Friday, July 16, 2021

One of the best things about music right now, Chase Rice

 MUSIC ROW notes:

Chase Rice rises three spots to No. 1 this week on the MusicRow CountryBreakout Chart. “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” features duo Florida Georgia Line and was written by Rice, Hunter Phelps, Cale Dodds, and Corey Crowder. 

Rice sat down with MusicRow to discuss his three-part project, The Album, and returning to live music after the pandemic. “I played ‘Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.’ at the Ryman a couple of weeks ago and it was mind blowing! Everybody stood up and came to the front–I don’t know if that was allowed or not– but we didn’t care. It was a special moment and I haven’t seen a reaction like that since ‘Ready Set Roll,’ to be honest. Even ‘Eyes On You’ didn’t get a reaction like that live. I feel like I finally have a party song that’s going to become a hit for the first time since ‘Ready Set Roll,’ which I think is going to be one of the coolest moments during shows.” Click here to read the full interview. 

And from Chase Rice's Twitter account:

Check out the latest episode of "Behind The Song" with Drew Baldridge.

And here's a reaction to his hit "Drinkin' Beer. Talkin' God. Amen."

And here's the music video for that hit.

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

 Friday, July 16, 2021.  We look at the upcoming elections in Iraq (another group announced today that they won't be participating) and the difference between public statements and what officials really want.

THE NATIONAL offers a nonsense clip -- did the US State Dept hold their hands while they made it? -- entitled "Why are US troops in Iraq?"

Why are US troops in Iraq?  As you watch the garbage above, you quickly realize it won't provide you with an answer.  

2,500 US troops in Iraq?  You mean 2,500 admitted to, right? 

Then they call the drawdown at the end of 2011 a "withdrawal" -- which not even the Pentagon called it in real time.  And then they insist that after the "withdrawal," three years later, US troops were sent back into Iraq.  

How's your math?

I never claim it to be my strong suit but when I ad 2011 plus 3, I get 2014.  Is that what you get?

I ask because 2014 isn't 2012.  I'm right no that, right?


Tim Arango's September 25, 2012 NEW YORK TIMES report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

2012.  A year after 2011.  Not even a full year after the drawdown (not withdrawal, all US troops did not leave Iraq -- refer to Ted Koppel's real time reporting for NBC and NPR).

THE NATIONAL wants to ask "Why are US troops in Iraq?"  They don't want to answer it.

Not even in a geopolitical manner.  But they also don't want to be honest about the basics.

This is a propaganda video made by people who want the US in Iraq forever.  As the video moves from getting basic facts wrong, it then presents arguments as facts.  ISIS.  Iran.  Blah, blah, blah.

Iran?  The US has to stay in Iraq because of Iran?  

Hate to break it to THE NATIONAL but ISIS may some day be gone but Iran's going to be Iraq's neighbor forever.  

They share a border.  They'll fight, they'll get along, they'll have a relationship that will last as long as the earth does.

It's all a bunch of nonsense from THE NATIONAL.

Let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot:  After it went up, there was some confusion.  We were talking about Mustafa al-Kadhimi and his notorious inability to provide leadership.  We were noting that elections were supposed to take place this October and that Mustafa wanted a second term as prime minister of Iraq.  We were noting that otuside factors were the only thing benefitting him because his own actions certainly were not.  We explained that one of the biggest political parties in Iraq, the PUK, was in disarray.  It's the second largest party in the Kurdistan Region.  (Clearing up for one e-mail, the person appointed prime minister-designate will most likely have to cobble together support from various parties and slates because no one will win enough support from the direct election -- or that's been the case in every national election in Iraq since 2005.)  And now Moqtada al-Sadr -- Shi'ite cleric and attention whore -- is issuing a dramatic statement.  Those seem to come weekly now, don't they?  Last week, he was declaring that he was about to be killed and "Don't Cry For Me Sadr City" in his best Evita manner.  Yesterday's announcement was he wouldn't see office, be part of the process and blah blah blah.  Then we noted a sentence about Mustafa that I'll include in just a second.  Mustafa is making agreements with political leaders and has been doing that for months -- these are regarding the upcoming elections because he wants their support to get a second term.  The PUK and KDP have been in talks but have made no agreement thus far.  Moqtada had made an agreement with Mustafa.  (Nouri al-Maliki is rather infamous right now for his -- and State of Law's stance -- which is against a second term for Mustafa.  Even Moqtada wouldn't go that far.)

So after that, the following:

At the end of the month, Mustafa al-Kadhimi  is supposed to visit the US and meet with President Joe Biden.  ADDED: ARAB NEWS reports:

Iraq and the US discussed Thursday “the mechanisms for the withdrawal of combat forces” during a meeting of senior officials. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met with US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk to discuss these mechanism and the “transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation that develops the relationship between the two countries and enhances Iraq’s security and sovereignty,” a statement released by Kadhimi’s office said. 

That first sentence created some confusion -- did I mean Mustafa or Moqtada?  I meant Mustafa.  So I asked Shirley to add what appears after "ADDED" hoping that cleared it up.  

On that topic, if the US government wants Mustafa for a second term, look for the visit to produce statements about a "withdrawal."  It'll be meaningless but they'll offer them.

Mustafa is grand standing about wanting US troops out.  He doesn't.  His government would fall without them -- and that's the reason, pay attention THE NATIONAL, that US troops are still in Iraq: To prop up the US created government that refuses to gain traction or popularity with the Iraqi people.  All this time later, it has still not taken root and Iraqis do not feel their government represents them.  For good reason.  Here's a video report on the most recent protests (over the hospital fire earlier this week and the corruption.)

Mustafa is not popular.  He was supposed to be a one term prime minister that would get sworn in, schedule early elections and then step aside quickly.  Then he got into office.  The addiciton to power -- and possibly the lure of corruption -- have him determined to be a life long politician.  And, really, who can blame him?  What's he going to do?  Go back to 'reporting' (writing opinion pieces passed off as reporting) for outlets like ARAB NEWS?

When he made his recent statements after the bombing the US carried out at the end of June, some who don't pay attention to Iraq were hailing him.  That would include Glenn Greenwald.  Glenn, you're too smart to act so foolishly.

First, if Mustafa wanted US troops out of Iraq, he would have exercised the exist clause which he can trigger as prime minister -- the exit clause to the agreement the US government and the Iraqi government entered into.

It doesn't require any input from the Iraqi Parliament.  Why is that?

Know the damn history.  So many idiots are betrayed by not knowing it.

Nouri al-Maliki couldn't sell the Parliament on an agreement.  The US grasped it and so did Nouri.  The UN mandate for the occupation of Iraq was running out.  The US needed its own mandate to stay -- a legal agreement between it and the Iraqi government.  Like the UK, they got one.  But they were idiots and got a yearly agreement.  Nouri rammed it through without Parliament the first year but suffered huge blowback and promised that he would get their permission for the next year.  He didn't.

That's why the SOFA was a three year agreement.  It was too much for Nouri politically -- and the US government wanted him as prime minister -- to keep going back yearly.

This applies to the current situation as well and why people need to know the history.

Mustafa's lying the same way Nouri did.  He needs US troops to stay in Iraq to protect him -- now from the militias, on top of everything else.  Especially true after they openly rejected him and circled his compound a few weeks ago.  

Nouri lied.  The US government lied.  To the Iraqi people, to the US citizens, to the world.

The 'withdrawal.'

It wasn't planned.

Nouri wanted US troops in Iraq.  To remain in Iraq.  He did not want to expend a lot of time and effort on selling 3,000 or less.  He told Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman -- as they both noted and as Lieberman testified before Congress -- in the summer of 2011 that he wanted approximately 20,000 at a minimum.  

And then the 'withdrawal' took place.

And then?

I was at the hearing where Leon Panetta testified as Secretary of Defense and explained that negotiations were ongoing.  Even while the 'withdrawal' was being sold by both governments and by the press, both sides thought an agreement would be reached by January.  Didn't happen in the end.  Because Barack Obama wouldn't guarantee the number of US troops Nouri wanted.

But while that went on, the discussions, you really didn't hear about it.  You were lied to and told that a "withdrawal" was taking place.  (Ted Koppel tried to get the real information out.)  

So you need to stop mistaking posturing statements from politicians as they seek re-election for truth.  

If Mustafa wanted US troops out of Iraq, the steps would have already been initiated for that to happen.

The upcoming meeting is taking place in an attempt to lift Mustafa's profile in Iraq.  It's part of his recent (and ongoing) meet leaders tour.  So far, that hasn't helped at all and he's openly mocked (even by ARAB NEWS) for his interaction with the leader of Egypt.  

The US government is assessing Mustafa's popularity currently and they are also assessing how well he might be able to deliver what the US government wants.  If they decide to bet on him, look for him to stand beside Joe Biden and issue some statement about US troops leaving.  

Such an announcement doesn't have to be true.  Believe it when US troops actually leave.  

But it will be an attempt by the US government to inflate Mustafa's standing in Iraq.

Tara Copp and Jaqueline Feldscher (DEFENSE ONE) report:

Officials shot down a report out of Baghdad on Thursday that the United States is preparing to withdraw its approximately 2,500 troops from Iraq. 

The push back follows a tweet from a BBC reporter saying that Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s top official for the Middle East and North Africa, told Iraqi officials that American troops would leave the country. 

“This report is totally false,” a senior Biden administration official told Defense One. The BBC reporter later deleted her original tweet and said in a new post that U.S. officials said it was “not true,” denying the information she received from Iraqi sources.  

McGurk met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Thursday to discuss preparations for the next strategic talks between the United States and Iraq, which first happened in April, as well as “the mechanisms for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq and the transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation,” according to a translation of a tweet from Al-Kadhimi’s office. 

Al-Kadhimi is expected to meet with Biden in Washington later this month.  

On the planned elections, Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports:

Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako said on Friday that Christians will not vote in Iraqi parliamentary elections because of concerns over militias and possible fraud, the latest boycott that could cast doubts on the legitimacy of the election. 

“I doubt that there will be transparent and fair elections as the ground is not prepared for that. There are militias and political money, so fraud will occur,” Sako said in an interview with Rudaw, adding that he expects the same people will stay in power. 

In this environment, he said Christians will not participate in the elections because they are “tired of it.”

“The Christian quota will be hijacked again,” he added.

Iraq will hold parliamentary elections in October, a year ahead of schedule. An early vote was one of the demands of anti-government protesters who took to the streets in 2019. But after assassinations of leading activists, the government’s failure to hold the murderers responsible, and rampant corruption, there have been numerous calls for boycotts. 

Some activists and journalists have called for a boycott campaign, saying the elections will be open to fraud and overtaken by militias that operate out of the control of the state. 

In Iraq, the people are still reeling from a fire that appears to be caused due to a lack of government oversight and regulation probably due to corruption.  Ruth Sherlock (NPR) notes, ''Flames swept through outbuildings of the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiryah on Monday that had been set up to isolate those sick with COVID-19. Patients became trapped inside, with rescue teams struggling to reach them in time."  This morning, Abdulrahman Zeyad and Samya Kullab (AP) report:


No beds, medicines running low and hospital wards prone to fire — Iraq’s doctors say they are losing the battle against the coronavirus. And they say that was true even before a devastating blaze killed scores of people in a COVID-19 isolation unit this week.

Infections in Iraq have surged to record highs in a third wave spurred by the more aggressive delta variant, and long-neglected hospitals suffering the effects of decades of war are overwhelmed with severely ill patients, many of them this time young people.

Doctors are going online to plea for donations of medicine and bottled oxygen, and relatives are taking to social media to find hospital beds for their stricken loved ones.

“Every morning, it’s the same chaos repeated, wards overwhelmed with patients,” said Sarmed Ahmed, a doctor at Baghdad’s Al-Kindi Hospital.

Widespread distrust of Iraq’s crumbling health care system only intensified after Monday’s blaze at the Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah, the country’s second catastrophic fire at a coronavirus ward in less than three months.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dionne Warwick

Do you know the way to . . . Toronto? The woman who asked us all if we knew the way to San Jose, Dionne Warwick, has a documentary that will be screening there. Jillian Morgan (REAL SCREEN) reports:

Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner’s Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over and Jagged, Alison Klayman’s HBO film about iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, are two of the feature documentaries set to screen at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival this fall.
The in-person and digital festival runs Sept. 9 to 18, with more than 100 films forming its official selection. The industry conference takes place Sept. 10 to 14.
Further programming announcements — including TIFF Docs — are expected to be announced in July and August.

Your favorite Dionne Warwick song? "Anyone Who Had A Heart," "Walk On By," "I Say A Little Prayer For You," "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again," "Don't Make Me Over," "Heartbreaker," "That's What Friends Are For," "You Really Started Something," "Love Power," "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" . . . .

So many beloved singles. And along with being a gifted singer . . . she now plans to enter the fragrance market:

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Fragrance Creators Association announced today that DDD3 Inc., owned by the beloved entertainer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Dionne Warwick, has joined its membership of more than 60 large and small businesses spanning the fragrance supply chain. Ranking among the 40 biggest American music hit makers between 1955 and 1999, Warwick was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2021 and has been presented with countless international awards and accolades. Formerly serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, she has pioneered various humanitarian and social causes and is an advocate for music fairness. Her successful signature fragrance "Dionne" was launched to the public in 1986, and in response to popular demand she has plans to relaunch it into the marketplace.
"I am impressed with the work Farah and Fragrance Creators have done to honor the artistry and beauty of fragrance in our lives," said Warwick. "Fragrances are rich and complex creations—just like songs—each with a unique set of characters and story that combine to create experiences that evoke emotion and delight. I look forward to bringing my creativity and perspective to this dynamic organization."
"Ms. Warwick embodies the care and respect for others and the grit and grace that drives our association," said Farah K. Ahmed, President & CEO, Fragrance Creators. "She is a model of passion, perseverance, and entrepreneurship, further inspiring us to work collectively with our members to deliver meaningful advancements for people, perfume, and the planet."
"The heart of the fragrance industry is the creative artistry that helps to dream up every scent," said Robert Weinstein, Ph.D., President & CEO, Robertet USA and Chairman, Fragrance Creators Board of Directors. "As an artist, Ms. Warwick understands the importance of respecting our creators and cherishing our creations. She is a wonderful addition to the membership."
Fragrance Creators Association is the principal fragrance trade association. The organization leverages its network of over 1,000 multidisciplinary scientists as it represents the majority of fragrance manufacturing in the U.S. and Canada on a comprehensive array of issues. Fragrance Creators' diverse membership includes innovative companies that create, manufacture, and use fragrances and scents for home care, personal care, home design, fine fragrance, and industrial and institutional products as well as those that supply fragrance ingredients, including natural extracts and other raw materials that are used in perfumery and fragrance mixtures. Fragrance Creators established and administers the Congressional Fragrance Caucus, ensuring ongoing dialogue with members of Congress and staff. The association also produces The Fragrance Conservatory, the comprehensive digital resource for high-quality information about fragrance. Learn more about Fragrance Creators at—for people, perfume, and the planet.
Lia Dangelico
Director, Communications

 Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, July 15, 2021.  Iraqi anger continues over this week's fire, the Talabani political dynasty grows shakier, drama queen Moqtada al-Sadr wants to take his toys and go home, and much more.

RUPTLY features a video that they note is making the rounds on social media.


An Iraqi man who lost six of his family members in the Nassiriya hospital fire slammed the government and the ministry of health for the catastrophe that killed as many as 92 people in the Iraqi city. "The minister of health is good-for-nothing and the ministry of health is good-for-nothing, we the residents of al-Rifai are supposed to have our own hospital, and staff to attain to them, why do they send us to Nassiriya, why does this happen?" said Yunus Saleh Issa in Rifai on Wednesday. A clip of Yunus Saleh Issa went viral on social media platforms as it showed the agony of the Iraqi man having lost five of his family members, looking for the sixth. Dozens died in the fire at the coronavirus ward of a Nassiriya hospital. More than 100 others were also reportedly injured from the blaze that ripped through the hospital on Monday night which, according to an official investigation, happened when sparks from faulty wires made contact with an oxygen tank that then exploded. Authorities have launched an investigation. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting with ministers and ordered the suspension and arrest of the hospital manager as well as the health and civil defence managers in Nassiriya. Initial police reports suggested that the blaze was likely caused by an oxygen tank explosion inside the COVID wards. --- SOT, Yunus Saleh Issa, Relative of six of the fire victims (Arabic): "I lost 6 members of my family, why is that? It is because of the government and the governor of Nassiriya, the civil defence, and the ministry of health, they caused the accident." SOT, Yunus Saleh Issa, Relative of six of the fire victims (Arabic): "The accident happened inside the bungalow for the isolation [of COVID patients] outside the hospital. The fire broke out at the gate, my brother was outside the gate, also my cousin was outside. They entered to save people but they were killed inside hospital. Now for more than 15 minutes the civil defence was not there." SOT, Yunus Saleh Issa, Relative of six of the fire victims (Arabic): "Why is our hospital a bungalow? You don't need anything to burn bungalows, this sun can set a bungalow on fire, why is our hospital a bungalow? SOT, Yunus Saleh Issa, Relative of six of the fire victims (Arabic): "Because the minister of health is good-for-nothing and the ministry of health is good-for-nothing, we the residents of al-Rifai are supposed to have our own hospital, and staff to attain to them, why do they send us to Nassiriya, why does this happen? Because they are corrupt, they are sharks. They transfer patients from more than 7 provinces Qala [Qalat Salih], al-Rifai, al-Dawayah, Amarah, Shatrah and Suq al-Shuyukh, they are all transferred to Nassiriya, those places should have their own hospitals, and they put all the patients in a bungalow of 60 meters." SOT, Yunus Saleh Issa, Relative of six of the fire victims (Arabic): "I tell you for sure, those who were in the hospital were about 500 patients, the government will say 50 or 100 and they will say the fire was cause by electrical fault, but this is not the truth, this was all planned, this was done to destroy the poor of the society." #Iraq #Nassiriya #NassiriyaHospitalFire

Earlier this week, a fire broke out in the Covid-19 ward of al-Hussein Hospital, a teaching hospital in the province of Dhi Qar.  The fire is the second one to break out in less than three months. Like the fire in late April, this week's fire took place at a facility that did not have a fire sprinkler system and also did not even have a fire alarm. Over 100 died in the April fire and the official count for this week's fire puts over a hundred injured with at least 92 dead.  Again, no fire sprinkler system, no fire alarm -- and a similar fire less than three months ago has not led the government to increase oversight, enforce existing regulations or, really, do much of anything.  THE NATIONAL's Mina Aldbroubi notes the official count for this week's fire is 92 dead and "nearly 70 injured" and, for the April fire, 82 dead and 110 wounded.  


RENAD MANSOUR: It shows you that, at the end of the day, it's the people who are the ultimate victims of corruption.

SHERLOCK: Renad Mansour is a senior fellow in the Middle East program of the Chatham House think tank in the U.K. He says chronic corruption in Iraq's ministries is resulting in underfunded, badly managed and fundamentally unsafe government services.

MANSOUR: You have a political elite that have become incredibly wealthy through politically sanctioned corruption, but haven't done much to building a state, to building a country that could provide the very basic services for their people.

SHERLOCK: Iraq's prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, has called for an investigation into the fire, and he's ordered the arrest of the health directors of the province and hospital where the fire happened. Meanwhile, in the last week, there have been nearly 60,000 new coronavirus cases and only about one percent of Iraq's population is fully vaccinated.

The Iraqi people are justifiably upset over this latest fire.  

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) observes:

The outrage provoked by the entirely preventable fire has been intensified by the fact that this is the second such massive criminal tragedy in the space of barely three months. On April 24, a similar fire ravaged the COVID intensive care unit of the Ibn al-Khatib hospital in a poor neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad, killing 82 people, including patients on ventilators, and injuring another 110. That fire was triggered by an accident causing improperly stored oxygen tanks to explode and, as in the blaze in Nasiriyah, the hospital had no fire protection system and its shoddy construction allowed flames to spread rapidly. At the time, investigators had warned that the same conditions that led to the Baghdad hospital fire existed throughout the country.

President Barham Salih issued a statement Tuesday declaring that the two hospital fires were “the product of persistent corruption and mismanagement that undervalues the lives of Iraqis and prevents reforms of institutions.” Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has responded, just as last April, with the suspension of various officials and similar denunciations of corruption. He held a crisis meeting Tuesday that included the head of the Iraqi armed forces and other senior security officials to consider what a tweet from his office described as “the causes and repercussions” of the Nasiriyah disaster. The presence of his security aides indicated that the “repercussions” are foremost on his mind, with Iraqi society increasingly resembling a powder keg.

While endemic corruption has unquestionably devastated Iraq’s hospitals along with every other area of basic services, the horrific inferno in Nasiriyah, like the one before it in Baghdad, is another price paid by the Iraqi people for the systematic destruction of the country’s healthcare system and infrastructure by US imperialism.

Corruption is entrenched in post-US invasion Iraq (in a system the US government created and oversaw).  Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports that an official in the Ministry of Electricity appeared before a judge this week and was sentenced for corruption:


The Supreme Judicial Council said Raad Qassem Mohammed, in his position of director general of the department of economics, contracts and investment in the Ministry of Electricity, “received sums of money in exchange for facilitating contract transactions between the Ministry of Electricity and the Ministry of Industry to supply equipment belonging to his ministry last year in Baghdad.”

In addition to the jail time, Baghdad’s Anti-Corruption Criminal Court ordered him to pay a fine of 10 million dinars.

The criminal roots of the fire are not helping current prime minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi as he attempts to court the Iraqi people for votes in elections expected to be held in October.  

The fire is a sign of the corruption ingrained in the Iraqi government.  It's the outrage over this corruption that fuels The October Revolution (protest movement kicked off in October of 2019 and still going).  That revolution toppled Mustafa's predecessor as prime minister.  The October Revolution is a predominately Shi'ite wave that demands a government that serves the Iraqi people.  The response to it?  Popular support among Iraqis but hate from the Iraqi militias which have targeted the activists at protests and has assassinated activists repeatedly outside protests. Though Mustafa gives photo-ops and statements insisting that he cares and that he is trying to end these attacks, no one has yet to go to prison for killing an activist.  Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) reports:

A prominent Iraqi activist in recent protests, Ali al-Makdam was declared “kidnapped” July 10 and then found dumped on a highway south of Baghdad 36 hours into his disappearance. He was subsequently admitted to the hospital for treatment.

While the party that kidnapped Makdam is unknown at this time, so is the modality, as surveillance cameras have failed to document what happened. Still, his disappearance reenergized a campaign led by a group of Iraqi activists — a campaign that had been ongoing for weeks previous to Makdam's kidnapping — to halt impunity for perpetrators of violations.

The campaign seeks to pressure the Iraqi government into holding accountable the killers of protesters and activists as well as those who committed acts of violence during the military operations to liberate Iraqi cities from the Islamic State years ago.

Maan al-Jizani, a journalist and an activist involved in this campaign, told Al-Monitor, “The campaign to end impunity aims to formulate a direct Iraqi national discourse that attempts to diagnose and summarize the Iraqi problem by linking it to a legal and moral defect that has led impunity to prevail and prosper in Iraq. This led to the spread of corruption, violence and failure within state institutions that were left unable to manage the country properly and effectively."

Jizani added, “It is a voluntary campaign, not a political one, and the volunteers do not aspire to any political role, as their involvement in such efforts stems from a moral and national responsibility that requires Iraqis to have a primary and effective role in helping their country and strengthening their institutions. A prolonged culture of impunity will always keep Iraq and Iraqis in a closed cycle of chaos, violence and corruption. And this is what is actually happening since 2003 until now."

On the Twitter account of the National Campaign to End Impunity in Iraq, activists are focusing on supporting the protests through activities outside of Iraq carried out by a group of Iraqis residing in the United States and Europe in order to help their peers inside the country.


All these issues are intertwined -- corruption, lack of oversight, impunity for killers and the lack of dependable basic services (such as electricity) -- and they would appear to hinder any re-election effort on the part of Mustafa.  However, he does appear to catch breaks, from time to time, not of his own making.  For example?

A lot of shake ups are going on in the country.  Even in the KRG with a political dynasty.  The Talbanai family.  Dead patriarch Jalal Talabani was married to Hiro Talabani and they had sons who had and have political ambitions.  The Talabani family's chief rival is the Barzani family.  The Talabani's head/control the PUK political party and the Barzanis head/control the KDP -- those are the two major political parties in the Kurdistan Region.  The PUK has been on the wane since Jalal had his stroke while holding the title of President of Iraq.  Instead of explaining to the Iraqi people that Jalal could neither speak or move any of his limbs, the Talabani family lied to the Iraqi people and insisted he had recovered. December 17, 2012, Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Cenre Hospital for his stroke  (see the December 18th snapshot) and, three days later,  Thursday, December 20, 2012th, he was moved to Germany.   To silence those who questioned whether Jalal was coherent or even alive, the family posed his limbs and then had photos taken to make it appear that Jalal was aware of his surroundings and interacting.  The staged photos were a joke and led to many WEEKEND AT BERNIE memes that still turn up from time to time.

Determined to hold on to the post, the Talabani family put their own desires ahead of the needs of the Iraqi people.  When Jalal finally returned to Iraq, nearly 18 months after his stroke, his posed photos did not fool anyone.  The lie that they perpetrated on the Iraqi people hurt them and allowed new political party Goran to move ahead of the PUK in the next election cycle.

The family continues to struggle.  Amberin Zaman (AL-MONITOR) reports:

The power struggle within Iraqi Kurdish Talabani dynasty sharply escalated late Tuesday as dozens of gunmen stormed the offices of a fledgling media outlet owned by Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabani, the embattled co-leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), prompting fears of protracted instability, and potentially conflict, in Iraqi Kurdistan, a critical ally of the United States. 

Nearly 50 armed men in masks and military garb broke equipment and shut down the offices of iPLUS in Sulaimaniyah, the administrative capital of the PUK, iPLUS said in a statement.  

The PUK is the second-largest party in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and shares power with its chief rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Zhyan News, another media outlet affiliated with Talabani, was also raided. Zhyan called it a “coup” against its owner in a tweet. 

The raid came as PUK co-leader Bafel Talabani initiated a series of moves aimed at toppling his cousin and grabbing full control of the party. The PUK was founded by Bafel Talabani's father, Jalal Talabani, the charismatic former president of Iraq who along with KDP chief Massoud Barzani long were the main leaders of Iraq’s Kurdish nationalist movement. Jalal Talabani died four years ago.

Bafel Talabani claimed earlier that a poisonous substance used in an attempt on his life — he did not say when or where — was found at the headquarters of the intelligence service. He offered no further details of the alleged plot. But he was clearly pointing fingers at Lahur Talabani and setting the stage for his overthrow. 

Over the past week, and allegedly with the KDP’s encouragement, Bafel Talabani ousted the heads of the PUK’s counterterrorism and intelligence forces, both led by Lahur Talabani, and installed loyalists in their stead. Bafel Talabani's younger brother, Qubad, who serves as deputy prime minister in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), overtly backed the move. Several key PUK veterans, including Kosrat Rasoul Ali and Mala Bakhtiar — who once vied for power themselves — rallied around Bafel Talabani as well.  

Bafel Talabani, 48, is seen as mercurial and unpredictable, whilst Lahur Talabani, 45, is viewed as a pragmatist who enjoys good relations with Iran and the United States alike. The pair are believed to have butted heads over power and money, with Lahur Talabani and his siblings allegedly monopolizing the spoils of smuggling and other commercial activities in PUK-controlled territory, which shares a long border with Iran.  

The power play unleashed a flurry of speculation that Iran, the most influential foreign actor in PUK-run territory, and Turkey, which holds greater sway in KDP-run land to the north, were somehow involved. This was spurred in part by unsubstantiated claims that Lahur Talabani’s operatives helped the Trump administration kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani in January 2020. However, it would not be in Iran’s interests to see Bafel Talabani grow too strong either.  

With the PUK continuing to struggle, others are also folding.  Moqtada al-Sadr?  Still alive -- despite his drama queen moment last week where he declared that he would be killed shortly.  Are the 'threats' why he's dropping out?  Or is it the voices inside his head?  REUTERS notes:

Populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Thursday he will not take part in Iraq’s next election in October, and he will not support any parties.

Sadr’s Sairoon electoral won the 2018 parliamentary election, gaining 54 seats.

That must have been really hard for REUTERS to publish.  Less than two weeks ago, they were astroturfing their latest blow job of Moqtada.  He was groovy and powerful and sitting pretty.  We noted that wasn't the case and, guess what, we were right.  Moqtada's support has decreased dramatically since 2019.  It's apparent to anyone paying attention.  REUTERS missed it -- seems like they miss a lot these days, doesn't it?

 Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes:      

The cleric also said his ministers were withdrawing from the Iraqi government under current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, citing a dysfunctional political system and “international conspiracy” against Iraq on which he did not elaborate.

Observers had expected the Sadr movement to be the biggest winner in the planned Oct. 10 vote as in 2018 when they won a majority of seats in the parliament.

At the end of the month, Mustafa al-Kadhimi  is supposed to visit the US and meet with President Joe Biden.  ADDED: ARAB NEWS reports:

Iraq and the US discussed Thursday “the mechanisms for the withdrawal of combat forces” during a meeting of senior officials. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi met with US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk to discuss these mechanism and the “transition to a new phase of strategic cooperation that develops the relationship between the two countries and enhances Iraq’s security and sovereignty,” a statement released by Kadhimi’s office said. 

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Why is MYTV still around?

Saw an article about MYNETWORK TV at DEADLINE and wondered why?

Why the article? Sure. Is it really news that NBC's low rated CHICAGO FIRE will begin airing on MYNETWORKTV stations.

So there's that.

But why also in terms of why is it still around? It was MYTV originally, remember? DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES was a huge hit on ABC and MYTV was going to make it's mark with nightly episode of soap operas.

FASHION HOUSE was the first and it was bad. Ava and C.I. reviewed it while it was still airing in 2006:

But the reason the show, whose milieu is the world of high fashion, stinks so is that it revolves around a matriarch, Maria Gianni (and no, we didn't make that name up). Maria's meant to be a major bitch. She's not. And that's because she's portrayed by Bo Derek who puts the deadly B.O. into Fashion House.
Bo's Maria is stealing from her painter son's trust fund, sleeping with a blackmailer and supposedly chewing up everyone and everything around her. On her shoulders hang the entire series and that's why it's headed for the racks of an outlet mall near you immediately -- where you'll still avoid it.
Bo? To clear up a few misunderstandings . . .
There are those who call her a "porn star." Not true. Porn stars usually have to give the appearance that they're having a good time.
There are those who say she's Linda Evans if Evans had remained married to John Derek. Wrong. Evans could have marched straight from The Big Valley over to Casa de Moda and held your attention. Back then, she wouldn't have given a brava performance that scaled new heights, but even as a young woman Linda Evans could act.
There are those who say Bo Derek is an actress. This may be the most laughable claim of all.
Bo is a thing. She has always been a thing. She's apparently satisfied with always being a thing. When John Derek was alive, she was his play thing so possibly it's best, after all, that he's no longer around to see her revert to mere "thing."
On Fashion House, Bo Derek has a really bad habit of darting her eyes all over the place while saying her lines. Some suggest this is due to the fact that, being unable to memorize her lines, she's resorting to cue cards. We considered that possibility but, for it to be true, it would mean Bo could read. We find that as laughable as the book she recently "wrote."
Back in the early 80s, when workouts were all the rage, a women's magazine sought workout tips from Bo.
Bo's advice? Sit ups.
Lay on your back (so far it does sound like Bo), raise your legs in the air (uh-huh), cross them at the ankles then . . . . Bo crossing her legs? We'd sooner believe she could read.
She can't even cross her legs, fully clothed, on Fashion House which is why she's always reclining (she's supposed to be sitting) with one leg tossed here and one tossed there.
When we think of Bo, we think of Hershey bars, nudie scenes and someone suffering from, if not Epstein-Barr virus, then the sort of rolling blackouts that plauged California (thanks to Enron). The woman makes Kim Novak look like Anthony Quinn and Ricky Martin combined. Roger Ailes apparently okayed her in the lead because he's trying to demonstrate that Republicans can act. As Bo's film nadir or zenith (it's difficult to tell with what passes for her career) proclaimed Ghosts Can't Do It. No, and neither can Republican Bo.
In 1979 she was the thing with nipples. (Don't kid yourself, that -- more than the cornrows -- is what made her and what drew eyes to the film's movie poster.) She parlayed that into extreme nudity and, somewhere around the time of Tarzan or Bolero, America saw all she had to offer and then some. If, in watching Fashion House, you feel as though you're watching a made for USA Network movie, you're not remembering wrong. But, we'll note, USA Network has moved beyond those tired movies and we should all wonder why MyTV felt Bo Derek was the thing to jump start their network?

As other shows were rolled out, they got even worse and MYTV stopped making new content -- about fourteen years ago.

Why is it still around?


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

 Wednesday, July 14, 2021.  Death toll in hospital fire continues to rise, Moqtada al-Sadr is mad for reals, and much more.

In Iraq, the people are still reeling from a fire that appears to be caused due to a lack of government oversight and regulation probably due to corruption.  Ruth Sherlock (NPR) notes, ''Flames swept through outbuildings of the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiryah on Monday that had been set up to isolate those sick with COVID-19. Patients became trapped inside, with rescue teams struggling to reach them in time."  From yesterday's snapshot:

The death toll continues to rise.  It was 66 when I started dictating this snapshot a few minutes ago and it's already increased again.  Rafid Jaboori Tweets:

Death toll in a #COVID19 hospital fire in southern #Iraq rises to 70. In April 100 people were killed in another hospital fire in #Baghdad . Health minister resigned back then but no overhaul of safety rules & precautions seems to have taken place

And the death toll has continued to rise since yesterday's snapshot.  Aqeel Najim and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explain, "The death toll in a fire at a hospital treating coronavirus patients in southeastern Iraq has risen to at least 92, according to health officials."  BBC NEWS adds:

Arrest warrants have been issued against 13 people, local media report.

Privately owned news site Shafaq News reports that the list, issued by the Dhi Qar Integrity Investigation Court, includes the province's health chief Saddam Sahib al-Taweel.

PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi earlier ordered the arrest of the head of the hospital, and said the fire was "a deep wound in the conscience of all Iraqis".

Stopping for something else.  The Rendon Group.  Remember them?  They lied and sold the Iraq War.  People pay money for their 'help.'  They're a bunch of idiots.  I say that not just because I am and remain opposed to the Iraq War, I say that because they make themselves a laughingstock.  Less than 40 minutes ago, they Tweeted the following:

w/ news on Cuba's most significant protests in decades continue to provoke responses by powers both domestic and abroad; > 50 people died in a hospital fire in Nasiriya, Iraq; Tigrayan forces seized another major city in Ethiopia & more

6:56 AM · Jul 14, 2021

By this morning it was already 92 at some outlets (others are saying "over 100") and Rendon is Tweeting 50.  50.  It was over 60 when I dictated yesterday morning's Iraq snapshot.  You'd have to be an idiot to pay them -- sorry, Pentagon.

The previous fire in April resulted in no real change -- obviously.  It should have led to inspections on every hospital in Iraq.  It should have led to increased oversight.  Hospitals should have been forced to install fire sprinkler systems and fire alarms (Neither were at al-Hussein Teaching Hospital.)  It should have led to public trials.  But nothing really happened and many believe that will be the case again.  This frustration is why some family members turned on the police the night of the fire.  

Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) reports:

Angry residents in the city of Nasireyah torched two police vehicles and demanded accountability for family members who had died in the fire on Monday at the Al-Hussein teaching hospital. Iraq’s president, Barham Salih, claimed that corruption at the hospital, which was ravaged by flames, had also been a factor.

Failures of Iraq’s bloated and often inefficient public sector have often been highlighted by citizens who claim the state delivers little despite reaping huge revenues from oil production. Scenes of flames and smoke belching from the sanctuary of hospitals – twice in three months – have been a particularly visceral symbol of the government’s shortcomings.

AP reports:

Overnight, firefighters and rescuers — many holding flashlights and using blankets to smother small fires — searched through the ward. As dawn broke, bodies covered with sheets could be seen laid out on the ground outside the hospital. Distraught relatives searched for traces of their loved ones amid charred blankets and belongings.

Ali Khalid, 20, a volunteer who dashed to the scene, said he found the bodies of two young girls locked in embrace.

"How terrified they must have been, they died hugging each other," he said.

REUTERS notes:

Khazaal Ghaleem witnessed the blaze.

"The front door was burning and the back door was closed so people couldn't get out. But before the fire broke out, some of them managed to get out and afterwards people were stuck inside and the ceiling fell on them. We managed to take out some people but they were suffering and the rest of them burnt and died. There are families who are still searching for their relatives."


#Photos.. Deaths in #Iraq's coronavirus #hospital fire Flag of Iraq rise to 92.. Down-pointing red triangle
#Photo.. Deaths in #Iraq's coronavirus #hospital fire 🇮🇶 rise to 92.. 🔻
#Photo.. Deaths in #Iraq's coronavirus #hospital fire 🇮🇶 rise to 92.. 🔻
#Photo.. Deaths in #Iraq's coronavirus #hospital fire 🇮🇶 rise to 92.. 🔻
#Photo.. Deaths in #Iraq's coronavirus #hospital fire 🇮🇶 rise to 92.. 🔻

ALJAZEERA reports:

While some bodies were collected for burial, with mourners weeping and praying over the coffins, the remains of more than 20 badly charred corpses required DNA tests to identify them.

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Nasiriya, said that forensic teams have identified around 39 bodies, while dozens others are still under a “recognition process”.

“We met victims’ families here who cannot find their loved ones. Dozens of body parts cannot be easily identified,” Abdelwahed said.

“Another man we met lost five of his family members – three [were] COVID-19 patients and the others were either visitors or those who rushed to try to save their relatives.”

UNICEF's representative in Iraq Sheema Sun Gupta stated:

UNICEF expresses its sincere condolences and extends its sympathy to the victims and families affected by the fire that broke out in the Imam Hussein Teaching Hospital ward for treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Nasiriyah on Monday night.

We acknowledge with sadness the dramatic number of deaths and people wounded.

UNICEF conveys its respect to the families and friends of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.

UNICEF will continue supporting the health sector in Iraq and calls for all parties to ensure safety in health facilities, especially during a time in which the COVID-19 pandemic is already causing pain and concern to many families.

One potential fatality not yet noted?  Mustafa al-Kadhimi's hope for a second term as prime minister.  The do-nothing official has been in office for over a year now (he became prime minister May 7, 2020) and he's done nothing.  He was supposed to end corruption, remember?  He was supposed to hold early elections, remember? He was supposed to serve one brief term and leave, remember?

None of that happened.  Elections are (finally) scheduled to take place -- this October.  He's accomplished nothing but photo ops.  Photo op with the family of an assassinated activist.  No justice for the family.  No one goes to prison for the assassination.  Hell, they don't even stand trial for carrying out an assassination.  He can visit kidnapped activist Ali al-Mikdam when Ali's in the hospital.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء يطمئن على صحة الصحفي والناشط علي المگدام في احدى مستشفيات بغداد، بعد أن حررته القوات الأمنية من خاطفيه .

He can even claim that Ali was rescued from the kidnappers (see Monday's "") by Iraqi security forces when that isn't what happened.  Ali was released by his kidnappers (again, see Monday's snapshot -- and on social media, many are saying Ali was let go when ransom was paid) and Ali walked to a police check point to ask for medical assistance -- walked on his own.  

He may very well end up with a second term -- when the US government overturned the results of the 2010 election with The Erbil Agreement, they showed that elections don't matter -- but no incumbent has ever been in a weaker position that Mustafa is in right now.  Even Adil Abdul-Mahdi wasn't in that weak of a position when he resigned paving the way for Mustafa to become prime minister.

All of the issues that forced Adil's resignation remain.  And many other issues have been added in.  Mustafa is an abject failure.

And while his friends in the press (Mustafa spent pre-prime minister years being a journalist) have covered for him and offered excuses (he's only been prime minister for a short time!) or acted as though they'd birthed him (look! babys first photo-op! We're so proud!), the realities are harder and harder to avoid.  Especially with regards to the fire.  This happened on Mustafa's watch.  Not just that, but the April one did as well -- and that was when he was weeks away from one year as prime minister.  Now a second fire?

There are no more excuses.

Leave it to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to suss that out.  ASHARQ AL_AWSAT reports:

Iraq Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has warned he will hold the Iraqi government responsible if it fails to action over a devastating fire that killed at least 60 people in a COVID isolation unit.

The warning comes just months before Iraq is scheduled to go to the polls in October for an early parliamentary election that was demanded by a protest movement backed by Sadr's supporters.

"It is incumbent on the government to work immediately to firmly and seriously punish those to blame for hospital fires, whether in Nasiriyah or other provinces, no matter their (political) affiliation," Sadr tweeted late Tuesday, AFP reported.

"Otherwise, this government will be held responsible from its lowest to its highest (official)."

The devastating blaze, which swept through the Covid isolation unit of Al-Hussein Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah on Monday evening, was the second such fire in Iraq in three months.

An April fire at a Baghdad Covid hospital killed 82 people and was also blamed on the explosion of badly stored oxygen bottles.

Tubby, rotund Moqtada surfaces for a statement -- guess he's not dead yet?  Remember his drama last week about how he was about to be killed?  His gift of prophecy is about as strong as his gift of leadership.

So Moqtada says this is unacceptable and must be dealt with.  Now.  Apparently, when it was just the one hospital in April, he wasn't overly concerned.  That's useless Moqtada.

He fails to note that his coalition pretty much dominates the federal government in Iraq at this point.  So, grasp, Moqtada is the government.

It's like his laughable stance defending his cult in Sadr City all these years -- 'defending.'  Their lives aren't any better.  The press has always referred to Sadr City as a "slum."  It's where people live so we usually try to avoid that term.  But Moqtada's been their leader for how many years now and yet they still live in a slum?  

Again, leadership is something he struggles with -- possibly because he got his position because Daddy died and never did a thing to earn it.

Leadership would also require defending Iraq's sovereignty and Mustafa's not up for that either.  That's why foreign troops remain on the ground in Iraq.  It's why Turkey gets away with bombing the Kurdistan Region, with terrorizing villagers there, with sending ground troops in.  

Christos G. Failadis Tweets:

#Turkish #airstrikes ignite #Assyrian #lands, villagers organize firefighting response-The fire and lack of emergency response is endemic in the region as Turkish attacks routinely impact communities in Iraq’s north.

5:04 AM · Jul 14, 2021

Winding down . . .

Cindy Sheehan is interviewed above.  By Tavis Smiley on TAVIS SMILEY.  I tried to note that he was running KBLA a few weeks ago but just couldn't find the time.  I will put his program link on the side links tonight.  

Anyone who wants to waste their time e-mailing to grip ( please know your e-mails will not make a difference.  I've known Tavis for years.  Since he was first on with Tom Joyner.  Yes, I know what he was said to have done -- by public broadcasting desperate to not honor his contract.  I also know that if he'd actually done what was whispered he would have faced criminal charges.  But smear campaigns aren't enough in a criminal court.  I do not walk away from Tavis.  I've never taken his old link down from our links on the side.  Tavis is innocent as far as I'm concerned. 

I don't trust smear campaigns.  And they carried out one. An 'internal' investigation.  But none on ____?  When we all know that he harasses and that PBS management is well aware of it having settled out of court -- does the pbulic know that?  Do they know that US tax dollars have been used for that?

PBS has a million problems.  Tavis was never one of them.