount of oil delivered from the regional oil fields to the federal government. He added that the parliament and the government are not obliged to pay for the contracts concluded by the Kurdistan Regional Government with foreign oil companies because they violate the constitution.

The Iraqi federal government insists on receiving oil produced from the region and selling it through the state-owned oil company, SOMO.

Now might be a good time to point out that Article 140 of Iraq's constitution was never implemented.  It's ten years since Brookings labeled it as one of the biggest barriers -- Kirkuk, as one of the biggest barriers.  Kirkuk is oil-rich.  It is claimed by the Baghdad-based government and by the KRG.  That issue was supposed  to be resolved.  Article 140 of the Constitution called for the steps outlined to be completed by December 2007.  Completed?  They were never even started.

And all this time later, with oil still an issue that results -- over and over -- in clashes between the Baghdad-based government and the KRG, it's obvious that Kirkuk should have been resolved some time ago.  Kick the can -- that's how the refusal to implement Article 140 was repeatedly characterized.  

Meanwhile ANADOLUA AGENCY reports a Baghdad motor cyle bombing has left 1 person dead and three more people injured.  Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) notes of yesterday, "In Baghdad, gunmen killed an Iraqi colonel who worked in the intelligence directorate. A lawyer was reported missing and is believed to have been kidnapped." And Brian W. Everstine (AIRFORCE MAGAZINE) reports:

U.S.-led coalition aircraft recently conducted a major offensive against the Islamic State group in northern Iraq, conducting 133 airstrikes over 10 days targeting a cave complex that served as a safe haven for terrorists. That’s more than any monthly airstrike total in Iraq and Syria since 2019.

The offensive, in support of Iraqi ground forces, destroyed 61 hideouts, 24 caves, and eliminated “a number of terrorists,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Iraqi Ministry of Defense spokesman Yehia Rasool said the mission was aimed at drying up the sources of terrorism. The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service led the ground effort.

The strikes focused on an area called Qarachogh Mountain, about 50 kilometers southwest of Erbil. Video of the strikes posted by Kurdistan 24 shows large plumes of smoke rising from a mountainous area.

But let's all pretend the Iraq War is over?

While faux peace leaders in the US like Medea Benjamin focus on other things, the US Chamber of Commerce is more than ready to make a buck in/off Iraq:


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its U.S.-Iraq Business Council stand ready to work with the Biden Administration as it considers the future of the U.S.-Iraq relationship. In February, President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, affirming U.S. support for Iraq’s sovereignty and independence while highlighting the importance of advancing the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue and expanding bilateral cooperation. Encouragingly, we understand that both countries plan to resume their strategic dialogue in April.

In support of this collaborative sentiment, the U.S.-Iraq Business Council (USIBC) aspires to work with the Biden Administration, as well as leaders in the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government, to drive private sector development and diversification, economic and energy independence, and bring about inclusive economic growth for the Iraqi people in order to realize a more stable, sovereign and secure Iraq.

Click the link above to read the Chamber's 4 Big Ideas for U.S.-Iraq Ties. 

March 23rd, yes, Medea did turn up on RT.  And?  We've always known Medea would do anything to appear on camera.  It's why her nickname remains I NEED ATTENTION Benjamin.  We'll instead note this letter to the editors of  THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE:

Can you be wrong but still be right? Explain how President Joe Biden can for years say he was wrong to have supported the Iraq war but now he authorizes strikes upon Iran-backed militias in Syria because the militias were attacking U.S. forces in Iraq.

If Biden says the war was wrong, how then can the resulting occupation from the war be right? If you are illegally in your neighbor's house, and then admit your break-in was wrong, do you in any way have the right to use violence against those trying to get you out?

Here's how the game is played in Washington and the media simply goes along with it ­— the "enemy" is evil for attacking U.S. troops, regardless of the awful corrupt predicaments those in Washington put the U.S. troops in.

Biden says he was wrong for supporting the war but keeps the occupation in place and then those who attack U.S. troops in Iraq are more evil than the false war Biden helped start. It makes no sense, but the media and the public buy it.

The war created American "interests" in Iraq and Biden will now justify more military violence by saying American "interests" in Iraq need to be protected.

Kind of a clever plan — but easily exposed.

Frank Erickson, Minneapolis

The war has not improved the lives of the Iraqi people.  It's not helped the people sent to fight there.  Michael McAuliff (KAISER HEALTH NEWS) reports:

The lungs Bill Thompson was born with told a gruesome, harrowing and unmistakable tale to Dr. Anthony Szema, when he analyzed them and found the black spots, scarring, partially combusted jet fuel and metal inside.

The retired Army staff sergeant had suffered catastrophic lung damage from breathing incinerated waste burned in massive open-air pits and probably other irritants during his tour of duty in Iraq.

“There are black spots that are burns, particles all over; there’s metal. It was all scarred,” said Szema, a pulmonologist and professor who studies toxic exposures and examined Thompson’s preserved lung tissue. “There was no gas exchange anywhere in that lung.”

Thompson is still alive, surviving on his second transplanted set of lungs. Yet the story burned into the veteran’s internal organs is not one that has been entirely convincing to the US government. The military has not linked the burn pits to illness. That means many who were exposed to burn pits and are sick do not qualify for benefits under any existing program.

Retirement and health benefits for members of the military depend on factors like length of service, active or reserve status, deployments to combat zones and whether the military considers specific injuries or illnesses to be service-related. Thompson has been able to get care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for his lung disease but has not been able to secure other benefits, like early retirement pay.

“I was denied my Army retirement because if it was not a combat action, then I don’t receive that retirement,” Thompson said at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing last week on service members’ exposures to toxic substances.

Thompson is one of at least 3.5 million veterans since 2001 who have served in war zones where the US military decided to dispose of its trash by burning it, according to VA estimates. It’s not clear how many people within that population have gotten sick from exposure. Only a small fraction — 234,000 — have enrolled in the VA’s online burn pit registry. Veterans’ advocacy groups have said the majority of claims to the agency stemming from toxic exposures are denied, even as most former service members report contacts with toxins in their deployments.

Soldiers returning from tours in the global war on terror have reported debilitating illnesses almost from its beginning, but got little traction with the military. This year, though, the likelihood of congressional action is high, with Democrats expressing interest and a president who suspects burn pits are to blame for his son’s death.

Paula Reed Ward (TRIBUNE-REVIEW) reports on another veteran

A retired member of the Pennsylvania National Guard is suing his employer, alleging that being forced to wear a mask to prevent the spread of covid-19 prompted PTSD and flashbacks from his time serving in Iraq.

Andrew Voigt, 52, of Penn Hills, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on Monday, claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He works as an engineer with Fluor Marine Propulsion LLC, of West Mifflin, at the Bettis Worksite.

The company's 'answer' is for Voight to go on disability.  

Iraq War veteran Vincent Emanuele writes:

By the time we came home, most of the platoon was full-blown alcoholics, drug addicts, sex fiends, or some mixture of the three. Divorces, assault charges, DUIs, and stints in rehab facilities commenced, including suicides, drug overdoses, and cancer diagnoses. You know, the sort of shit they don’t show you on the commercials or talk about at the recruitment centre.

But that’s only half the story. The aftereffects of combat are often more devastating than the action itself, which, to be honest, was quite fun at times. Nothing beats the adrenaline dump of a firefight. Nothing. That’s why so many guys miss it. That’s why so many seek adventure in civilian life, sometimes to the detriment of themselves and others. Fast cars and motorcycles leave mangled corpses. The needle can only bring so much comfort: the bottle, the same. It’s true: civilian life is boring. Everyone who has experienced combat understands that much. On a very personal level, at the cellular level, war permanently changes you.

At the geopolitical level, we are yet to fully understand the long-term impacts of the Iraq War. Perhaps we never will. The human toll is staggering: anywhere from 250,000–1,000,000+ dead, with millions displaced externally and internally. Hundreds of thousands endure lifelong illnesses due to chemically-laced munitions such as depleted uranium or maimed bodies due to bombing raids, drone strikes, a stray bullet, or some garden variety shrapnel. The Iraq War caused the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. It unleashed forces across Libya, Syria, and beyond that resemble the most reactionary and murderous forces of the Middle Ages.

Thousands of US troops died because of lies and hubris. Their families are forever emotionally, socially, and spiritually scarred. The same is true of the families of the nameless Iraqis who perished on the dusty battlefields of Mesopotamia. Tens of thousands of veterans have killed themselves, leaving behind broken families and generations of emotional trauma. Picking up your dead friend or his shredded and bloody limbs is terrible enough, but it’s much worse when you finally realise it was all for nothing, otherwise known as ‘moral injury.’ Well, not exactly nothing —  we made many people a hell of a lot of money and stoked the egos of insecure men who thought they controlled the world.

In the future, I can imagine young people talking about the ‘great oil wars of the 21st century.’ Fighting wars for oil, the very commodity that might cause the end of civilisation. Oh, the irony. Within a few months, a young man or woman who wasn’t even born when the Iraq War started will step onto the sands of Iraq as a contractor, DoD official, or military personnel. Can you imagine?

Back home, the war helped destroy what was left of an already undemocratic and antiquated political and legal system. Americans have less trust in the media due mainly to the lies journalists and news outlets told during the lead-up to the war. The Iraq War ushered in a period of cynical distrust in liberal institutions. Without question, a trend growing long before 2003, but one accelerated by lies justifying costly imperial adventures ($2 trillion and counting).


Regarding yesterday's snapshot on fake assery -- most e-mails cite John Nichols as someone who should have been mentioned.  John certainly staked out his position early on -- Barbra Streisand was responsbile for the Iraq War.  Sadly, that's not really a misreading of his 'major' Iraq column.  Equally true, when John Conyers wanted Bully Boy Bush impeached for the Iraq War, John was on board and was even promoting a book on impeachment -- a book he stoppred promoting the moment Nancy Pelosi announced impeachment was "off the table."  John's a whore from long, long ago.  It is sad, yes, when you see him on BAD FAITH as a trusted voice.  It goes to why we don't really advance in the US.  We keep putting known liars in front of microphones to speak for us.  Hey, John, when you whored for Barack -- which time! -- when you whored for Barack after he was telling  Canada not to take his anti-NAFTA talk seriously, remember how you lied that it was really Hillary Clinton and not Barack's campaign  Remember how you said on air that you had proof?  Where did that proof ever go?  AP was right, it was Barack.  You're just a whore John Nichols and, honestly, shame on BAD FAITH and anyone else who brings that known liar on as a guest.


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