Wednesday, September 08, 2021

ABBA, Van Halen

This is not about music but Liza Lentini has a very funny and pointed article at SPIN MAGAZINE.

I highly recommend you read it.

Now ABBA is regrouping for a new album and tour. Were you a fan? I liked "The Winner Takes It All." I really liked that song. Not a big fan of the other stuff though I did enjoy Cher's ABBA album. So Australia's 60 MINUTES did a report on the regrouping.

  Another big bang was Van Halen. And LOUDER ROCK reports: Sammy Hagar shares his early memories of Van Halen, with and without him, in the forthcoming Eddie Van Halen biography Eruption (UK) / Unchained (US). While Hagar’s recollections in each instance are hugely positive, he confesses that his predecessor David Lee Roth’s flamboyant, theatrical showmanship with the band left him cold. “From the outside, I was impressed by Van Halen,” Hagar tells writer Paul Brannigan. “What I liked about them was that they wrote hard rock pop tunes. Eddie’s guitar playing was so musical, and because he used major chords, it was very unique, very cool, edgy but yet sweet. It was almost wimpy and heavy at the same time. Ted Templeman production made the band sound heavy, and in the same way that John Bonham always made Jimmy Page sound heavy, so Alex always made Eddie’s playing heavy, even when he was playing cutie pie riffs. [But] I didn’t like [David Lee] Roth’s antics: I didn’t see how any guys could like him, but I guess they did. It’s like Howard Stern once said, ‘If David’s biggest fans ran into him in a bar they’d kick his ass!’“ As Brannigan notes, from the early ’80s, there was no love lost between the two alpha male vocalists. At the dawn of the decade, when Roth wondered aloud to a journalist “quite what manner of a man was Sam, writing songs only about cars and not women”, Hagar responded by calling Roth a “f*ggot”, and suggested that Van Halen’s frontman wanted a ‘relationship’ with him. “Dave always hated Sammy,” Eddie Van Halen later revealed to his friend, Guitar World writer, Steven Rosen. “I never understood why. Dave would always talk shit about him: ‘Ahhh, that little mother, he ain’t got nothin’ on me.’ I’d wonder, Where’s that even coming from? Why the animosity?” Sorry Roth fans, I gotta' agree with Sammy. Disclosure, I was a fan of Sammy solo before he went with Van Halen and I thought his work with Van Halen, especially on the 5150 classic, was far superior to anything David did for the band. I like the early Van Halen in spite of David, not because of him.


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

Wednesday, September 8, 2021.  Will their be a reckoning for US politicians as the American people grasp what the war money could have been spent on, meanwhile Iraq prepares to hold elections next month.

At IN THESE TIMES, Sarah Lazare asks what if our priorities in the US had been different over the last two decades:

Twenty years into a nebulous War on Terror,” the United States is in the grips of a full-fledged climate crisis. Hurricane Ida, whose severity is a direct result of human-made climate change, flooded cities, cut off power to hundreds of thousands, killed at least 60 people, and left elderly people dying in their homes and in squalid evacuation facilities. This followed a summer of heat waves, wildfires and droughts — all forms of extreme weather that the Global South has borne the brunt of, but are now, undeniably, the new normal” in the United States.

The U.S. government has turned the whole globe into a potential battlefield, chasing some ill-defined danger out there,” when, in reality, the danger is right here — and is partially of the U.S. government’s own creation. Plotting out the connections between this open-ended war and the climate crisis is a grim exercise, but an important one. It’s critical to examine how the War on Terror not only took up all of the oxygen when we should have been engaged in all-out effort to curb emissions, but also made the climate crisis far worse, by foreclosing on other potential frameworks under which the United States could relate with the rest of the world. Such bitter lessons are not academic: There is still time to stave off the worst climate scenarios, a goal that, if attained, would likely save hundreds of millions of lives, and prevent entire countries from being swallowed into the sea.

One of the most obvious lessons is financial: We should have been putting every resource toward stopping climate disaster, rather than pouring public goods into the war effort. According to a recent report by the ​​National Priorities Project, which provides research about the federal budget, the United States has spent $21 trillion over the last 20 years on foreign and domestic militarization.” Of that amount, $16 trillion went directly to the U.S. military — including $7.2 trillion that went directly to military contracts. This figure also includes $732 billion for federal law enforcement, because counterterrorism and border security are part of their core mission, and because the militarization of police and the proliferation of mass incarceration both owe much to the activities and influences of federal law enforcement.”

Of course, big government spending can be a very good thing if it goes toward genuine social goods. The price tag of the War on Terror is especially tragic when one considers what could have been done with this money instead, note the report’s authors, Lindsay Koshgarian, Ashik Siddique and Lorah Steichen. A sum of $1.7 trillion could eliminate all student debt, $200 billion could cover 10 years of free preschool for all three and four year olds in the country. And, crucially, $4.5 trillion could cover the full cost of decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid.

But huge military budgets are not only bad when they contrast with poor domestic spending on social goods — our bloated Pentagon should, first and foremost, be opposed because of the harm it does around the world, where it has roughly 800 military bases, and almost a quarter of a million troops permanently stationed in other countries. A new report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimates that between 897,000 and 929,000 people have been killed directly in the violence of the U.S. post‑9/​11 wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.” This number could be even higher. One estimate found that the U.S. war on Iraq alone killed one million Iraqis.

Still, the financial cost of war is worth examining because it reveals something about the moral priorities of our society. Any genuine effort to curb the climate crisis will require a tremendous mobilization of resources — a public works program on a scale that, in the United States, is typically only reserved for war. Now, discussions of such expenditures can be a bit misleading, since the cost of doing nothing to curb climate change is limitless: When the entirety of our social fabric is at stake, it seems silly to debate dollars here or there. But this is exactly what proponents of climate action are forced to do in our political climate. As I reported in March 2020, presidential candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary were grilled about how they would pay for social programs, like a Green New Deal, but not about how they would pay for wars.

So much could have been done to help the world but instead that money was spent on war and destruction.  Propping up puppet governments that harmed the people we lied to ourselves that our wars were saving.  So much money wasted, so much time.  Priorities.  

And let's be clear, these were the priorities of the establishment, not of the people.  That remains the case.  Graison Dangor (FORBES) reports:


A sizable majority of Americans believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were “not worth fighting,” according to an AP-NORC poll released Tuesday, a sign of public fatigue in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after nearly two decades and the continuing presence of 2,500 troops in Iraq.

Americans were asked their opinions on the wars in mid-August—as the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital and supplanted the central government—as part of a wide-ranging poll on national security and the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 62% of respondents told pollsters that the war in Afghanistan had not been worth it, while 63% said the same of the war in Iraq.

That reality goes a long way towards explaining the whoring Andrea Mitchell and others have done over the airwaves with their pretending to care about the Afghans.  They didn't care, they were just trying to push back against public opinion.  Well paid whores have to earn those checks, after all.

Iraq is set to hold elections next month.  Arkan Ali (RUDAW) reports:

As parliamentary elections approach, Iraq’s new electoral law is having an impact on how women are represented in politics.

According to the Iraqi constitution women are guaranteed at least 25 percent of the seats in parliament. Based on the law passed last year, a seat is reserved for a female candidate in each of the country’s newly divided 83 constituencies. 

In Sulaimani city centre, the Gorran Movement has nominated one woman from its seven candidates.

Based on an agreement with Gorran, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has not nominated a woman in the constituency.

“It’s a dream of every woman in Kurdistan, Iraq and the world that someday women win votes without a quota,” Rezan Ahmed Hardi, a Gorran Movement candidate in the Sulaimani city centre. “The quota law is very good, in my opinion. My goal will be to gain enough votes that even without a quota I would gain a seat in the Iraqi parliament.”

Elections are supposed to take place next month.  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) reports some ugly realities regarding women candidates:

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and civil society groups have received reports of politically motivated gender-based violence and hate speech against women running in Iraq's elections, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMI said on Tuesday.

In a press conference held in Baghdad, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert outlined steps UNAMI will take to ensure that the upcoming Iraqi elections, scheduled to take place on October 10, are free and fair. 

Female candidates face increasing levels of hate speech, violence, and blackmail intended to force them to withdraw their candidacy. 

"We are working with civil society organizations to monitor and report political gender-based violence and hate speech against female candidates," Hennis-Plasschaert said.

UNAMI?  They're so proud of this Tweet that they've Tweeted it multiple times in Arabic and English:

بلاسخارت للشعب العراقي: "الأمم المتحدة معكم. هدفكم هو هدفنا. لرؤية #العراق ينهض ... كبلد يكون فيه لكافة المواطنين الفرصة ليكون صوتهم مسموع ويُكللوا بالنجاح. الخطوة الأولى على الطريق الطويل جداً لتحقيق هذا الأمر هو الإدلاء بصوتكم".

. to the Iraqi people: "The UN is with you. Your goal is our goal. To see #Iraq emerge... as a country in which all of its citizens have the chance to be heard and to succeed. The very first step, on the very long road to achieving that, is to cast your ballot."


Multiple times?  They've Tweeted it four times in a row.  They Tweeted other things yesterday but you'll note that their Twitter thread never mentions female candidates.  

. just now: "Democracy is always a work in progress... It’s not easy to balance interests and opinions. But if people feel included – if they feel they can help shape their own futures – then the compromises and investments are more than worth it."

UN Special Representative tells Iraqi media: "In the interest of #Iraq’s young democracy, it is crucial to deliver an electoral process that will be recognized as credible." #Vote4Iraq Ballot box with ballot

Hmm.  In 2010, I don't think it was the Iraqi voters who overturned their own votes.  I think it was The Erbil Agreement that then-Vice President Joe Biden was the point-man on that overturned the results.  Maybe don't lecture Iraqis about what they need to do when they all remember that they voted Nouri al-Maliki out but the US government overturned their votes and gave him a second term . . . leading to the rise of ISIS in Iraq.

If you're thinking that they cover the issue of threats against female candidates at their FACEBOOK page, no, they don't.

Meanwhile, as we noted last week, the US government bribed Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to come out publicly in favor of elections.  This was US tax dollars.  Was it spent wisely?  No, not at all.  Halkawt Aziz  (RUDAW) reports:

In Sadr City, people are disheartened after nearly two decades of empty promises from politicians. 

“Let me tell you frankly, I will not vote. Four elections have been held [since 2003]. We’ve not seen any good come out of them. Each time they give us empty promises,” said Sadr City resident Dakhil Jabir. 

Some parties have withdrawn from the election, though Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in the current parliament, reversed his decision late last month.

Others parties are urging people to vote, saying the ballot box is the way to bring about change.

“People have every right to be hopeless because they see nothing has been done for them. They’re afraid that the very same faces will dominate the political sphere again. I can assure you all that change can be made with your participation. I agree that there could be a degree of vote-rigging, but this time voter fraud is going to be very difficult and it will not be like previous elections,” said Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, head of the Reform and Change Council.

That's Sadr City.  That's Moqtada's strong hold.  Or was.  Doesn't appear he's got a very strong hold on it right now.  If only the residents of Sadr City could be as stupid as the western media outlets, then the residents could be zombies who follow blindly -- that is how the media presents them.  On the other hand, here, we've noted this growing disenchantment.  And the thanks?  Nasty e-mails from REUTERS correspondents who now e-mail to say that their nasty e-mails has gotten the outlet banned from this site.  No, you're not banned.  It's just your Iraqi correspondents aren't filing anything of note.  Their 'big' story this week?  It's been on the water issue.  Yeah, we covered that last week.  Maybe if REUTERS hadn't been too busy trying to sell Mustafa al-Kahdimi as a great leader, they could've dealt with that topic when AP and so many other outlets were covering it instead of playing catch up a week later?  Priorities, right?

Many groups have stated that they will not vote in the elections.  This includes some members (and some leaders) of The October Revolution.  Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:

A group of about 40 fledgling parties born out of Iraq's October 2019 (Tishreen) protest movement announced on Saturday the formation of a political bloc, the Iraqi Opposition Forces, ahead of next month's elections, hoping to create a united front of protest parties who aim to bring radical change to Iraqi politics.
They called for "providing justice among all the political forces competing in the elections, pressuring the government to be serious in creating a fair electoral environment under the supervision of the United Nations, holding the killers of the October demonstrators accountable, revealing the fate of the disappeared and unjustly detained, as well as limiting weapons to the hands of the government," according to a statement from spokesperson Basim al-Sheikh.
Nearly two years ago, large angry protests broke out in central and southern Iraq, permeating most of the Shiite-dominated provinces. The demonstrations lasted several months and were met with violence and repression from state forces and militias backed by Iran that left at least 600 dead and thousands wounded.
The protests forced the resignation of the prime minister, reforms to the electoral law, and the early elections that are taking place a year ahead of schedule. Tishreen youth also began organizing themselves into political parties to contest the elections and compete with political Islam parties that have dominated Iraqi politics for more than 17 years.
  [. . .]

The new parties say their goal is to change the political reality in Iraq, ending the power of undemocratic parties that have distorted the system by using their influence to achieve financial and political gains. But there are very few Tishreen parties participating in the elections. One is Imtidad, led by Alaa al-Rikabi, a protest leader from Nasiriyah.

Others plan to achieve their goals through means other than the ballot box.
A member of the National House, Muhtada Abu al-Joud, told Rudaw English on Sunday that his party had announced its complete boycott of the elections and had begun work on a project to form a national opposition front.
"The opposition front does not mean that we will be part of the parliament. We do not intend to enter the political arena, but we will form a front to pressure the government through various tools, including political, legal, and international [means]," Joud said.


Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Experts are predicting low turnout in October due to distrust of the country’s electoral system and believe that it will not deliver the much needed changes they were promised since 2003.

“The new generation of youth, who are less part of the social basis of political parties, don't really see the point in voting,” Mr Mansour said.

“They don’t believe those political parties represent their interests or basic needs,” he said.

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