Friday, May 07, 2021

Nancy Wilson releases solo album

The rock group Heart is led by the two sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.  They've had many hits including "What About Love," "Dog & Butterfly," "Alone," "Never," "Straight On," "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You," "Crazy On You," "Will You Be There In The Morning," "Magic Man,"  "How Can I Refuse," "There's The Girl," "This Man Is Mine," "Even It Up," "Kick It Out," "Tell It Like It Is," "Heartless," "These Dreams," "Dreamboat Annie," "Stranded," "Who Will You Run To," "Hey, You," "Little Queen," "Barracuda," "Nothing At All" and "Bebe Le Strange" among others.  They're a hugely successful rock band. 

Ann's done some solo work over the years, two solo albums and the hit single "Almost Paradise" which was a duet with Mike Reno for the film FOOTLOOSE. 

Now sister Nancy is stepping out with her first solo album.  PEOPLE MAGAZINE notes:

When Nancy Wilson first met fellow rocker Eddie Van Halen in the '80s, they had an instant connection.

"He complimented me on my acoustic guitar playing, which blew my mind," the Heart guitarist said in a recent video explaining the story behind her new song, "4 Edward." "I said, 'Why don't you play more acoustic?' He said, 'Well, I don't really have one' ... I gave him an acoustic guitar right then and there. Early the next morning, my hotel room phone rang and it was Eddie playing the acoustic, playing me a beautiful piece of acoustic guitar."

Once she heard the news last October that Van Halen had died at 65 of cancer, Wilson, 67, knew she had to pay tribute to him on her new debut solo album You and Me, out Friday, and ultimately dedicated her instrumental piece "4 Edward" to him.

"I was trying to recreate what I vaguely remember hearing that distant morning," Wilson said in the video.


With a stack of platinum albums and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction under her belt, Heart’s Nancy Wilson had been encouraged to cut a solo record for ages. It’s something the Bellevue-reared guitar hero says she’s always wanted to do and all it took was a global pandemic to finally make it happen.

Just before the live music shutdown hit in March 2020, Wilson had settled into a new home in Northern California’s Sonoma County. Despite decades in the biz, the studio apartment above her new garage was the first dedicated music space Wilson’s had at home since trading Seattle gray for the Golden State years ago. At last she could make all the amplified racket she wanted and could leave all her gear out. With touring and full-band get-togethers also on ice, finally the time felt right.

“I’d always wanted to do it and I’ve been asked about doing it for years and years and years,” Wilson says. “But now it made total sense.”

With a stack of platinum albums and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction under her belt, Heart’s Nancy Wilson had been encouraged to cut a solo record for ages. It’s something the Bellevue-reared guitar hero says she’s always wanted to do and all it took was a global pandemic to finally make it happen.

Just before the live music shutdown hit in March 2020, Wilson had settled into a new home in Northern California’s Sonoma County. Despite decades in the biz, the studio apartment above her new garage was the first dedicated music space Wilson’s had at home since trading Seattle gray for the Golden State years ago. At last she could make all the amplified racket she wanted and could leave all her gear out. With touring and full-band get-togethers also on ice, finally the time felt right.

“I’d always wanted to do it and I’ve been asked about doing it for years and years and years,” Wilson says. “But now it made total sense.”

And FOX NEWS notes:

While most of the songs on the album were written by Wilson, she recorded a few covers, including Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and Bruce Springsteen’s "The Rising." The album also has collaborators like former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

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

 Friday, May 7, 2021.  Ammar angles for power in Iraq while Nouri's corrupt business partners benefit again from connections, the Turkish government continues its genocide against the Kurds in Iraq, and much more

At USA TODAY, Steve Minska writes;

Last month President Biden announced plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Reasonable people can and have disagreed about the wisdom of the withdrawal. What isn't up for debate, however, is this: as the United States brings its sons and daughters home from Afghanistan, we have a moral and practical obligation to protect the thousands of Afghan interpreters and other critical allies who’ve supported our military and diplomatic efforts there.

[. . .]

I spent  months serving in Baghdad with the U.S. Army, and as a commander during a 2006-2007 deployment, I personally experienced the loss of interpreters and friends who were targeted and executed by insurgents and militia thugs who painted them as “traitors” and “collaborators with the American enemy.”

Later, after serving in the Obama White House as Director for Iraq on the National Security Council, I welcomed the President’s decision in 2011 to withdraw from Iraq. In the months and years that followed, however, I witnessed our former interpreters, their families, and other allies in a fight for their lives. Some of them were forced into hiding in Iraq by ISIS, Iranian-sponsored militia, and other bad actors. Others languished as refugees abroad, men and women without a country. Untold numbers didn’t make it. To this day, I don’t know what became of many of my friends. 

Drawdown.  It wasn't a withdrawal, it was a drawdown.   By lying -- the US military always called it a drawdown because it was not a withdrawal -- about something so basic, Minska risks having people dismiss the column in whole.

That's aa shame because it is a serious issue and one that fell by the wayside in terms of Iraq once Senator Ted Kennedy died. 

And let's not forget Hannah Allem.  I know these days people find her ridiculous because of that pathetic perm she had done to her hair but I found her pathetic when she'd whine about the Iraqi stringers who risked their lives going through Iraq getting the material Hannah then typed up as her own from the hotel she hid out in.  She'd whine about it whenever it got her press attention but she didn't do anything about it.  When we pointed that out here, a MCCLATCHY joke e-mailed to say Iraq was no longer her beat.  No, piece of crap, Iraq was still her beat.  Based in DC, he had a beat that would still allow her to cover the threats and persecution of those Iraqis who had worked with the US military or the US press or the US diplomatic corps.  It did fall under her beat and I told dumb ass that the next time he lied in an e-mail I would expose him by publishing it here.  He fooled a lot of people but we were already on to him, he wasn't a reporter, he was a partisan.  And not wanting to lose that false reputation as 'one of only two who got it right on Iraq' (yeah, I just narrowed it down for you), he never bothered us again with his nonsense.  He was too busy finding ways to avoid breaking actual news during Barack Obama's two terms.

After he sent his hideous e-mail filled with lies, we returned to the topic of Hannah here.  There was a push to raise awareness on the issue of these Iraqis.  And Hannah did participate in a report on that -- to promote herself.  But we pointed out earlier that she hadn't reported on that push -- which we'd noted earlier -- and on top of that, go through three months of her Twitter feed and find one Tweet about Sahar Issa or any of the Iraqis who risked their lives to Hannah could stay in a hotel or go to the heavily guarded office on those rare days she wasn't in the mood for room service.  She never Tweeted about the issue.  She didn't report on it, she didn't Tweet on it.

But put a camera in front of her and watch her act like it was the most important issue of the day.

So I'm glad the issue is being raised before US troops pull out (and are replaced with US contractors -- the ones leaving are replaced with US contractors -- not all US troops are leaving Afghanistan under Joe Biden's plan).

Moving over to other lies and liars, THE DAILY SABAH.  It doesn't work as journalism, it's just a Turkish outlet that exists to smear non-Turkish persons and attack the truth so the Turish government is never held accountable.  

The veil is being pulled back on the reality of Turkey's attacks on Iraq and the violation of Iraq's sovereignty.  People around the world are starting to note that there's not a big deal of difference between Hitler's justifications for invading Poland and what the Turkish government is doing because they can pretty it up all they want but it's an invasion of another country.  So THE DAILY SABAH lies to the world that it's bombs the PKK is setting up that are harming other Iraqis and pretends like it's not the bombs being dropped from Turkish War Planes on villages in Northern Iraq that is killing innocents.  When Hitler carried out his long campaign against Europe, there were liars for him in the press as well.  In ten to twenty years (I'd guess 13 years), people will be loudly calling out Turkey's actions on Kurds -- a genocide, just like the one Turkey carried out against the Armenians early last century -- and wondering who kept the lies going for so long?  Outlets like THE DAILY SABAH.

THE DAILY SABAH lies because the truth is starting to really get out.  For example, Karwan Faidi Dri (RUDAW) reported 23 hours ago:

An unexploded Turkish bomb landed near a Christian village in northern Duhok province, causing fear among local residents. 

The artillery shell is lying just 50 meters away from houses in Chalk village. Some residents of neighboring Kesta village had fled clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and sought refuge in Chalk. But with the projectile falling so close to people’s homes, they still don’t feel safe. 

There is a risk to the village if the bomb explodes, Mahmoud Kestayi, mukhtar (chief) of Kesta, told Rudaw’s Hunar Rasheed.

“We remember this happened during Saddam’s era,” he said, referring to Iraqi dictator President Saddam Hussein whose army frequently bombarded Kurdish villages on the grounds of fighting Peshmerga forces decades ago. 

Two weeks ago, the Turkish military launched new operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region. The Metina area, on the border, is the focus of Operation Claw-Thunderbolt, and Operation Claw-Lightning targets the Avashin and Basyan areas further east.

Moving on to a different topic, TASNIM NEWS AGENCY notes:

In a message on the occasion of the International Quds Day, Leader of Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement Seyed Ammar al-Hakim said that the Al-Quds Day is a reminder to oppression of Palestine and is deeply ingrained in the consciences.

Hakim said that the day is an opportunity to renew the covenant with the first issue of Muslims and Arabs.

The leader of Iraq's National Wisdom Movement stressed that the problem of Al-Quds and its stolen lands affects not only the Palestinian people, but also all Muslims, Arabs, and all free nations around the world.

In his message, Hakim said that the topic of Quds is still alive and well in people's hearts and minds in the aftermath of the events. It is Quds that unites us and sets our priorities.

The story would suggest that Ammar is attempting to set himself up as a voice for the voiceless as Iraq prepares for national elections.  TASNIM notes protests took place in Iraq today:

The marches took place in the form of car convoys and mass rallies in the cities of Najaf, Diyala, Basra and Baghdad, as well as a number of southern Iraqi cities.

A convoy of Quds Day vehicles drove through the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, chanting "Al-Quds is ours."

The convoy passed in front of Tahrir Square as one of the most important places for gatherings and demonstrations while carrying the flags of Iraq, Iran and Palestine.


Iraq Al Quds day celebrations.

Though it's a popular issue with many Iraqis, it's never been an issue that Ammar has led on or focused any real attention on.  It's a popular issue so he appears to be glomming on it in an attempt to use it for his own electability.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) notes how US politicians tend to do the same thing:

There can be no more excuses made for Democratic “progressives,” who steadfastly refuse to fight for what they know to be right.

“There is no lesser evil, no one who will save us.”

No one is holding Joe Biden’s “feet to the fire” or pushing him left or taking any of the other make believe actions which were meant to silence the Democratic Party’s left wing. There is no longer any need to say that such claims are phony when proof comes straight from the horses’ mouths.

The Justice Democrats, Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus all sing Biden’s praises despite the fact that he lied to them and to their constituents during the 2020 campaign. All of the policies that rank and file Democrats want to see realized are again left behind though their party has the power to enact them. Only fools believe that a Senate parliamentarian prevented inclusion of a minimum wage increase in the stimulus plan. There is no $2,000 stimulus payment, no plan to lower prescription drug prices or add a public option to the Affordable Care Act. 

The best that can be said is that Biden’s temporary tax provisions and unemployment payments will help many people cope in a time of economic distress. But his proposals are a far cry from groundbreaking legislation such as the Social Security Act, Medicare or Medicaid. Of course, it must be pointed out that Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were responding to popular pressure. They did not act solely out of conviction even as their legislative successes benefited millions of people for decades to come.

“Only fools believe that a Senate parliamentarian prevented inclusion of a minimum wage increase in the stimulus plan.”

Biden’s friends in corporate media call him “transformational” and the living embodiment of FDR. It is ironic that Democrats must go so far back in history to find a name with such universal appeal. Such is the case after decades of neo-liberal Democratic policies that the party knows it can’t defend when it needs fodder for a propaganda campaign.

Progressives have come to Biden’s rescue with even greater gusto than doubters like this columnist predicted. Congressional Democrats known as progressives have prostrated themselves without a hint of unhappiness and in the process make a mockery of themselves and the people who support them.

Congressional Black Caucus member Cori Bush  was asked if she and other progressives known as “the squad” would be willing to use their leverage as much as those Democrats who own up to being conservative. She said this about herself and her colleagues, “ vote alone, and you're voting for your districts.” Bush therefore admitted that there will be no action on behalf of what the people want. She defeated William Lacy Clay, known as an establishment Democrat, but like other progressives she is no more willing to buck the system than the person she replaced. 

Ammar's Tweets today read like campaign slogans though non-Arab speakers might not grasp that since the first of a three thread reply is in Arabic: he notes that the religious authority has not called for a separation of social, political and geographical efforts.  He then Tweets (in English):

or shiny slogans, but coming from considering dialogue as an integral part of our modern world, and a way to restore Our Islamic civilization, and a platform for our dialogue with all of humanity.

And then Tweets:

We believe that it is imperative to get back to the initiative and revisit the dialogue roundtable by all the Shiite, Islamic, political and intellectual elites in our Islamic world. Not out of courtesy, one-time conventions, politicized conferences..

Again, the first of the Twitter thread is in Arabic and the other two are in English.


Because he's campaigning and he's trying to shore up support from the US government.  That's the only reason for an Iraqi leader to Tweet in English.  He's trying to say, "Look, I'm loyal and it should be my turn, finally, to be prime minister so install me US government, install me!"

Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is also trying to garner support from the US government.  He and Joe Biden worked together to give Nouri a second term in 2010 after the Iraqi people voted him out as prime minister.  When Nouri became an obvious threat to security and safety, Barack Obama began fobbing Nouri off to Joe (such as when Nouri called the day after the US 2012 election to congratulate Barack on a second term and Barack refused to take the call and told his staff to send the call to Joe).  I'd like to hope Joe has learned since then but he knew Nouri was a thug in 2008 and said so in an under reported hearing in April of 2008.  Yet he went on to push and promote Nouri -- that second Nouri term led to the rise of ISIS in Iraq.  So he knew better in 2010 but still embraced Nouri.  Joe doesn't appear to learn -- especially when Nouri's sold as a quick answer to a longterm problem.

Well Nouri's back in the news.  Zuhair Hussain Tweets:

Sallyport company in 2019 under USA's Justice Dept. investigation for alleged bribery of Iraqi government officials, including former PM Nouri al-Maliki, wins $240m #Iraq Contract #CORRUPTION

Over at PRESS TV, David Swanson writes:

A good deal of the earnings accrued from US wars goes straight into election campaigns, which in other countries would be considered bribery, but in the United States is relabeled as campaign donations.

The US is well known for inciting war, invading various countries with facile justifications, usually in the name of Democracy and human rights, framing itself as liberators rather that resource grabbing invaders.

Washington not only spends more than everybody else on its own military, but it exports weapons to the rest of the world beyond what anybody else does. In actuality the arms 96% of the nations that it itself calls the most oppressive, most brutal dictatorships and governments on Earth.

One would be hard put to find a war without US made weapons on both sides.

Not only is this profitable for US companies, but it also means that the United States can have people on the ground in every country, fixing the weapons that always break, updating the weapons that always change. 

Could we ever overcome the automatic war impulse here in the US?  Possibly.  UNDP seems to think so and issued this press release yesterday:

Baghdad, Iraq, 06 May 2021 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Iraq and Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) to enhance local capacities for peacebuilding in Iraq with concentration on gender mainstreaming in peacebuilding. With a mandate to support international peace and security-related efforts, Folke Bernadotte Academy is a governmental agency based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Focused on effective peacebuilding, FBA and UNDP Iraq’s new partnership aims at advancing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 agenda on women, peace, and security, within the realm of social cohesion and the promotion of peaceful co-existence. Through working to advance a gender perspective in community peace processes, this partnership also contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Gender Equality (Goal 5) and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16).

UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme works with Iraqi local peace practitioners, including Community-Based Organizations and Communal Peace and Dialogue Committees, which FBA will provide training for on gender mainstreaming in dialogue processes under the year-long agreement.

According to UNDP Iraq Resident Representative Zena Ali-Ahmad, “This new collaboration with Folke Bernadotte Academy will further strengthen our efforts for inclusive and gender sensitive peacebuilding in Iraq through our extensive work with local organizations and peace structures. We are thankful to Folke Bernadotte Academy for this partnership and its contribution to advancing gender equality through our Social Cohesion Programme in Iraq.”

Taleb Sobeh, project manager for Sweden’s strategy for development cooperation with Iraq, from FBA states, “UNDP is a key actor in the promotion of social cohesion and peaceful co-existence in Iraq, and this cooperation enables us to, together with local actors, work for gender equal processes that strategically take the priorities and perspectives of both women and men into account.”

UNDP Iraq has launched in 2020 a dedicated 5-year Social Cohesion Programme to promote stronger, peaceful, and more cohesive communities in all areas of Iraq.

For additional information, please contact:

Miriam Pineau, Media & Advocacy Project Specialist | +964 790 110 1982

Also yesterday, US President Joe Biden issued the following statement:

Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, is to continue in effect beyond May 22, 2021.

Obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.  Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 with respect to the stabilization of Iraq.

                               JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

The following sites updated:

Sad realities

Dan Conway (WSWS) reports:

Seth Andrew, a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama in the Office of Education Technology, was arrested last Tuesday on charges he stole more than $200,000 from Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of charter schools he founded in 2005.

Andrew is accused of stealing the amount to obtain a lower interest rate on his $2 million Manhattan apartment. Accusations include one count each of wire fraud, money laundering and making a false statement to a bank. Through his lawyer, Andrew has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry maximum penalties ranging from 20 to 30 years in prison. He was released on bail after the arrest.

When Democracy Prep was initially founded, an agreement was reached between it and the New York State Board of Regents specifying that the charter network had to maintain an escrow account that could only be accessed in the event of the school dissolving. According to reporting in the New York Times, Andrew still received a salary from Democracy Prep when he began working for the US Department of Education in 2013 before leaving the position in November 2016.

While he formally cut ties with Democracy Prep in January 2017, Andrew still had access to the escrow accounts. In obtaining the reduced interest rate and closing out the escrow accounts, Andrew falsely claimed that he was still a key executive with Democracy Prep. In addition to using the funds for a reduced mortgage rate on his Manhattan apartment, he also diverted additional funds to a new “civic organization” under his control, according to prosecutors.

While the case of Andrew has received significant attention due to his high-profile relationship with the Obama administration, it is only the latest in an endless series of charter school fraud cases, many of which involve amounts dwarfing the sums stolen by the former Obama advisor. Since their inception in the early 1990s and particularly during their aggressive expansion under the Obama administration, charter schools have been natural magnets for financial crimes.

Only last summer, 52-year-old Janis Buckner, with the Community Preparatory Academy in Los Angeles, pled guilty to embezzling more than $3.1 million in school funds for her personal use, including private school tuition for her children, theme park tickets, Louis Vuitton handbags and three residential properties she paid for in the Southern Los Angeles area. The Community Preparatory Academy has unsurprisingly been the focus of investigations over inadequate teacher training, misassignment of teachers outside their subject areas and high ratios of substitute teachers.

That is so disgusting and it's so pathetic that so many in the Democratic Party are pushing for charter schools and yet still getting the support of so many teachers unions.  Disgusting.

Ted Kennedy suffered a serious fall on my popularity scale when I found out how he was pimping charter schools (and that his family was making money off charter schools).  I always find the oldest propaganda the easiest to swallow.  I was raised to believe that the Democrats were friends of teachers.  They really aren't.  The GOP isn't either but I wasn't raised on the lie that they were.  

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

 Thursday, May 6, 2021.  IAVA has an upcoming event, Robert Pether remains in an Iraqi prison and remains a testimony to how ineffective and pathetic the Australian government is, a former member of the US military is convicted for threats of armed violence, some outlets falsely reporting the man was an Iraq War veteran lead to a long aside on the late and great Aretha Franklin, and much more.

Memorial Day is this month (May 31st).  It's a national holiday in the US and its intent is to remember those who died serving in the US military.  IAVA is a US organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the leading organization for veterans of today's (ongoing) wars.  They have an action that they do each Memorial Day:

May 3, 2021

New York, NY –  Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) kicks off their annual #GoSilent Memorial Day campaign to honor the veterans of the U.S. Armed forces who have lost their lives. 

A decade-long tradition, IAVA continues to promote this annual moment of silence every Memorial Day. The organization calls on all Americans to join in the national moment of remembrance on May 31 at 3pm local time and take the pledge to honor the brave servicemembers who gave their lives for our great nation. 

“This Memorial Day, we encourage all Americans to #GoSilent in honor of those we have lost. We hope you will stand with us to honor the brave members of our military who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of IAVA. “But we must remember that the fight for our nation’s heroes isn’t limited to just one day. Through this annual campaign, we also aim to raise awareness about the sacrifices that our servicemembers make and to educate the public on how they can support veterans all year round.” 

As part of its #GoSilent campaign, IAVA is urging participants to help spread the word and “go silent” to uplift and remember the lives of those lost in the U.S. Armed Services. A #GoSilent social media toolkit for Memorial Day is available at:

IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at


In Iraq?  Robert Pether continues to be held in a prison.  The government of Australia continues to do nothing.  The Australian government has done nothing to protect their citizen Julian Assange who remains imprisoned -- for what crime?  Oh, that's right, so he can be persecuted for the crime of informing the public of what the US government was actually doing.  Robert Pether's crime?  Apparently it was conducting business in Iraq.  And that's fine with them.  Let the whole world register that it's open hunting season on any Australian citizen because their shameful and inept government is too cowardly and craven to protect its own citizens.  

Sean O'Driscoll (EXTRA IE) reports:

A father locked in a Baghdad prison has sent an emotional message to his son to wish him well in his Leaving Cert next month.

Roscommon-based consultant engineer Robert Pether, who has spent the last 26 days in a Baghdad prison because of a contract dispute, called from prison yesterday to wish his son, Flynn, the best of luck.

[. . .]

His voice quivering with emotion, Mr Pether told 17-year-old Flynn: ‘I love you. I’m sorry I can’t be there at the moment but I am so proud of you. You just do your best in those exams and hopefully I will get to talk to you soon. If not, I will see you as soon as I’m released after I’ve come home.

‘At the moment, I don’t know when that will be but we are working on it. Love you buddy. Talk to you soon.’

Mr Pether’s wife, Desree, held back tears as she explained that her husband will not be home for Flynn’s birthday on June 2 or for the 16th birthday of his other son, Oscar, on June 10.

Desree is a citizen of Ireland and the Irish press and elected officials in Ireland than have their Australian counterparts.  Marese McDonagh (IRISH TIMES) notes:

Mr Pether is being detained with an Egyptian colleague who was arrested with him on April 7th, when they both turned up for a purported meeting in Baghdad with the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq.

“There was no meeting. There were no pleasantries. They were met by 12 security officers and arrested and marched to a compound,” said Ms Pether who is an Irish citizen. She said her husband was forced to hand over his phone, laptop and hard drive and had no idea if his family knew what had become of him. He spent two weeks in the suit he had worn to the meeting and “doesn’t even have a toothbrush”. However, she said her husband had reassured her that he was not being ill treated.


Ms Pether said the two men were “pawns in a game of chess” and were caught up in a dispute between their company and its client, the central bank. Mr Pether had been overseeing the construction of a new headquarters for the central bank in Baghdad, a project which is ongoing for four years.

Daniella White (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) reports:

“The governor himself of the Central Bank of Iraq contacted Rob and said everything’s been resolved, can you please come over to Iraq from Dubai to fix the final issues so that we can move forward,” Ms Pether said.

Her husband also called the Australian embassy in Iraq, who told him he was not at risk of being detained if he went, according to Ms Pether.

But when he and his Egyptian colleague arrived for the meeting, they were immediately arrested.

“It was a trap to get them back in the country,” Ms Pether said.

“I had hoped there would be compassion and due process would be completed and common sense would have prevailed ... but no, the fabrications continue and he’s still a pawn in the game of chess.”

And the Australian government does nothing.  Turning to the US government where a former service member has been convicted.  From The United States Attorney's Office  Northern Florida:

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Tallahassee Man Convicted For Communicating Threats Of Violence

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDAThis afternoon a federal jury convicted Daniel Alan Baker, 33, of Tallahassee on two counts of transmitting a communication in interstate commerce containing a threat to kidnap or injure another person. The conviction, which followed a two-day trial that began Tuesday morning, was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Baker was arrested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 15, 2021, after he issued a “Call to Arms” for like-minded individuals to violently confront protestors that may gather at the Florida Capitol in the wake of the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. He specifically called for others to join him in encircling any protestors and confining them at the state Capitol complex using firearms. Baker posted two such threatening communications on January 12 and 14, 2021.

“The free exercise of speech is central to our democracy,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody.  “However, the defendant’s threats of armed violence to inhibit expression of political views different than his own are both unlawful and dangerous. This office and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting public safety, and the jury’s verdict today has ensured that the defendant will be held accountable for his actions.”

At trial, evidence was presented showing that both threatening communications were true threats. The evidence included Baker’s foreign and domestic military training, his experience with firearms and explosives, as well as his social media posts that threatened the use violence and calls to war against those of different ideologies. Jurors observed social media posts in which Baker proclaimed himself as an anarchist, relayed his desire to slay his enemies, and boasted about assaulting law enforcement officers at protests in addition to his capabilities as a trained sniper. The evidence also included three firearms, a loaded shotgun and handgun depicted in many of his posts which were seized from Baker at the time of his arrest, and a third firearm, an AK-47 style rifle purchased by Baker days before transmission of his “Call to Arms.”  

Baker’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 16, 2021, at 3:30 pm, at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before the Honorable Allen Winsor. Baker faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release on each count.   

"This case proves that the FBI will not tolerate those who seek to wreak havoc in our communities," said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. "Violence designed to intimidate citizens and influence government is what the FBI's counterterrorism team was designed to combat, and our team remains laser focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who cross the line from expressing beliefs to violating federal law by inciting violence or engaging in criminal activity. The communities of North Florida deserve nothing less than our full commitment to aggressively pursue these cases, and we will continue to work alongside our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. We are especially grateful for the work of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Tallahassee Police Department in this case."

This conviction was the result of a collaborative investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Kunz and Lazaro Fields prosecuted this case.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

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Some outlets are calling Daniel Alan Baker an Iraq War veteran.  He is no such thing.  We'll be kind and not link to those outlets embarrassing themselves.  Yes, Baker was a member of the US military.  Yes, he was ordered to go to Iraq.  No, he did not go.  He checked out, went AWOL.  He was kicked out of the military as a result (in 2007).  Which makes his promoting his 'event' to kill Donald Trump even more weird/hypocritical, since he wrote on FACEBOOK, "If you are afraid to die fighting the enemy, then stay in bed and live. Call all of your friends and Rise Up!"   

The stupidity reminds me of some of the reviews of Aretha Franklin's last studio album released before she died, ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS.  It was ten songs Aretha sang to salute the female peers she'd blazed a trail with.  In covering Adelle's "Rolling in the Deep" (which was Aretha's last charting hit -- number 47 on the R&B charts and number 1 on the dance charts), she brought in "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."  And all the fools and idiots rushed to pimp Marvin Gaye.  Marvin didn't write the damn song, Ashford & Simpson did.  Marvin (with Tammi Terrell) didn't have the big hit with it, Diana Ross did.  Marvin and Tami made it to number 3 on the R&B charts and number nineteen on the pop charts.  Diana?  She took the song to number one on both of those charts. 

Diana also took the song into the top forty in other countries and Marvin (and Tammi) didn't.  They failed.  They didn't even chart in obvious markets like Canada and the UK.  It wasn't even Marvin and Tammi's biggest hit on the charts.  There biggest charting single was Ashford & Simpson's "Your Precious Love."  After that, "You're All I Need To Get By" and "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" ("ANLTR" would be their first charting single in Canada and their first top forty single in the UK).  Even the mostly forgotten "If I Could Build My World Around You" was a bigger hit for the duo than "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."  That last one ("IICBMWAY") was not written by Ashford & Simpson but the rest mentioned were.  I'll note them because they are legends and they rarely get the credit they deserve and because Valerie Simpson is a friend (and Nickolas was until he passed)

There's this myth that's built up -- a lot of lies -- of how great and wonderful Marvin Gaye is.  He wasn't.  He was trash, that's really the only word for him and I say that as a friend of Anna Gordy.  I don't defend him.  I don't defend him having an affair with his 16 year-old niece while married to Anna (who would go on to adopt the child).  A 27-year-old married man sleeping with his 16-year-old niece?  That's the kind of man Marvin was.  An artist? At stealing credit for song writing when others did the actual writing.

I'm not a f**king idiot so don't mistake for Carly Simon.  I know Carly, we're sort of friends -- she hates my opinion of Mia Farrow.  And she's a dumb and stupid bitch for going around giggling about being assaulted by Marvin Gaye.  She giggles about it and looks like an airhead.  But the fact that he rammed his tongue down her mouth is 'cute' and let's her pretend she's sexy which, let's face it, has been the most important part of her career as evidenced by those album covers and the need to pose nude in so many of the sessions for them -- not just BOYS IN THE TREES although it may hold a record as being the only songbook ever published to feature topless photos of the female artist.  Yes, Carly, you were a sexy thing.  But you need to grasp that this was not two artists meeting.  You were a nobody to Marvin and he did that with every low level woman, it was a power play and it was assault.  Many women were humiliated by the action that you want to giggle over.  Shame on you.  He did that over and over and he also abused women who slept with him, to be in a relationship with Marvin was to be beaten.  So I'm really not into all the nonsense of 'Hail Marvin" that's cropped up recently despite the supposed #MeToo 'movement.'  He assaulted women, he harassed them on the job -- Carly, for example, was part of the technical staff of a TV show when Marvin was introduced to her and immediately grabbed her and stuck his tongue down her throat. Carly, you're being a dumb bitch.  You think it's a funny and cute story but it wasn't then and it isn't now.  Women are fighting for their rights and we don't need you giggling over being assaulted.  It's times like these that I'm glad Chrissie Hynde chocked you at the Joni Mitchell concert.

Aretha, who I also knew very well, was saluting Diana and stated to me that she was saluting Diana with two songs.  She laughed and said she didn't even do one song saluting Dionne Warwick (Aretha loathed Dionne),  Aretha had long performed "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in concert and it was the Diana Ross version* every time.  If you need proof, check out ARETHA FRANKLIN (LIVE IN PARIS, track nine.  Aretha did a great thing with her final studio album, she saluted other great female singers but read the reviews from the idiots and note how they repeatedly brought a man -- Marvin Gaye -- into the reviews because heaven forbid that women ever get the focus, heaven forbid.  

*Diana Ross version?  The song was written by Ashford & Simpson.  They did not produce that gooey mess that was released by Marvin and Tammi.  That turned the song into candy -- but not popular candy.  Had Dusty Springfield recorded it first, it might have had some lasting value.  Ashford & Simpson got to produce the song when they worked with Diana on her solo debut album (1970's DIANA ROSS).  They did a radical reworking, ditching the goo for artistry.  They slow the tempo of the song, they turn verses that had been sung on the original into spoken lines and they add that great chorus behind Diana.  It remains one of the great number ones of the 1970s.  And the attempt to set it aside is an attempt to erase the artistry of Ashford & Simpson.  The Diana Ross version should be properly credited as The Ashford and Simpson and Diana Ross version -- in that order.  The song was such a huge step away from the original that it actually bothered a number of people in real time including Berry Gordy who thought it was too long to be a single and didn't really get it.  And he'll tell you that himself.

Don't you love my asides.  (Note this snapshot would have gone up sooner but the person I dictated it to said he was holding it for 30 minutes in case I changed my mind about calling Carly out.  If you're reading this, I didn't change my mind.) 

Winding down, Brookings has an upcoming event:

As President Joe Biden completes the first 100 days of his presidency, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi nears his one-year anniversary in office. Iraq and the United States held their first strategic dialogue under the Biden administration in early April, discussing bilateral security cooperation, economic development in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and protection of democracy and freedom of speech, among other topics. These two new administrations will now have to set the course for the future of Iraqi-U.S. relations.

On May 10, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood for keynote remarks on Iraqi-U.S. relations. A panel discussion will follow.

Viewers can submit questions by emailing or by joining the conversation on Twitter with #USIraq.

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