Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Greedy Bruce, Greedy Bruce

We're again talking about greedy Bruce Springsteen.  From THE WASHINGTON POST:

Longtime Bruce Springsteen fan Susan Avery raised her daughter to believe the Boss was the one rock star who could do no wrong. “He doesn’t tear up hotel rooms,” points out Avery, a fan since the ’70s, who has seen every Springsteen tour for decades. “You don’t see him on drug binges. He’s just a really, really solid, wonderful guy.”

In late July, tickets went on sale for Springsteen’s first run of U.S. shows with the E Street band in six years. Like tens of thousands of others, Avery went online to try to purchase tickets. By the time she made it out of the virtual Ticketmaster queue, the only tickets priced at face value for the show she wanted at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino were in the nosebleed sections. As Avery went to purchase a slightly better seat, she watched the price of the ticket in her cart rise vertiginously. She wound up paying $800, several hundred dollars over face value.

[. . .]

Fans say they are upset not just at ticket prices but at the lack of transparency. Outrage has been plentiful on Twitter and other places people like to be upset all the time, but also, more surprisingly, on Springsteen’s own Instagram and fan Facebook groups. “So this is what a crisis of faith feels like,” beloved fan resource Backstreets magazine tweeted, almost unthinkably. Words like “betrayed” and “gut punch” were frequently used. “I would expect this stuff from the Eagles,” a fan tweeted, witheringly.

And they know who to blame:

It’s been a long time since Springsteen faced this sort of widespread public condemnation, and he seems to have been caught flat-footed. He has yet to address the issue publicly, which is another sticking point with fans who are in an unusually unforgiving mood. “I think whatever mistake or oversight they made in terms of allowing those tickets to come out at $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 last week, they deserve this,” says podcaster McLean. “Not a lot of Bruce apologists at this point.”

And just a reminder, it was June 13th that Bruce was in Berlin talking about "greedy bankers" and how about when he was trying to get people to buy WRECKING BALL and went on Jon Stewart's show talking about "class solidarity" and how bad greed is and how bankers are "greedy thieves" and it's us against the "robber barons"?

And he's the one doing the gouging -- and after he sold his songs in December for $500 million.

By the way, Madonna has said no so far.

She's the only one who has.

And she's the only one with common sense.  Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, CSN, Steive Nicks, go down the list.  What idiots.

Madonna knows money.  She's the only one of her peer group who took on the industry and their label and survived.  Label wars killed George Michael, Michael Jackson and Prince.  She's never had to beg for money or plead with her label.  She handled it as business and stayed in control.  So I think if she's realizing there's much more money to be made in holding onto your publishing, that they have made a mistake.  History has been on Madonna's side.  

But what greed Bruce has.  He really is disgusting.  Ticketmaster only does what they did if they get the artists' approval.  He gave his approval for this and that's why he still hasn't spoken -- he realizes what a hypocrite he looks like.

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2022.  Moqtada's calling on his goons to leave the building, oil giants are getting rich while the people suffer, the FBI's targeting activists and much more.

Over the past week, the six major multinational oil giants—ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, TotalEnergies and Eni—reported combined profits of over $64 billion in the second quarter alone. The orgy of profiteering is not limited to the six major oil companies. The smaller US companies Valero, Phillips 66 and Hess posted a massive combined quarterly profit of $8.62 billion.

In total, these nine companies reported over $72 billion in profits over three months. The oil companies, by and large, have refused to increase production, driving gas prices in the United States earlier this summer to an average of $5 a gallon and siphoning billions from working class families into their coffers. While the price of a gallon of gas has dipped somewhat in the last month to a nationwide average of $4.19 a gallon, this is still over a dollar more than the $3.17 recorded at this same time last year.

Every day during this period, the oil companies made $800 million in profit, or about $33.3 million an hour.

An analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental lobbying group that tracks the profits of the 15 largest oil and gas companies in the United States, found that compared to the same period in 2021, oil company profits grew “a staggering 242 percent.”

The largest private oil company in the United States, ExxonMobil, reported a second-quarter profit of nearly $17.9 billion, which represents a year-to-year increase of 226 percent, according to the NRDC. Overall, ExxonMobil has reported over $23.3 billion in profits this year alone.

Chevron reported a second-quarter profit of $11.62 billion, a 277 percent year increase from a year ago. The United Steelworkers union played a key role in the company’s massive profit increase through its isolation and betrayal of Chevron workers’ struggles for improved wages and working conditions, including its sellout in June of a strike by 500 oil workers in Richmond, California.


As working class families the world over struggle to afford basic necessities amid historic inflation, driven by the pandemic and the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, the world’s largest multinational oil corporations are announcing record profits.

Depending on the western outlet, Iraq is currently in a crisis, a power struggle, an "explosive political crisis" or something similar.  I think I enjoy THE ECONOMIST's use of "plague" best.  But here's the thing,as Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye once sang,  "nothing's changed and it's the same as it used to be."

Moqtada's loon goons are occupying an empty building that no one's using.  And?

I guess that's the twist that finally caught the interest of the western press.  We are seven days away from ten months since the elections were held and still no prime minister, still no president.

That's what the struggle is about and the western press didn't see it as an issue months ago or even last month.  

The occupying has apparently awakened them.

Most of us were aware of the struggle months ago.  

And Iraq has passed 2010.  That's the year it set the record for the longest time between elections and forming a new government.  The world record.  The following year, Belgium took that record and, more recently (2020), Belgium's broken its own record.  But Iraq has now gone longer than it did in 2010 and no one noticed or cared in the western press until last week when Moqtada's cult began occupying an empty building -- as if that's what's important.  There's no budget, for example, no government budget and I'd argue that's a lot more important.  

In normal times Iraq’s parliament can be a desolate place: many mps do not bother to show up for work. Today it is full--though far short of a quorum. On July 30th supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, a cleric and politician, stormed parliament. They have settled in for what they promise will be an open-ended sit-in. Volunteers have been bringing meals and tea; juice vendors roam the aisles. For once, mps have a legitimate reason for staying at home.

Iraq has been without a proper government for almost ten months, the longest period of paralysis since 2005; Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been hobbling along as the caretaker prime minister. Such deadlocks are nothing new. But the events of the past week have pushed the country in an ominous direction. 

I'm sure that they're quite proud of that first paragraph - it would explain how they overlooked their mistake in the second.  2005?  Parliamentary elections were held twice in 2005.  The first, held in January, resulted in the group that wrote Iraq's Constitution.  By April 5th, three months later, they were naming a president and a prime minister-designate.  The second, held in December, resulted in a long delay between the elections and the naming of a prime minister-designate (who then has 30 days to create a Cabinet and then can become prime minister, per the Constitution).  It would be six months before a prime minister-designate was named (one picked by the US government).  That was long.  But it was not eight months and a few days which was what took place in 2010 and is "the longest period of paralysis."  That was the political stalemate.  Nouri al-Maliki had lost and refused to step down and, despite insisting initially that the votes would be respected, the votes were tossed out by the US government which brokered a contract, The Erbil Agreement, that gave Nouri a second term.  In exchange, Nouri agreed to various concessions in this contract.  Despite Barack Obama telling Ayad Allawi over the phone that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing and support of the US government (he told Allawi that to get Allawi to order his MPs back into Parliament), Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then refused to honor any of the promises made in exchange for that and the US government acted like The Erbil Agreement never existed.

Even without bringing in tubby Jalal Talabani into the story, there's a lot there and it's surprising that THE ECONOMIST forgot it was 2010 that Iraq had previously gone the longest between elections and the formation of a government.


And now it's a crisis, to the western press.  Now.  Not when they hit the eight month mark.  Not when they passed the previous political stalemate.  

But now.

As Moqtada's cult occupies an empty building and apparently is served catered meals.

Journalist Rasha al-Aqeedi offers this take:

The chaos in Baghdad created by Sadrists is the biggest service to the Coordination Framework and Nouri al-Maliki. Images of livestock grazing in Iraq's parliament,the cooking,littering, and destruction of facility will cause social amnesia at the crimes committed by the militias

While THE NEW ARAB insists:

No one's talking about the leaked audio anymore.  And the western media pretty much ignored those leaks.  They were meant to destroy Nouri -- and the consensus on Arabic social media is that the US provided the recordings -- but they didn't.

Moqtada initially dismissed them until he was egged on to say something more and then started screaming that the courts must hear these recordings, the courts, the courts!!!!

The courts?  Nouri's always had the support of the judiciary.  So that's one.  Two, the recordings aren't that bad.  More were supposed to come.  They never did.  Nouri trashed Moqtada in the recordings.


The two have never gotten along.  Moqtada used to run like the coward he is from Iraq to Iran at just the possible chance that Nouri might arrest him.  The two hate each other.  

What's Nouri saying in the recordings?

Basically, that things are tense and Moqtada's causing tension.

And these were released before Moqtada decided to have his goons occupy Parliament.

The recordings don't make Nouri look out of touch the way some had hoped.  Moqtada's latest actions have ensured that.

That's not an endorsement of Nouri.  He's a thug and always will be.  But, no, the tapes, and Nouri's concerns that Moqtada's actions could lead to strife and war in Iraq do not look that extreme now -- if they ever did, even before Moqtada's latest public relations move to get more attention for himself.

Moqtada's not at the protest.  Like many a cult leader, he sends his followers off to places he's too scared to go himself.

Five days Moqtada's goons have remained in the empty building -- even though Parliament's not due to hold any sessions.  And somehow this compares to nearly ten months without forming a government?  To the western press it does.

Moqtada's goons are being catered to by more than just those bringing them meals.

And a message is being sent by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the 'caretaker' prime minister.  If you occupy Tahrir Square, you will be attacked by Iraqi forces, you will risk your life.  But if you occupy a government building, for days, we will just look the other way.

Mustafa is supposed to be the outgoing prime minister and he doesn't want to be.  Presumably, that's among the reasons he's backing Moqtada currently.  Equally true, he hates Nouri and the militias  because they have publicly called him a coward and a traitor.  That's why he disenfranchised so many of them when he changed the rules at the last minute and refused to let them vote in October's early election.  

Is there a legal reason that Mustafa's refused to eject the squatters from inside a government building?  

Mustafa is only prime minister because of The October Revolution.  And yet all he did for that group was offer some insincere words.  He didn't prevent them from being attacked.  And, again, they were protesting in the square, they hadn't seized a government building.

Mustafa's allowing Moqtada's boys to stay in the building and he's allowing the press to visit.  That wasn't the case for The October Revolution.  He barred journalists from entry into those protests.  He used COVID 19 as his excuse for destroying their camp sites.

COVID hasn't gone away.  Not around the world, not in Iraq. 

Per The World Health Organization, Iraq had 1000 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours.  That's been the average, more or less, for the last two weeks.  COVID was concern enough to destroy the property of the protesters who were protesting outside but now you have people in an indoor building and there's no social distancing taking place but the government's okay with it?

That says a great deal to Iraq's young Shi'ites who took to the streets to try to make a better Iraq in 2019.  

Between that reality sinking in and the images harming Moqtada's 'movement,' Moqtada's made the call to get his embarrassing goons out of the building.

Senior #Sadr supporters were urged to abandon the sit-in inside the parliament, but they were encouraged to keep protesting inside the Green Zone. #Iraq #Iraqprotest

Moqtada has always been more of a press creation.  He is not revered.  He has a cult following.  He is not the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.  

Senior Sadr supporter Mohamed Saleh al-Iraqi instructed hundreds of his followers through tweet to leave the capital city of Baghdad’s parliament building within 72 hours and join other Sadrists at a “encampment in front of and around the building.”

“The pursuit of the sit-in is very significant because it will solidify your demands,” al-Iraqi said in the tweet on Tuesday, recommending that protesters take it in turns to remain at the protest site.
The protestors will stay inside the Green Zone, which contains Iraq’s parliament, government buildings, and foreign embassies.

He added that there would be a sizable prayer gathering on Friday in the Green Zone.

The declaration led to confusion inside the parliament building, where some authorities said demonstrators could stay in the main chamber and a conference room despite the directives to remove them.

So they'll remain in the Green Zone?  The Green Zone has been breached -- something that was never supposed to happen.  The US has civilians and military personnel in the US Embassy in the Green Zone and has always insisted it was a safe area.  Yet no one in government is commenting on this development, not the White House, not the State Dept and not the Pentagon.  I guess Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin doesn't know anything about Iraq?  Sudden case of amnesia?

We'll wind down with this from Peter Symonds (WSWS):

In a reckless provocation that deliberately heightens war tensions with China, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan late last night aboard a military aircraft accompanied by her congressional delegation.

Despite concerns over the potential for a military clash or conflict with China, the Biden administration came together with the entire US political and military establishment in backing Pelosi’s trip. As Pelosi landed in Taipei, an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, with its full complement of fighter aircraft, attack helicopters and other weapons systems, was positioned in waters off Taiwan’s east coast.

The USS Ronald Reagan was accompanied by a guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and a destroyer USS Higgins. The US Navy also reported that the amphibious assault ship, the USS Tripoli, was also operating in the area. Two US Air Force planes were reportedly sent to Malaysia, where Pelosi held talks yesterday as part of the military preparations for her trip to Taiwan.

US officials, the American media and Pelosi herself promoted the lie that her trip and the accompanying military operation was “routine,” and her presence in Taipei did not deviate from decades of American policy and diplomacy.

Pelosi’s trip is anything but routine. She is the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in more than a quarter century. Her visit is just the latest in calculated steps taken by the Trump and Biden administrations to undermine the One China policy that has been the foundation of political relations between the US and China since formal diplomatic ties were established in 1979.

Under the One China policy, Washington de facto recognised that Beijing as the legitimate government of all China, including the island of Taiwan. It broke off diplomatic relations with the military dictatorship in Taipei and withdrew its military forces from the island. At the same time, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act to allow unofficial, low-level contact with Taipei and the sale of so-called defensive weapons to Taiwan.

Over the past six years, all that has dramatically changed. Top-level talks and visits have been openly resumed; the US has for the first time publicly acknowledged the presence of American troops on the island; and arms sales, including of manifestly offensive weaponry, has escalated along with the frequency of US warships passing through the narrow Taiwan Strait.

Biden has deliberately ignored repeated Chinese warnings that US actions were jeopardising the relations between the world’s two largest economies and profoundly destabilising the Indo-Pacific region. In a phone conversation with Biden last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that the US was “playing with fire,” if it allowed the Pelosi’s trip to take place.

Shortly after Pelosi landed in Taipei, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi again warned that the actions of American politicians were incendiary over the issue of Taiwan. “This will definitely not have a good outcome. The exposure of America’s bullying face again shows it as the world's biggest saboteur of peace,” he said. 

On July 29, 2022, the FBI raided the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Uhuru Solidarity Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The raids were connected with the indictment of a Russian national who is accused of attempting to “cause turmoil in the United States” by engaging with “Unindicted Co-Conspirators” to act as agents of the Russian Federation.

The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) is the organization targeted by the FBI for a very simple reason. It is a Black organization which has dared to confront and oppose U.S. imperialism. The alleged connection with the Russian government kills two birds with one stone. The Russiagate hoax is continually resuscitated as it gives new life to claims of election and other interference and Black people’s organizations are as always the first to be targeted by the State.

Every individual and organization calling itself socialist, anti-imperialist, Black nationalist, or anti-war should be in support of the APSP at this moment. The APSP has done what they have every right to do, travel anywhere in the world they choose, even to countries said to be “adversaries” of the United States. They communicate with the people they want to be in contact with and they espouse their beliefs freely. As an anti-imperialist organization the APSP vehemently critiques both U.S. foreign policy and its domestic regime, particularly as it engages in continued oppression against Black people. All of these actions put it firmly in the crosshairs of law enforcement and ensure that it will be made an example of as the state cracks down on all those who oppose its actions.

These witch hunts are not new. They go back to the Palmer Raids of the Woodrow Wilson administration, and the anti-communist attacks which persecuted Paul Robeson and Claudia Jones among others. They morphed into the CounterIntelligence Program, COINTELPRO, which destroyed the liberation movement by killing and imprisoning leadership, and creating intra-group dissension.

But now the danger is somewhat different. In 1971 a group of anti-war activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. Would the Washington Post, which was alone in printing the papers they had stolen, and who ended up revealing the existence of COINTELPRO, now analyze the facts in the case of APSP? Now the Washington Post is in the hands of one of the richest people in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who also has contracts with the CIA. The old media wasn't always reliably interested in journalistic investigation, but could occasionally make good on the dictum of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Those days are no more.

The following sites updated: