Saturday, February 02, 2019

Merry Prankster Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is someone I frequently have applause for.  I do not mean to imply that she is my hero.  She's not battling to end wars, she's really only getting on the nerves of a lot of pompous people -- in Congress and out.  I applaud her for getting on their nerves.

But community member Darcy e-mailed me this from Genevieve Leigh's piece for WSWS:

  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, has rapidly become one of the highest-profile political figures in Washington.
She is the subject of hundreds of articles in the mainstream media. She has been featured on late-night talk shows and was given a special segment on the CBS show “60 Minutes.” Her Twitter account has generated more interactions—retweets plus likes—than party leaders Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Among political figures in the US, she is second only to President Donald Trump.
There are two factors behind Ocasio-Cortez’s sudden rise to political prominence. Among broader sections of the population, she has attracted support as a result of her association with socialism. The two most popular figures in the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, nominally claim to be socialists. Under conditions in which the population is fed an unrelenting diet of right-wing and reactionary politics, anyone who speaks about issues of social inequality can quickly get widespread support.
The second and more decisive factor is the conscious promotion and elevation of Ocasio-Cortez by the Democratic Party and the media. Ocasio-Cortez performs a critical political function—that of providing a left cover for a right-wing party, the better to block the development of a genuine movement against social inequality and capitalism.

I don't disagree with anything in that report.  To be clear, I am not marching behind AOC or seeing her as the second coming of Shirley Chisholm.   I just enjoy the moments when she irritates the establishment -- I see her as Merry Prankster, if you will.

My apologies to Darcy if my writing gave any other impression.

I would love for AOC to develop into an amazing member of Congress.  I don't think that will happen for her or her colleagues.  I think the days of John Conyers and Pat Schroeder are long gone.

Okay, now let me do some science because I didn't do any this week.  From CBS NEWS:

Too many young kids are using too much toothpaste, increasing their risk of streaky or splotchy teeth when they get older, according to a government survey released Thursday.
About 40 percent of kids ages 3 to 6 used a brush that was full or half-full of toothpaste, even though experts recommend no more than a pea-sized amount, the study found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings were based on a survey of parents of more than 5,000 kids ages 3 to 15.

That may have been me as a child.  Until I lost my baby teeth, I had the worst discoloration on my teeth and when I was four and five, I used to treat toothpaste like candy.  They had to keep it in the medicine chest above the sink because if it was in a drawer or on the counter, I would grab the whole tube, run to a closet with a picture book and hide out until I'd eaten all the tooth paste -- just sucking it out of the tube like it was cookie dough.

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

Friday, February 1, 2019.  Australia's government admits some civilians might have been killed in Mosul bombings, Amnesty International calls for other governments to step forward, and much more.

Starting with images of the flooding in Iraq this past fall.

The Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite takes us over one of the areas in Iraq that suffered flooding recently in this week's edition of the #EarthfromSpace programme. Download the image: ★ Subscribe: and click twice on the bell button to receive our notifications. Check out our full video catalog: Follow ESA on Twitter: On Facebook: On Instagram: On Flickr: ESA is Europe's gateway to space. Our mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. Check out to get up to speed on everything space related.

From yesterday's snapshot:

The Iraqi government remains corrupt, remains unresponsive to the needs of the people, continues to arrest protesters and reporters covering protests (as events in Basra have demonstrated).  And every year, they train and retrain and then train again the Iraqi military in an effort to get it up to speed.  Of course, the Iraqi military repeatedly fails.

The western press repeatedly works overtime to lie about that.  The Iraqi military would not have 'won' Mosul without US war planes blindly bombing Mosul -- a city full of civilians. 

Andrew Tillet (Australia's FINANCIAL REVIEW) reported yesterday:

Australian fighter jets were involved in an air strike believed to have killed up to 18 civilians while fighting Islamic State terrorists in Iraq - the highest casualty rate implicating Australian forces - Defence chiefs have revealed.
But the pilots have been cleared of wrongdoing, with the investigation finding they had acted in accordance with their rules of engagement and laws of armed conflict as part of desperate efforts to save the lives of Iraqi soldiers during brutal urban combat to liberate West Mosul.
The deaths have been attributed to a lack of solid intelligence on the ground as Iraqi troops fought, with no time to properly assess whether surrounding buildings were clear of civilians before bombs were dropped.

While I have no problem with the pilots being cleared of wrongdoing, I do have a problem with those over the strikes and the policy of the strikes being cleared of wrongdoing.  Mosul is a highly populated city.  That was known.  That was known before the US or any other government started dropping bombs on Mosul to 'fight' ISIS.  There were no 'precision' strikes.  That's a lie used to lull the public into stupidity so they won't object to what's really going on -- the equivalent of carpet bombing schools, places of worship, homes, etc.

🚨 ℹ : Defence Force officials have admitted Australian jets were involved in an , which killed in

This morning, Amnesty International issued the following statement:

Responding to the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) admission that its air strikes in Mosul, Iraq may have caused up to 18 civilian deaths in 2017, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

“The Australian Defence Force’s latest admission that its air strikes killed civilians during the battle for Mosul in 2017 is a step in the right direction. Once again, the Australian government has proven more willing to take responsibility for causing loss of civilian life than its coalition partners, including the UK, USA and France.

“The matter must not end here, however. The ADF should continue to lead by example by providing the further details necessary to help an independent assessment of whether this attack and its operations in Mosul complied with international humanitarian law. We know that an Australian plane struck a target in West Mosul and unintentionally killed up to 18 civilians in a nearby house. In order to understand how this happened the ADF needs to disclose more information, including the type of weapon used in the strike, the nature of the target, what measures were taken to ensure that the target was a military objective, whether other means or methods of attack that would have minimized the risk to civilians were considered, and what was done to collect information about the presence of civilians in the vicinity.

The ADF has taken a positive step by acknowledging that their attacks resulted in civilian casualties. What they must do now is provide the victims’ families with the best chance of achieving justice and accountability. The way to do this is to release the further information required.
Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director   

“The ADF has taken a positive step by acknowledging that their attacks resulted in civilian casualties. What they must do now is provide the victims’ families with the best chance of achieving justice and accountability. The way to do this is to release the further information required.”


The Coalition’s battle to wrest Mosul from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) began in October 2016 and ended in July 2017. Throughout the campaign, and especially in its later stages in West Mosul, the Coalition relied heavily upon air power, despite the presence of civilians trapped in the city by IS. Amnesty International revealed the effects of this upon the civilian population with its July 2017 report, At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq.

On 31 January 2019, the Australian Defence Force’s Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld acknowledged that as many as 18 civilians were killed in an attack on a target in West Mosul in which two Australian Super Hornet F-18 jets were involved on 13 June 2017. This follows a previous ADF admission on 28 March 2018 that it killed two adults and injured two children in a strike on Mosul that came to light following Amnesty International investigations on the ground.

Will other governments come clean?  Will the US government specifically?  Probably not.  The US government is involved in countless wars while currently working for war with Iran and Venezuela.  Bombing from war planes has always been less 'offensive' to the American people.  It's boots off the ground and, in an operation like Mosul, there's little chance of American fatalities since a group like ISIS (being a terrorist group and not the military of another country) doesn't have a fleet of airplanes.

So they know they can blindly bomb an area for weeks, months, in Mosul's case, years and the American people won't pour into the street or even bat an eye due to being lied to that these are 'precision' strikes and that the government of the United States has done 'everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.'

No, they haven't.

They haven't done anything to minimize civilian casualties.  As for doing 'everything' to minimize, doing everything would include not bombing civilian areas.  But they did bomb civilian areas -- over and over and over.

The US government will most likely never get honest about civilian casualties.  At some point in the near future (say, five years on down the line), they'll offer an under-count of the civilians killed in the Mosul bombings -- but only when they can claim some new technology has come along to make the strikes even more 'precise.'  They'll use that to sell more strikes.

It's really outrageous how little the media cares about the bombs being dropped.  (And if the media doesn't cover it, the American people have a hard time hearing about it.)

Amnesty's issued a statement and applause for that but, as we've noted repeatedly of late, there's no statement on the bombings in Iraq carried out by the Turkish government.  From Monday's snapshot:

Saturday (see "Protests in Iraq" and "About those US bases in Iraq . . ."), protesters stormed a Dohuk base (Dohuk is in northern Iraq and part of the Kurdistan Regional Government).  They were angry over Turkish war planes bombing the area the day before and killing civilians.  Salar Salim and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report the number of civilians killed in the bombing was six.  The Turkish military -- at their base in Dohuk -- fired at the protesters killing 1 and injuring ten more.

AFP reports, "Iraq Sunday said it would summon the Turkish ambassador over the death of a Kurdish protester after Turkish troops opened fire on demonstrators in the country’s northwest."  SPUTNIK adds:

According to the statement, the note read that Ankara’s "actions are a violation of sovereignty, incompatible with friendly relations and brotherhood between the two countries, and called on the Turkish side to stop such unilateral actions."

Maybe the issue of Turkey's bombings can finally get serious attention?  Meaning that the discussion moves beyond the wire services?

Tonight at 20:30GMT on , I will be talking on Strait Talk about the complicated nature of and 's relationship in light of the recent events in and the proposed law in to oust foreign forces.

Turkey has used the PKK as an excuse to bomb the Kurdish region of northern Iraq for over a decade.  The semi-autonomous KRG is the closet thing to a Kurdish homeland that the world has.  Is no one offended that Turkey repeatedly bombs this region?  Does no one see it as an extension of the targeting of Kurds that Turkey does within its own borders?

It's really past time for a serious conversation to take place about what has been happening.

If it does, as Blondie might ask, "Will Anything Happen?"

It's the first of the month.  UNAMI hasn't released its under-count of the dead for January yet but will do so later today.  Margaret Griffis (ANTIWAR.COM) offers:

During January, 184 people were killed, and 178 were wounded. Security forces also found 142 bodies in older graves. At least 45 civilians, 25 security personnel, and 65 militants were reported killed; 84 civilians and 94 security personnel were wounded. The conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) left at least 49 guerrillas dead. These numbers are similar to the December casualty figures with only the number of wounded being significantly higher. Fewer bodies were removed from mass graves.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, THE GUARDIAN, GORILLA RADIO, the ACLU and THE PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated:

  • Thursday, January 31, 2019

    The Grammys

    SHOWBIZ 411 reports:

    Superstar singer Diana Ross will be the special diamond performer on the Grammy Awards next month, says producer Ken Ehrlich.
    Diana, who turns 75 in March, is still a huge touring act and one of our greatest performers. She once fronted The Supremes [. . .]

    The Grammys are shaping up to be broadcast worth watching.

    Not only will we get the one and only Diana Ross but Alicia Keys will be hosting.

    1. Congratulations! Hosting the
    2. The GRAMMYs have released another promo video of their 2019 host, Alicia Keys! The ⁠ ⁠ will air Sunday February 10th on CBS!
      0:12 / 0:40

    Alicia Keys will be first female to host Grammys in 14 years

    Wait, it gets better.  Along with the competitive awards, there will be the honors:

    What do Black Sabbath, Sam & Dave and Julio Iglesias all have in common? They are among this year's Recording Academy Special Merit Awards recipients. Today, the Academy announced a prestigious crop of recipients for its Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award.
    This year's Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Black Sabbath, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Billy Eckstine, Donny Hathaway, Julio Iglesias, Sam & Dave and Dionne Warwick. Lou Adler, Ashford & Simpson and Johnny Mandel are Trustees Award honorees; and Saul Walker is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient.

    I'm most excited about Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson.  They were a couple forever and a day until Nick passed away.  As performers, their hits include "Solid," "Count Your Blessings," "Street Corner," "High Rise" and "It Seems To Hang On."  They also wrote those songs.  As songwriters they delivered hit after hit including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand," "The Boss," "Landlord," "Your Precious Love," "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing," "You're All I Need To Get By" and "Let's Go Get Stoned."

    After that?  Dionne, of course.  One of the great singers of our time.  Then Lou Adler.  He produced the Mamas and the Papas (DELIVER, THE PAPAS AND THE MAMAS, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE YOUR EYES AND EARS and THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS), Cass Elliot (DREAM A LITTLE DREAM) and Carole King (including TAPESTRY and SPEEDING TIME).  So i'm glad for him.

    I'm kind of ticked about Donny Hathaway, though.

    He's absolutely deserving but he died in 1979 and they are only now getting around to awarding him a Lifetime Achievement Award?

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

    Thursday, January 31, 2019.  John Bolton speaks some truth (shocker), Senator Angus King spanks little Marco Rubio, and more.

    Starting with this Tweet:

    In other words... The US’s real motive for intervention in Venezuela is all about the country’s oil and not actually “liberating the Venezuelan people from tyranny and oppression” — just like Iraq, Libya and Syria before it? Wow. What a surprise. 🙄

    reserves, 2017. (billion barrels) : 301 : 266 : 170 : 158 : 143 : 102 : 98 : 80 : 48 : 37 ( EIA)

    Remember Bolton's comments.  After the start of the Iraq War, Alan Greenspan made the mistake of saying the Iraq War was about oil, remember?  And then had to walk it back.  He walked it back even though it was in the book he'd written that he was promoting.  Truth slips out and often gets quickly buried.

    Even with the lies in place, opinions on the never-ending Iraq War remain divided.  Leo Shane III (MILITARY TIMES) notes an IAVA survery:

    Veterans who fought in recent wars hold conflicting views over the value of that fight, according to the latest membership survey from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

    About 47 percent said U.S. involvement in the Iraq War was “worth it,” against 43 percent who said it was not. Opinions of the Afghanistan War were slightly higher, with 62 percent in favor and 28 percent opposed.

    The Iraq War is a failure.  There are many times when someone -- if they had a brain -- could have declared victory.  Bully Boy Bush could have pulled all US troops after the fall of Baghdad, for example.  Or, after he set the benchmarks (that were never met), he could have pulled US troops citing the Iraqi government's refusal to address the issues they had promised to resolve.  That would include national reconciliation which, by the way, was never implemented.  That's actually true of all the benchmarks.  How sweet of the press to play along with Bully Boy Bush when the benchmarks actually got attention -- they'd offer 'partial' progress.  There's no such thing.  It was a lie in real time and, obviously, it's a lie today because they never got implemented. Barack Obama could have pulled the troops out immediately or within the first ten months of his first term.  We argued that, Ava and I, to several members of the administration.

    Iraq will be a mess when US troops finally leave.  That's a given.  Pull the troops based on the promise made (the one Samantha Power said really wasn't a promise, remember/) and give a speech saying that you've done what America wanted.  That's the end of the story.  If things go badly after, well you kept your campaign promise as the American people wanted.

    Instead Barack, believing his own false press about what a great thinker he was, decided to 'tinker' because he just knew he could improve on things.  That's how he failed to keep his campaign promise. And the longer he waited and the long he played with it, the more it became his war.  After the drawdown at the end of 2011 (passed off as a withdrawal), he began sending US troops back in during the fall of 2012.  US troops remain in Iraq to this day.  Another broken promise from Barack.

    Each year, US troops have remained in Iraq to prop up the puppet government.  And the US government has just known that this will be the year the puppet government gives them what they want.  That's the oil and gas laws.  That was the only benchmark the press ever obsessed over, remember?

    Tuesday, at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Marco Rubio was pushing for war on Venezuela while insisting that "we care a lot about democracy, we care a lot about freedom, we care a lot about human rights" and isn't it "in the national interest of the United States" for the government in Venezuela to fall (be overthrown) and be "replaced by a democratic and more responsive government?"

    War to create a democratic and more responsive government?

    Well then the US government better declare war on the Iraqi government!

    The Iraqi government remains corrupt, remains unresponsive to the needs of the people, continues to arrest protesters and reporters covering protests (as events in Basra have demonstrated).  And every year, they train and retrain and then train again the Iraqi military in an effort to get it up to speed.  Of course, the Iraqi military repeatedly fails.

    The western press repeatedly works overtime to lie about that.  The Iraqi military would not have 'won' Mosul without US war planes blindly bombing Mosul -- a city full of civilians.

    Some nervous nelly leaders in Iraq repeatedly insist that US troops must remain in Iraq to 'help' with the battle against ISIS.  ISIS is not going away until the Iraqi government stops persecuting Sunnis.  It won't stop doing that.  So US troops should be pulled immediately.  But this insisting?  It goes to the reality that Iraqi troops still -- all this time later -- can't defend their own country.

    The Iraq War hits the 16 year mark in March.  Are we going to have to wait until March 2021 for US troops to leave?  Do we need to wait for the 18 year mark -- when the Iraq War is a legal adult -- to finally say, "Okay, you're on your own"?

    Before we go further, let's note Senator Angus King rejected Marco's tantrum for war on Venezuela in Tuesday's hearing, stating, "In light of Senator Rubio's comments, I'd just like a note of caution.  He listed refugee flows, human rights abuses and corruption.  There are lots of countries in the world that meet that description and our right or responsibility to generate regime change in a situation like that, I think, is a slippery slope.  And I have some real caution about what our vital interests are and whether it's our right or responsibility to take action to try to change the government of another sovereign country."

    Abbas Kadhim (The Atlantic Council) pretends he's looking at Iraq after 100 days of a new government and offers:

    The Political Front: Meeting with Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi and President Salih
    I met with top Iraqi leaders, President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Despite the difficult process to complete his ministerial cabinet and the tough challenges he inherited from previous governments, Abdul-Mahdi seemed to be focused on a clear governance agenda that includes several immediate priorities. He was mindful of the need to address corruption but stated the pressing matters are the economy, governance, and service delivery.
    The visit to the seat of the presidency at al-Salam Palace took me to another branch of government where noticeable changes are underway. Iraqis had previously seen the presidency as a weak and trivial institution without any real political power. The fact of the matter is that previous presidents have not made use of the status of their office. With Dr. Barham Salih in the office, the Iraqi Presidency is taking on a new shape and acquiring a healthy level of energy, particularly in foreign relations. His state visits to several capitals in the region and beyond restored the good image of Iraq’s government. On US-Iraq relations, both sides have emphasized the importance of the alliance and the need to make it as strong as possible. The Iraqi public is already taking note of this positive change.

    The Economy

    Iraq’s budget, passed by Parliament on January 24, 2019, proposes one of the largest post-2003 government spending plans ($112 billion), which is mostly to cover government operation costs and salaries. Meanwhile, pressing infrastructure and reconstruction spending is far less adequate than expected. In fact, the electricity sector, where performance will be the most important referendum on the popularity of Abdul-Mahdi’s government, saw its budget slashed by a billion dollars, leaving the ministry with hardly enough money to operate at last year’s level, which is 50 percent of Iraq’s capacity to provide service during the peak summer period. Moreover, one important thing to remember about this budget is that it is based on two unknown and unpredictable variables: oil production and prices. If Iraq, for whatever reason, fails to produce 3.88 mbd or oil prices sink significantly below $56 per barrel, the government will face a dire financial problem.

    Fact, ISIS is still active in Iraq.  Fact, Mahdi has been unable to find a Minister of Defense or Minister of Interior.  Fact, the last time these offices were left empty is when ISIS took hold in Iraq.  Fact, to overlook those realities goes beyond shortsighted.

    Also not addressed by Abbas would be the militias which are now part of the government and seen to be under no one's control.

    The Popular Mobilization militias have launched a military operation in "Samarra " in the province of Salahuddin #, despite that the government of Baghdad announced the end of military operations more than a year ago.

    Let's wind down with this from Black Alliance for Peace:

    JANUARY 25, 2019—We, the members of the Black Alliance for Peace, uphold our political stance in the face of aggressions waged by the United States. Two of BAP’s core principles are an unwavering commitment to self-determination for peoples and nations alike and opposition to imperialism in all its varied and brutal forms. Therefore, unlike so many who are confused about Venezuela, we say without equivocation that we oppose the illegal and immoral attempts by the United States and their Organization of American States (OAS) allies to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
    No objective right has been bestowed upon the United States to impose its will on any sovereign people or nation. We categorically reject the arrogant and white supremacist assumption that the United States—itself a capitalist dictatorship—should arbitrarily take the liberty to presume leadership and rationalize its intervention into any nation by evoking a flimsy, laughable and ostensible argument that it is supporting democracy and/or human rights.
    Were it not for the abject hypocrisy exercised by the United States, the irony in the case of Venezuela would be more laughable than tragic. On the one hand, a nation that annually pretends to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., skirts over the many people’s understanding that he was murdered because of his opposition to U.S. state violence. That the United States would unleash a plan to subvert Venezuela—which would cost thousands of innocent lives—reminds us as Black people of the same methodology applied during the murderous and draconian tenure of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who unleashed the COINTELPRO program in U.S. Black communities.Militarized U.S. police forces, many of whom have received training from the Israeli state, enjoy impunity for the state-sanctioned execution of our people.
    Like the war party that it was during the Vietnam War period, the majority of Democrats have dropped their supposed fundamental opposition to Trump to line up in support of this criminal intervention. As always, the “party of the people” demonstrates its brand of subjective righteousness and justice.
    We pose the question to progressive forces in the United States: How much more war, how much more death and destruction will you endure before you break with the capitalist duopoly of your government and say no more war, no more subversion, no more killings in my name by a state that by every definition has become a rogue state and threat to global humanity?
    There can be no equivocation in the face of injustice and the psychopathology of white supremacist ideology that is unable to respect the rights and humanity of people of the Global Majority—Black and Brown people who are the ones who suffer from these imperialist adventures mobilized by the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination.
    The idea of a benevolent hegemon might be a comforting myth that assuages the conscience of left and progressive forces who engage in open class/race collaboration with the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy that is the Western European project. But for those of us relegated to what Frantz Fanon called the “zones of non-being,” we cannot afford any illusions about the nature of what we are up against.
    We call on those principled individuals and organizations located at the center of empire to put aside your divisions, stop your collaboration with the rulers and live up to your responsibility to the people of the world who suffer at the hands of this mad, criminal state.
    Now is the time to say no, now is the time to build our movement, now is the time for all of us who say we believe in peace to be ready to fight for justice!

    Media contact:

    The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and GORILLA RADIO -- updated:

  • And Kat did two posts yesterday, she also did "She wants to be America's prison guard."