Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tina Turner, Madonna, Sam Smith and cheap Bruce Springsteen

Music news?  Let's start with greedy Bruce Springsteen:

Bruce Springsteen suffered a terrifying fall during the latest leg of his current world tour over the weekend, has learned.

The startling incident took place in the Netherlands on Saturday night as the 73-year-old “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road” singer played at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

According to a video of the fall, Springsteen and the E Street Band were performing his 2020 hit song “Ghosts” when the aging rocker missed a step on the stage and tumbled down onto his back.

The Boss then struggled to stand back up and needed the help of a nearby stage manager to pull the popular musician back onto his feet.

First off, Bruce did not have a hit single in 2020.  He hasn't had a top forty hit since 1997.  Second, let's leave the US.  "Ghosts" not only failed to make the charts in the US, it also did not chart in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the UK, Sweden . . .

And I don't just mean top forty.  It did not make the top 100 in any of those countries.  It was released as a single -- it just bombed everywhere.

Third, maybe Greedy Bruce thought he saw a dime in front of his shoe and bent over to grab it?  Last time I wrote about Bruce, someone said I failed to disclose.  I didn't fail to, I forgot.  He's not that important to me.  But, yes, I did a review of one of his albums and he didn't like it so he called C.I. on the phone to gripe about it and tried to get her to pull it.  She refused.  I may have damaged their friendship -- if so, my apologies to C.I. -- but I am glad that she stood up for me to him.  Again, didn't fail to disclose, just forgot.  And I actually praised the album in question -- I just told people not to buy it right then because this was back when Bruce would release an album and then a few months later re-release it with a few bonus tracks to take more money from his fans -- and, by the way, he did do that with the album in question.

The late, great Tina Turner is about to make a major chart comeback.

As U.K. fans mourn Turner’s death last Wednesday (May 24), aged 83, the legendary performer could land four titles in the national albums chart, led by The Platinum Collection. Turner’s career retrospective could crack the top 10 for the first time, reentering at No. 8 on the midweek chart, the Official Charts Company reports. The Platinum Collection originally peaked at No. 14 following its release in 2009.

Close behind is Turner’s 1989 LP Foreign Affair, which features her hit “The Best.” Foreign Affair is set to reenter the Official Chart at No. 10.

Another hits compilation, 1994’s The Collected Recordings, is poised for a No. 12 return, while the U.S. superstar’s Private Dancer from 1984, one of the greatest comebacks of the 20th century, could vault to No. 31, having originally peaked at No. 2.

During her lifetime, Turner landed nine top 10 albums in the U.K., including two No. 1s (Foreign Affair and the soundtrack to What’s Love Got To Do With It).

Also on music, Stephen Daw (BILLBOARD) reports:

After giving the world a taste of the “Unholy,” Sam Smith is ready to deliver something even dirtier with their new song — and this time, they’ve got pop icon Madonna on board to help.

On Wednesday (May 31), Smith and Madonna confirmed the release of their upcoming collaboration, “Vulgar.” Madge shared some artwork across her social media, showing a pair of tightly cinched black-and-white corsets underneath the duo’s initials — which were cheekily shortened to a simple “S&M.” “VULGAR…………. new song out Friday June 9th @samsmith,” Madonna captioned the post.

I'll be very interested in hearing that.  When Madonna's engaged on serious issues -- as she is currently, having called out attacks on LGBTQ+ members and on drag queens -- she tends to produce some of her best work.


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


Wednesday, May 31, 2023.  The hate merchants in charge of the GOP are getting crazier and crazier, Lauren Boebert either doesn't understand the concept of legislative sessions or has no idea that Nancy Pelosi was a Speaker of the House long before Lauren squeaked into Congress, Ron DeSantis continues his failing campaign for president, Iraq still can't produce a budget for 2023, and much more.

Starting with the illiterate in the House, Lauren Boebert.  Someone strung some sentences together and put Lauren's name to it so we'll hold her accountable for what CRAIG PRESS printed.  She wants her constituents to know she's serving them.  She's had this bill and that bill passed and . . .  Wait, what new laws has she authored?


That's right.


We called Bernie Sanders out for this we'll damn well call Lauren for this.  Anyone can get a bill through -- especially through a House their party controls.  But Lauren can't draft any legislation that gets approved by the Senate because she's a whack job.  The crazy wants you to know, "The numbers don't lie."  They don't.  But Lauren does.  

She's not helping anyone with her lies.  

She then wants to say:

Additionally, in our first 100 days, our strong Republican majority has passed more bills and have had more bills signed into law than Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat majority did in its first 100 days. 

Again, bills, not laws.  But let's stop a moment.  How stupid is Lauren?  I know she's illiterate and I know she has a fit when her child calls 911 because he's in fear of his life -- so she's as bad a mother as she is a member of Congress.  But how stupid is she? What is the bottom on her stupidity?

More than Nancy in her first 100 days?  

Which first 100?

Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the house in 2007, in 2008, in 2009, in 2010, in 2011, in 2019, in 2020, in 2021 and in 2022.  

Idiot Lauren does realize that, right?  So is she claiming this happened in 2007 or in 2009 or in 2011 or in 2021?  Which legislative period?  

So eager to claim victory and yet she's already admitting defeat.   Ewan Palmer (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert has hit out at the debt ceiling deal negotiated between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, describing it as a "gift" to the Democrats.

Boebert, who is one of several Republican figures who have said they will not support the deal in Wednesday's crucial vote, said that the lack of concessions from Biden's "radical" plans means that the president has come out on top in the negotiations.

[. . .] Boebert said the bill would allow funding for the Inflation Reduction Act, viewed by many across political lines as a revised version of the Green New Deal, which the GOP had strongly opposed. The congresswoman said not enough concessions were made with regard to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to help streamline the approval of projects such as roads and pipelines.

Oh, well.  At least she's still piss cop, right?

Staying with the topic of Republican failures, Ron DeSantis.  Jonathan Turley's crush just can't get it together to save his life or his falterning campaign for president.  Madison Hall (BUSINESS INSIDER) explains:

  • In December 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led all listed Republican candidates in a Monmouth University poll.
  • At the time, DeSantis had 39% support compared to President Donald Trump's 26%. 
  • New polling from Monmouth University shows that Trump now leads the governor by 24 percentage points.

Republican Rep. Greg Steube claimed on a podcast that presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to primary members of Congress if they endorsed former President Donald Trump over him.

Steube, who represents Florida's 17th Congressional District, relitigated his apparent feelings of contempt for Florida's governor on Monday on Donald Trump Jr.'s podcast, "Triggered With Don Jr." The congressman, who previously endorsed Trump for president, said in April that DeSantis never responded to Steube's attempts to discuss political issues

And in that article, you can find a photo of his man-wife Casey.  She really does look like a man in drag.  And as Ron goes after African-Americans and LGBTQ+ members, let's remember he's targeting families and individuals and, no, this nonsense of 'family is off limits' just doesn't damn well apply.  He's destroying lives in Florida so it's not at all out of bounds to note that the person he crawls into bed with has the body of a man -- including the adam's apple.

His hate has consequences.  Joshua S. Mackey (INTO) notes:

More anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to arise within the United States and conservative pressure is starting to dictate what students learn within public education. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, ushered in by Governor Ron DeSantis, has already impacted school curricula within the Sunshine State, prohibiting education surrounding gender and identity,  including LGBTQ+ education. 

An increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation means a decrease in education around gender, identity, and sexual health resources for LGBTQ+ students. Unfortunately, this could change the downward trend of HIV infection rates for young gay and bisexual men. Research shows that proper sexual education exponentially decreases HIV infection rates. However, if students in public schools lose access to sexual education resources, infection rates could increase, undoing the work implemented by effective public health measures. 

According to the CDC, 1.2 million people are living with HIV in this country. And 1 in 8 people aren’t aware that they have the illness and HIV status awareness is low within younger demographics, representing 15% of new infections in 2021. So much progress has been made, but it’s evident that the GOP are nowhere near aware of the massive ramifications, including for queer health, that their legislation could have. 

Now we should remember these crazy and crazed hate merchants are defending children.  That's what they say anyway.

Jared Michael Boyce, a recently arrested member of the white nationalist anti-LGBTQ+ organization Patriot Front, has pleaded guilty to possessing images of child sexual abuse. He had previously accused LGBTQ+ people of “grooming children” and advocated for hanging pedophiles and Jews.

FBI agents reportedly found 22 images of child pornography on Boyce’s phone. The images included “children from toddlers to prepubescents performing sexual acts” and also minors “exposing their genitals,” court documents said.

Boyce admitted that the images belonged to him, the court documents added. He also told investigators that he had had “sexually-themed conversations about children” in an online chatroom, had transferred images of child sex abuse, and had sent an explicit photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old girl.

He pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a misdemeanor of dealing in harmful material to a minor, KSL-TV reported. Though he faced up to 30 years in prison for the crimes, on Tuesday, a judge sentenced him only to a year in prison and three years probation.

Boyce was one of 31 Patriot Front members arrested last June for plotting a riot at a northern Idaho Pride event. The group had crowded into a U-Haul truck that was pulled over by police. The white supremacists were clad in identical khaki pants, dark blue shirts and masks and carried homemade riot gear. They were charged with misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot.

These are the children of professor and professional transphobe Jonathan Turley, the children of Turley breast fed by Ron DeSantis who had to breast feed them because his wife's boobs were too small.

Poor GOP, so many crazies in their party.  Take Tara Reade.  Or let Russia take her.

Tara is back in the news.

Tara started out a Democrat.  But then she became a raging transphobe.  Though she billed herself as an "actress," she wasn't.  She stepped forward in 2019 to state that Joe Biden made her uncomfortable when she worked at his Senate office.  Then in 2020, she stated that he had harassed her and this became his inserting his finger into her private area.  Back then, she stupidly refused to do FOX "NEWS" or anyone who would have her and the reason was her principles.  

Said principles flew out the window rather quickly and she began making transphobic and homophobic statements as she went on Tucker Carlson's program, began reTweeting Scott Ritter (Republican and convicted pedophile who went to prison for it and is a registered sex offender) -- that last bit is when she lost support and even the WE BELIEVE TARA Twitter account stopped promoting her.

Now she's in Russia.  Apparently she no longer works for Kim Iversen -- but will she still continue to reTweet her buddy Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Tara thinks she can say she's defected, request Russian citizenship and still be an American citizen.  It does not work that way.  If you say you're defecting, then you're giving up your citizenship.

Poor dumb Tara.

And dumb people and homophobic people and transphobic people can be assaulted.  So this doesn't mean Tara wasn't assaulted by Joe.  It does mean that most of us no longer give a damn one way or the other.  When you cozy up to a registered sex offender, most of us who would have defended you now won't waste our breaths. 

In 2021, Tara became the Republican Party's problem.  Now she's Russia's problem.  

Turning to Iraq, there's still no federal budget for the year 2023.  Dana Taib Menmy (THE NEW ARAB) reports:

 Negotiations on Iraq’s budget bill for 2023 have been deferred after the parliament's deputy speaker suspended the legislature's finance committee over legal irregularities the and bypassing of a joint agreement between the Iraqi federal government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

"Our committee has been suspended as per a document from the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, because our committee members are now 24, while according to law the number should not exceed 23," Jamal Kochar, Iraqi lawmaker from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) bloc and member of the Iraqi parliament's finance committee told The New Arab in a phone interview.

"A political agreement is needed before negotiations on Iraq's budget bill for 2023 resumes. The bill has been stuck at the finance committee because the political agreement between the Iraqi government and the KRG has been violated."

The finance committee on Saturday announced some amendments to the budget bill, including a condition that the Kurdish region must first deliver 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the federal authorities, along with non-oil revenues, before it can receive a share of nearly 12 per cent from the federal budget.

Azhi Rasul (RUDAW) adds:

 The Kurdistan Region’s finance minister on Sunday said that the finance committee in the Iraqi parliament does not have the right to add or remove articles from bills, adding that the new amendments to the draft budget law aim to ruin Baghdad-Erbil ties. 

The Iraqi parliament’s finance committee on Thursday amended two articles of the bill that relate to the Kurdistan Region, prompting the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG| to slam the amendments as “unconstitutional,” labeling them a violation of the previous agreements between Erbil and Baghdad. 

“The Federal Supreme Court decision No. 35 prevents the parliament from changing the texts in the budget bills sent by the government,” KRG Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab said. 

According to Janab, the federal court decision specifies that the finance committee maintains the right to change the numbers in the bill or transfer them between articles and paragraphs, but the committee cannot add or remove any paragraph from the bill. 

“Those who truly want Kurds to remain in Baghdad, and those who value the brotherhood between Kurds and Arabs, are worried. This does not seek to help the closeness between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad, but to ruin the relations between the Region and Baghdad,” Janab said. 

The budget.  It was a big deal May 18th when the United Nations Security Council heard testimony on Iraq (see the May 19th snapshot).  

UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.  

The United Kingdom's  Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley:  The UK remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Government and the implementation of its ambitious reform agenda. In particular, passing a budget will be a crucial step in delivering the Government’s priorities including on economic reform and energy diversification.

Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women: Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.[9]

The only one not speaking of the budget that day to the Security Council?  US Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Every one else thought it was a necessary and worth noting.  Eleven days later and the budget it yet again put on hold.  It's supposed to be passed before the year starts.  That means the budget is 151 days late. 

Iraq's too late -- the whole world is -- to address climate change.  They're using a fix though, for farming, that's actually going to do even more damage.  Timour Azhari and Ahmed Saeed (REUTERS) report:


 Watered by sprinklers fitted to wells dug more than 100 meters under the sun-bleached earth, his land now produces double what it did compared to when he relied on ancient methods that flood fields with river water, he said.

“It’s a golden year, a golden season,” said Salah, wearing a traditional white robe and reflective sunglasses as he walked his field and noted the benefits: less money and water spent, as well as a bigger and quality harvest.

Iraq’s government says this officially supported shift has allowed the country to double areas cultivated with wheat this year to some 8.5 million dunams (850,000 hectares) compared to roughly 4 million (400,000 hectares) last year.

Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Al-Khuzai said that has translated into a harvest of around 4 million tons of wheat — the largest in years and 80 percent of the needs of a country with a 43 million population who eat bread at almost every meal. The shift in methods is driven by necessity: Iraq’s two main rivers, along which civilization emerged thousands of years ago, have lost more than half of their flow due to reduced rainfall, overuse and upstream dams.

Drilling the desert for water could provide immediate relief in a country that the UN says is among the five nations most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and where climate-induced migration has already begun. However, heavy use of the wells could bleed desert aquifers dry, agricultural experts and environmentalists warn. Some farmers have already noted a drop in the water table.

Depleting the aquifers is not an answer, nor is it sustainable.  It will leave Iraq in a much worse situation than it currently is.  And let's remember that currently, Iraq -- if you'd stop the government corruption -- has more than enough money to import wheat.  If climate models do encourage others to finally address climate change, oil revenues will drop for Iraq.  So five, ten years from now, Iraq could find itself with depleted aquifers and with low oil revenues.  This is not sustainable and it is not an answer.

  • BP returned to Iraq in 2009 after a 35-year absence and was awarded a significant interest in the country’s largest oil field near British-occupied Basra
  • BP has pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil since 2011
  • Sir John Sawers, the UK’s first special representative to Iraq after invasion, has banked £1.1m since joining BP’s board in 2015
  • Other UK oil “supermajor” Shell also won Iraq contract in 2009 as lead operator developing “super-giant” Majnoon oil field

BP has pumped oil worth £15.4bn in Iraq since 2011 when it began production in the country for the first time in nearly four decades, new analysis shows.

The new information comes on the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, which was judged to be illegal by the UN. However, neither US president George W Bush nor British prime minister Tony Blair, the leaders who prosecuted the war, have been subjects of a criminal investigation. 

The invasion began in March 2003 and unleashed a catastrophic humanitarian disaster with an estimated 655,000 Iraqis killed in the first three years of conflict, or 2.5% of the population. 

It was widely denounced as a war for oil on the part of the US and UK: Iraq holds the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves. Iraq had no connection to the September 11th terrorist attacks which had taken place 18 months before and initiated the so-called “War on Terror”. 

The data on BP’s post-invasion production in Iraq comes from the company’s annual reports and was calculated using the average annual price for a barrel of oil for each year of production. 

From 2011-22, BP pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil.

Of course it was about oil.

Alan Greenspan, the consummate Washington insider and long-time head of the US central bank, has backed the position taken by many anti-war critics - that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by oil.

His claim comes in his newly published autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, in which he also castigates George Bush's administration for making "grave mistakes" in economic policy.

Sounding more like an activist than a lifelong Republican who worked alongside six US presidents, Mr Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview with the Guardian that the invasion of Iraq was aimed at protecting Middle East oil reserves: "I thought the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the excuse was utterly beside the point."

Mr Greenspan said it was clear to him that Saddam Hussein had wanted to control the Straits of Hormuz and so control Middle East oil shipments through the vital route out of the Gulf. He said that had Saddam been able to do that it would have been "devastating to the west" as the former Iraqi president could have just shut off 5m barrels a day and brought "the industrial world to its knees".

In the book Mr Greenspan writes: "Whatever their publicised angst over Saddam Hussain's 'weapons of mass destruction', American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."

Asked to explain his remark, he said: "From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don't name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position."

On September 24, 2007, Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) hosted a debate between Alan Greenspan and Naomi Klein:

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?

ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The U.S. invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.

ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called preemptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.

It was not about liberation.  It was not about freedom.  It was not about compassion or caring or humanitarian issues.  It was about oil.

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