Saturday, April 15, 2023

3 books to skip

I don't speak Danish.  I knew that.  I did not know the language was Danish.  What am I talking about?  Bertill Nordahl's CAT SEVENS, CARLY SIMON AND LEONARD COHEN AND ALL THE OTHERS.  Got it on AMAZON KINDLE UNLIMITED to read and open it up and, "What is this?"  I had no idea.  I read -- as best I could -- a line to C.I. of it over the phone and she said, "It's Danish." 

Well I don't read Danish.  

And that becomes one of the problems with AMAZON's KINDLE UNLIMITED.  I wouldn't have wasted my time on the book if I knew it wasn't in English. 

David Redford's NEIL& JONI: 2 LIVES, 21 ALBUMS was also a mistake.  

You'd never know it to read the book but Neil Young is not in the same stratosphere as Joni Mitchell.  He doesn't have that level of talent.  As a guitarist, he's mediocre.  As a songwriter, he can write a song worth repeat listening every three or four years.  As a songwriter, he's Eric Clapton -- too bad he's not Clapton as a guitarist.

At one point, Redford compares Neil to Gordon Lightfoot.  It's an apt comparison and should have underscored for the writer just how wrong it was to ever think Neil was in Joni's league.

He has a lot of bad gossip -- most of it told long ago and over and over.  When he notes Joni's number one hit ("Help Me"), he should note that it was number one on the AC chart.  Does he not know that? 

If he wanted to write a gossipy tome, he could have, for example, explored "Just Like This Train" which has a role in one of music's great guessing games.  

He also might have noted, when saying Joni didn't like the tour she did with Jackson Browne opening for her, that she and Jackson were a couple and that it ended badly.  

I find it hard to believe -- it could be true -- that the last album Prince bought before he died was Joni's HEJIRA.  Prince was a huge Joni fan.  I don't understand why it wouldn't be until 2016 that he bought one of Joni's most praised albums. I don't understand why he'd feature HEJIRA on camera in his 1986 film UNDER THE CHERRY MOON if he hadn't listened to and liked the album back then?

The Joni sections are more interesting.  That could have been because her art is so much more than most singers.  But, sadly, it's because the writer is forever working in gossip -- this must be about Warren Beatty, this must be . . .

It gets very tiring and very annoying and is exactly the sort of sexism that Joni had to rail against early in her career.  Sadly, decades later, it remains.

When you think it can't get worse, along comes Ellen Sanders unearthing more past writing in some sort of ego destroying effort to ruin whatever's left of her name.  This one collects old interviews (as usual) and is entitled ROCK AND ROLL WOMENHOOD: CASS ELLIOT, GRACE SLICK, LINDA RONSTADT, FANNY AND MORE.


Susan Evans who was a teenager at the time of her profile and played drums for Judy Collins.  I'll give Judy credit for using female musicians.  Suzi Young was the terrorized wife of Jesse Colin Young.  Ellen never says that but what she sketches out -- Jesse pitching his fit over noise -- makes it clear.

"Jesse and Suzi are no longer married" is the 'update' Ellen provides for that chapter.  Really?  I'm shocked.  (He's been married to his current wife for several decades now -- I found that out from WIKIPEDIA.)  

For her wrap up, Ellen wants to talk about how things are now, you know, in 2023.  And what better way to do that, talk about how things are for women today, than to explore The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin?  Sadly, I'm not joking.

She's planning more volumes -- featuring old interviews with Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Joan Baez, among others.  You have been warned.

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

Friday, April 14, 2023.  The western press continues to Turkey's bombing of Iraq last Friday (even though US service members were part of the convoy attacked), Moqtada has movement issues, the fundamentalist war on LGBTQ+ persons continues in the US, and much more.

Starting in Iraq with big news from their own personal Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Cleric and dwindling cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr failed at forming a government in 2022 and continues to be a failure.  AFP reports:

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, who wields great influence over national politics, said Friday he was “freezing” for a year his powerful movement over “sinful” practices among supporters.

Al-Sadr, a Muslim Shiite leader, has the ability to mobilise tens of thousands of his supporters with a single message and presents himself as an anti-corruption champion, often clashing with Iraq’s political leadership.

He has repeatedly taken supporters and opponents by surprise with major announcements on social media, such as a Twitter message last year on his “definitive retirement” from politics.

In a statement shared on the cleric’s official Twitter page on Friday, Al-Sadr said he had decided to “freeze the movement… for at least a year”.

Ah, poor, tubby tyke, sounds like he's constipated.  AL MAYADEEN adds:

Al-Sadr said in a tweet that his inability to achieve reforms within the Movement goes at odds with his promises to reform the Iraqi system.  

The leader revealed that his party harbors “corrupt” and “unjust” individuals, whom he could no longer tolerate. 

It's just like when Marjorie and Lauren Boebert had their public break.

But it's so bad, Moqtada is even going off Twitter.  The sacrifices he's willing to make to continue to (mis)lead his cult.  As he has lost many followers, it's not surprising that he's now turning on some of the remaining ones and blaming them for the fact that he's never addressed corruption -- Sadr City remains a slum, Moqtada continues to have money -- but it is surprising that even now the western press (that includes AFP) can't note that his hold is not what it was and that his numbers continue to fall.  There was a time when he could turnout millions -- many years ago.  In more recent years, he'd hidden the growing defections by calling for assemblies on the backs of other causes to make it appear that he still commanded the same following.  He doesn't.  And his most recent action -- which just called for people to walk out of their homes in Sadr City -- found hundreds taking part.  To walk out the front door into their own streets.

Moqtada's failed to deliver.  A cult leader can accomplish a lot -- usually horrible things.  But the cult has to believe in him.  Moqtada's been in charge for too long and his excuses for failing to deliver have exposed him for the fraud he is.  That is why his numbers have decreased and why they continue to do so.

In other news, Saturday, Michael R. Gordon (WALL ST. JOURNAL) reported that the Turkish government carried out an attack Friday on a convoy in Iraq which included three US military members.  Outside THE JOURNAL, there hasn't been much interest among the US press (see this week's State Dept press briefing, for example, where no one even asked about it).  Today, 
Rabia İclal Turan  (AA) reports on remarks by US Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder:


The convoy of YPG/PKK ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazloum Abdi, was targeted on April 7 by a drone strike near Sulaymaniyah International Airport. Three US personnel were in the convoy. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported no injuries.

"On April 7, a convoy, including US personnel, was fired upon while in transit within the Iraqi Kurdistan region in the area near Sulaymaniyah," Ryder confirmed, adding that US forces are in Iraq and Syria in support of the "defeat ISIS mission."

"It struck more than 100 meters from the convoy and CENTCOM is currently investigating the incident," he added.

When asked what was the mission of the US personnel, he responded: "We're supporting the Iraqi security forces as part of the defeat ISIS mission. As you know, we have forces in Iraq. They're not conducting combat operations. They're advising and assisting the Iraqis. And then we have forces in Syria that are supporting the SDF."

The drone that attacked the convoy missed by slightly more than 100 yards, CENTCOM spokesman Col. Joseph Buccino said in a phone call Thursday.

"It didn't hit anything in the convoy," Buccino said.

Abdi is the leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group that the U.S. has allied with in the fight against ISIS.

Responsibility for the strike has been widely attributed to Turkey, although Ankara has denied these claims.

The attack and its aftermath highlight the complicated nature of American relations in the Middle East, where troops tasked with containing ISIS are partnering with Kurdish units seen as threats by NATO ally Turkey, while also defending against attacks from Iran and its proxy militias.  

Even STARS AND STRIPES isn't trying to play like anyone but Turkey carried out the attack.  Despite this, Turkey continues to insist it wasn't them.  

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted the three deaths -- three people electrocuted.  We noted the heavy rain,  the corruption that allows the infrastructure to go unrepaired and climate change.  Today, 

Why it matters: Flooding is a regular occurrence in Iraq and late March saw flooding throughout the country. 

At the same time, Iraq is also experiencing desertification. The situation has worsened in recent years, and Iraq is often described as one of the most at-risk countries in the world to climate change. Iraq experiences relatively high water insecurity thanks to a lack of rainfall and poor water management.

The heavy rain has some potential benefits, despite the dangers. The water levels in eastern Iraq's al-Azim reservoir rose 30%, the Kurdish Iraqi news outlet Rudaw reported on Thursday. 


So let me be sure I understand this, heads did not roll after the disaster a few winters back where Texas' entire electrical system almost collapsed and they still haven't fixed the system (and have seen some 'rolling' issues) but they've got time to to attack LGBTQ+ people?  

At MSNBC, Michael A. Cohen notes a few hate merchants:

When it comes to LGBTQ Americans, the Republican Party has traded its dog whistle in for a train whistle.

This week, for example, during a legislative hearing on a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to use a bathroom that doesn’t match the sex a person was assigned at birth, Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby called transgender people “demons” and “mutants.” 

“The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us,” Barnaby thundered. “That’s right, I called you demons and imps, who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world.”

Barnaby quickly apologized. But his comments, like many political gaffes, told an unpleasant truth: that bigotry and open hostility underpin the GOP’s continuing assault on the rights of transgender and other LGBTQ people. 

Indeed, Barnaby could take a lesson from Florida’s senior Republican senator, Marco Rubio, in how to use greater subtlety when being bigoted toward gay Americans.

On Wednesday, Rubio tweeted a short video by Lt. j.g. Audrey Knutson of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Knutson, who identifies as nonbinary, spoke glowingly about their opportunity to read a poem at an LGBTQ spoken word night while stationed on an aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. According to Knutson: “My grandfather served in the Navy in World War II. He was on board the USS Hornet. And he — it means a lot for me to be able to join the Navy, because he was a gay man in the Navy, and he had a really difficult service. So for me to join as nonbinary is really powerful to me and something that I’m certainly proud of.” 

For most Americans, this would be an inspiring story of service to one’s country. If not for the fact Knutson is nonbinary, one could easily imagine Rubio, who has never served in the military, praising it.

But instead, Knutson’s experience worries Rubio. “While China prepares for war this is what they have our @USNavy focused on,” he tweeted.

In relying on the most juvenile of gay stereotypes, Rubio is suggesting that gay, trans or nonbinary service members are simply not tough enough to fight America’s wars, especially against a rising power like China. Writing poetry is for sensitive emo kids, not killers. (Maybe someone should buy Rubio a book by Siegfried Sassoon.) 

It’s not every day you see a senator denigrating a member of the U.S. military, and it’s far from clear how an LGBTQ spoken word night undermines America’s ability to “prepare for war.” Indeed, one might argue that building camaraderie and acceptance in a diverse institution like the military is essential to enhancing unit cohesion. At a time when enlistment numbers in the military are in steep decline (the military missed its recruitment goals by 25% last year), welcoming all Americans — no matter their backgrounds or sexual orientations — seems more important than ever. 

Noting the bigots of her time, Tallulah Bankhead once declared,  "Too many of our countrymen rejoice in stupidity and look upon ignorance as a badge of honor.  They condemn everything they don't understand."

As over a dozen anti-trans bills are advancing in committees and legislative chambers in at least nine states including Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina, other states are continuing to set the groundwork with policies to protect the trans community. 

Recently pro-trans bills in Colorado, SB188; and in Oregon, HB2002, have been moving through their respective state legislatures. 

The Colorado bill also known as “Protections For Accessing Reproductive Health Care” aims to protect individuals including trans people’s access to reproductive health care services and facilities, and prohibit discrimination based on reproductive decisions; and require health care providers to offer unbiased information about reproductive health care options. Furthermore the bill would protect those traveling from states with restrictive reproductive health laws to access care. 

Rep. Brianna Titone, an Arvada Democrat and the state General Assembly’s first out transgender member, calls the bill “imperative” to protect patients and medical professionals who provide health care to transgender people. 

“As laws around the country seek to prevent this care outside their borders, we need a shield to provide these essential services. SB188 will do just that,” she tells me. 

Erin Reed, a trans activist and journalist who testified in favor of the legislation in Colorado, spoke about how the law can help trans people and families in states such as Texas, Florida, and Tennessee where they are being targeted. 

“One of the most common questions that I am asked by families, almost daily, is the question, ‘Am I safe? Where can I go? Is it time to leave?’ Colorado is often one of the places I point these families to.” 

In an email, Meredith Gleitz, Policy Manager at One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, called the measure “critical” for transgender people to be able to fairly access what is often lifesaving health care. 

“Research shows that gender-affirming care improves mental health and overall well-being for transgender people, and is recognized and endorsed by 29 leading medical organizations. In spite of its medical necessity and health benefits, access to gender-affirming care is being politically targeted, to the detriment of providers and patients - and attacks are intensifying,” she said. 

“Colorado needs shield legislation to protect patients and providers from interstate political attacks and to prevent further obstacles to accessing critical health care."

While Colorado’s trans community celebrates the state's continued progress in the right direction, the community in Oregon is also praising HB2002, which seeks to create a universal health care system for all residents of the state. The law would establish a new system called “Oregon Health Care Program” and would require health care plans to cover transition-related care including hormone therapy and gender affirming surgeries.   

The bill was shaped after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last June. In response, House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, formed a legislative workgroup last summer that worked for several months to develop HB2002. 

“The right to access an abortion does not mean that abortion is accessible,” Rayfield said. 

Last week transgender and gender nonconforming Oregon residents as well as allies gave testimonies during a hearing on the measure, including Dr. Christina Milano, a doctor who provides transgender care at Oregon Health & Science University. 

“I hear a panic that we are opening up the gates, allowing young patients to come in and cajoling them and pressuring them to start pubertal suppression and pursue surgical procedures,” she said, noting that her team always works with a team of providers that includes endocrinologists and psychologists.

“Our teams work with exquisite caution and thoughtfulness.”

The state's Medicaid program, known as The Oregon Health Plan, as well as private insurance companies have all been required to provide coverage for medical care for transgender Oregonians since 2015. This law would expand the list of covered treatments. 

Seth Johnstone, the Transgender Justice Program Manager at Basic Rights Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ individuals in the state, says the bill will help ensure trans and gender-expansive Oregon residents have access to life saving treatment and gender affirming care. 

“This bill will advance the Oregon value that everyone should be free to be who they are, and that everyone should have affordable access to medical care. As over 300 anti-LGBTQ2SIA+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, we’re proud to see Oregon lawmakers not only protecting existing rights, but also working to expand access for our community,” he said. 

“This landmark legislation will protect, strengthen, and expand equitable access to all forms of reproductive and gender-affirming care, and is based on recommendations developed by the Reproductive Health and Access to Care Work Group in December 2022.”

Johnstone states that Oregon has demonstrated clear values regarding healthcare, particularly with regards to reproductive and transgender-related care, and the recommendations made by Rep. Rayfield’s work group was “an affirmation and continuation of those values.” 

“We believe every person in Oregon deserves access to high quality healthcare, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make.” 

Similarly, Illinois and California have also demonstrated their commitment to protections for the trans community.

In January, Illinois, led by out State Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, passed a bill to protect access to both reproductive healthcare and transgender healthcare. The bill, signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, expands healthcare access and options in the state and protects healthcare providers and patients who travel to Illinois to access essential care now banned in their home states. 

"This comprehensive legislation is proof that Illinois does not and will not stand by as hard-fought freedoms of the people of this state are taken away,” Cassidy stated

“It is further proof that protecting reproductive rights and gender affirming healthcare is broadly supported, contrary to Republican-led efforts to strip away the protections we all rely on. By partnering with community stakeholders, organizations, and our government colleagues, we are setting the example for other states and their reproductive and healthcare policy in a post-Roe world."

New York’s Assembly Bill 709, sponsored by Democrat assembly member Nily Rozicis, is a proposed measure that seeks to improve the treatment of incarcerated individuals based on their gender. If passed, the law would require that individuals in state and local prisons who identify as a gender different from their assigned sex at birth be addressed and provided with items like clothes and toiletries that match their gender. The bill would also establish a presumption that these individuals should be placed in correctional facilities with others who share their self-attested gender identity, unless they choose otherwise. Overall, the law seeks to ensure that incarcerated individuals are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their gender. 

Elsewhere, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed SB04 in the state which modifies a previous law from 1976 known as the The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, expanding protections to LGBTQ Michigan residents. 

“No resident in Michigan should feel they have to hide their identity to ensure job security or successfully purchase a new home. This legislation protects individuals from harmful discrimination that has no place in our community,” said Michigan Senator Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp) in a release. “I’m proud to be a part of a diverse body of legislators that understand discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity, or expression is an issue that needs to be prioritized and swiftly addressed.”

As states continue to shape legislation to protect the trans and gender nonconforming community, Minnesota is gearing up to add further protections for those living with HIV with SF3062, a bill that will appropriate ten million dollars set aside from the government’s general funds to help support community-based HIV/AIDS support services. 

The funds will be given to the commissioner of human resources who will then distribute it as grants to organizations that provide support services to people living with HIV or AIDS. The funding will be made available in the fiscal year 2024 and 2025. 

The bill has been referred to the Health and Human Services committee. 
With more than 480 anti-trans bills sweeping across the country, it’s crucial to remain vigilant about pro-trans legislation and ongoing efforts towards trans equality. While the fight for trans rights continues, it’s important to acknowledge states that are actively working to make a safe and inclusive home for trans and gender nonconforming people.

The following sites updated:

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Some applause for some deserving it


 That Diana Ross video (for "Muscles") showed up on my YOUTUBE feed and I decided to share it.  

Country singer Zach Bryan defended Mulvaney’s Bud Light partnership to his 400,000 Twitter followers on Saturday, stating “insulting transgender people is completely wrong,” while clarifying he means no disrespect to Tritt (and that he’d drink enough Jack Daniels for the both of them). Some notable country stars also came out in support of drag artists: Reba McEntire slammed a Tennessee law (which was temporarily blocked by a judge) that would restrict drag performances in public spaces or where minors are present in a March interview, urging attention for more pressing issues like homelessness. At the CMT Music Awards on April 2, co-host and country star Kelsea Ballerini performed her “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” with four performers from RuPaul’s Drag Race, which many interpreted as a rebuke of anti-drag bills (including bills in Texas that would bar drag artists from performing where minors are present). Country singer Maren Morris and more artists, including Sheryl Crowhosted the benefit concert “Love Rising,” alongside drag queens, to support Tennessee LGBTQ organizations and protest legislation targeting drag performers and transgender people (Morris said she brought her 3-year-old son, who met some of the drag artists, and dared Tennessee to arrest her). Shania Twain called for support for drag artists days after Tennessee passed a ban on public drag shows, calling them “inspiring” and stating “we need drag queens to share their talent with us.” Orville Peck, a gay country singer, criticized anti-drag laws in an interview with GLAAD, calling drag “a threat to absolutely nobody” and urging lawmakers to allow people to live freer, happier lives.

I want to be sure that people who stood up got credit.  I say "thank you" to all above (even Sheryl who I'm not that fond of).  That was brave and that was important.  In a world where 'lefties' like Jonathan Turley and John Stauber sport transphobia, it really is important to stand up and say, "No, this is not acceptable."  So thank you to all the above for being brave and doing the right thing.

 Another person who deserves some applause?  The one and only Carol Burnett.  From NBC:

Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love airs Wednesday, April 26 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

ational treasure and legendary entertainer Carol Burnett is turning 90, so get ready to feel the love: NBC will honor the icon with a televised special, Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love, to celebrate her big day.

“I am so excited NBC decided to throw me a birthday party and invited all of my closest friends," Burnett said in a statement. "I cannot wait to look back at so many wonderful moments throughout my career, I feel so lucky to share this night with everyone,”

How to Watch Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love

Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love airs on her 90th birthday—Wednesday, April 26—at 8/7c on NBC and stream the next day on Peacock.

Carol Burnett.  TV wouldn't be as good as it is today without her.  She made us laugh and she hosted the best variety program there was.

I still watch THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.  I watch is on PLUTO and AMAZON mainly.  Stan noted it was on STIRR -- my problem there is that it makes me flip through channels to get to THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.  On PLUTO, I can put it on favorites to get to it and also, on PLUTO, it picks up on the last channel I was on when I open PLUTO (and the last channel is always THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW CHANNEL).  

I watch it over and over and always find something to enjoy.  A sketch with THE FAMILY (Mama and Eunice, etc).  A great music number (Cass Elliot, The Pointer Sisters, etc).  So much to enjoy -- Cher, Diahann Carroll, Maggie Smith, Madeline Kahn, Lily Tomlin, Rock Hudson, Burt Reynolds, Peggy Lee, Flip WIlson, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Cole, Steve Martin, Paul Lynde, Jonathan Winters, Carole Channing, George Carlin, Dyan Cannon, Karen Black, Leslie Uggams, Melba Moore, Bob Hope, Janet Jackson, Rita Hayworth, Joan Rivers, Lana Turner . . . 

And it's a quality show that goes for laughs in the comedy.  

Eunice is my favorite regular character.  I also love Mrs. Wiggins.  But I like the movie parodies -- I love the movie parodies -- not just WENT WITH THE WIND.  I love it when she sends up Joan Crawford, for example.  Or when she sends up Bette Davis' THE GREAT LIE. 

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



Thursday, April 13, 2023.  Iraq, climate change, media lies, et al -- it's all about the lack of accountability. 

Yesterday afternoon, Jon Schwartz (INTERCEPT) noted a passing:

Benjamin Ferencz died last week at the age of 103. Ferencz was the last surviving member of the team of prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials after World War II, which led to the convictions of many top Nazi officials and since been understood as the exemplar of justice for war crimes.

Ferencz served in the U.S. Army during the war and in its aftermath investigated the conditions at the Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Dachau concentration camps. He spent the rest of his life advocating for the creation of an international criminal court and accountability for war criminals generally.

These facts appear in his obituaries. What’s missing from all of them in major outlets — including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, and the Associated Press — is Ferencz’s belief that top members of the George W. Bush administration, including Bush himself, should have been tried for war crimes for the Iraq War.

This is not obscure, difficult-to-obtain information. In 2002, the Times published a letter to the editor from Ferencz stating that “a preemptive military strike [on Iraq] not authorized by the Security Council would clearly violate the UN Charter that legally binds all nations.” In December 2003, Ferencz said in an interview, “The invasion by the U.S. of Iraq, I think, would also qualify under the Nuremberg principles as a violation of international law. … If you’re going to have that kind of a factual situation as we have in Iraq, I think the first trial should be a trial which is absolutely fair and should include all the principle perpetrators and planners of the crimes which occurred.” Ferencz wrote the foreword to a 2009 book titled “George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration’s Liability for 269 War Crimes.” He also wrote the foreword for another book, “Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.”

Yet the Times published an almost-2,000 word obituary for Ferencz without mentioning this. It somehow includes the sentence, “Critics say the [International Criminal Court] has focused on prosecutions in Africa while American wars have not even been investigated,” without mentioning that one of the most vociferous critics of this was Ferencz.

They worked so hard to sell the illegal war and, poor things, they still have to work so hard to erase their crimes.  But no one's forgetting.  All this time later, the world remembers that the press did not serve the people, that it lied willingly for the government and that it has refused, all these years later, accountability and honesty.

How much does that impact the wave of gun violence?  What lessons are taught by a society that refuses to be accountable?  Even now, for example, the obvious thing is for Crooked Clarence Thomas to step down from the Supreme Court.  It's obvious that is what's required.  But when that doesn't happen, how does that impact our society?  When there are different sets of justice for different people, when media can lie through its teeth and have Meryl Streep praise it as the Academy Awards, when Meryl can cover up for Harvey Weinstein and when she finds out that Ronan Farrow's about to expose Weinstein Meryl can insist that Harvey's on our side, and when Rose McGowan rightly calls her out Meryl can play the victim, over and over it's a society upside down with a set of rules for the governed and no rules at all for those in power.  

Three people are dead in Iraq today.  If we want to live in the land of denial, they're dead 'because of rain.'  AFP reports that they "were aged 16, 22 and 30 and one of them was a woman and "They had all gone outside to switch off the main supply to their homes during Wednesday's storm, for fear that power fluctuations would damage their household electrical appliances."  The three are dead because of corruption.  AFP notes Iraq's dilapidated power grid.  That's at least half of it.  The other is the lack of public infrastructure which increases the flooding in many areas.  Lack of adequate sewer and drainage increases flooding.  Iraq brings in billions each year in oil and Nouri al-Maliki and other politicians certainly get rich but the money never makes it to the people.  

And they officials let the Iraqi people live in poverty and they refuse to make repairs -- to the electrical system, to the public infrastructure, to anything.

And, of course, the biggest example of the lack of accountability and the corruption of the ruling class: Climate change -- specifically the refusal to address it seriously. 

Climate change is predicted to impact us all in the next few decades and one of the hardest hit areas, per climate models, will be Iraq.  Already problems are evident.  January 10th, Yale's School of Environment published Wil Crisp's article which opened:

Three years ago, the vast marshlands of southern Iraq’s Dhi Qar province were flourishing. Fishermen glided in punts across swathes of still water between vast reed beds, while buffalo bathed amid green vegetation. But today those wetlands, part of the vast Mesopotamian Marshes, have shriveled to narrow channels of polluted water bordered by cracked and salty earth. Hundreds of desiccated fish dot stream banks, along with the carcasses of water buffalo poisoned by saline water. Drought has parched tens of thousands of hectares of fields and orchards, and villages are emptying as farmers abandon their land.

For their biodiversity and cultural significance, the United Nations in 2016 named the Mesopotamian Marshes — which historically stretched between 15,000 and 20,000 square kilometers in the floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The marshes comprised one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, a startling oasis in an extremely hot and arid environment, home to 22 species of globally endangered species and 66 at-risk bird species.

But now this ecosystem — which includes alluvial salt marshes, swamps, and freshwater lakes — is collapsing due to a combination of factors meteorological, hydrological, and political. Rivers are rapidly shrinking, and agricultural soil that once grew bounties of barley and wheat, pomegranates, and dates is blowing away. The environmental disaster is harming wildlife and driving tens of thousands of Marsh Arabs, who have occupied this area for 5,000 years, to seek livelihoods elsewhere.

Experts warn that unless radical action is taken to ensure the region receives adequate water — and better manages what remains — southern Iraq’s marshlands will disappear, with sweeping consequences for the entire nation as farmers and pastoralists abandon their land for already crowded urban areas and loss of production leads to rising food prices.

The Mesopotamian marshlands are often referred to as the cradle of civilization, as anthropologists believe that this is where humankind, some 12,000 years ago, started its wide-scale transition from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement. Encompassing four separate marshes, the region has historically been home to a unique range of fish and birdlife, serving as winter habitat for migratory birds and sustaining a productive shrimp and finfish fishery. 

AP notes, "Climate change for years has compounded the woes of the troubled country. Droughts and increased water salinity have destroyed crops, animals and farms and dried up entire bodies of water. Hospitals have faced waves of patients with respiratory illnesses caused by rampant sandstorms. Climate change has also played a role in Iraq’s ongoing struggle to combat cholera."  This month began with AL MAYADEEN reporting:

A spokesperson of the Iraqi Health Ministry, Saif Al-Badr, confirmed on Saturday that more than 500 patients are suffering from breathing difficulties as a result of the dust storm taking over the country. 

Al-Badr told Iraqi News Agency (INA), "More than 515 patients were admitted to hospitals in Baghdad and the provinces with breathing problems of varying severity due to the dust storm that occurred yesterday [Friday] in the regions of the country," adding that they did receive sufficient medical care and most had been discharged. 

As of yet, no casualties have been reported and ambulances remain on standby to deliver aid to those who need it. Dust storms and sand storms are not strangers to Iraq, as they regularly occur in the region and have been known to cause serious health issues.

SEE NEWS notes, "Today, Saturday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced that more than 500 people had suffocated due to the dust storms that hit the country on Friday, according to the Iraqi News Agency." 

And it's only going to get worse since nothing of significance is being done to address climate change.  As Betty noted last night:

 I don't understand why we are still not addressing climate change.  This is insane and there are a wave of young people who will be of voting age in the next year (and after) who are even more outraged about this than I am.  And I'm pretty ticked off.  This has to be addressed.  The world -- and its leaders -- are apparently going to do nothing until we see so much destruction that they're forced to act and, by that time, we're talking band aids on gaping wounds.  It's going to be way too late.

We have become a society with no accountability and its destroying the world.  And it's destroying the Peabodys (see Elaine's "The Peabody Awards") as they applaud garbage that is factually incorrect because a 'celebrity' name is on it (Amy Poehler).  She produced an ahistorical documentary that is the fantasy her immature mind needs (Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder had Amy on THE MAJORITY REPORT early in its run and she had nothing to say about anything political, yet she went on the political show -- the Iraq War was in its early years and she had nothing on that even, she just wanted to giggle and be an adult-child).  It's not about Lucy and Desi, it's about the lives that she wishes Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had -- and it got a Peabody nomination because you can just lie and make up whatever s**t you want these days.  Desi slept with any woman he could -- and let a few men go down on him -- erase.  Erase.  Erase.  Just make up garbage and pretend like when you do that, that you're not being disrespectful to Lucille Ball who had to live with that and lived with it as long as she could before she had to end that marriage.  Considering Amy's own marital problems, that she would erase reality that forced another woman to divorce is appalling.  

In Iraq, there is no protection for religious minorities.  We can see that with the Iraqi government's fundamentalist attacks on Sunnis and Christians -- yes, the banning of alcohol.  Christians are a minority in Iraq but they are not the smallest minority.  Many other religions exist and sometimes they don't have a global reach so their followers don't get the attention or the support that they warrant.   The Society For Threatened Peoples notes:

The Mandaeans in Iraq are still in need of protection and support. In the scope of direct talks with the Middle East Consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the leader of the Mandaeans, Ganzevra Sattar Jabbar Hilo Al-Zahrony, and several other Mandaean dignitaries appealed to the Iraqi government not to cut back its support for the small ancient religious community – but to include them when filling political offices. It was also stated that, when visiting Iraq, German politicians should not forget to meet up with representatives of the Mandaeans.

As the Mandaean dignitaries emphasized during the talks at the residence of their leader on Easter Saturday, it would be important to have Mandaean ministers in Iraq and to send Mandaean ambassadors to other countries. Further, they would need financial support to build up a state-approved academy for the Mandaean language and religion. Also, the approximately 2,200 Mandaeans in the German diaspora need support to build a house of worship.

Of the about 100,000 Mandaeans worldwide, not more than 20,000 are still living in Iraq. Other sources speak of only 5,000. As the religious dignitaries told the STP’s Middle East Consultant, it had been an important gesture of acceptance of the small religious community that the Iraqi Prime Minister recently visited the main place of worship of the Mandaeans in Baghdad for the first time. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani had paid a visit to the religious center of the Mandaeans on the Tigris River in mid-March.

Over the Easter holidays, Sido also visited a few Christian communities in the region. He noticed that more and more Christians are leaving Baghdad, even though the security situation has improved significantly. “If the remaining Christians in Iraq are to have a future, the government must ensure that they feel welcome in their home country,” he summarized his impressions.

The US government installed religious fundamentalists and used religious fundamentalism in Iraq.  They did so to sew division and violence so that the Iraqi people would not be in the streets protesting the way the occupying power was taking over their country.  A society reduced to rubble will leave the people scrambling -- that was the hope.  The Iraqi people still suffer from the decisions the US government made.


The signatories of this letter do not all share political or economic philosophies, but we are united in our astonishment at this war’s massive price tag. Invading Iraq cost the US $2 trillion directly. That’s nearly $9,000 for each taxpayer in the US. However, the Iraq War cannot be divorced from the Afghan War, the larger Global War on Terror or this century's militarism, which has seen Pentagon spending balloon from $331 billion in 2001 to $858 billion today. Including future veterans' care and interest payments, the long-term cost of these conflicts will total $8 trillion by 2050.

Dozens still perish every month in militant violence in Iraq in a seemingly unending war. VA hospitals in the US strain to keep up with a generation of shattered veterans. The war succeeded only in traumatizing millions; creating terror groups where there had been none; and instigating chaos and continual hostilities, while providing hundreds of billions of dollars to weapons manufacturers.

The Iraq War was based on lies that have brought unimaginable suffering to an entire nation and ongoing loss, grief and hardship to hundreds of thousands of American families. It was and is a great crime. And in our view, as men and women who participated in the war in one way or another, the greatest crime of all may be our nation’s inability to hold accountable those responsible for authorizing such atrocities and continuing to watch our government repeat its wars over and over again. 

Some good news . . . 

Rosie O'Donnell is back to using her gift, few can do a better interview than she does.  ONWARD WITH ROSIE O'DONNELL is her new program.  Next time, she'll be speaking with Brooke Shields but the latest episode is Rosie speaking with Dylan Mulvaney.

As Trina noted last night, until last week she hadn't heard of Dylan, " Now I can't escape news of her.  That makes me very sad because that means a lot of people are aiming a lot of hate at her.  She's a young woman.  She doesn't need this sort of grief.  She was very gracious and graceful in her interview with Rosie O'Donnell above.  (And Rosie did a great job interviewing her.)"

We're lucky to have Rosie back and we need her.  John Stauber, Glenn Greenwald and others who were supposedly 'friends' of the left now find the greatest delight in trashing transgendered people.  Jonathan Turley weeps for every right-winger who gets booed while speaking and claims it's a violation of free speech yet when the LGBTQ+ community has their rights to freedom of expression clearly violated, Swirley doesn't say a damn thing.  Oh, wait, he did make it known how distasteful he finds drag queens.  Thanks for that, Swirley.  

Out Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has announced she is running for reelection to a third term in Congress.

In a statement, Baldwin said she’s “committed to making sure that working people, not just the big corporations and ultra-wealthy, have a fighter on their side. With so much at stake, from families struggling with rising costs to a ban on reproductive freedom, Wisconsinites need someone who can fight and win.”

Baldwin also tweeted out the announcement, saying, “Wisconsin’s working families deserve a Senator who’s going to fight for them—not a shady special interests or big corporations. We’ve made a lot of progress, but the stakes have never been higher and our work isn’t over yet.”

Baldwin made history in 2012 when she became the first out gay senator in the nation and the first woman senator from Wisconsin. At the time, she declared, “I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

In 2018, she won her first reelection bid against a Trump-endorsed, anti-LGBTQ+ opponent. 

Is that what's upset the great Glennyth Greenwald so much?  That Tammy won in 2018 over his boy Donald's preferred candidate?  As Marcia noted, Glenneth made tie to knock Tammy.  No one in the Senate worked harder to codify marriage equality last year than Tammy.  He's a self-loathing hate merchant.  

We're going to wind down with this from Restore The Fourth:


Restore the Fourth Logo: Flag with black and red stripes and a blue square that says

Dear Friend,


The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, or S. 686 introduced by Senator Warner (D-VA) and Senator Thune (R-SD), is not a mere TikTok ban - it is a sweeping authorization for the Federal government to surveil U.S. person’s internet traffic. The RESTRICT Act empowers the Secretary of Commerce and Executive to block “transactions” and "covered holdings” of “foreign adversaries” that involve “information and communication technology products or services.” That's quite a broad and vague mandate.
The sponsors of the bill justify its purpose on the grounds that it prevents “undue or unacceptable risk” to national security, citing a need to defend “election integrity” and “protect critical infrastructure.” These vague foreign threats cannot distract us from what the RESTRICT Act really is: an all encompassing leviathan of anti-privacy legislation.
Restore the Fourth opposes the RESTRICT Act in its entirety. The legislation is a dangerous distraction from what is actually needed: comprehensive privacy legislation. We need you to communicate your opposition to this bill and urge your representatives to say NO to the RESTRICT Act.

The Issue Goes Beyond a TikTok Ban

The vague threats posed by foreign adversaries that are cited by the RESTRICT Act's sponsors do not justify such a sweeping dilution of First and Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. The RESTRICT Act’s broad mandate and undefined mitigation measures have the potential to criminalize the use of VPNS, heavily restrict cryptocurrency transactions, and impose heavy burdens onto everyday citizens for simply accessing an app. These violations would come with burdensome criminal and civil penalties. Serving up to 20 years in prison for accessing commonly-used technology is an extreme civil liberties violation.
The RESTRICT Act alters portions of U.S. law known as the Berman amendments, which limits the president’s authority to restrict the free flow of “informational material” from hostile countries. These protections were later expanded to extend First Amendment-type protections to foreign media and communications. Altering such an important and long-standing check on executive authority is a dangerous expansion of state surveillance powers.

We Need Comprehensive Privacy Legislation

There is no doubt that there needs to be restrictions placed on companies that collect our personal and private information for profit, including both foreign companies like TikTok and American companies like Meta and Google. But, a ban on TikTok only further entrenches the market share of Big Tech giants, which renders their mass data collection even more impenetrable to legislative action.
The RESTRICT Act is a poor substitute for what we really need: comprehensive privacy legislation. A good starting point is legislation we previously advocated for, the Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act, introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). While not a replacement for a comprehensive privacy bill, it begins the long overdue task of limiting government purchasing of your data from private brokers, and is a much more effective pathway to privacy protection than outright bans on ICT and harsh criminal penalties.

Consider supporting the work we do by making a donation here.

The following sites updated: