Wednesday, April 18, 2018

S'mores Chips Ahoy!

What the hell?

Have you had these cookies?

Background, I grew up when hard cookies were all you could buy in the bag.  I used to dunk my Chip Ahoys in a glass of milk.  That's about the only way they'd be less hard -- even then, they weren't soft.

In the 90s, they came out with M&M Chip Ahoys and I thought that was the greatest thing in the world.  A friend gave me some and I was hooked.

Now I haven't had cookies -- other than freshly baked -- in years.  But -- and, yes, I am on my period -- today I saw cookies at the store and just had to have some.

I grabbed S'mores Chips Ahoy! and they are incredible.  They are soft.  They are chewy.  They are gooey.  They are wonderful.

I like s'mores.  I don't love s'mores, but I like them.  As a cookie from Chips Ahoy, I love s'mores.  This is so wonderful.  There's a Red Velvet Cake flavor too that I'll try next time I grab a pack of cookies but if you haven't asted these S'mores Chips Ahoy! cookies, do yourself a favor and buy a pack.  Caution, they go quick.  Again, I am on my period.  But I went through the whole bag.  Delicious.


Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, April 18, 2018.  Ignore facts and reality and you too can embrace violence.



Last Friday night, US President Donald Trump took to the airwaves to announce that the US, the United Kingdom and France were bombing Syria.  The claim put forward as fact was that Syrian ruler Basher al-Assad had attacked his own people with chemical weapons -- an attack that made no sense unless it was, in fact, carried out by the so-called 'rebels.'  As Ava and I noted in "TV: Neither humanity nor honesty factor into corporate news," the corporate media refused to question the claims put forward.

What they -- and some faux left people -- did do was say it was like Bully Boy Bush.

An illegal war?  Good for them!

Not so fast.  That's not what they did.

Trump Tweeted something with "mission accomplished" in it and they began comparing it to Bully Boy Bush under the banner "Mission Accomplished."

To them, that was criticism.

To them.

To anyone with half a brain, their 'critique' was revealing.  Those 'critiquing' were revealing their own true dreams and hopes: A long, long war.

Donald's speech suggested this could be a one-off and that didn't please them.  They wanted a long struggle -- as they made clear -- all of them but especially NBC's Chuck Todd and CBS' Margaret Brennan.

They couldn't question the attack, they couldn't question the hard to believe claims for the attack, but they could question the notion that the bombing of Syria might end quickly.

War -war -war.  They are damaged souls who can only find happiness when others are suffering.

And now the claims for bombing are already falling apart.  Will Morrow (WSWS) reports:

On Monday, the US and British intelligence agencies released a joint report charging Moscow with unspecified “cyber warfare” against the West. The American media was filled with hysterical warnings that Russia may have hacked “millions” of personal devices as well as critical infrastructure.
The tenor of the media coverage was epitomized by the New York Times, which labelled the intelligence agencies’ report a “computer-age version of a Cold War air raid drill, but asking citizens to upgrade their password rather than duck and cover.”
The coordinated campaign comes amid the unravelling of the official pretext for Friday night’s illegal US-British-French bombing of Russia’s ally Syria—the claim that the Assad government carried out a chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta on April 7.
On Sunday, the Independent published an on-the-spot report by well-known veteran journalist Robert Fisk, an expert on Middle East policy, who visited Douma, the town in Ghouta where a gas attack supposedly occurred.
Fisk spoke with Dr. Assim Rahaibani, who works at the medical clinic where the widely publicized videos were filmed showing children being hosed down with water, ostensibly to relieve poison gas inhalation. He quotes Rahaibani as follows:
“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night, but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of [government] shelling and aircraft were always over Douma at night—but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.
“People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet,’ shouted ‘Gas!,’ and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia, not gas poisoning.”
This account is in line with statements by Russian authorities, who have charged that the White Helmets, the anti-Assad “rebel” organization funded by Britain, staged the gas attack under orders from UK intelligence to provide its Western sponsors with a pretext for intervention. Fisk notes that by the time he arrived in Douma, the White Helmets had already left to join fighters of the Islamic fundamentalist group Jaysh-al Islam, who fled Douma for Idlib under an agreement brokered with Russia.
Fisk’s report is a devastating exposure of the lies of the governments of France, Britain and the US, which have provided no evidence to substantiate their charges against the Assad regime. The imperialist governments’ narrative was immediately disseminated by a corrupt media that functions shamelessly as a propaganda arm of the state.
As the World Socialist Web Site insisted from the outset, the incident was a CIA-organized provocation to provide a pretext for imperialist intervention, continuing the seven-year-long US regime-change operation against Russia’s ally Assad, during which time Washington has armed and funded right-wing Islamist proxies.
Fisk’s report is at the same time a damning indictment of the corporate media, along with various pseudo-left organizations, such as the International Socialist Organization, which regurgitated all of the governments’ lying pretexts and made no effort to investigate them. The media has responded to Fisk’s report by burying it. In the 24 hours since its publication, neither the Washington Postnor the New York Times, which in 2005 called Fisk “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain,” has reported on Fisk’s on-the-spot story.
The US government responds to each exposure of its lies by concocting new ones. The chemical weapons charge followed directly after the collapse of the unsubstantiated British and US claims that Russia carried out the attempted assassination on British soil of its former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a nerve agent. Both Yulia and Sergei are now on their way to a full recovery despite having supposedly been poisoned with the most fatal military-grade agent in existence.



Jonathan Cook (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:

The air strikes on Syria at the weekend were patently illegal according to international law. That would have been the case even had there been a chemical weapons attack in Douma, in part because it would have been necessary for independent inspectors to determine first whether the Syrian government, and not the jihadists there, was responsible.
The air strikes would have been illegal too, even if it could have been shown that a chemical weapons attack had taken place and that Assad personally ordered it. That is because air strikes would have first required authorization from the UN Security Council. That is why international law exists: to regulate affairs between states, to prevent militarism of the “might is right” variety that nearly destroyed Europe 80 years ago, and to avoid unnecessary state confrontations that in a nuclear age could have dire repercussions.
Had Assad been shown to be responsible, Russia would have come under enormous international pressure to authorize action of some kind against Syria – pressure it would have been extremely hard for it to resist.
But had it resisted that pressure, we would have had to live with its veto at the Security Council. And again, for very good reason. Israel, the US and the UK have used depleted uranium munitions in the Middle East, and Israel and the US white phosphorous. But who among us would think it reasonable for Russia or China to unilaterally carry out punishment air strikes on Maryland (US), Porton Down (UK) or Nes Ziona (Israel), and justify the move on the grounds that the US and UK could veto any moves against themselves or their allies at the Security Council? Who would want to champion belligerent attacks on these sovereign states as “humanitarian intervention”?
But all of this is irrelevant because whatever incontrovertible information the US, UK and France claimed to have that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack last week is clearly no more reliable than their claims about an Iraqi WMD program back in 2002.


People died because of these lies.

This morning, Sam Tawseef posted a video that was supposed to be depicting 'justice' in Iraq -- a woman who had been raped was stoned to death by a crowd of men.  It was a crowd, women may have been present, but I saw men and I only saw it once because when I went to reload the clip -- a little over two minutes long -- it had already been removed (even though I was only the third view of it).



I don't understand the removal.

It was disturbing.  It was also supposed to be real.  It happened.  Why was it taken down?

The same mob mentality and cruelty in that crowd has been present in the US press.  That woman was every country the US government has bombed and attacked this century alone.  The mob lusting for blood was the US press.  No one stepped forward to say, "Stop!"  They just went along with it and the woman was stoned to death.



“Why should we hear about body bags and death? I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that.” Barbara Bush on the Iraq War
 
 



Apparently, YOUTUBE is now the late Barbara Bush.  Our 'beautiful minds' will not be touched by reality.  Anything that might cause discomfort -- no matter how true -- will be removed.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

A woman was stoned to death.  It was there for all to see.  If it was false, leave it up, someone will step forward with knowledge to say, "This is a clip from ____ and not Iraq" or whatever.  But this was a clip of a group killing a woman.  I don't know why we erase reality.  It's something that adults should have seen.  It's not pretty and that's why we need to see it and we need to know that it happens.  It was a shocking video -- but not because of blood (there really wasn't any, she was covered in cloth, niqab, etc) -- but because you saw a group gathered to kill and no one stopped them.  All present went along with the stoning.

Was it barbaric?  Yes, it was.  And so is dropping bombs on children which, for the record, the US government does pretty much every day in Iraq and Syria.  But we're far enough removed that our 'beautiful minds' don't have to be touched by reality.

This removal has allowed us to look the other way and refuse to call out what Bully Boy Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump have done -- in our names, with our tax dollars.

Grasp the YOUTUBE and/or US government policy: Killings can take place we just don't want you to be able to see the dead.

'Justice' in Iraq?  It remains the same dirty joke it's been ever since the 2003 invasion.  AFP reports:

Iraqi courts have sentenced to death a total of more than 300 people, including dozens of foreigners, for belonging to the Islamic State group, judicial sources said on Wednesday.
The suspects are being tried by two courts, one near the former jihadist stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq and another in Baghdad which is dealing notably with foreigners and women.



  Retweeted
“Individual circumstances don’t matter,” says Wille, 's senior researcher for , in . “Cooks, medical workers, everyone is given the death penalty.”
 
 




There is no justice in Iraq.  There is vengeance but no justice.


May 12th, elections are supposed to be held in Iraq.  Some find the campaign of current prime minister Hayder al-Abadi to be familiar.


1-Campaign video by Iraq PM Abadi curiously resurrects images of Saddam Hussein steeped in every Iraqi's psyche:Leader as superman, appearing in all guises; military parade & might; similar body gestures; leader loved by ppl & of course some sentimental poetry.
0:50
562 views
 
 





The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated:



  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Flesh-eating ulcer

    Okay, doing my science post for the week.  Flesh-eating ulcers.  I saw the headlines and thought “Click bait!” but I knew I was going in.  Fortunately, I found a reputable source to start with.  This is the Kaiser Family Foundation:
       
     
     
    ABC’s RN Breakfast: Flesh-eating ulcer found in Africa is spreading rapidly in Australia, and reaching epidemic proportions in regions of Victoria
    “…The Buruli ulcer is a rare tropical disease caused by bacteria related to leprosy and tuberculosis. This flesh-eating ulcer is commonly found in Africa but it’s rapidly spreading in Australia, with numbers increasing in regions of Victoria — leaving experts baffled and calling for more government funding to stop it…” (Kelly, 4/17).

    Washington Post: Flesh-eating ulcer ‘epidemic’ hits parts of Australia. Scientists don’t have answers.
    “The spread of a flesh-eating ulcer in parts of Australia is being described as a ‘rapidly worsening epidemic’ and, to make matters worse, researchers say they don’t know exactly where it comes from or how it is transmitted. … In 2017, there were 275 reported cases in Victoria, a 51 percent increase from 2016, [Daniel O’Brien, deputy director of the department of infectious diseases at Barwon Health in Victoria,] said. Additionally, the number of cases classified as severe have doubled in the last five or six years, he said. Victoria is one of the country’s most populous states, home to the city of Melbourne…” (Chiu, 4/17).

    Additional coverage of this story is available from Bustle, CNN, The Guardian, and Newsweek.
     
     
     
     

    Key facts
    • Buruli ulcer is a chronic debilitating disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans.
    • It often affects the skin and sometimes bone, and can lead to permanent disfigurement and long-term disability.
    • At least 33 countries with tropical, subtropical and temperate climates have reported Buruli ulcer in Africa, South America and Western Pacific regions. In Australia, an increasing number of cases have been reported since 2013.
    • Partial data from 13 countries for 2017 shows 2206 cases compared to 1920 in 2016; Australia and Nigeria reporting most cases.
    • Most patients in Africa are children aged under 15 years and most patients in Australia are adults.
    • The mode of transmission is not known and there is no prevention for the disease.
     
     
     
     
     
    Now here’s CNN with a video report for anyone who would like that. 
     
    This is the stuff of horror movies.  You read it and wonder, “What is going on?”  or “What’s going on!!!!” in your best Four Non Blonde’s voice.

     
    It’s creepy.  It’s scary.  It’s fascinating.  It’s science!!!!!
     

      

    Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


    Tuesday, April 17, 2018.  Friday's bombings of Syria continue to be in the news.


    Tom O'Connor (NEWSWEEK) reports:

    Iraq criticized President Donald Trump's decision Friday to target Syrian government facilities suspected to be involved in the production of chemical weapons, saying such missile strikes undermined the wider effort to combat terrorism in both neighboring Arab states.
    Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari spoke on the phone Sunday with acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan, discussing the trilateral U.S., French and U.K. missile attack on Syria, which Iraq considers an ally in the fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Jaafari emphasized "the necessity to prioritize finding a political solution and that the Syrian people alone should determine their own fate," according to a statement by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.


    "If you have all this evidence," says whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds (NEWS BUD), "run it by Congress."




    Two days after Donald Trump announced the strikes on Syria, the Arab Summit began in Saudi Arabia.  THE SAUDI GAZETTE notes this conclusion from the Summit:

    We emphasize the need to find a political solution to end the Syrian crisis, in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people who is under the aggression, preserve the unity of Syria, protect its sovereignty and independence, and end the presence of all external forces and sectarian terrorist groups, based on Geneva 1 outputs, statements of the International Support Group for Syria and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, in particular Resolution No. 2254 of 2015. There is no way to stop bloodshed except by reaching a peaceful settlement that achieves a real transition to a political reality shaped and agreed upon by all the components of the Syrian people through the Geneva track, which is the only framework for the peaceful solution, and we are committed to the international community to alleviate human suffering in Syria to avoid new humanitarian crises.

    We have followed the actions of the Western forces in Syria. We stress the need to join efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis and we stress our absolute condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against the brotherly Syrian people. We call for an independent international investigation that includes the implementation of international law.



    Meanwhile Pippa Crerar (GUARDIAN) notes this from the United Kingdom:

    However, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that the attack on the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles early on Saturday morning was legally questionable.
    His deputy, Tom Watson, commissioned legal advice over the weekend after the government published only a summary of its own. Dapo Akande, the professor of public international law and co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, concluded that the government’s position was “significantly flawed”.

    He argued that contrary to government claims, neither the United Nations charter nor international law permitted military action on the basis of humanitarian intervention. He also suggested that accepting the UK’s position on the use of force would undermine the supremacy of the UN charter. 

    Despite that, all three major broadcast networks, on Sunday, offered no questions of the strike and certainly didn't address legalities.  (See "TV: Neither humanity nor honesty factor into corporate news .")


    As the US government tries to ramp up the war on Syria, the Iraq War continues.

    As does the violence.  Mohammed Ebraheem (IRAQI NEWS) reports an al-Naqib bombing that left five Iraqi soldiers injured. This follows Monday's bombings in Mosul which left 5 people dead.



    The five dead are among 52 deaths on Monday according to Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM).


    Meanwhile . . .

    Prime Minister standing next to fellow Kurdish candidate leading list for Duhok. Iraq will break through ethno-sectarian lines and this will become the norm in coming elections from more coalitions and parties.
     
     





    May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.


    Voting will take place throughout Iraq.  Voting will even take place in 'liberated' areas.  Like Mosul.


    Few photos from our trip to with ... 's Parliamentary elections are ahead yet the city is far away from being ready.
     
     
     



    That's Mosul -- after 'liberation.'  There's been no rush to repair the damages.  But the Iraqi government does repair parts of the war machine.


    Brilliant initiative 🇮🇶 More than 1075 military vehicles damaged in the liberation of have been repaired by the Iraqi army's 9th armoured division and will now be inducted back into service. 150+ Humvees repaired in addition to MRAPs and hundreds of trucks. Great job.
     
     
     

    As the war machine is rebuilt, the people suffer.  And there is still no justice in Iraq.  Amnesty International reveals that women and children are again being targeted:




    Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, with an alarming number of women subjected to sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
    The Condemned: Women and Children Isolated, Trapped and Exploited in Iraq reveals widespread discrimination against women living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) by security forces, members of camp administrations and local authorities, who believe these women are affiliated to IS.
    Amnesty International established that sexual exploitation was occurring in each of the eight camps that Amnesty researchers visited.

    “The war against IS in Iraq may be over, but the suffering of Iraqis is far from over. Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to IS are being punished for crimes they did not commit,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.
    “Cast out of their communities, these families have nowhere and no one to turn to. They are trapped in camps, ostracized and denied food, water and other essentials. This humiliating collective punishment risks laying the foundation for future violence. It is no way to build the just and sustainable peace that Iraqis so desperately desire and need.”
    The report details the plight of thousands of female-headed families who have been left to fend for themselves in IDP camps after male family members were killed, or arbitrarily arrested and forcibly disappeared while fleeing IS-held areas in and around Mosul.
    In many cases, the men’s only “crime” was escaping an IS stronghold, having similar names to those on questionable “wanted lists” or working in non-combat roles with IS as cooks or drivers.
    Isolated and sexually exploited
    The research shows that women and children in IDP camps across Iraq are denied food and health care as a result of their perceived ties to IS.
    These families are also routinely blocked from obtaining identity cards and other documents needed to work and move freely. In at least one camp, families suspected of links to IS are forbidden to leave what has become a de facto detention centre. 
    Desperate and isolated, the women are at heightened risk of sexual exploitation by security forces, armed guards and members of militias working in and near the camps. In each of the eight camps Amnesty International visited, women were being coerced and pressured into entering sexual relationships in exchange for desperately needed cash, humanitarian aid and protection from other men.
    These women are also at risk of rape. Four women told Amnesty International they had either witnessed rape directly or heard the screams of a woman in a nearby tent who was being raped by armed men, members of the camp administration or other camp residents.
    “Dana”, a 20-year-old woman, told Amnesty International she had survived several rape attempts and faced relentless pressure to have sex with a member of the security forces in her camp.
    “Because they consider me the same as an IS fighter, they will rape me and return me back. They want to show everyone what they can do to me – to take away my honour,” she said.

    “I can’t feel comfortable in my tent. I just want a door to lock and walls around me… Each night, I say to myself, ‘Tonight is the night I’m going to die’.”
    Many of the women that Amnesty interviewed in IDP camps expressed fear for their safety.
    “Women are being subjected to dehumanizing and discriminatory treatment by armed men operating in the camps for their alleged affiliation with IS. The very people who are supposed to be protecting them are turning into predators,” said Lynn Maalouf.
    “The Iraqi government must show it is serious about ending the violations against these women by holding all perpetrators to account and stopping all armed men from entering IDP camps.”
    Nowhere to turn
    In several areas, local and tribal authorities have issued orders that block the return of women and children with perceived ties to IS, leaving them trapped in the IDP camps.
    Those who have made it home have faced evictions, forced displacement, looting, threats and abuse, including sexual abuse and sexual harassment. In some instances, their houses have been marked “Daeshi” (the Arabic term for IS) and destroyed or they have had their electricity, water and other services cut off.
    “Maha” described to Amnesty International the despair she felt at facing such discrimination.
    “Sometimes I ask myself: why didn’t I just die in an air strike? I attempted to commit suicide but I didn’t follow through. I put kerosene on myself, but before I lit it on fire, I thought of my son,” she said.
    “I feel I am at my end. I am in a prison here. I am completely alone – without my husband, my father – no one is with me anymore.”
    The situation for women like “Maha” is likely to get even worse as international funding for the humanitarian crisis in Iraq is projected to sharply decrease.
    In advance of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in May, displaced people are being urged to leave IDP camps as the government’s focus turns to closing and consolidating them.
    “The Iraqi authorities must ensure that families in IDP camps with perceived ties to IS are given equal access to humanitarian aid, health care and civil documents. These families must be allowed to return home without fear of intimidation, arrest or attacks,” Lynn Maalouf said.
    “The authorities must also immediately end the systematic and widespread practice of forcibly disappearing men and boys with perceived ties to IS that has left thousands of wives, mothers, daughters and sons in desperate situations.

    “To put an end to the poisonous cycle of marginalization and communal violence that has plagued Iraq for decades, the Iraqi government and international community must commit to upholding the rights of all Iraqis without discrimination. Without this, there can be no national reconciliation or lasting peace.”




    The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS, BLACK AGENDA REPORT and DISSIDENT VOICE -- updated: