Thursday, November 24, 2022

Not feeling sorry for Valerie

Hope everyone's having a good day.  Well, maybe not everyone.  There are a few on my s**t list. Let me revisit the topic of Valerie Bertinelli because she's back in the news:

There is no love lost between Valerie Bertinelli and her now ex-husband Tom Vitale. 

In a video posted to her social media, the Food Network star and actress couldn't contain her glee as she learned from her lawyer that the correct papers were signed and would soon be filed.

"I'm at the airport. About to go see Wolfie. And my lawyer just called. The papers are all signed. They're about to be filed. On 11/22/22 I am officially f---ing divorced," she whispered into the phone.

Trash.  Look, Val, I didn't ask to get to know your husband.  I didn't ask you to tell me about him.  But you did.  Over and over.  In your cooking show.  You couldn't stick to cooking.  You had to tell me how great he was.  How great your life was.  You had to do episodes revolve around him.  

Were you lying then?  Or are you lying now?

Maybe don't whore your husband for TV?  Just saying.

I liked Valerie for decades but ever since Eddie Van Halen passed away, she's become unhinged and it's not an attractive look.

And, sorry, Val, I liked the Tom you sold on your show.  He seemed like a nice person.  

You made him part of your brand.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022.  The continued US war against the LGBTQ+ and climate change in Iraq.

Starting with last weekend's attack on the gay club in Colorado Springs.  Abby Zimet (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

At a Monday press conference the victims were identified: Kelly Loving, who just turned 40 and was "like a trans mom" to friends; Ashley Paugh, a straight 35-year-old mother who worked to find homes for foster children; Raymond Green Vance, 22, who was at the club for the first time to celebrate a birthday with his girlfriend and her family; Derrick Rump, 38, a "lively, loving" bartender and performer at the club who "made it what it was"; and Daniel Davis Aston, 28, a trans bartender and performer who'd just completed his medical transition and was, said his mother Sabrina, "the happiest he had ever been." Growing up, she recalled, Daniel told her at age four he was a boy and wouldn't wear girls' clothes: "Those are our children - we don't care how they dress or what they identify as. It doesn't harm anybody." After he began living as a trans man in such hateful political times, she "always worried" about him. "It's just unbelievable. He had so much more life to give," she said. "I didn't want to be part of this, the losing a child club." In a dark twist, he and the others were murdered minutes before Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of trans people killed in anti-transgender violence." Club Q had planned to mark it; instead, people gathered at inter-faith events to denounce "theologies of hate" and ensure "our arms could be as wide as possible to embrace a community that's hurting."

Eerily echoing other massacres, from Columbine to Pulse to Uvalde, a makeshift memorial went up Sunday outside Club Q - flowers, candles, a plaintive sign for "Love Over Hate." (Maybe.) Police who'd arrived the night before praised the "incredible act of heroism" that ended a shooting that could have been even worse. For that, they can thank Richard Fierro, a 45-year-old brewery owner and veteran of four Army deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan who was there celebrating a birthday with his wife and daughter; when he saw the flash of gunfire, he instinctively "went into combat mode." Charging through the panicked crowd, he tackled the gunman, who he said weighed over 300 pounds, yanked a handgun away from him, and started beating him with his own gun while yelling for other patrons to help. A man shoved the shooter's AR-15 - another one! - away, a drag performer stomped on the gunman with her high heels, and Fierro kept pummeling as he and the gunman screamed curses at each other; he was so bloody police at first arrested him. Fierro was a major with two Bronze Stars when he left the Army in 2013: "I was done with war." He "never thought I'd have to deal with that kind of violence at home, (but) everybody in that building experienced combat that night...they were forced to." His wife's two best friends were shot; his daughter, who broke her knee running for cover, lost her longtime boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance.

The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, remains hospitalized; he has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime. He is the grandson of former mayor and outgoing California GOP state assembly Randy Voepel, who was almost expelled by colleagues after he praised the Jan. 6 attack with, "This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny." Aldrich's mother Laura Voepel praised her father online: "You work hard to improve our lives." In 2021, she also called police to report her son was threatening her with a homemade bomb and multiple weapons; after he refused to surrender, a tactical support unit evacuated nearby homes, a crisis negotiator was called in, and a standoff ensued. Aldrich was eventually arrested and charged with five felonies, including felony menacing and kidnapping, but charges were inexplicably never filed, thus allowing him to evade Colorado's Red Flag law and buy a shiny new AR-15, because America. Aldrich was living with his grandparents at the time, said a former landlady who recalled his "aggressive side," but he'd visit his mother to watch movies with her when not threatening to bomb her. She in turn often went online asking church members for help for her son: Does anyone have a fan to donate to him? Can anyone recommend a trauma/PTSD therapist? And in May, saying "he's made huge life changes," did anyone know a private boxing coach? "He's 6'6" tall," she wrote, "and hits like a freight train."

Nervously careful law enforcement officials have said the mass shooting at a gay nighclub is being investigated "through the lens of a hate crime." Ya think? You mean it might be connected to a right wing that deems every queer person and half the country's Democrats "groomers," or to a rise in rabid anti-gay, trans and drag show rhetoric, or to hundreds of state bills curbing the rights of "others," or to emboldened fascists proclaiming who should or should not exist? Or to bellicose Proud Boys disrupting peaceful Drag Story Hours in t-shirts that say, "Kill Your Local Pedophile"? Or to a Florida GOPer proposing to charge with a felony and terminate the parental rights of any adult who "brings a child to these perverted sex shows"? Or to the hate-mongering and bomb threats against hospitals offering health care - aka "castration" - to trans kids? Or to Herschel Walker, a day or so after the shooting, still running a trans-phobic ad with a young Aryan college swimmer whining "a man won a title that belonged to a woman, and Sen. Warnock voted to let it happen." Or to, let's not forget, Tucker Carlson, who accuses trans-supportive schools of "sex crimes," declares "no parent should put up with this for one second," and tells viewers their "moral duty" is to dole out "instant matter what the law says. "This is an attack on your children," he intones, "and you should fight back." On Twitter: "This language will get people killed." And so it has.

Finally, there's Colorado's gun-toting, queer-bashing, deeply hateful Lauren Boebert, who had "the f**king audacity" to fake-grieve the "absolutely awful" shooting and declare, "The victims & their families are in my prayers." Wait. Is this the same Boebert who's ceaselessly trafficked in anti-LGBTQ hysteria? Who's attacked the left as pedophiles and "sick, demented groomers," warned drag queens to "stay away from our children," equated LGBTQ-inclusive flash cards with "indoctrination," charged a kid-friendly drag show was guarded by masked Antifa guards with AR-15s - "Remember, they only want YOUR guns. They want to use theirs to protect their depravity" - and urged, "Take your children to  CHURCH not drag bars," though God knows how many children have been molested in church; in drag bars, evidently zero. The furious response:"This is on you...You are to blame...LGBTQ people like me are less safe in this country because (of) people like you...Conservative identiy politics puts homicidal jerkoffs into motion...You are the hate that leads to violence." And from one woman, when Boebert tried to make it about generic crime - "This lawless violence needs to end" - "Good gosh she's an awful thing." Ditto, said AOC, who called out the hypocrisy: "You don’t get to 'thoughts and prayers' your way out of this. Look inward and change." And change your grotesque Christmas cards - same to the other MAGA freaks - with your four spawn clutching AR-15s. Fred Guttenberg: "This is what grooming looks like."

When Lauren Boebert starts using the term "grooming,'' press outlets need to note in every story that her husband Jayson is a groomer who was arrested for exposing himself to young females and who entered a plea of guilty.

These are facts.

Her lunatic assessment that drag queens, transgender persons or gay people are grooming anyone need to be confronted because the only known groomer in Colorado Springs is her husband Jayson Boebert.  So if she wants to talk about groomers, the media should help her out by pointing to Jayson.  

She lives with a groomer.  That's why it's always on her mind.  

And when she lies that he's innocent, the press needs to note that he entered a plea of guilty, that he was convicted and that he had to serve two years probation.  Again, these are facts.

She married a groomer.

Stop letting her smear innocent people while she lies to cover up her groomer husband and insists that his arrest never happened and he was innocent and blah blah.  Shove the truth down her hypocritical throat.

Alastair and Zachary Patton-Garcia broadcast on their YOUTUBE channel and cover a variety of topics.

At the end of the video above, Alastair and Zachary touch on the Colorado Springs attack.  They make many solid points.  Alastair notes that this grooming nonsense is an attempt to other the community.  And he is correct and I want to make two points here.

Whether you choose to recognize it or not, there is a war in this country against the LGBTQ+ community.  It is an ongoing war that's lasted decades.  In the 70s, the freak show was Anita Bryant.  Lauren apparently wants to be the 21st century Anita Bryant.  

Not only is silence not an option in this war, inaction isn't an option either.

There are members of the LGBTQ+ community who wanted to see BROS and didn't go to the theater because they were frightened of what might happen.  They waited for digital (BLURAY in stores now).  That's why straight allies needed to step up.

Comedy isn't for everyone.  And no one has to see a movie.  But if you had the money to go to the movies when BROS was in theaters and you saw something else, you weren't a good straight ally.  If when Billy Eichner was getting attacked, you didn't defend him, you weren't a good straight ally.

A group of homophobes hated the film before it came out because of a statement one character made in the trailer (and they didn't even get her line right).  Oh, it's making fun of straight people!!!!

If it had, after the years and years of jokes and 'jokes' about the LGBTQ+ community, fine.  Handle one movie and pretend that gives you an idea of all the TV episodes and all the films over the years that the community had to deal with.

But that's not the film Billy co-wrote.

The film he co-wrote made fun of everyone.  It made fun of straight people, it made fun of gay people, it made fun of trans people, it made fun of bi-people, it made fun of ageists and this and that and it made fun of celebrity (Debra Messing deserves so much praise for her scenes in the movie).  There was no sacred cow.

And all the people whining about ''woke'' -- many of whom trashed BROS -- missed the whole point that Billy's character Bobby has to live with that, has to work with that, and it's one of the things he learns (tolerance) and it's something all the ones griping about ''woke'' should have been able to relate to.

The film is pro- humanity.  It's not anti-straight.  It is the straight couple, two of Bobby's friends, who are most supportive and encouraging that he date and then get back together with Aaron.

We've covered it here -- and I'll get to that point in a moment -- and Ava and I've covered it repeatedly at THIRD -- most recently with "BROS: An American Film Classic (Ava and C.I.)" -- and it seems like people are being willfully blind to what took place.

We let up a little last week on BROS coverage because other things came up (and I'm also recovering from another eye surgery) but we've covered since the beginning and that means see what people are saying.  

The homophobia has been off the charts.  

I'm bothered by it and it's not directed at me.  It's directed at Billy mainly and I have no criticism of him over how he's handled himself.  I don't think I could have been as reserved as he was.  

It's disgusting when you read these homophobic rants on Twitter.  

It's even more hurtful when you see a certain group of uneducated Twinks on Twitter who feel the need to trash BROS in order to praise the very sad and very bad rip-off of Jane Austen that is FIRE ISLAND.  Underfed of body and of mind, these Twinks keep insisting that FIRE ISLAND is better because it's more diverse.  I'm not remembering an African-American character.  I know there's only one women in the cast.  I think some people look in the mirror, see only themselves and make that their measure of diversity.

Equally hurtful is the attacks on the film and Billy coming from gay conservatives -- but when you're let in on a pass, you know you have to attack the designated targets.


Drive-by e-mails say, "The shooter's gay!"  I've not seen that in anything but e-mails since the snapshot went up.  What I saw before the snapshot went up?   The shooter allegedly uses non-binary pronouns.  If the shooter does use those -- are they used for real?  I have no idea.

But as I noted about the gay conservatives on Twitter attacking BROS above, buy a clue, in a climate of hate others will tag along.

That's what's so frustrating about Glenn Greenwald -- have you never seen my critique of him?  I know his type.  I am not shocked but I am offended frequently when he mouths garbage like Clarence Thomas is a good person.  No, he's not.  Good people do not try to destroy others.  Good people don't harass Anita Hill.

Glenn is the gay conservative who hit the campuses at a time when he could slowly ease out about being gay and his right-wing friends would sort of accept him.  Sort of -- ask David Brock what sort of acceptance is.  That's why David turned to the left.  

So Glenn learned to make all the meek comments that he makes and learned to take any insult or hit because it proves (in his mind) he's tough and sneers at everything.  That's b.s.  And he needs to lose that attitude because it's not helping his husband or their children.  He feels no need to help the LGBTQ+ community -- which is how he ends up on TV, after DOBBS, blathering on about how good Clarry Thomas allegedly is.

Good people do not work to overturn progress.  Good people are not bigots.  

So the shooter may be non-binary.  May not be.  Shooter lives in a society where bullies -- Marjorie Greene who can't keep a husband, Lauren Bo-bo who married a groomer -- scapegoat others.  Shooter most likely internalizes that hatred.

Like the gay conservatives on Twitter who make a point to attack Billy Eichner and BROS.  They think it makes them look tough and that by attacking the 'soft,' they (like Glenn thinks) will be accepted.

Ask David Brock how that worked out because it never works out.

You can try your best but you're never going to be who they want.  You can parrot every one of their talking points but you can't change who you are and they don't accept who you are.  

Clarry's concurring opinion in DOBBS should have made that clear to everyone.  

Clarry's as disgusting as Candace Cameron Bure.  They act like they accept you -- Candace even lies that she loves you -- but they don't.  All along Thomas has been waiting to gut due process.  All along Candace has been waiting for a homophobic outlet to open up.

Saager and Krystal had a segment this week.  And it grated on me when Saager was presenting it.

I don't think we let the homophobes grab religion.

There are many religious people in this country.  There are many who are LGBTQ+ and that can be hard on them because of historic discrimination and historic violence.  I don't think we make it harder on them by identifying these homophobes as the religious -- which is how Saagar set it up -- the religious against the gays.

He did that because he was tying in some other issues and I grasped that.  But it just grated on me because this isn't abstract for me.  It's not like I'm watching WILL & GRACE (a great show) and saying, "There are some gay people, that's what they look like!"  I have many friends and, again, when it comes to religion, the most common gay couple I know is one where one is deeply religious and the other isn't (like many straight couples).

People like Clarry are not good people.

Glenn can pretend all he wants but he's never going to fit in with the crowd because at the end of the day they are laughing about what he does in bed behind his back.

Again, The Three Hags of Apocalypse were happy to pretend to be David's friend but they weren't.  I have many negative critiques of David Brock but, to his credit, he didn't play a fool for life, he was able to learn. 

Whatever Shooter is, the targets were marked by the bullies and the shooter played along with what was declared acceptable.  

The right attacked BROS and ran with the attack.

Before the film came out, I stated it was not going to make the  box office prediction and I explained why -- it wasn't playing enough.  Opening weekend, some theaters were only showing it once or twice a day.  It was the same length as SMILE but, around the country, you had SMILE being shown in a theater six times a day and BROS twice.  It was never going to be able to make the same amount of money.  

And when it didn't make that same amount of money, the right wing started using it as proof that the country was sick of LGBTQ+.  

That's part of the attack that took place, the physical attack in Colorado Springs.  

That idiot Josiah and others on YOUTUBE and their preaching that BROS had gone too far and that it was time for the straight people to rise up.

I'm sorry, I'm not here to make you feel better.  

These attacks on the film are part of larger attacks and that's why it was important for straight allies to turn out for BROS.  

We largely didn't.

And Billy was right in his initial comment that was treated like a herasy.

We need to support one another.  As I've noted over and over, the LGBTQ+ community has decried the overturning of ROE, they have spoken against it, they have shown support.  

We need to start showing more support for them.  It can't just be our wiping away a few tears at the next tragedy.  We need to be true allies.

Second point, this a private conversation in a public square.  We already built this online community.  So it's surprising when outsiders think they can dictate or intimate.

A number of drive-bys have been bothered by the coverage of BROS here.  One of the e-mails that made Shirley laugh (Martha and Shirley read the bulk of the e-mails to the public e-mail account) was the one that insisted we'd gone "gay, gay, gay!"  A three-gay rating in fact.  And the e-mailer wanted it known that there were other issues.

There are other issues.  And there are over 100 posts that go up here each week.  If all you're seeing is gay that might go to your own bias and discomfort.

This site is pro-choice.  And we came into it that way and shortly after we started the Democratic Party tried to sell about abortion -- and we got attacked by various bloggers for not going along -- bloggers supposedly on the left.

That didn't make me change our stance.

Your discomfort with the LGBTQ+  won't make me change our stance.  

I do get it though.

As I see what REVOLUTIONARY BLACKOUT and BREAKING POINTS and THE HILL and Jimmy Dore and others cover, I get it.

You could watch six months of those programs and never once know a gay person existed in the US.  I get it.  It must, by contrast, be very in your face to come to this site.  Good.  That's why we're still here.  

We posted Matteo Lane's new comedy special yesterday but I also want to include it in a snapshot.

We can't go back in time.  But if you like comedy, you can stream the above comedy special Matteo's done and you can show some support and it's not even going to cost you the way a ticket would.  We need to be better allies.

Turning to Iraq . . . 

Abbas Hashem fixed his worried gaze on the horizon — the day was almost gone and still, there was no sign of the last of his water buffaloes. He knows that when his animals don’t come back from roaming the marshes of this part of Iraq, they must be dead.

The dry earth is cracked beneath his feet and thick layers of salt coat shriveled reeds in the Chibayish wetlands amid this year’s dire shortages in fresh water flows from the Tigris River.

Hashem already lost five buffaloes from his herd of 20 since May, weakened with hunger and poisoned by the salty water seeping into the low-lying marshes. Other buffalo herders in the area say their animals have died too, or produce milk that’s unfit to sell.

“This place used to be full of life,” he said. “Now it’s a desert, a graveyard.”

Iraq is battling several years of drought, the governments of both Iran and Turkey are blocking the flow of the two big rivers running through Iraq (the Tigris and the Eurphates), everyone is expected to be effected by climate change; however, Iraq has been named the fifth most vulnerable country in the world.  Dust storms are increasing in frequency and in force.  Speaking to the United Nations at the start of October, the US Deputy Rep to the UN, Ambassador Richard Mills, noted that climate change was one of the challenges Iraq is facing, "Complicated challenges face the next government – including passing a budget, developing oil and gas legislation that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, improving the provision of electricity, combatting climate change, promoting private sector development and job growth, and increasing women’s participation in the workforce."  Last month, the International Organization for Migration pointed out, "Displaced families are likely to be among the most vulnerable to climatic and environmental changes that can impact livelihoods, food security and social cohesion. Sustainable return and rein-tegration can be determined by many factors but the role of climatic change and environmental degradation in return dynamics is insufficiently understood."

Earlier this month, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reported:

Iraq must take quick action to combat climate change as its affects would make it one of the most water scarce countries in the world, the UK’s ambassador to the country told The National.

Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate breakdown, impacted by high temperatures, droughts and frequent dust storms, presenting a serious threat to the public’s livelihood, according to the UN.

“There are a range of challenges for Iraq, reduced rainfall, desertification and increased droughts. There’s a wider list of things that needs to happen for Iraq to curb climate change,” Mark Bryson-Richardson told The National.

He said the new government in Baghdad must focus on water management as a “real priority” to improve its usage and prepare for and manage droughts.

“It’s going to be a challenging journey, Iraq will be one of the most water scarce countries in the world in the coming years,” Mr Richardson said during a visit to the UAE this week,

The diplomat’s comments come as world leaders gather for the UN climate summit in Egypt this week.

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

NETFLIX, comedy, variety

You really don't watch TV much?  Brady e-mailed that.  Not really.  There was a period of time, right before COVID, when I was TV every Sunday night, GET TV.  They were airing THE SONNY & CHER SHOW and CHER.  I'd watch those because I do like the variety format.  If I wake up in the middle of the night, I may turn it on and look for some show from long ago -- some 70s procedural or THE MOD SQUAD.  About the most recent for me is WILL & GRACE.  I'll put that on and watch a little bit of it.  

I have some streams but usually don't watch them unless someone tells me there's something good on there.  I probably watch NETFLIX the most (I need to cancel APPLE+, I never watch it) and that's for their stand up.  I watched Fortune Feimster's latest NETFLIX special, for instance.  That was very, very funny.  I really liked her first NETFLIX special as well.  The Hooters after church on Sunday, the Girl Scouts and her yelling at Timmy to go away, her college experience with lotion.  I'm laughing as I type all that.  I've only watched the new one twice so I'm not up on it like I will be in a couple of months.  (If you read this site regularly, you know I'm lazy and you know my memory's not always that strong.  And I cop to both.)

Fortune's probably my favorite female comedian right now.  I used to love, love Whitney Cummings.  I stopped, stopped when she was doing some plugs for some products and telling guys that they needed to use them because their balls stink.  Really?  One of the things about second wave feminism was taking on those products for down there and the shame that they tried to instill in women.  Now Whitney's going to do the same to men?

Not interested.  Hard pass.

I'll also watch musical specials.  I've watched, on NETFLIX, Taylor Swift's various specials (I think she has two) and Barbra Streisand's concert for NETFLIX.  I've watched the Barbra TV specials from the 60s as well when NETFLIX was briefly streaming those.  

They don't do a lot of music.

And maybe that's why they don't have real variety shows.  

I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON is a sketch comedy show and it's funny.  But they could have expanded it and made it a variety show -- brought on musical guests, for example.


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


Tuesday, November 22, 2022.  More details about the attack on the Colorado Springs night club, the Kurdistan continues to be targeted by bombings and drones, and much more.

Julia Conley (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

A mass shooting that killed at least five people and injured at least 18 late Saturday at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado will be investigated as a hate crime, a local district attorney told reporters Sunday.

"This will be investigated and is being investigated in that lens," Michael Allen, the district attorney for Colorado's 4th Judicial District, said, adding that authorities will consider a number of factors before charging the suspect with a hate crime. Police have not yet described a motive for the shooting.

The FBI is assisting in investigating the shooting.

A shooter, who was identified as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, reportedly entered Club Q shortly before midnight wearing body armor and armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle. Police said a "long rifle" was used in the shooting and at least two firearms were found at the scene.

On Sunday morning at least two injured victims were in critical condition.

Police said the suspect was subdued by at least two patrons at the club, who stopped him from shooting more people.

The two who stopped the shooter were Thomas James and Rich Fierro.

As Diana Ross says, so much better if the world just danced.

Instead, hate.

REUTERS notes, "Fierro’s wife Jess Fierro said Monday that her husband, a decorated U.S. Army Afghanistan and Iraq veteran and microbrewery owner, hit the shooter with the suspect’s pistol before he and the other man pinned down the gunman after five people were killed and 17 wounded." Cheynne R. Ubiera (THE SUN) reports:

The nightclub's owners said "dozens and dozens of lives" had been saved by their [Thomas James and Rich Fierro] actions.

"We owe them a great debt of thanks," added Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.

One of the victims in the shooting was Raymond Green Vance, boyfriend of Fierro’s daughter Kassy.

“Boyfriend is an understatement,” she wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post, along with a photo of her and Raymond.

"You are my forever. My future. My everything. I love you."

Kassy injured her knee after slipping and falling while trying to run away.

"My dad has always been a hero," she wrote in a separate post.

Meanwhile, the US State Dept notes that it is Iran and Turkey bombing northern Iraq.

The United States expresses its sincere condolences for the loss of civilian life in Syria and Turkey.  We urge de-escalation in Syria to protect civilian life and support the common goal of defeating ISIS.  We continue to oppose any uncoordinated military action in Iraq that violates Iraq’s sovereignty.

If only the US media could also grasp this reality.  Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) notes, "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that Turkey's latest aerial campaign targeting Kurdish fighters in the Kurdistan Region and northern Syria is not limited to an aerial operation, hinting that a ground operation will follow." 

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

The president of the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday met with the Iraqi prime minister in Baghdad, during which both sides emphasized the importance of cooperation in facing repeated violations on Iraq’s sovereignty.

According to a joint statement from Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s and President Nechirvan Barzani, one of the topics of the meeting focused on discussing security on the Iraqi border areas.

“They emphasized cooperation to protect Iraq's sovereignty, reject repeated violations, and work to prevent using Iraqi territory as a platform for attacking any neighboring country,” the statement read.

The meeting comes as the Kurdistan Region’s borders have become an arena of instability with Turkish bombardment in the north and Iranian drone and missile attacks coming from the east.

Turkey launched an aerial operation, code-named Claw-Sword, early Sunday, targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region’s mountainous areas, mostly Sulaimani province, and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. One day later, Iran attacked Iranian-Kurdish armed groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and Komala, in the Region’s Erbil and Sulaimani provinces with missiles and drones. Both campaigns have claimed the lives of several people, including civilians.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that it “categorically rejects and strongly condemns the Iranian bombardment of the Kurdistan region of Iraq with drones and missiles.”

“The repeated attacks carried out by the Iranian and Turkish forces with missiles and drones on the Kurdistan region are a violation of the sovereignty of Iraq, and an act that contravenes international covenants and laws that regulate relations between countries,” it added.

Closing with BROS.

Many love the movie BROS and today it's out on DVD and BLU-RAY.

The following sites updated:

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fleetwood Mac, Chase Rice

Please read Elaine's "TANGO IN THE NIGHT is a hideous album" -- I loved it and I wish I'd written it.  TANGO IN THE NIGHT is a hideous Fleetwood Mac album.  I'd rank it as the worst since Stevie Nicks joined the band.  And I think Elaine makes a strong, strong case.

Chase Rice is releasing a new album in 2023.  Wish it was already out.  But let me note this:

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


Monday, November 21, 2022.  Joe Biden turns 80 -- but still makes time to persecute Julian Assange.

Joe Biden turned eighty yesterday.  He's feeble, weak-minded and easily confused.  There should be no attempt at a second term as president.  At SLATE, Christina Cauterucci argues:

When Kamala Harris launched her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019, she was considered one of the party’s brightest rising stars. An early frontrunner, she was a young, highly accomplished, relatively charismatic Black woman in a party built on Black women’s support. She had built name recognition by devouring conservatives in viral moments at Senate hearings. Her actual politics were hard to pin down (a former prosecutor running on criminal justice reform?), but that might have worked in her favor if she’d run a strong campaign down the middle.

Instead, Harris’s presidential campaign will be remembered as one of the worst of that election cycle. Internally, it was a disastrously mismanaged mess. Externally, it offered a series of mixed messages, short-lived slogans, and attempts to backpedal along the ideological spectrum. Her dazzling presence in planned speeches and gotcha moments flickered out when she was forced to think—and relay a coherent policy position—on her feet. It was a spectacular letdown that contained a lesson about electoral politics: candidates who looks promising on paper can easily flounder under pressure.

As Joe Biden weighs a run for re-election even as he becomes the first octogenarian U.S. president in history, he should think back on what it was like to watch the Harris campaign flame out. A second Biden term would mean even higher stakes for a vice-presidential pick—not only because Biden is older than he was the first time around, but because the VP serving when he leaves could be the de facto frontrunner in the 2024 Democratic primary. Harris, a proven dud of a presidential candidate who has done little to distinguish herself since, is not a good choice for the Democrats’ top billing. For his second term, should he seek one (he shouldn’t!), Biden should tap someone else.

Yeah, because Kamala is the problem with a second term of Biden.

What a bunch of garbage -- and SLATE has a whole package of garbage about Joe turning 80.  One feature after another and, over and over, we're asked what if dies in office.

What if he dies in office?  The world's better off, that's what.

Much scarier is an 83-year-old idiot in office with no clue what's going on around him.  Joe's dementia is already evident and it's only going to get worse.  Stop defocusing and pretending Kamala's the problem when the real issue is a man who can't understand his surroundings but is allowed to have the nuclear codes.

While Joe celebrated, or thought he did, he continued to persecute Julian Assange.  Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden and a host of people who should be supporting him stay silent or heap scorn on him.  Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death. 

John Cherian (India's FRONTLINE) explains:

As most international legal luminaries had predicted, the British government succumbed to pressure from the US and is fast-tracking the process of deporting Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to that country to face trial on the serious charges of espionage. British Home Secretary Priti Patel, notorious for her tough stance on immigration, gave the green light for his deportation.

The Supreme Court of the UK ruled in February that Assange could not appeal the decision of lower courts in his extradition case. In April, a magistrates’ court ordered Assange’s extradition under laws relating to the US’ Espionage Act.

Under British laws, Assange had a month’s time to appeal to the Home Secretary against the Supreme Court’s ruling.. In a statement in mid June rejecting the appeal, the British Home Office claimed that the UK could comply with the US government’s long-standing extradition demand because “the UK courts” have come to the conclusion that it would not be “oppressive, unjust or an abuse of power to extradite Mr Assange”. It went on to say that the courts did not find that extradition “would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to the freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health”. 

In early July, Assange exercised one of his last options to stay his extradition by applying to the High Court for permission to appeal against the decisions of the lower courts and the Home Secretary. Assange’s legal team argued that the leaked documents exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and were in the public interest. The documents showed that the US occupation forces in Afghanistan had killed innocent civilians, numbering in the tens of thousands. This fact was previously unknown to the general public in the US and the wider world. The leaked files on Iraq revealed that 66,000 civilians were killed and thousands more tortured under US supervision in notorious prisons such as Abu Ghraib.

The WikiLeaks files also threw light on the torture practices in the US’ Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. WikiLeaks released the “collateral murder” video that showed a US Apache helicopter targeting civilians in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in 2007. At least 18 innocent civilians were killed in that attack, which the Pentagon had kept under wraps. The war crimes recorded in that video alone were clear violations of the Geneva Conventions and the US Law of War Manual. 

What steps remain to ensure Julian's safety?  ALMAYADEEN reports:

According to sources who spoke with The Mail on Sunday, a WikiLeaks delegation will speak with Colombian President Gustavo Petro tomorrow morning in Bogotá about press freedom and the "political nature" of Assange's prosecution.

Following their meeting with Petro, the activists—which include WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Assange's Chief of Staff Joseph Farrell—are scheduled to meet with six other regional heads of state.

They hope that by gaining support for Assange and appealing to the Hispanic and Latino community in the US, their tour of South America will have an impact on the White House.

In other news, under Iraq's previous prime minister, $2.5 billion was stolen.  It's one of the reasons that Iraq has one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Simona Foltyn (GUARDIAN) explains:

Iraqis have called it “the heist of the century” – a brazen multibillion-dollar plundering of state coffers that has gripped the country.

The theft of $2.5bn was apparently facilitated by some of the highest offices in the land, according to sources and a series of government letters issued in the summer of 2021. The documents, signed by various government institutions including the then prime minister’s office, cancelled the audit of withdrawals from the Iraqi tax commission’s accounts.

The letters did not attract attention at the time. Iraq had been rocked by two years of turmoil and was heading for early elections. Parliament had been adjourned. The media and international community had their eyes set on the October 2021 ballot, which came on the back of mass protests demanding the toppling of a corrupt ruling elite.

But behind the scenes, the stage was set for the embezzlement of tax revenues in what has emerged as the biggest corruption scandal under the then prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s western-backed government – remarkable even for a country that ranks towards the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption index.

The $2.5bn in tax moneys was withdrawn by shell companies with almost no paper trail with the help of corrupt officials, according to an internal investigation’s 41-page report seen by the Guardian, and laundered through real estate purchases in Baghdad’s most affluent neighbourhood, according to multiple sources.

The scheme was allegedly masterminded by a well-connected businessman and executed by employees in the tax commission, who enjoyed the support of an Iran-aligned political faction called Badr, the Guardian has found.

CENTRAL BANKING adds, "An internal investigation by the finance ministry earlier this year found some of the minitry's own officials had helped embezzle around $2.5 billion.  If ound that officials had written cheques worth 3.7 trillion Iraqi dinars (around $2.5 billion) to five companies."

Lastly, Jacob Crosse (WSWS) reports:

As of this writing, at least five people are dead and 25 more are injured following the latest mass shooting in the United States, which occurred late Saturday evening.

The shooting took place at the Q Club, the longest operating and largest gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In a press conference Sunday, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that emergency services began receiving multiple calls concerning a shooting at the club at 11:56 p.m. and that police were on the scene by midnight.

Vasquez acknowledged that police did little to stop the rampage, noting that by the time police arrived, two people inside the club had already subdued the gunman.

“We owe them a great debt of thanks,” Vasquez said Sunday morning.

Police have identified the suspected shooter as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, a local resident. This author was unable to locate any social media profiles linked to Aldrich. However, this is not the first time Aldrich has had significant police contact and there is no question police knew of Aldrich before Saturday’s incident.

In June 2021, Aldrich was arrested on multiple and serious charges after his mother called the police and, according to a statement from the El Paso County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office, warned that “her son was threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition.”

 [. . .]

Colorado Springs is politically dominated by the Republican Party, which has increasingly made anti-gay agitation a part of its right-wing propaganda, creating an atmosphere conducive to such acts of homicidal violence.

So far this year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has documented “more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills” introduced in 23 states by Republicans, aimed at limiting the rights of transgender persons. This includes Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill, enacted earlier this year.

Deadly attacks against LGBTQ persons have continued throughout 2022. Last Wednesday, HRC reported that at least 32 transgender people had been murdered in the US thus far in 2022, compared to 57 last year. HRC notes that the figures are likely a vast undercount, given that many trans persons are misgendered following their death.

The following sites updated: