Saturday, May 28, 2022

Olivia Newton-John

If you listened to 70s radio, it was pretty easy to take Olivia Newton-John for granted because she was always being played on it.  That's when she began her streak of 27 top forty hits on the Hot 100 in the US -- five of which went to number one and one of those number ones was also the number one song of its year ("Physical"). 

That was the US pop charts.  She had 35 top forty hits on the US Adult Contemporary Charts --  nine of those 35 went to number one.  Then there was the US country charts where she had 13 top forty hits -- "If You Love Me Let Me Know" was her biggest country hit and it made it to number two.

She even had a number one dance hit on the US Dance Chart in 2015. 

She'll always be remembered for starring in the film GREASE with John Travolta; however, she is one of the most successful singers of the second half of the century.  It's Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John and Dionne Warwick.  They're far ahead of Linda Ronstadt whose usually thought of as one of our most successful -- in terms of the charts -- singers.  

And it was easy to take her for granted in real time because she was always on the radio, she was always on a winning streak.  She had a song in the top forty every year from 1971 through 1987 (the pop charts in the US -- and that does include one song released in September that was still a top forty hit the following year).  

Why am I writing about her now?

I listen to streaming via AMAZON MUSIC.  I pay for that service.  

A few weeks ago, I thought about how I hadn't heard Olvia in years and wanted to hear "Please, Mr. Please" especially.

Fortunately, it was on one of the few Olivia studio albums that AMAZON offers -- HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW.


AMAZON doesn't offer a greatesst hits or a best of for Olivia Newton-John.

How does that happen?

How does one of the most successful charting pop artists of all time not have one of their greatest hits albums to stream?

She has had numerous collections and I'm only going to note here the ones that went gold or better in the US:  IF YOU LOVE ME< LET ME KNOW,  OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN'S GREATEST HITS, OLIVIA'S GREATEST HITS VOLUME II and BACK TO BASICS: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION: 1971 TO 1992.

How does AMAZON get away without having a greatest hits for this artist?

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

Friday, May 27, 2022. The UN makes clear how little it cares about Iraq, Katrina vanden Heuverl just realized your birthday was last month, Margaret Kimberley pictures a better world and Amber Heard is not a poster for feminism.

The Security Council of the United Nations pretended to 'address' Iraq yesterday.  They did not address Iraq.  It was another going-through-the-motions meeting where they pretended to explore Iraq so they could renew the one year mandate over Iraq.  

They issued a lengthy, 366 word press release on the matter that might fool some idiots but the reality is there in the last sentence, "The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:14 a.m."

Four minutes.  

Four minutes is how long they spent in a meeting about the security in Iraq.  Four minutes.  And that allowed them -- that incredible overview -- to put themselves in charge of Iraq for another  year.  And people think Britney Spears was railroaded?

Four minutes.

It was so unimportant to the UN that they didn't even post the 'meeting' or 'hearing' to their UN YOUTUBE page.

The increasingly laughable UNAMI did post the prepared remarks of the United Nations' Secretary General's Special Representative (Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert):

Thank you, Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Security Council,

My briefing today will hit many all-too-familiar notes, as notorious aspects of Iraqi political life are repeating themselves in a seemingly incessant loop of zero-sum politics. But before delving into that, I would like to share some impressions on the recent and ongoing waves of massive dust- and sandstorms hitting Iraq.

Now, while a dust- or sandstorm as such is not a new phenomenon for the country, the current wave far exceeds Iraq’s experiences in recent years. Briefing this Council last February, I spoke about the dangers of climate change and its effects, with desertification as a central concern. Ever since, Iraq has been battered by intense dust- and sandstorms that obscure the sky, send people running for shelter, even resulting in sickness and death.

Now, these storms are only expected to become more frequent. In other words: continued inaction, also here, comes at enormous costs. Having said this, Mr. President, these storms are not the only concern for the people in Iraq.

Iraqis continue to wait for a political class that, instead of being content with stale power battles, they are waiting for a political class that will roll up its sleeves to make headway on Iraq’s long list of outstanding domestic priorities. As you know, national elections took place well over seven months ago, and multiple deadlines for the formation of a government have been missed. 

Now, it is true, Iraq is not the only country facing a protracted government formation process. But Iraq’s political leaders would do well not to hide behind that argument. It distracts from what is at stake.

It excuses a political deadlock while non-state armed groups fire rockets with apparent freedom and impunity. It excuses a political stalemate while ordinary people suffer. It excuses a political impasse while simmering anger – public anger can boil over at any moments.

So, my question is: what will it take to realize that this situation is completely untenable?

To date, political leaders subscribe to the notion of dialogue, or another round of negotiations. But the necessary willingness to compromise? It is painfully absent. Visit any market and Iraqis will tell you: the national interest is, yet again, taking a backseat to short-sighted considerations of control over resources and power play.

It is therefore high time (and yes, I repeat myself), but it is high time to return the spotlight where it must be: on the people of Iraq, and a programme of action that provides:

  • Adequate service delivery to all citizens.
  • An end to pervasive corruption, factionalism and the pillaging of state institutions.
  • The implementation of desperately needed reforms.
  • The diversification of the economy.
  • Predictable governance instead of constant crisis management.
  • An end to impunity, with accountability as a key feature of the State, and (of course) …
  • Reining in non-state armed actors while asserting the State’s authority.


Over the past three years, you have heard me make these points numerous times. And one thing remains clear: the neglect of the population’s most basic needs has gone on for far too long.

Again, Iraqi political inaction comes at a huge price. Not (in the short term) for those in power, but for those desperately trying to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Mr. President,

A few more specific observations, beginning with relations between Baghdad and Erbil. The sorry pattern of ad-hoc negotiations continues to prevail instead of what is critically needed: an institutionalized, predictable mechanism for the comprehensive, holistic and durable resolutions of all outstanding issues.

While this is evidently necessary, such a mechanism continues to be plainly missing, and this deficiency is sadly coupled with internal rivalries on both sides as well.

As I said last time: a spirit of partnership and cooperation can and must guide all stakeholders, including with regards to the recent Federal Supreme Court ruling on the KRG Oil and Gas Law. Having engaged with both sides on this matter, I am convinced that there is a way out.

However, and there is no denying it: events in the past have gravely eroded mutual trust. Hence, it will prove essential to build confidence, including by pledging to refrain from politically motivated, unilateral actions in the future.

Now, Mr. President, zooming in on the political situation within the Kurdistan Region: last year, in May, I participated in an event at the University of Kurdistan. It is a promising event with all Kurdistan Region political parties present.

In my remarks, I outlined the toxicity of political infighting and factionalism. I emphasized the importance of unity, not to be confused with uniformity. I spoke candidly about the need to move away from the yellow & green divide, about the responsibility of leaders to guide outreach and to bring together opposing interests, to focus on solutions that represent the interests of all peoples living in the Kurdistan Region - be it Erbil, Dohuk or Sulaymaniyah.

However, one year later, this promising event seems to have gained zero traction. On the contrary, divisions have deepened - with adverse effects on the peoples of the Kurdistan Region.

Now, and without repeating my remarks of a year ago, but it must be clear: the Kurdistan Region has a choice. And with the Kurdistan Region elections scheduled for the 1st of October later this year, it is of utmost importance to level the electoral playing field - with all political actors, big or small, enjoying equal opportunities. Promoting a conducive electoral environment, that is.

Additionally, I can only underline that geography does not always play in the Kurdistan Region’s advantage. In other words: its unique geopolitical circumstances alone, should be enough to give its leaders pause.

And, of course, that goes for the whole of Iraq as well. As I have said on countless occasions: whether we like it or not, a weak domestic home front only creates a welcoming environment for continued external interference.

Now, on a related note, let me also comment on incoming missiles and rockets: Disturbing, disruptive and dangerous.

With the IRGC claiming responsibility for up to 12 short-range ballistic missiles launched in the early hours of Sunday March 13, another worrisome chapter was opened. And while the IRGC described the targeted location in Erbil as “the strategic centre for conspiracy and evil acts of the Zionists”, no evidence for such claims was found. The targeted site is known as a civilian area, a private compound.

Although both sides – Iraq, Iran – although they are currently engaged in dialogue and do not wish to escalate the issue, Iraq rightfully rejects the notion that it can be treated as the region’s backyard, with routine violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Now, another case in point are the ongoing Turkish and Iranian shelling activities in the North. So, what are we looking at? Cross-border shelling and missiles as the new normal for Iraq? This is a very risky way to advance interests, and one which further weakens the State of Iraq.

Needless to say: any country or actor seeking to settle a dispute has established diplomatic instruments, including our good offices, at their disposal.

Now, moving to Iraq’s very own armed actors operating outside state control: the reckless firing of rockets, including at an oil refinery in Erbil some two weeks ago, remains alarming and unjustifiable. These attacks seek to undermine Iraq’s security and stability within an already extremely volatile, politically charged post-electoral environment.

Fact is: “messaging by rockets”, “missile diplomacy” – these are reckless acts, with potentially devastating consequences. Also, and let me emphasize, Iraq does not need self-proclaimed armed arbiters. And I again underline the great importance of asserting the State’s authority. If the perpetrators are known, call them out. This is essential to uphold the Rule of Law.

Ladies and gentlemen, turning to the ever-pressing question of Sinjar:

As we know all too well, Sinjar’s recent history has witnessed horrific ordeals, culminating in the heinous crimes committed by Da’esh. Today, while locals urgently need to rebuild their lives, they continue to face unconscionable obstacles. Obstacles due to discord on security arrangements, public service provisions and a unified administration.

The Sinjar agreement, signed by Baghdad and Erbil in October 2020, was seen (by many) as a glimmer of hope: a very first but important step in the right direction.

At the time, I expressed hope that the agreement would lead to a new chapter for Sinjar, one in which the needs of the Sinjari people would come first, that it would help displaced people return to their homes, that it would accelerate reconstruction and improve public service delivery.

But for that to happen, stable governance and security structures are - of course - pre-requisites. Now, ever since the agreement was signed, I have called for a speedy implementation. Well clearly, the opposite is true. To date, there is no agreement on the selection of a new independent mayor, and funds for a new local security force remain blocked, possibly due to interference into unclear recruitment procedures.

Now, on these recruitment procedures: I again emphasize the importance of pragmatism and realism. Not all people who joined “other forces” in the past can simply be painted with the same brush. It must be understood that some of them, absent the authority of the State, simply opted for a safety net, an identity and an income to provide for their families.

We also called on both Baghdad and Erbil to reach out to the people of Sinjar, to open their arms to all Sinjaris. Meanwhile, critics of the Sinjar agreement kept on emphasizing the lack of consultations with local communities.

Now, while no one dismisses good advice, and certainly not UNAMI, I have to say: local consultations did take place and continue to take place. At the same time, it is true that both Baghdad and Erbil could and should step up their outreach at the grassroots level. The implementation of any agreement, winning hearts and minds, is hard work. And this one in particular.

A piece of paper alone will not do the job. One needs to be on top of it, 24/7, own it, constantly and proactively engage with the communities on the ground, provide explanations, clarify why a decision has been taken and why it benefits the Sinjaris in the medium to long term. Having said this: significant divides and the fragmentation of local communities are a fact of life in Sinjar, making things even more challenging.

And within this context, it is also important to note that Sinjar has increasingly turned into an arena for external and domestic spoilers.

Now, while some of this can be traced back to 2014 as Da’esh kicked off its atrocities, eight years later it is time to acknowledge that yes, mistakes have been made in the past, but Sinjar is part of the State of Iraq.

By giving room to external and domestic spoilers, the situation will not get any better. And by now, all stakeholders would do well to acknowledge this fact - notwithstanding their gratitude for the help and assistance received in the past. You know, nobody said that the establishment of stable security and governance structures would be an easy ride.

But there is no denying it: the lack of clear-cut coordination and implementation mechanism, the dominance of partisan interests and the ongoing presence of spoilers significantly hamper meaningful progress. I have to say – international observers have been deployed for less.

Clashes have again erupted in recent weeks. And this sadly made Sinjari families again pack their belongings and find their way back to the Kurdistan Region to seek shelter.

So, let me reiterate:

  • Sinjaris’ safety and security should be front and centre at all times.
  • They deserve peace under the authority of the State.
  • Domestic and external spoilers have no place in Sinjar.
  • Baghdad and Erbil must assume their responsibility, and urgently work together with only one objective: to improve the lives of people on the ground and promote the voluntary, dignified return of displaced persons to their homes.

Mr. President,

A few words on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.

In recent months, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has stepped up efforts to reach new witnesses through broadcasts, the media, as well as consular and diplomatic channels worldwide. As a result, at least two potential new witnesses have come forward during this period, confirming that broadcasts with a wide geographic reach can be helpful in eliciting information.

This demonstrated that investing efforts in obtaining new witness information, and insisting on acquiring satellite imagery analysis from relevant member States, are essential steps to bring this crucial and sensitive file to a close.

Now, Mr. President,

I will conclude my remarks by underlining (once more) the importance of overcoming the political stalemate. Significant domestic vulnerabilities are being compounded by the ongoing effects of the pandemic and global geopolitical tensions.

A sincere, collective and urgent will to resolve political differences must now prevail – it must prevail for the country to move forward and to meet the needs of its citizens.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Once upon a time, we attended these meetings and reported on them here.  But then they became a non-deniable farce.  Those present on the council didn't even pretend to be interested, stopped any questions -- even softballs -- and the UNAMI rep would read their statements.  Then it got worse as they'd summarize their prepared remarks instead of even reading them in full.

Now the UN has extended its mandate over Iraq for a year and they did so in a 'meeting' that lasted four minutes  I think most of us spend more time than that considering what we for dinner.  

The UN made clear that it doesn't care about Iraq -- it only cares about controlling the country.

We are weeks away from the eight month mark -- eight months since the October 10th elections and the Iraqi government has still not announced a president or prime minister.

But that's apparently not worthy of discussion.

Climate change is impacting Iraq harshly and nothing's being done but the UN doesn't want to discuss that.

The vastly unpopular holdover prime minister attended the funeral of an Iraqi poet days ago and was booed and pelted with objects forcing him to leave but that's not anything the UN wants to address or explore.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Continuing the ridiculous, at SCHEER POST, Katrina vanden Heuvel offers:

It’s time to challenge the orthodox view on the war in Ukraine.

As Russia’s illegal and brutal assault enters its fourth month, the impact on Europe, the Global South and the world is already profound. We are witnessing the emergence of a new political/military world order. Climate action is being sidelined as reliance on fossil fuels increases; food scarcity and other resource demands are pushing prices upward and causing widespread global hunger; and the worldwide refugee crisis — with more international refugees and internally displaced people than at any time since the end of World War II — poses a massive challenge.

Furthermore, the more protracted the war in Ukraine, the greater the risk of a nuclear accident or incident. And with the Biden administration’s strategy to “weaken” Russia with the scale of weapons shipments, including anti-ship missiles, and revelations of U.S. intelligence assistance to Ukraine, it is clear that the United States and NATO are in a proxy war with Russia.

Shouldn’t the ramifications, perils and multifaceted costs of this proxy war be a central topic of media coverage — as well as informed analysis, discussion and debate? Yet what we have in the media and political establishment is, for the most part, a one-sided, even nonexistent, public discussion and debate. It’s as if we live with what journalist Matt Taibbi has dubbed an “intellectual no-fly zone.”

Those who have departed from the orthodox line on Ukraine are regularly excluded from or marginalized — certainly rarely seen — on big corporate media. The result is that alternative and countervailing views and voices seem nonexistent. Wouldn’t it be healthy to have more diversity of views, history and context rather than “confirmation bias”?

Those who speak of history and offer context about the West’s precipitating role in the Ukraine tragedy are not excusing Russia’s criminal attack. It is a measure of such thinking, and the rhetorical or intellectual no-fly zone, that prominent figures such as Noam Chomsky, University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer and former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, among others, have been demonized or slurred for raising cogent arguments and providing much-needed context and history to explain the background of this war.

Now it's time.


All these months later.

Is Katrina a 911 operator out of Buffalo, New York?

There's a saying, better late than never.

It's a saying.

It's not accurate.  But people do say it.

People aslo see that the US government is indifferent to the lives of American babies as evidenced by the baby formula shortage.  Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) offers:

“Socialism doesn’t work” is repeated like a mantra. We’re told endlessly that capitalism provides jobs, housing, food, and health care in this country when it does a very bad job of doing all these things. The United States is said to be “the richest country in the world,” a strange statement which implies that the people are prosperous even though they aren’t.

Gig work, housing insecurity, medical debt, and student loan debt are all common experiences for people in the U.S. Now, to add insult to injury, the system said to be so superior can’t even keep little babies fed.

There is an historic shortage of baby formula. There are parts of the country where food for infants simply can’t be found at any price. This headline is the most honest about the situation. “America is running out of baby formula because 3 companies control the market and babies aren’t that profitable .” There are only three baby formula manufacturers and one of them, Abbott, had to shut down its plant after a whistleblower revealed their product was contaminated. Two infant deaths may be related to the contamination, which went undiscovered despite Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority.

The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the supply and now allows formula from foreign countries to be imported. They are making quite a show of their late in the day response to a situation that should have been addressed sooner. But the stop gaps to resolve a temporary crisis should not allow a bigger problem to go unmentioned. Capitalism is the problem. Transportation Secretary and onetime presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg admitted as much even as he tried to defend the failed state. “But let's be very clear. This is a capitalist country. The government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula.”

In a better society, a socialist society, baby formula wouldn’t be sold by private interests. It would be provided free of charge to every family and yes, the government would make it. The “market forces” which we are told solve every problem actually create very serious ones. In this country even the effort to provide infant formula to all, regardless of income, is yet another means of supporting monopoly capital.

Disclosure, I have known and been friends with Johnny Depp for years.  Yes, we're going back to the trial.

For those stupid enough to fall for Amber Heard's play acting yesterday, thank goodness you aren't casting directors, the film industry would be shut down.

Only the deeply stupid could have bought her act.

People want to kill her.

Yes, Amber, when a woman speaks out, she's going to get threats.  We've all seen it happen.  Here's the thing though, life does go on.  And if you're getting a threat you slide it over to the authorities -- see the side of this website.  I am not picking on Mike but I am using him as an example.  He could call out Joe Biden tomorrow in the same language I did or worse and he would get a certain type of response.  I would get a different one -- mine would be more personal, mine would be more threatening and more violent.  That's because we live in a society that does condone violence against women and don't kid yourself that it doesn't.  

That's reality.  

It needs to change.

But I am not right because I receive a threat.  Nor, Amber, are you.  

People are upset with you and they are right to be upset.

You took 7 million -- 'for charity' -- laughing all the way -- and then you turned around and wrote that awful column.  It wasn't written in a vacuum.  Despite agreeing not to disparage him (and he agreed to the same with regard to her) as part of the divorce settlement, Amber began a whisper campaign to lay the groundwork against Johnny.  Emboldened by the lack of pushback, she then went with her 2018 WASHINGTON POST column which was calling him a domestic abuser.  

Sorry, Amber, people are going to be mad at you and they should be.

Let's pretend you're telling the truth: Well greedy trash, you shouldn't have taken 7 million dollars.  You should have prosecuted.  But, if you're telling the truth, your greed was more important than justice or in protecting other women.

So climb off the cross because no one's buying your act.

You ended a brief marriage that was a huge mistake.  And you got 7 million dollars out of it -- that you were never going to give to charity.  

You should have gone on with your life.

Instead, you wanted to hype yourself and turn yourself into a star so you timed the column to debut as someone else's big film that featured you in a small role came out.  You were going to use this column for publicity and the whole country was going to be blown away and obsessed with Amber.

Didn't happen. 

Because as I wrote in real time, you were a cold fish on screen.  You had no heat.  Julia Ormond didn't either and Julia's was a nice person.  I love Debra Winger but to stand next to her, you'd just think she was a nice person.  Put her in front of a camera and something happens.  That's how someone becomes a star.  Meryl Streep's famous and she's a leading lady (who doesn't really sell tickets) but she's never been a star and she never will be.  She lacks that certain something.  I did not know Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, I knew her much, much later.  But you could still see the spark even at the end.  You either have it or you don't.  There's a writer who I loathe because she lies and in one of her books she went off on Elliott Gould.  If she'd said Elliott was never a star, okay, you can make that argument.  But to say he's not sexy?  He was very sexy back in the day.  But the spark that makes a star is not just about sexy -- it's something much more.  Amber didn't have it. 

I can usually look at someone -- on film -- and tell you whether they've got it or not.  I told Sydney not to cast Julia in SABRINA.  He was convinced she was star material and she wasn't and to put her into an Audrey Hepburn remake?  That would have been too much for any female -- even Demi at the height of her fame.  Julia might have pulled it off -- might have because SABRINA's really not a film that the world needs remakes of because it's not fun and it's not dramatic and it really adds up to nothing.  Audrey gave it magic that the property really didn't have.  

Demi Moore was a star.  She captured the public's fascination, she sold tickets.  Greg Kinnear was not.  A star sells tickets and a star has a following.  

Famous does not make you a star.  

Amber's a bad actress who does not connect onscreen with the audience -- there is no dynamic, there is no pull.

But many times, it's difficult for people to see themselves honestly.  She's thought for years she was going to be a star -- any day!!!! That day never arrived and it's not arriving.  But the plan was that AQUAMAN would make her a star -- a big budget film!  With her in it!!! And timing the column to amplify attention, she just knew this was the thing to do.

You know what the thing to do is?  Get John Waters to write a screenplay  about this.  It's his next SERIAL MOM.  Let Helen Hunt or some older actress play the role since Amber looks so haggard these days.  (That chin was always gong to defeat any chance she had of aging well.)  

14 years and 34 films after she started appearing in motion pictures, she just knew this was her big break.  Appearing in films with  Demi Moore, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Channing Tatum, etc did not make her a star.  There is no stardom within her.  

But she hoped it would come via the one-two punch of AQUAMAN and her column.

It didn't.

I have no idea what the jury will think -- her smirking at them every time she took the stand wouldn't have done well had I been on the jury.  But she's lied repeatedly on the stand, been exposed repeatedly on the stand, called others liars and then, seconds later, insisted she didn't just call them a liar, she's shown 'devoted wife' in the elevators with two men during the marriage -- once when she's nude except for a blanket.  That kind of weakens her claim that he beat her but she stayed because of love.  

She's a liar and both genders can lie.

Those trying to make Amber the poster girl of feminism are deluded.  If more were known of her abuse of her female lovers, they'd probably shut their uninformed mouths.

Unlike those idiots -- male and female -- I actually known Johnny and, sadly, I actually know Amber.   Which is why I can say: Amber is lying.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Andy Fletcher

Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher has passed away.  VARIETY notes:

Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, keyboardist and one of the founding members of iconic British electronic band Depeche Mode, has died. He was 60.

The news was announced via Depeche Mode’s official Twitter account, which posted the news Thursday afternoon. “Fletch had a true heart of gold, and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh, or a cold pint,” the post reads. A cause of death was not confirmed.


Depeche Mode

Fletcher was 15 in 1976 when punk rock arrived on the music scene. He said this was "obviously the perfect age to experience it...we were very lucky in life".[3] He was then influenced by bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, Kraftwerk, early Human League, and early OMD.[3] Fletcher and schoolmate Vince Clarke formed the short-lived band No Romance in China, in which Fletcher played bass guitar. In 1980, Fletcher met Martin Gore at the Van Gogh pub on Paycocke Road in Basildon. With Clarke, the trio, now all on synthesizer, formed another group called Composition of Sound.[4] Clarke served as chief songwriter and also provided lead vocals until singer Dave Gahan was recruited into the band later that year, after which they adopted the name Depeche Mode at Gahan's suggestion.[5] Clarke left the group in late 1981, shortly after the release of their debut album Speak & Spell.[4]

Their 1982 follow-up album, A Broken Frame, was recorded as a trio, with Gore taking over primary songwriting duties.[6] Musician and producer Alan Wilder joined the band in late 1982 and the group continued as a quartet until Wilder's departure in 1995. From then on, the core trio of Gahan, Gore, and Fletcher remained active, up to the release of their 2017 album Spirit and ensuing world tour.[7]


Fletcher's role within Depeche Mode was often a topic of speculation. In early incarnations of the band, he played (electric and later synth) bass. As the band evolved after Vince Clarke's departure in 1981, Fletcher's role changed as each of the band members took to the areas that suited them and benefited the band collectively. In a key scene in D.A. Pennebaker's 1989 documentary film about the band, Fletcher clarified these roles: "Martin's the songwriter, Alan's the good musician, Dave's the vocalist, and I bum around." In his review of 2005's Playing the Angel, long after Wilder's departure from the band, Rolling Stone writer Gavin Edwards riffed upon Fletcher's statement with the opening line: "Depeche Mode's unique division of labor has been long established, with each of the three remaining members having a distinct role: Martin Gore writes the songs, Dave Gahan sings them and Andy Fletcher shows up for photo shoots and cashes the checks."[8] Fletcher was the only member of the band who did not receive a songwriting credit.

With the band having not always employed a full-time manager, Fletcher handled many of the band's business, legal, and other non-musical interests over the years.[9] In the press kit for Songs of Faith and Devotion,[10] he discussed being genuinely interested in many of the business aspects of the music industry that other performing musicians shy away from, and as such, he took over a lot of the business management aspects of the band. In later years, this included acting as the band's "spokesperson", with Fletcher often being the one to announce Depeche Mode news (such as record album and tour details).

He was also said to be the member who was "the tiebreaker" and the one that "brings the band together". According to interviews, Fletcher built the compromise between Gahan and Gore that settled their serious dispute following 2001's Exciter album and tour over future songwriting duties within Depeche Mode.[11]

In the studio and during live shows, Fletcher contributed a variety of supporting synthesizer parts, including bass parts, pads, strings, and drone sounds, and various samples.

Fletcher was the only member of Depeche Mode who did not sing. Although he can be seen singing in videos of Depeche's past live performances, usually Fletcher's vocals were either mixed very low or heard only through his own stage monitors.[12] From the band's 2013/14 Delta Machine Tour onwards, he no longer had a vocal mic at keyboard station.

Fletcher sang on the interlude "Crucified" on Violator. According to Alan Wilder, every band member participated in the choir on the song "Condemnation" from Songs of Faith and Devotion and Wilder confirms this on the press kit of the same album.[10]

BBC NEWS adds:

Fletcher, who was born in Nottingham, remained with the band throughout its four-decade history, which included two number one albums, Ultra and Songs of Faith and Devotion. 

His last studio album with the band was 2017's Spirit, their 14th, which reached number five in the UK albums chart.

He leaves behind wife Grainne, to whom he was married for almost 30 years, and two children, Megan and Joe.

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

 Thursday, May 25, 2022.  Another attack in Iraq, Jonathan Cook takes on the war propaganda, I take on NPR's hit job against male survivors, and more.

Starting with an attack in Iraq, MEHR NEWS notes:

 Local media in Iraq have reported an attack on the US troops in Saladin province in central Iraq on Thursday.

Sources in Iraq told Sabereen News telegram channel that a US military logistics convoy was targeted in Iraq.

The report said that a US Army logistics convoy was targeted in Saladin.

Aren't we all glad that the Iraq War ended?  Aren't we all thrilled all US troops left Iraq?

Oh . . .  Wait.  That didn't happen.  Just because CODESTINK and the others walked out on efforts to end the war, the war didn't end.  It's not just the hollow words from Barack Obama, it's the hollow words from self-appointed 'leaders' like CODESTINK.  

Now we're going to move to something else . . .

I've kept Johnny Depp and Amber Heard largely out of the snapshots. Largely because I've had a blind item or two or three or four since the marriage began. The last was noting what a cold fish she was on screen. No, the WB reaction was not a surprise to me and I actually provided feedback regarding that. I know Johnny and I've known him for years. I do not like her. The marriage was a huge mistake and I said in real time to both of them. To him that it would destroy him. To her that she wasn't fooling me and she was clearly in it for herself (after she responded to my question about how she could promise to stay faithful to Johnny). I don't like her. I don't believe her.

I don't know any woman who believes her that knows Johnny. Ellen Barkin's an honorary man, after all, Ava and I have long noted her toxic masculinity.

But we get to comment on Johnny today because NPR doesn't know how to play by the rules.


I'm not doing news reports. I don't have to play fair. I also don't take money for this site -- let alone get government money -- US taxpayer money.

Anastasia Tsioulcas doesn't seem to grasp the area of public trust and the responsibility that being a journalist for NP requires.

She has written a piece of garbage that should honestly have her fired. But firing her would implicate those immediately above her so watch them pretend not to notice.

A trial is ongoing currently, is there a reason that she's taking sides?

And I'm sorry but her 'expert' is as ugly in the mind as she is and it's just one expert.

There is no blance, read her garbage because it's as ugly as her face is.

Johnny is an abuser to read the article. Amber is a victim to read the article.

I'm not impartial. I don't pretend to be. Anytime I've written about this -- usually at THIRD -- I've noted that I am a friend of Johnny's.

Why is NPR airing a report that argues Johnny is not a victim of domestic abuse, that this is some nonsense offered by men's right activists?

What a load of garbage.

She needs to be fired. She won't be because that this garbage got posted goes to what a cesspool she's standing in.

I am not in the mood for these people. Those of us who spend out lives raising awareness of abuse know damn well that men can be victims. We've encountered them our whole lives. I've detailed here many times that there are days when I just don't want to open a vein because someone in the room's going to have a trauma and need to talk about it and I just can't do that over and over and over and over . . .

But I do it as often as I can. And with male victims, it is so difficult to get them to open up -- prior to me, apparently, I'm the can opener -- because there are so many judgments and so much shame based on societal expectations. We need to stop it. We are short changing survivors and we are short changing equality.

Anyone can be an absuer. I loved Bob Filner tremendously but when women came forward, I said that they needed to be heard. And they did need to be heard and he issued an apology and stepped down.

We never know everything that goes on and I would never have guessed that Bob would assault and harass.

Could I be wrong about Johnny?


Because I'm not just basing it on Johnny. I'm also basing it on Amber. I'm basing it on how she used women and had physical altercations with them. I'm basing it on how she forced women to hide in the shadows when she couldn't cop to bi. I'm basing it on the rather infamous 2018 fight she had with a female lover that no one's talking about to the press.

Sorry, Amber is the profile of an abuser. And she has abused women and she's abused men. She's a malignant narcissist. After years of fuming over Lindsay Lohan and Blake Lively (she was especially obsessed with Blake), she thought she found a way to have the fame that they had. Johnny was going to be her meal ticket to fame and prestige. And she wasn't happy because people like that are never happy.

Let me stop a second. Johnny was stupid to marry her and I am on the record, to his face, before it imploded stating that. I told him that sometimes you honestly do meet someone who agrees with you about everything but, more often than not, what you've actually met is someone who's going to kiss your ass to get their grip on you and they don't really agree with you. (And I don't believe that happiness is found in a relationship where you agree on everything in most cases) He was blindly in love and if you want to fault him for something then fault him for that.

In the NPR piece, the 'expert' whines and whines and perfect victim and blah blah blah. If you're a known liar, you're a known liar. Now I've stated here before about the woman who thinks rape is sexy, the loon who told that to Anderson Cooper on air on CNN, even loons can be raped, even lairs can be.

I find it hilarious that the NPR reporter and NPR think they can high horse it on Johnny Depp's back when no one has ever had more supporting facts than Tara Reade and yet she didn't get defended, did she?

It wasn't politically smart to stick up for her. (We did -- community wide. And she told the truth.)

Amber isn't Tara. Amber hasn't told the truth.

And she's lied. Doesn't mean she can't be a victim. Ambition's not a crime either. Some can even justify using someone to get their dreams.

But we have a total portrait of who she is and who she is is someone who is not sympathetic, someone who is on a recording -- that I noted here over two years ago, before it was public and before it was ever brought up in a court -- gloating that no one will believe Johnny was abused.

Amber didn't want the life Johnny offered. She thought she could marry him and make her do this and that and her career would get promoted and this would happen and that would happen. Sorry, boys and girls, only Freddie Prinze Jr is more of a homebody than Johnny. When Amber realized what her life was and that she couldn't nag Johnny into making her into Blake Lively, she turned nasty. And she wanted out and she began to plot how she could exist to maximum effect.

After getting around it and having some people start to call her brave and express sympathy for her, she thought she was enough of an actress to pretend to be a domestic violence survivor and she wrote that absurd column.

Johnny gets falling down drunk. I've seen it with my own eyes. And because of that and his drug use, she knew she could paint him as an abuse and some would believe anything.

What she didn't count on was how this wasn't going to work. Johnny is a weepy drunk. He can be a loud drunk, but he's a weepy drunk. He wants to hug you when he's drunk. He does not want to hit you when he's drunk. I've been around him when he was drunk (or worse) more times than Amber ever has. I know his behavior. This is not Johnny. He is not an abuser in his best moments, he is not an abuser in his worst moments.

I try not to use this as a platform to protect my friends. But Johnny's being accused of things he did not do and I'm not going to stand for it.

It's only going to get worse for Amber.

And she's lying and we know she is -- 'we' being the industry.

He's not Kirk Douglas (who raped Natalie Wood, Dorothy Dandridge and so many other women). He's not James Caan who has a long list of 'explosive' relationships. He's not a predator.

As Kate Moss testified, what Amber claimed -- and what many wrongly repeated -- never happened. That's true of so much that comes out of her mouth so it's a shock to read NPR's disgusting and one-sided piece of garbage.

Does Johnny have benefits on his side?

Yes, he's someone the public feels they know. That is a plus in the court of public opinion. Amber's made herself well known though she's not exactly a civilian.

We live in a sexist society, so gender gives Johnny some benefits. We live in a sexist society, so gender gives Johnny some minuses. Like NPR refusing to see that he can be a victim of domestic abuse because he's a male.

Johnny's movie roles have made him well liked. That's a plus. Amber onscreen is a message to the movie goers to run to the lobby and get some popcorn since nothing's going to happen for awhile. That's a minus.

They both have pluses and minuses.

I'm not NPR. US tax payers are not supporting what I write. Nor am I presenting myself as objective in this case. Nor should I since I know both participants. But NPR does have to be objective and there is nothing objective in their so-called report. It is a hatchet job, a smear and it is not journalism to be proud of.

I think I've now weighed in more on the case here than I have previously combined here or at THIRD (and Ava and I noted the case in this week's "Media: We wonder, We wa wa wa wa wonder").

I am offended by NPR for what they did for so many reasons.  One, it's not fair to a friend of mine.  Two, it's not journalism worth praising and it's not journalism that tax dollars should be paying for.  Third, this is a slap in the face to male survivors. 

There were many men with real METOO moments and they got ignored.  Some were victims as children.  Watch as the bitches at the Academy Awards try to turn it into a wage issue and a this issue and erase all the children -- male and female -- that suffered abuse was appalling.  The media went along with it.  A friend of mine told a very brave story, came forward and talked about how he was abused as a child actor and instead we're focusing on other issues or pretending that, honestly, Harvey came onto a  a sleep around  -- verbally -- and didn't get his way and she wants to whine when we all know who she slept with to get her break.   No one wants to take responsibility  and everyone wants to celebrate the female victim.  

(The sleep around slept with a friend of mine for a part.  That wasn't the deal.  The deal was she pretended to be in love with my friend -- who is a woman -- and slept with her and then, when the contract was signed, dumped my friend.  And I think we pretty much know who I'm talking about but if you're not sure, Seth worked a visual joke about this into AMERICAN DAD.  She has used sex to build the career she once had and that's why people don't take her seriously -- people outside of the press.  But  a woman like that gets attention while true survivors do not.  That's the press.)

Amber played into that and the NPR article -- which is not journalism -- shows why Amber has been able to get away with it.  

If NPR doesn't want to recognize male victims of abuse, I want NPR to return all taxpayer funds.  And if NPR thinks one-sides hit pieces qualify as journalism, then they need the plug pulled permanently.  

Let's note Cynthia McKinney.  

There's the conversation that she and Sabby are having and there's the way you can apply it to almost every other topic.  We'll discuss it later this week  -- tomorrow or Saturday.

We're going to wind down with this from Jonathan Cook (DISSIDENT VOICE):

It was apparently a “gaffe” of the kind we had forgotten since George W Bush stepped down from the US presidency in early 2009. During a speech in Dallas last week, he momentarily confused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current war of aggression against Ukraine and his own war of aggression against Iraq in 2003.

Bush observed that a lack of checks and balances in Russia had allowed “one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean, Ukraine. Iraq too. Anyway… I’m 75.”

It sounded like another “Bushism” – a verbal slip-up – for which the 43rd president was famous. Just like the time he boasted that people “misunderestimated” him, or when he warned that America’s enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people – and neither do we”.

Maybe that explains why his audience laughed. Or maybe not, given how uncomfortable the laughter sounded.

Bush certainly wanted his mistake to be seen as yet another slip-up, which is why he hurriedly blamed it on his age. The senility defence doubtless sounds a lot more plausible at a time when the incumbent president, Joe Biden, regularly loses track of what he is saying and even where he is.

The western media, in so far as it has bothered to report Bush’s speech, has laughed along nervously too. It has milked the incident largely for comic effect: “Look, we can laugh at ourselves – unlike that narcissist Russian monster, Putin.”

The BBC accorded Bush’s comment status as a down-page brief news item. Those that gave it more attention preferred to term it a “gaffe” or an amusing “Freudian slip”.

‘Putin apologists’

But the focus on the humour of the moment is actually part of the media’s continuing war on our understanding of recent history. It is intended to deflect us, the audience, from thinking about the real significance of Bush’s “gaffe”.

The only reason the media is now so belatedly connecting – if very indirectly – “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” of Ukraine and what happened in Iraq is because of Bush’s mistake.

Had it not happened, the establishment media would have continued to ignore any such comparison. And those trying to raise it would continue to be dismissed as conspiracy theorists or as apologists for Putin.

The implication of what Bush said – even for those mockingly characterising it in Freudian terms – is that he and his co-conspirator, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are war criminals and that they should be on trial at the Hague for invading and occupying Iraq.

Everything the current US administration is saying against Putin, and every punishment meted out on Russia and ordinary Russians, can be turned around and directed at the United States and Britain.

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