“Come on, man,” seems to be President Biden’s signature response to any uncomfortable question. The phrase is meant to be both dismissive and conclusive in ending inquiries, frequently used to counter reporters before often walking away. Indeed, it is so often repeated that it appears on T-Shirts or coffee mugs and in remixes.
This week, however, it was not the pesky press but freedom itself that got hit with a version of the comeback. When asked during a CNN town hall program about those still objecting to taking COVID vaccines, Biden mocked them and their claimed rights with “Come on, ‘freedom.’ ” He then called for any police officers, firefighters, medical personnel or other first responders to be fired en masse if they refuse to be vaccinated.
Biden’s response to the question was applauded by the CNN audience, as if to say “Freedom Pfff, that is so last century.” And he reduced any vaccine refusals to claiming “I have the freedom to kill you with my COVID.”
He is not alone in such rhetoric. Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared that police officers refusing to take vaccines are insurrectionists.
The problem is that the courts already recognize some religious exemption arguments. Those arguments are based on both the constitutional protection of religious values but also laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(a), which declares unlawful any “employment practice for an employer … to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of such individual’s … religion.”
Joe Biden is senile.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Monday, October 25, 2021. Climate change in Iraq has the Ministry of Water Resources considering filing a complaint with the United Nations, while Moqtada dithers Nouri stays busy, a historical finding in northern Iraq emerges and Anthony Fauci is a dog killer who needs to be shown the door.
As conflict over water resources increases, RUDAW reports:
Iraq’s water ministry has suggested Baghdad file a case against Iran
with the International Court of Justice in order to guarantee its right
to shared water resources, state media reported Sunday.
“The Ministry of Water Resources submitted a memorandum and an official letter to the higher authorities in the Council of Ministers, the president’s office, the [parliament] speaker’s office, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to file a case at the international court in The Hague to establish Iraq’s water rights with neighbouring Iran,” technical advisor to the ministry Aoun Dhiab told state media.
Iraq is heavily dependent on water sources that are shared with neighbouring countries Iran and Turkey, which are both building dams on their rivers.
BBC NEWS notes that Iraq is one of the most climate sensitive spots on the earth.
Iraq is hit heavy by climate change. Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST via ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS) explain:
Dozens of farming villages are abandoned, but for an isolated family here and there. The intrusion of saltwater is poisoning lands that have been passed for generations from fathers to sons. The United Nations recently estimated that more than 100 square miles of farmland a year are being lost to desert.
Years of below-average rainfall have left Iraqi farmers more dependent than ever on the dwindling waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. But upstream, Turkey and Iran have dammed their own waterways in the past two years, further weakening the southern flow, so a salty current from the Persian Gulf now pushes northward and into Iraq’s rivers. The salt has reached as far as the northern edge of Basra, some 85 miles inland.
In the historic marshes, meanwhile, men are clinging to what remains of life as they knew it as their buffaloes die and their wives and children scatter across nearby cities, no longer able to stand the summer heat.
Temperatures in Iraq topped a record 125 degrees this summer with aid groups warning that drought was limiting access to food, water and electricity for 12 million people here and in neighboring Syria. With Iraq warming faster than much of the globe, this is a glimpse of the world’s future.
Climate change is impacting the entire world but Iraqis, as the BBC noted, a sensitive area. US intelligence has indetified it as one of 11 countries that will hit hardest by climate change. Last we noted this from ROYA NEWS:
Weeks before the COP26 Climate Conference, which will be held in Glasgow in early November, US intelligence said that "the geopolitical tension will worsen because there will be disagreements among countries over how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement."
The report, which includes a summary of the investigations of all US intelligence agencies, added that the melting of the ice in the Arctic "essentially increases strategic competition for access to its natural resources."
Elsewhere, with rising temperatures and more extreme weather extremes, "there is an increased risk of water conflicts and migration, especially after 2030," the report said.
The estimate identified 11 countries of particular concern: Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea and Pakistan. It also lists two regions of concern: Central Africa and small island states in the Pacific Ocean.
Strains on land and water could push countries further toward conflict. In South Asia, much of Pakistan relies on surface water from rivers originating in India. The two countries are nuclear-armed rivals that have fought several wars since their founding in 1947. On India's other side, about 10% of Bangladesh's 160 million people already live in coastal areas vulnerable to rising seas and saltwater intrusion.
Intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity under agency rules said climate change could indirectly affect counterterrorism by pushing people seeking food and shelter to violent groups.
The intelligence community needs more scientific expertise and to integrate climate change into its analysis of other countries, the officials said.
The United Nations says there may be as many as 200 million climate-displaced people worldwide by 2050.
Countries will increasingly compete to secure their own interests, including in places like the Arctic, where melting sea ice has fueled a race to access oil, gas and mineral resources and to establish new shipping routes.
While wealthier, more developed countries, including the U.S., are in a "relatively better position" to deal with the costs and risks associated with climate change, the report says that "impacts will be massive even if the worst human costs can be avoided."
The assessment says some unforeseen events could alter its projections, including a significant technological breakthrough or, conversely, a global climate disaster that would mobilize countries to take action.
The Atlantic Council notes the findings and speaks with their own Sherri GOodman as well as the Scowcroft Center's Barry Pavel and Peter Engelke:
- Most everyone understands the environmental threat of rising temperatures. But digging into the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on climate, among the other Biden administration reports, reveals “what we all are thinking but have not yet acted upon effectively,” Barry says.
- The big takeaway: “The boiling threat to the habitability of the planet represents both a central threat in and of itself, but also will spawn a multitude of new security challenges while exacerbating existing ones,” Barry tells us.
- What do those security challenges look like? The “scariest” takeaway “from a threat perspective is that parts of the planet will be uninhabitable from either heat or sea-level rise in the coming decades,” Sherri reveals, “and that many highly vulnerable parts of the world are ill-equipped to prepare for or manage this risk.”
- It’s enough for the American public to start thinking about the threat posed by climate change in a similar way to how we’ve thought about terrorism for the past two decades, Sherri explains. “Climate change, like terrorism after 9/11, is not just about the ‘away game,’ but also about the ‘home game,’ in the US,” she says. “And yes, like terrorism, we can’t eradicate it in just one location. We must have a global strategy with allies and partners. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ effort.”
- Peter opts for a different analogy for this “existential threat” to the United States: the Cold War, when “policy makers adopted a long-term mindset to design strategic whole-of-society responses to meet a generational challenge.”
Earlier this month, the United Nations Environment Program noted:
A new report, published ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) has called for a radical change in how governments plan, deliver and manage infrastructure - emphasising the often-overlooked role infrastructure plays in combating climate change, mitigation, and adaptation efforts. The new report, Infrastructure for climate action, is co-published by UNOPS, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Oxford.
The research looks in detail at the influence of infrastructure on climate action across energy, transport, water, solid waste, digital communications and buildings sectors. The findings highlight that infrastructure is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 88 per cent of all adaptation costs and therefore the sector is centrally important to achieving the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“As we seek to bridge the infrastructure gap and improve the quality of life of people everywhere, it is critical that we invest in sustainable infrastructure that adapts to future uncertain climate conditions; contributes to the decarbonization of the economy; protects biodiversity and minimizes pollution. Sustainable infrastructure is the only way we can ensure that people, nature and the environment thrive together” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
The report calls on governments to treat infrastructure as a priority sector for climate action. It also calls for unified planning to tackle emissions from infrastructure.
The authors argue that in order to tackle climate change, governments need to radically rethink how infrastructure is planned, delivered and managed in order to make it suitable for a low-emission and resilient future.
Speaking on the publication of the new report, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director, Grete Faremo said: “Our world is facing a climate emergency, with changes that are unprecedented, intensifying and, in some cases, irreversible. There is still time to act, but we need to do this urgently.
“This report highlights that radical changes to how we approach infrastructure are needed to stop the worst effects of climate change. It is ultimately crucial that we get this right as the infrastructure decisions made today will determine the quality of our common future.”
In other news, THE JERUSALEM POST serves up an opinion column by Seth J. Frantzman that they try to pass off as news reporting. It's condescending and distorting garbage that doesn't improve relations between Iraq and Israel but, in fact, gives Iraqis reasons to distrust Israeli outlets.
The vote was not fair to some of the parties objecting and for Seth to not acknowledge that makes him dishonest. How as it not fair? The militias are part of the security forces. I didn't support that move and I still say it was and remains a huge mistake, that's not the issue though. The issue is that they were shipped off to various polling places for election day. October 10th was when most of Iraq voted. October 7th was when the security forces voted. That was supposed to be all of them since they would be deployed to polling places around Iraq. But the electoral commission announced a week prior to the early vote that it would not include some militia groups. These militia groups who were excluded are among those unhappy with the results. They're right to be. They were taken out of their homes and home neighborhoods by the government to ensure security and safety at polling centers around the country. Yet that same government did not support their right to early voting Many of them were unable to vote on election day. That's what you call the disenfranchised.
I'm not fan of the militias. But I'm also not going to deny that they have a valid complaint. And to pretend that they don' thave a valid complaint or worse, Seth goes with worse, to ignore that complaint is to be dishonest.
He then goes on -- in what is presented as a news article (when it is an opinion column) -- to argue that people protesting the count -- specifically the militias -- could undermine the government.
The government's decision to strip large numbers of their right to vote doesn't concern Seth. But people protesting this move? That's what he objects to.
This column is filled with lies. Seth's better than that. However, I won't be able to convince Iraqi readers of that. And that's on Seth and no one else.
Equally true, there is a chance that what has taken place has created a powder keg. If it has and if it goes off, those who were dishonest ahead of it have removed themselves from the discussion because they've exposed themselves as dishonest brokers.
On the elections, now two weeks old, RUDAW notes:
However, the political system in Iraq is “fundamentally flawed,” according to researcher Farah Sabir.
“It’s the same faces [in Iraq] since 2003,” she said. “I say the protests will be back with stronger force if the political system behaves with this deficient mentality from 2003.”
IHEC last week announced the official preliminary results in the parliamentary election, following the manual count of polling stations that faced technical issues. It also gave parties the option to file complaints about the updated results.
The elections handed unexpected victories and devastating blows. Sadr’s movement is leading the election by a large margin, securing more than 70 seats, according to preliminary results, and is expected to be the main force in forming the new government once the results are finalized.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr claimed victory a day after the vote. Three days later, he formed a negotiating committee to hold talks with other parties in order to form a government. In a statement on Sunday, Sadr said they will work on building coalitions that are “national” and not “sectarian” in order to form a “serving government that will protect the homeland and its security, sovereignty, and dignity of its people.”
He appears to be looking to form a mixed government, gathering the strongest parties of Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis, but “Sadr will not form the government,” according to Abdullah.
“In Iraq, whoever has won the elections, didn’t form the government … someone else came and formed the government,” he said.
There's a great deal more reality in the paragraphs above than the western press has been providing in their own coverage. And did you catch this news:
Are you surprised Nouri's not just sitting on his ass in waiting? That's not his style. Moqtada is drifting around aimlessly and Nouri's plotting to steal the power from him. The two are bitter enemies. Does the western press not get that? They have hated each other for years.
Moqtada is a kingmaker?
He may become one. At present? He's not. He's part of a stalled system. And while Moqtada dithers and is unable to pull together an alliance, you better believe Nouri al-Maliki is working on putting together an alliance. Or did we all forget 2010?
Nouri's State of Law bloc came in second to Moqtada's bloc. Do we really think what happened in 2010 can't happen again? Or are we just ignorant of recent history? Or maybe we just discount Nouri's drive? If it's the latter, we're wrong to do so.
It's amazing how little attention is being given to Nouri. AL-MONITOR is one of the few outlets to emphasize the success Nouri had in this election:
In other news, NDTV reports:
Archaeologists in Iraq revealed Sunday their discovery of a large-scale wine factory from the rule of the Assyrian kings 2,700 years ago, along with stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs.
The stone bas-reliefs, showing kings praying to the gods, were cut into the walls of a nearly nine-kilometre-long (5.5-mile) irrigation canal at Faida in northern Iraq, the joint team of archaeologists from the Department of Antiquities in Dohuk and colleagues from Italy said.
The carvings, 12 panels measuring five metres (16 feet) wide and two metres tall, show gods, kings and sacred animals. They date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.
"There are other places with rock reliefs in Iraq, especially in Kurdistan, but none are so huge and monumental as this one," said Italian archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacossi.
THE DAILY SABAH notes, "The carvings, 12 panels measuring 5 meters (16 feet) wide and 2 meters tall, show gods, kings and sacred animals. They date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 B.C.) and his son Sennacherib." AFP quotes archaeologist Daniele Morand Bonacossi:
“The paintings depict the Assyrian monarch worshipping in front of the Assyrian gods,” he explained, saying that all seven major gods are depicted, including Ishtar, the goddess of love and battle, who is depicted riding atop a lion.
The irrigation canal was carved out of limestone to transport water from the hills to the fields of farmers, and the carvings were done to honor the king who ordered its creation.
“Not only was it a religious picture of prayer, but it was also a political moment, a sort of propaganda scene,” Morandi Bonacossi continued.
“In this way, the monarch intended to demonstrate the locals that he was the one who built these vast irrigation systems, so… the people should remember this and be faithful.”
Like the militias, my opinions on Anthony Fauci are on the record and well known. The White House wastes too much time each news cycle defending him which is always an indication that the person needs to go. Add in that he's been wrong too many times and we need to move beyond 2019 -- meaning Joe Biden, as president, needs to pick a new head and not carry over this embarrassment. Leighton Woodhouse (SUBSTACK) has an appalling report on Fauci:
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the division of the National Institutes of Health run by Anthony Fauci, funded a recent experiment in Tunisia in which lab technicians placed sedated beagles’ heads in mesh cages and allowed starved sand flies to feast on them alive. Then they repeated the test outdoors, with the beagles placed in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights, in an area of Tunisia where sand flies were abundant and ZVL, the disease caused by the parasite that the sand flies carry, was “endemic.”
The experiment was just one of countless tests done on animals with the funding of the NIH, and of NIAID in particular, over the course of decades. Estimates of the number of animals experimented on each year in the United States range from the tens of millions to over 100 million, most of them paid for with taxpayer money. The White Coat Waste Project, a non-profit that advocates against federal animal testing, says that more than 1,100 dogs are experimented on in federal labs annually.
For the amount of money and the amount of suffering entailed, little is produced. Much of it is pointless to begin with, but even the experiments that purport to measure the safety and efficacy of drugs are all but useless. In NIH’s own words:
Approximately 30 percent of promising medications have failed in human clinical trials because they are found to be toxic despite promising preclinical studies in animal models. About 60 percent of candidate drugs fail due to lack of efficacy.
That’s a 90 percent failure rate.
Most of that failure is due to the fundamental differences between human physiology and the physiologies of mice, or rabbits, or dogs. But even between animals with much closer physiologies, the predictive power of animal tests is unimpressive. Between mice and rats, there’s only a sixty percent chance you’ll get the same result. And when you repeat experiments on the same species, only 4 out of 5 times is the result the same — and closer to 2 out of 3 times with toxic substances.
And yet the tests continue unabated, for three reasons: institutional inertia, NIH Director Francis Collins, and Anthony Fauci.
Fauci is a dog killer. If nothing else makes the administration dump him, that should.
The following sites updated: