Thursday, September 17, 2020

Another cup of TEA FOR TILLERMAN

 Yusuf Islam is a singer-songwriter.  We first got to know him as Cat Stevens.  Early in his career, he wrote "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and P.P. Arnold recorded it and had a hit in the UK with it.  Later, he would record it himself, Linda Ronstadt would perform an amazing version of it on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (a late night program in the 70s), Rod Stewart would have a hit with it in the 70s, Sheryl Crow would have a hit with it two decades later and hundreds of other people will record it as well.

In 1967, his first album was released, MATTHEW AND SON, and it contained his first hit ("I Love My Dog").  Three albums later came 1970's TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN which is considered his best album and a rock classic.  Paul Samwell-Smith produced the album and he also produced Carly Simon's album ANTICIPATION and he co-wrote a very beautiful song with Carly -- "Do The Walls Come Down" from her 1987 album COMING AROUND AGAIN. 

"Anticipation," the title track to Carly's album of the same name?  Carly wrote that song while waiting for Cat to show up for a date.  "Into White" is a song he wrote that appears  on his TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN album that Carly recorded for her 2007 album INTO WHITE.  Other songs on TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN would include the singles "Father And Son" and "Wild World."  "Wild World" would make it to number 11 on the US pop charts.  The album would make it to number eight on Billboard's album charts and it would sell over three million copies in the US alone.

So I'm talking about his 1970 album right now because?  TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN 2 will be issued Friday, September 18th.  ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY notes:

Fittingly, the decision to remake the album was born out of a conversation with his own adult son, Yoriyos. “We sat down and started talking about ideas to mark this milestone — 50 years of probably one of my most well-known, well-loved albums,” Yusuf, 72, tells Entertainment Weekly. “He came up with the idea of doing it all again, and I said, ‘Yeah, I like a challenge!’ It was intimidating because the album is so successful and iconic.”

Rather than record a faithful replica of his masterwork, he radically recast many of the familiar tracks, exploring the sonic possibilities only hinted at in the acoustic originals. The original calypso groove of “Longer Boats” morphs into a full-on funk breakdown, capped off with a spoken word verse from rapper Brother Ali. “Miles from Nowhere” includes a buzz-saw slide guitar that’s positively rowdy — a word seldom used to describe Yusuf/Cat Stevens tracks, while “But I Might Die Tonight” is given a similarly hard driving treatment. “Wild World,” arguably the album’s best-known song, received the most extensive makeover, rearranged as a noirish waltz straight out of Weimar-era Berlin. “I wanted to do things that would help me to recapture a different aspect of that album,” he explains. “For me, that makes it what it means today.” The sounds may have changed, but so has he. This fact is poignantly illustrated on “Father and Son,” which features Yusuf duetting with his younger self — drawn from a recently unearthed tape of the then-22-year-old performing at the legendary Troubadour club in Los Angeles.

On NPR's MORNING EDITION, Rachel Martin spoke with Yusuf:

After you converted to Islam, you stepped away from pop music for a couple of decades. May I ask how and when you knew that it was time to come back?

I had lots of people throughout that period telling me, "Make some more music, please, for us." Not just my old fans, but just people in general, including Muslims. You know, I went through so many changes in the beginning [after converting]. You don't know the rules and things and what to do; you're in a state of educating yourself. I got rid of my guitars, because ...

You got rid of them?

Yeah, I sold them for charity. I got rid of it all because I felt I was being weighed down with an image of me that I was no longer willing to serve. I just sort of thought, "Hey — I found out who I was, what I want to do, and I'm going to get down to doing it." The songs were predicting a change in my life. When the change came, I didn't have to keep on singing songs, you know? That's kind of logical.

Anyway, there was a point when the Bosnian War was taking place — and it was a big, big shock, because this was Europe and we were seeing a genocide right on our doorstep. This was quite frightening. But I was involved in relief and delivering aid to these people, and when I got there, I found that they were singing these songs. I mean, these songs lifted their spirit at this time when it was so dark. I think it was that that made me realize that music has a very important part to play in the shaping of our dreams and the shaping of what we want for tomorrow. What we want for today.

 I'm eager to hear the album.

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

 Thursday, September 17, 2020.  Do #OTHERLIVESMATTER! or only the lives of Americans?  Interesting question considering a new story in the news.

Starting in the US, Savannah Bermann (USA TODAY) reports:

Federal police asked the National Guard whether they had a “heat ray” officers could use against protesters gathered near the White House earlier this summer,according to a letter sent to Congress from a senior officer involved with responding to the protest. 

The inquiry for these tools came just hours before demonstrators protesting on the evening of June 1, following the death of George Floyd, were forcibly removed from the Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. by authorities, some on horseback, using chemical irritants, rubber bullets and shields.

President Donald Trump then walked with members of his administration to historic St. John's Church, and posed with a Bible, drawing wide condemnation.  

In written responses to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which were obtained and shared by NPR, D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco said he was copied on an email from the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region who was seeking two things: A device called the Active Denial System, or ADS and a Long-Range Acoustic Device, also known as the LRAD.

ADS is a weapon designed by the military that uses short radio waves that "provides a sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin,” according to the written statements. This causes an intense burning feeling, leading to the tool also being called a "heat ray" or the "Pain Ray."

Elliot Hannon (SLATE) adds:

“The technology, also called a ‘heat ray,’ was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings,” the Washington Post reports. “Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq. In late 2018, the New York Times reported, the Trump administration had weighed using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border—an idea shot down by Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, citing humanitarian concerns.”

The technology should not be used.  If you're a pompous drama queen prone to hiding behind what you did in Iraq, you might want to check yourself -- especially if you're screaming your head off in a video calling for people to be killed.  Just sit your ass down, princess, you've got nothing to proud of if you're video and your Tweet is all about how this should never be used on Americans.  

#OTHERLIVESMATTER.  There were many reports in the early stages of the Iraq War of this very weapon being used in Iraq.  So don't hide behind your "I was in Iraq and I wasn't in Iraq so these weapons could be used on Americans!  You don't look brave, you look like a thug.  Because really bad weapons were used on Iraqis.  Depleted Uranium was used on the Iraqi people.  It's why birth defects skyrocketed in the country.  

There is no justification for that.  And fourteen-year-old boys -- or twelve-year-olds who look fourteen -- are not terrorists and should not be hunted as if they were or not allowed to leave Falluja, kept there to be killed and executed by the US military.

That's what happened and I'm not in the mood for your sudden concern over weapons now that they might be used on Americans.

I'm also not interested in, Princess Vet, your use of this for partisan b.s.  At this point, the issue appears to be it having been raised, the use of it having been raised.  It does not appear to have been used.

It should not have been raised and there should be a loud rebuke -- but not threats of shooting people over this, Princess Vet, calm down -- so that the message is clear that we do not use this technology on humans (I'm not painting an X on the backs of all animals, I'm just focusing on humans).  And that's here, that's in Iraq, that's anywhere.  

We need to be very clear on this.

We also need a few details.  That would include who was in on the discussion.  Was the White House party to it?  Was Donald Trump aware?  

It's really easy to scream and yell into a video like a lunatic with the hopes that you're going to turn out the votes for Joe Biden.  But that's not reality.  And Joe's Barack's roll dog so some of this outrage on his behalf is a bit much -- Barack remains King of the Drone War.  And he did use them on US citizens.  

The notion of using weapons -- of any kind -- on peaceful protesters is disgusting.  

And yet, Princess Vet, that has happened for almost a full year now in Iraq and you're so quick to manly man your service in Iraq but you're not very quick to defend the Iraqi people.

Oh, right, the illegal war was never about defending the Iraqi people or making their lives better.

Your hypocrisy and much more is showing.

What appears to be not in dispute at this time: Early in the Trump presidency, these weapons were tossed out for possible use on immigrants crossing the border and then-Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen shot down the idea.  This summer, the use of the weapons were again raised.  Judging by the written document submitted, they were not used.  That needs further examination and Congress should pursue the matter in public hearings.  

Efforts to attach this to a person without evidence is not a good idea.  And it doesn't help the situation.  No matter how much a man like Princess Vet screams in a selfie video, it doesn't help anyone.

We actually had an editorial on this ready to go at THIRD -- on Princess Vet -- and the ones who wrote it didn't know about the above.  They just tried to stream his video and they noted in the editorial (we didn't publish it) that whatever Princess Vet's message was, he wasn't going to persuade anyone because his presentation was so off putting and because his 'answer' was to call for the deaths of people.  It is a grotesque and embarrassing video and a sign that maybe Princess Vet needs some mental help and maybe there needs to be courses before you return to civilian life encouraging to grasp that shoot-and-kill may work in the military but it is not the answer to every political issue.

I'm being nice and not naming Princess Vet.  I won't be nice about Keith Boykin who Tweeted:

Trump tried to deploy military heat ray weapon on protesters in Lafayette Square that the Pentagon didn't want to use in Iraq War. Army National Guard major also confirms protesters were never given clear, audible warning to disperse before the attack.

Donald Trump did that, did he?  Because that's a fact not in THE WASHINGTON POST article you link to.  I'd think whoring would get old.  I'd think people would say, "Wait, let me deal with what we know.  This is a very serious issue and I want to deal with the facts."  Not Keith.  It's not about what was 'tried,' it's just about partisan bulls**t.  

I'd also be very careful about claiming it wasn't used in Falluja.  I remember when Scott Shane got nasty about what weapons were used in Iraq at THE NEW YORK TIMES and then, woops, he had to follow up with an article admitting White Phosphorus was used.  I'd be very careful about claims from the Pentagon about what they used in Iraq and what they didn't use because they have been repeatedly caught denying this or that use only for it to be exposed that this or that was used.

In other news, NBC NEWS Tweets about Jon Stewart:

"The only difference between the 9/11 responders at Ground that that was caused by a terrorist attack," Stewart said. "Veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering the same illnesses and the same toxic exposure."

Here's THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) reporting on Jon:

The burnpits issue is one we've long covered.  And Congress has done damn little.  It's amazing that we set through a hearing -- and reported on it -- where a US Senator had the nerve to insult Vietnam veterans -- he was one himself -- and state his opposition to the Agent Orange registry.

Centrist Dems are liars and whores.  That's why Jim Webb did not seek re-election.  He was the US senator at that hearing.  And you damn well better believe veterans groups knew what he did and knew what he said.  That's why he didn't seek re-election.  Yet when he tried to throw his hat in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2016, centrist Dems were gushing over him like he was someone to look up to.  No.  

BURNPIT360 remains the strongest resource for the burnpit issue.


That's Alicia Keys' "Brand New Me" (the live version from the live album VH1 STORYTELLERS).  As Betty noted in "Alicia Keys" earlier this week, Alicia's latest album (ALICIA) drops tomorrow.  It's her follow up to 2016's HERE.  On Tuesday, community members noted their favorite Alicia songs: Betty went with "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart," Kat went with "In Common," Mike went with "Another Way To Die," Marcia went with "If I Ain't Got You," Elaine went with "Holy War," Ruth picked "A Woman's Worth," Rebecca chose "fallin'," Ann offered two choices "Girl On Fire and . . .," Stan selected "Queen of the Field" and Trina went with "Underdog."  Betty picked my personal favorite but I do really love "Brand New Me."  (Just realized no one chose "No One."  I would've thought that would have been someone's pick.)  So, tomorrow, new album from Alicia Keys.

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Diana Rigg

 In "Diana Rigg," Ruth noted the passing of Diana Rigg and I meant to come back to that myself but kept forgetting.  Paul Bond has a piece about Diana up at WSWS:

Diana Rigg, who died September 10 aged 82, was a fine classical actress who struggled against over-identification with her popular successes. Like Honor Blackman before her, Rigg’s recognition for the television series The Avengers and an appearance as a “[James] Bond girl” in On Her Majestys Secret Service (Peter Hunt, 1969) threatened to overwhelm her other achievements.

Rigg resisted this. She refused to sign Avengers photographs that were sent to her, saying that “it would have been death to have been labelled forever by that one TV series.” Her extensive, significant theatre work was a better response, but those glamorous 1960s successes were built on genuine qualities. Her sexy, knowing and self-assured performance in The Avengers remains a joy.

Rigg ended up successfully negotiating the transition back and forth between stage and television. She regretted not making more films, but was keen to keep exploring new ground, explaining that “being doomed to the classics is as limiting as doing a series for the rest of your life.”

I loved Diana Rigg as a kid.  I'm remembering The Avengers being on Saturday nights.  Maybe, after ABC aired it, the show went to my local PBS in San Francisco?  I remember watching THE PRISONER -- another British show -- on my PBS station. 

I was a big fan of her Emma Peel character.  In fact, I used to get the series on DVD from NETFLIX when they were just a DVD business.  And I'd only get the Diana Rigg episodes.  I've seen the others but never been interested.  (The only exception would be THE NEW AVENGERS which I really enjoyed -- Joanna Lumley was in that.)  

When TUBI first started offering streaming, I'd go there and stream episodes of THE AVENGERS with Diana Rigg in them.  

After THE AVENGERS?  Diana probably registered the most to me when I was stoned (I was not the only adult stoned but I won't tell on others) and with my oldest niece and two adult family members at the movies seeing THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER.  Miss Piggy wants to be a model and Diana Rigg hires her . . . as a receptionist.  Diana was a good sport -- and that's the highest compliment for any person appearing opposite the Muppets.  

She was a strong actress who was always believable (see THE HOSPITAL for some of her finest film work, see REBECCA for some of her finest TV work).

Ruth got an e-mail after her post went up from someone carping 'Diana Rigg wasn't a feminist!' That was the whole point of the e-mail.  I say?  So what?  

I'm a feminist.  Every one doesn't have to be one.  Was Diana Rigg a doormat? Nope.  She was a strong woman and she was said to be supportive of other actresses.  Sounds good to me.

She was entitled to be whomever she wanted.  I think she wanted to be a great actress and I think she met that goal.

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

 Wednesday, September 16, 2020.  Joe Biden dithers in public confusing Iraq and Iran, real issues are ignored by the press and much more.

Violence continues in Iraq.  When the targets appear to be western, the violence gets a bit of press attention.  AFP reports this morning:

Three separate attacks in 24 hours have targeted Western diplomatic or military installations in Iraq, security and diplomatic sources said on Tuesday, hinting at a new escalation between authorities and rogue groups.

While no casualties were reported in any of the attacks, Iraqi officials told AFP they see the spike as an indirect way to pressure the government as it tries to fight graft. On Tuesday morning, an improvised explosive device targeted a British embassy vehicle returning from Baghdad airport, a diplomatic source told AFP.


Security sources report that there were no victims or injuries in the attacks, but the attacks confirm a growing climate of "pressure" on the executive. In recent days, the Chaldean patriarch himself had emphasized to AsiaNews the unity of purpose in this all-out fight against groups and militias that foment ill-dealings and divisions.

Yesterday morning a rudimentary device exploded as a British embassy vehicle passed, returning from the airport. The attack, the first in over 10 years against a British vehicle, took place near the Green Zone, the high-security area in the center of the capital that hosts diplomatic offices, international institutions and government offices.

During the night, two Katyusha rockets were launched against the American embassy, ​​also within the Green Zone. The C-RAM missile defense system installed at the mission at the beginning of the year foiled the threat. The device warns of the possible arrival of ammunition or explosives and is activated, causing them to explode in the air hitting them with thousands of bullets per minute.

In the early hours of September 14 two explosive devices hit a convoy of US vehicles and supplies.

AHBUL BAYT NEWS AGENCY notes that "the British Embassy in Baghdad confirmed" the attack on the British vehicle.  Again when western interests are the target it's 'news.'  When the Iraqi people die daily, it's just a shrug -- if that -- from the corporate news industry.  


War Hawk Joe Biden is senile.  He's not fit to be president based on his record but, more to the point, he's not fit to be president based on his brain.  He never knows where he is, who his wife is (confusing her with his sister), what he's doing, he's senile and unfit for office.  That's bad.  But here he is speaking on the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq or, as he puts it, Iran.

All these years later and he doesn't grasp the difference?  No, it's that he's senile.  He's lost it and he's not fit to govern.  He's honestly not fit to drive and a caring family would confront him and take away his keys.  But he's also not fit to be in the Oval Office.  

Weeks out from a presidential election and the press can spend forever jabbering away about polls but not about actual issues.  Doug Bandow (ANTIWAR.COM) notes the silence on the issue of war:

Even worse is the Middle East. The region no longer matters much to Washington, given rising American energy production and falling global demand. Israel is a regional, nuclear-armed superpower that can defend itself. The region long has suffered through dictatorship and chaos, neither of which warrant American military involvement. Why should Americans die on behalf of the Saudi royal family? The Saudis hire foreigners to do the country’s dirty work; they treat American servicemen and women as their personal bodyguards, paid for through weapons purchases. Alas, Trump has obliged, sacrificing US interests to royal desires.

Trump and Biden should be asked directly: why are Americans expected to die to protect the licentious, irresponsible Saudi royals who slice and dice their critics? Egypt’s dictatorial regime, which has jailed tens of thousands and continues to persecute Christians and other religious minorities? The Emirati royal family, whose only virtue is being less oppressive than the Saudis? Should Washington risk war to sort out the Syrian and Libyan civil wars which, though tragic, do not impact American security? Why do legislators rush en masse to declare support for Israel when its primary threat lies within, the continued occupation over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians who live under a system of militarized Apartheid?

War is terrible. Sometimes necessary, but rarely so. Most US conflicts are hard if not impossible to justify. Brutal aggressions against Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines. Senseless involvement in World War I. A last gasp attempt to rescue French colonialism in Vietnam. A gaggle of nation-building disasters in the 1990s and 2000s. Even the better cases, such as World War II, in which Imperial Japan attacked America, have important what if’s: what if the US has not imposed an oil embargo on Tokyo, pushing that country toward its attack on Pearl Harbor?

With war so frequent and frequently unjustified, Americans should start holding their presidents accountable. True, the original Constitution required Congress to decide on war, but Washington now operates on very different principles, by which the president does whatever he or she wants on foreign policy, leaving legislators to applaud or carp, depending on how the conflict turns out. Hence the necessity of asking candidates when they are prepared to take Americans into war.

The US press ignores the wars.  When they do stumble upon them, it's to speak of the past and not to note the tragedies that are ongoing.  Iraq War veteran Frederic Wehrey shares his experience early on in the war at THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS:

There at the Baghdad hospital, I joined an FBI agent in questioning the bedridden al-Ani about his time in the Czech Republic. A diminutive man with a grizzled face creased by bouts of pain, he epitomized the type of drab regime functionary I’d come to know in Iraq all too well. He answered our questions straightforwardly. In the end, the hours-long session provided no evidence about the Prague meeting to contradict the debunking that had already appeared in the press. Al-Ani had never met Mohamed Atta or even heard of him until he saw news reports after September 11. Nor was he himself even in Prague on the day of the alleged encounter; he was out of town, seventy miles away. 

Even more disturbing than this non-revelation, though, was his account of his capture that summer by US special operations forces and the reason for his hospitalization. Snatching him from his Baghdad home at night, US soldiers had bound his wrists, covered his head, and forced him to lie on the floor of a Humvee for the long trip to a detention facility. Within fifteen minutes of his confinement in the vehicle, he felt an unbearable burning sensation. A Humvee’s engine is located in the front and conducts heat to the rear bed, where al-Ani was lying facedown on the bare metal. He twisted and writhed from the pain, but his American guards thought he was resisting. One of the soldiers stepped harder on his back with his boot. “Jesus, Jesus, please,” he’d cried, he told me, hoping that this invocation in English would get them to relent. 

In front of us in the hospital, he lifted his gown to show us the results: severe burns, in dark-hued patches, covered his stomach, thighs, feet, and palms. As a consequence, al-Ani would endure three months of hospitalization, which involved multiple skin grafts, as well as the amputation of his thumb and the loss of movement of a finger.

After the meeting, I relayed his account of these injuries to my commanding general, who later reported the matter to a Senate inquiry into detainee abuses. The US Department of Justice also included the FBI’s account of this same interview in the inspector general’s 2008 report on detainee interrogations. And, over several years, the US Army investigated the incident, concluding that al-Ani’s injuries were consistent with his story and that “the offences of Assault and Cruelty and Maltreatment was [sic] substantiated.” Despite that finding, the Army dropped the case. 

To my knowledge, nobody was ever disciplined or punished for al-Ani’s mistreatment.


It is a cruel irony that this Iraqi man was first used as a prop for an American invasion and then subjected to disfiguring violence by soldiers who had carried out that invasion. But his story weighs on me in other ways. The abuses we’ve seen in US policing have deep, homegrown roots, but I am convinced that they are also partly a result of the militarization of law enforcement born of the Iraq War and America’s other overseas interventions. The Iraq disaster has rippled across virtually every facet of American life, deepening the inequalities that divide us, stirring a popular contempt for “expertise” that has opened the door to demagoguery, and contributing to the hollowing-out of our infrastructure and institutions in ways that have left the country dangerously exposed to future shocks. 

That excerpt alone should raise multiple questions -- including about justice, about oversight, about planning, about objectives.  

The illegal war has not ended and it's no more clearly defined now, nearly 18 years later, than it was at the start when it was sold on one lie after another.  

Last week, Joe Biden, hoping to become the next president, announced that he would leave US troops in Iraq.  The obvious question did not get asked: Why?

Nor did anyone bother to point out that the so-called 'mission' is the same one that has failed year after year.  AL-MONITOR notes: "Biden also told Stars and Stripes that the situation is complicated in Iraq and Syria and that he cannot guarantee a full withdrawal as a result."

It's complicated, is it?  Joe can't guarantee, if elected, that in his four year term he would withdraw US troops from Iraq because it's complicated.  How sick and pathetic. 

Some could get honest and admit that US lives are put at risk to prop up a government that does not serve the Iraqi people.  But Joe's never been an honest broker.

Black Alliance for Peace's Ajamu Baraka observes at COUNTERPUNCH:

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that was needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and if possible to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

Issues of life and death are avoided by the corporate press which pretends the wars don't even exist -- except when they need to resell them all over again..

They can't be counted on -- even in a presidential election, to address the serious issues that the country should be discussing.  Issues like war and the environment.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) tackles the latter in her latest:

In recent weeks a combination of drought and record breaking heat have accelerated wildfire season to historic levels of devastation. More than 4.6 million acres have burned in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. Skies are colored orange and red, the air is unbreathable, lives have been lost and entire towns have been destroyed.

The connection between heat waves, droughts, and human made climate change are clear and the solution is known to every school child. There must be a drastic reduction in the production of fossil fuels. A radical restructuring of society, especially an end to capitalist incentives for planetary destruction, is no longer optional. Every form of plant and animal life is in very grave danger.

It is easy to blame Donald Trump, who among other things famously withdrew from the 2015 Paris climate accords. Although it must be pointed out that the agreement is an honor system based declaration of intent and not a requirement to take action. Signatory nations chose goals for themselves while also allowing temperature increases that are deadly for people living in the global south. The agreement specifically states that industrialized nations don’t have to pay compensation for the damage they do to the rest of the world. Trump’s stunt gives the impression that Democrats are serious about fighting climate change but the facts prove otherwise. 

“There must be an end to capitalist incentives for planetary destruction.”

Barack Obama recently took to twitter  with photos of orange California skies and implored voters to act. “Protecting our planet is on the ballot. Vote like your life depends on it -- because it does.” He didn’t say who voters should support. One assumes he meant the Democrats, but they have turned their backs on their own timid, mealy mouthed proclamations of concern. 

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) removed language from its platform  which called for ending government subsidies to fossil fuel companies. That betrayal was just as well, because the Democrats’ record on the environment is nothing like the image they project on social media. Obama was joined by California’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom   who used some of the same photos and offered the same platitudes with capital letters for extra emphasis. “Climate change is REAL. So please VOTE.”

“The Democrats’ record on the environment is nothing like the image they project on social media.”

Obama and Newsom are both liars. This is what Obama said in a March 22, 2012 speech . “Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”
Newsom is no better. Despite the social media rhetoric his administration continues to give fracking and other drilling permits. In fact, the state of California has given more fracking  permits in the first six months of 2020 than it did in the same period the year before.

Neither of the two capitalist parties is in any position to stop the planet from heating up. That is because both do the bidding of the corporations causing the record breaking temperatures to occur. One party lies about the damage it is causing and promotes easily dismissed quackery to defend itself. As usual, the Democrats sneer and pretend to act differently when at every opportunity they do the very same things that are killing the planet.

Joe's empty campaign offers nothing.  He's running on the claim "I'm not as bad as the other one."  It's the strategy Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ran on last time.  Donald ended up winning.  He did that despite the fact that Hillary is in full control of her intellect.  Joe's starting off with a disadvantage but he still thinks he can do better than Hillary?  

Kevin Zeese recently passed away.  At BLACK AGENDA REPORT today, Danny Haiphong remembers Kevin:

The pain of loss is immeasurable yet comrades across the globe have come to view it as an inevitable aspect of the fight for liberation. For the revolutionary, death is neither a secret nor a prophecy. The loss of life is as common as life itself for the oppressed and those who fight on the side of the oppressed. I didn't know Kevin Zeese as well as I would have liked beyond a podcast interview and the honor of sharing a room with him at anti-war conferences. However, what I do know is that his legacy is, and will continue to be, a profound contribution to the world we are trying to build.

One of my few encounters with Kevin was at the impromptu memorial held at the Left Forum for Black Agenda Report's managing editor Bruce Dixon in 2019. Bruce died just prior to the convening of that year’s annual event. Kevin and the rest of the heroic members of the Embassy Protection Collective were still in the midst of fighting federal charges for defending the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. from illegal seizure by the U.S.-backed coup regime. 

Kevin's words for Bruce were filled with a love for the people that can only develop out of a deep experience in movement politics within the belly of the beast. 

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

In Common

 That's "In Common," a great song by Alicia Keys and my personal favorite.

Alicia is a singer-songwriter known for her hits such as "No One," "Fallin'," "A Woman's Worth," "Unbreakable," "Girl On Fire," "If I Ain't Got You," "Like You'll Never See Me Again," . . .

We're doing theme posts tonight -- favorite Alicia Keys song -- and we're doing it because her new album ALICIA comes out this Friday.  

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

 Tuesday, September 15, 2020.  Joe Biden's destruction of Iraq didn't end with his 2002 vote.

A failed state, that's Jimmy Dore's call below.

Joe Biden.  He said Friday that he's for keeping troops in Iraq.  (He also, please note, pretends his son Beau died in Iraq to try to silence the veteran confronting him -- Beau died in the US, he died from cancer, he returned from Iraq in 2009, he died in 2015.)  He wants to keep troops in Iraq.

Despite Tulsi Gabbard lying in the debate at the end of July, and in her days of gabbing afterwards, Joe Biden has never apologized for his vote for the Iraq War.  What he has said is the Bully Boy Bush -- that would be Bully Boy Bush, the global village's idiot -- tricked him.  Joe was tricked by Bully Boy Bush.  That's all he's apologized for -- being so stupid that he was tricked by Bully Boy Bush.  

He could have been held accountable but instead we had Tulsi both lying and whoring for Joe Biden.  Tulsi, don't ever pretend you're anti-war again.  You had a chance to stand up for the never-ending wars, the endless wars, the forever wars and you elected to to step to the other side.  That's on you.  

And what's on Joe is that he championed the Iraq War and never learned a damn thing from it.

In April of 2008, he was noting in a public hearing that there was no real government in Iraq and yet he goes on to pretend otherwise as vice president.  He knew better and he's never been forced to explain that or take accountability for it.  

Barry Grey (WSWS) reports:

The previous day, Thursday, Biden told Stars and Stripes that as president he would keep US troops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq indefinitely. He spoke the day after Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, announced that the US planned to cut the troop level in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of this month and reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan from 8,600 to 4,500 by November.

According to the military newspaper, “Biden said the conditions in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are so complicated that he cannot promise full withdrawal of troops in the near future.”

It added that the Democratic candidate “said he does not foresee major reductions in the US defense budget as the military refocuses its attention to potential threats from ‘near-peer’ powers such as China and Russia.” The Pentagon budget has soared under Trump, with overwhelming support from congressional Democrats, to $738 billion.

“In fact,” the article stated, “he [Biden] said defense spending could increase in a Biden administration.” It quoted the former vice president as saying, “I’ve met with a number of my advisers and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.”

The article noted that Biden has “vowed” to better equip the National Guard, which is increasingly being deployed in cities across the country to assist local and state police in suppressing left-wing protests.

There is no defense for Joe Biden's vote for the war and his attacks on people who opposed the war.  Joe was wrong and can't admit it.

That video acts as though that's all Joe did.  That's why I've always seen THE REAL NEWS NETWORK as garbage.  Joe Biden harmed Iraq with the 2002 vote.  He did not make things better after.  He continued to harm Iraq.  When the American people were tired of the war finally, Joe was off talking about partitioning Iraq.

No officials or leaders in Iraq were pushing for that notion.  Just Joe.  And what was it but an attempt to divert from calls for US forces to leave Iraq.  In April 2008, he chaired an open hearing where he noted that US forces were being used in Iraq to prop up a government that didn't really exist.

That government didn't exist because it wasn't of Iraq.  It was imposed on them by the US.  And that also explains who has been a prime minister.  Every one who got the post -- not elected by the Iraqi people -- was someone who was too chicken to stay in Iraq.  They had fled and lived abroad and only returned to Iraq in 2003 after the US invasion.

No one wants a chicken, a coward, representing them.  

But we're all supposed to pretend otherwise and look the other way as the US (and Iran) have picked one leader of Iraq after another.

Joe knew US forces were being used to prop up a fake government.  He knew that as a US senator in 2008.  And then he became prime minister and worked with a man he knew was a thug -- Nouri al-Maliki.  He's not been asked to explain that.

In 2008, then-Senator Hillary Clinton rightly called Nouri a "thug" in an open hearing.  That is why, as Secretary of State, she wasn't the leader on Iraq.  Joe was the leader on Iraq for the administration.  And he gladly worked with Nouri and looked the other way while Nouri ran torture chambers and secret prisons.  Joe knew that.  And worked with him.  

It gets worse.  March 2010, Iraqis voted Nouri out.  They made Iraqiya the big winner.  Iraqiya was a coalition of men and women, of Sunnis, Shi'ites, and every other grouping.  Iraqiya was about a national identity.  

Nouri was a thug who was terrorizing the Iraqi people.  And the Iraqi people voted him out.  But when Nouri refused to step down, Joe didn't back democracy, didn't back the Iraqi people, didn't back anything but Nouri.  After eight months and a few weeks, in November of 2010, Nouri al-Maliki (who lost the election) was declared the prime minister of Iraq.  This was carried out via a contract Joe oversaw and sold to various Iraqi leaders: The Erbil Agreement.

It was pork legislation.  To get everyone on board, various groups were promised various things.  Nouri, being the thug he was, never honored it, as soon as he was made prime minister, his spokesperson said the contract was illegal.

And Nouri is probably right about that.  You can't overturn the will of the people with a secret contract.  

There's also the issue of ISIS.  THE REAL NEWS NETWORK is among many liars when it comes to ISIS.  ISIS grew in Iraq for one reason: Nouri al-Maliki was terrorizing the Iraqi people.  That's how ISIS saw an opening.  They showed up on the highway from Baghdad to Falluja.  The Iraqi people had been protesting and Nouri was terrorizing them.  They were on that highway and suddenly these men in garb show up saying they will defend these protesters.  Those 'defenders' were ISIS.  That's when ISIS announces its presence in Iraq and begins building its group.  

Why are US troops still in Iraq?

They're not protecting the Iraqi people.  We're weeks away from a year of Iraqi forces killing and wounding Iraqi activists for the 'crime' of protesting.  Two different prime ministers have insisted the killings should stop but they haven't.  Adil Abdul-Mahdi was prime minister this time last year and was forced out by the Iraqi people for corruption and for the targeting of the activists.  Mustafa al-Kadhimi became prime minister May 7th. 

The killings continue.  ALJAZEERA presented the following program on Monday.

You can be killed for a Tweet in Iraq.  This is the government the US is propping up.  The US military is not on the ground to protect the Iraqi people.  Their presence enables a thuggish government to attack the Iraqi people.

Where is the outrage in the US?

It's not there in part because people who should be using their voices walked away from Iraq long ago -- it wasn't a big fundraiser for them anymore and they didn't get the easy media attention and, let's be honest. the Leslie Cagens are always whores.  

What's taking place is a crime against humanity.

It's appalling and we're on record here calling it out in real time.  In 20 years, when the world finds it outrage over what took place right now, I'm not in the mood to be kind.  People need to speak out in real time.  

The Iraqi people have been denied the right of self-determination.  A government has been imposed on them.  And the US military is used by the US government to keep this illegitimate government propped up.  

ALJAZEERA's program is one that should have been put together by a US news network.  But they look the other way and ignore reality.  Let's not forget that when PBS aired the BBC Iraq documentary a few months back, they cut out several important segments -- insisting the cuts were for time reason.

Yeah, right.  Because, in the midst of this pandemic, PBS has so much new content to offer viewers that their schedule is just too crowded, right?

Because of the turmoil and the outrage of the Iraqi people and because they've taken to the streets, Adil Abdul Mahdi was forced to step down as prime minister after being appointed to a four year term (he would serve less than two years).  Because of the turmoil and the outrage and the protests, Mustafa, appointed May 7th, has announced early parliamentary elections will take place June 6th.  This could result in a new prime minister.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission announced on Monday five conditions to hold early parliamentary elections in June 2021.

It issued a statement shortly after the country’s highest Shiite authority, Ali al-Sistani, voiced his support for holding the polls during a meeting with United Nations envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

The Commission said it welcomed Sistani’s position, saying it will be ready to stage the elections “once its conditions, which it has frequently stipulated, are met.”

Dr. Margaret Flowers is an activist who has long advocated for peace and for Medicare For All.  She has just lost her partner in peace Kevin Zeese.  DISSIDENT VOICE has a piece she wrote about her late husband and this is an excerpt:

As I wrote last week, Kevin Zeese died unexpectedly in his sleep, likely from a heart attack, early in the morning on September 6. He had not shown signs of illness and was working until the end.

Many of you know Kevin from Popular Resistance, from his writing and podcast Clearing the FOG. He had a deep knowledge of history and the issues. He often spoke of his time working for Ralph Nader in 2004 when he wrote policy briefs as a “PhD in public policy.” Kevin understood how political power works.

Kevin’s work in activism spanned more than 40 years. He worked on political campaigns during high school in Queens, New York and protested the Vietnam War. When radical lawyers Ramsey Clark and William Kunstler spoke at SUNY Buffalo, where he was studying political science, Kevin was inspired to join the civil rights movement. He went to Boston to be a marshal for an anti-racism march and was attacked with others by police on horseback.

During law school at George Washington University, Kevin’s favorite class was on legal activism. He describes the experience in Americans Who Tell the Truth:

We created a group SEXCE (Students for the Examination of Contraceptive Effectiveness) and got legislation introduced in Congress, got the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to correct their advertising, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to start a rulemaking process to correct their labeling. It was pretty amazing to see all of that come out of one law school course on Legal Activism.’ Through this project, Zeese says he ‘learned guerilla law and legal judo’—how to leverage the law with minimum cost and maximum impact.

Kevin’s first internship was with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) answering letters from prisoners. He said this gave him a deep understanding of the destructive impact the War on Drugs has on people and their families. After law school, Kevin worked as legal counsel for NORML and then as executive director. He was working to legalize marijuana when Reagan was president and popular opinion strongly supported the Drug War. Kevin sued the Drug Enforcement Agency three times over the reclassification of medical marijuana and won, but each time the decision was overturned on appeal.

During this time, Joe Biden was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who worked with the racist head of the Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond, to push for a ‘drug czar’ (Reagan vetoed that) and for more severe punishments. Kevin called Biden the architect of the drug war and mass incarceration.

We'll wind down with this tribute to Kevin Zeese by Lee Camp.

The following sites updated: