Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mixed bag

Kat's "Kat's Korner: What does Barbra's RELEASE ME 2 tell us?" went up Monday night.  Hope you read it.  Does Barbra Streisand have the fabled judgment she's always been credited with?  Check out the review for Kat's take.  

I also hope you read Jonathan Turley's latest on the tech monsters and their latest bit of censorship:

I have previously and repeatedly said that I believe people should be vaccinated. I and my family are vaccinated. However, I will not accept arguments that my public health concerns should negate the free speech rights of others, including Sen. Paul. I also do not accept that these corporations should hold such a strangle hold over public debate.

The rise of corporate censors has combined with a heavily pro-Biden media to create the fear of a de facto state media that controls information due to a shared ideology rather than state coercion.  That concern has been magnified by demands from Democratic leaders for increased censorship, including censoring political speech, and now word that the Biden Administration has routinely been flagging material to be censored by Facebook.

Ava and C.I.'s "Media: The problem with Jimmy Dore?" finally went up.  They wrote it Sunday.  I think we're all tired of the long delays with regrds to THIRD.  Sorry, just speaking my bit of truth.  Maybe I just need to take a week off from helping out on THIRD?

In terms of music, listening to most of my usual favorites with one exception.  C.I. was listening to Nick Drake Sunday night.  I went to go talk to her and she was listening and I hadn't heard Nick Drake in yests.  AMAZON has a digital 'boxed set' that I've been streaming ever since.  I'd honsetly forgotten how good he was.  

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Wednesday, August 11, 2021.  Once again, the US government looks the other way at torture to endorse an incumbent, another political assassination takes place in Iraq, Mustafa uses a suspect as a campaign prop in a photo-op, Nouri wants back in the game, and much more.

Daily violence is a fact of life in occupied Iraq and has been since the start of the ongoing war.  XINHUA notes:

Six Iraqi security members were killed and 11 others wounded on Wednesday in a huge explosion in the province of Salahudin, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a provincial police source said.

The explosion took place in a truck carrying explosives and weapons found by the security forces in the west of the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Baghdad, Mohammed al-Bazi told Xinhua.

ALSUMARIA notes the death toll has risen to 9.    And you can't talk about the violence without including the violence carried out by the US-backed government against the Iraqi people.  We'll note these Tweets:

The authorities in #Iraq use torture methods such as severe beatings, electric shocks, suffocation with bags, and sexual violence to extract confessions or blackmail detainees for money. More:

The continuation of torture inside detention centers violates #Iraq's relevant domestic and international obligations, especially the Convention against Torture, which it ratified in 2008. More:

And we'll again note Louisa Loveluck's report earlier this month for THE WASHINGTON POST:

Iraqi authorities are routinely denying prisoners their rights from arrest through prosecution, according to the United Nations, leaving tens of thousands vulnerable to violence and other forms of abuse while in custody.

new report, released Tuesday by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, details a labyrinth of unfairness, with detainees often denied due process at every turn. Confessions frequently come through torture, it says. Few detainees see a lawyer until they appear in court. In some cases, they do not even know which authority is holding them.

Four years after the U.S.-backed defeat of the Islamic State group here, more than 40,000 inmates are packed in prisons across Iraq’s federal and Kurdish regions. Judicial records and court visits suggest that roughly half were arrested on terrorism charges, then tried in a system that affords little effort to weigh specific evidence against them.

The UN report would have come out in early July, as originally intended, but the White House felt it would embarrass President Joe Biden if it was released prior to his July 26th meeting with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, prime minister of Iraq.  US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield worked hard to delay the release of the report until after the meet-up took place. Creating violence, covering up violence, the US government is always part of the cycle of violence in Iraq.

That cycle includes the assassination of a politician this week.  THE SIASAT DAILY reports Abeer Salim al-Khafaji, the mayor of Karbala, was shot dead.  ARAB NEWS notes two city employees were also shot (no word on whether they survived or not) and they explain that "Al-Khafaji was killed by gunmen while supervising a municipal campaign accompanied by security forces to stop abuses in the Al-Mamlji area, Iraq News Agency reported."

Mustafa was always an attention whore but desperation -- he wants a second term -- has only made that worse.  An arrest was made and the suspect wasn't just arrested.  He was taken to Mustafa so he could be posed for photos.  AFP reports

 His office released photographs of him berating the suspected killer, who had been blindfolded by his police captors, during a visit to the crime scene.

The images did little to assuage public anger at the apparent impunity for politically linked crimes that has seen more than 70 activists targeted for assassination since October 2019.

"The weakness of the security forces goes hand in hand with the intimidation of society by the tribes, religion and the political parties," one Twitter user complained.

Another demanded that Kadhemi show the same energy in tracking down the killers of pro-reform activists.

The suspect has not been found guilty by a court of law but Mustafa can toss out the man's rights and use him as a prop in his campaign for a second term.  This is disgusting and this is who the US government is working overtime to deliver a second term to.  You'd think the US government would have learned to stay out of it.  But they haven't.  Even though Joe was Vice President in 2010 when Nouri al-Maliki lost the election and refused to step down -- for over eight months -- and the US decided to back Nouri.  Over the objections of many -- including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the top ranking US military member in Iraq General Ray Odierno.  Gates is well aware of how poorly Joe acted during this and that remains one of the big sources of friction between the two.

But Joe backed the plan to give Nouri a second term.  So they tossed out the votes of the Iraqi people with The Erbil Agreement and Nouri got that second term.  Barack and Joe lied to the Iraqi politicians -- we can go over that again at another time.  The point here is that we paid attention in real time -- unlike Paddy Cockburn and others.  And the e-mails never stop about how no one knew Nouri was torturing and no one knew this and blab blah the US wouldn't have backed Nouri if they knew blah blah blah.

Wrong.  Sorry you weren't paying attention in real time then.  But pay attention right now.  The UNited Nations has documented the torture the Iraqi government is carrying out.  The head of that government is Mustafa.  Elections are expected to take place in October.  And the US is backing Mustafa -- despite the torture.

It's happening all over again.  


If you're not noticing that, now it's on you.

And they're noting it on Arabic social media.  N o one's surprised because it's Joe ("Traitor Joe" is a popular term being used), the man who destroyed Iraq in 2010 who's back in charge.

Giving Nouri the second term did many awful things.  The two worst?  First off, it destroyed any trust the Iraqi people might have had in the election process which is why fewer an d fewer vote.  Second, Nouri's second term delivered ISIS to Iraq.  His actions were responsible for the rise of ISIS.  He was attacking the protesters -- after he'd attacked everyone else -- and then, suddenly, garbed men begin showing up with guns saying they would defend the protesters from Nouri.

Sorry if that doesn't fit the tidy little world you want to live in, but it is reality and those of us who paid atention on a day to day basis saw it happening.  In fact, we predicted the rise of ISIS before it came to be.  Not because I'm psychic but because the signs were there, if you studied poli sci even a little, you saw what was coming.  

Unless you were Joe.

Today?  ALSUMARIA reports thta despite Tahrir Square in Baghdad usually being bedecked with "programs, slogans" and posters for various political candidates and parties, right now it is "completely devoid" of campaign material.  Elections are supposed to take place in October.  But there's no excitement.  ALSUMARIA offers that anger on the street is aimed at the politicians and the political system that has failed repeatedly.  Promotional material for candidates is largely only showing up online.  In part, probably, because you can't decorate/deface/pull down a social media post as easily as you can a physical campaign poster. 



The countdown for the October 10 parliamentary elections began in Iraq amid the boycott of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Several blocs and coalitions have started their electoral campaigns, including the Rule of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Shiite parties have kicked off their campaigns, while Sunni and Kurdish coalitions have yet to start theirs despite the various meetings held between their leaders.

An independent Iraqi politician and former MP said it has become evident that Sadr will not retract his withdrawal.

“This has led to serious concerns among Shiites of impending inter-Shiite fighting even if a new government is formed after the elections,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He explained that with Sadr out of the equation, new balances of power within parliament may lead to tensions among the various parties that could escalate into fighting,

He noted that strenuous efforts were exerted to convince Sadr to change his position, but he has so far resisted them, prompting speculation over the motives behind the cleric’s stance.

Some sides believe that he has a plan that has yet to materialize that would see him not only have a say in the nomination of a new prime minister or claim ministerial portfolios for himself, but go beyond that, especially if the balance of power sways in favor of his great rival, the Fatah alliance or even Maliki, added the official.

It appears that Maliki is eyeing the position of prime minister in spite of his previous assertion that he no longer aspires for that seat.

Nouri wants to be prime minister again?  Shocking.  I would be shocked . . . if we hadn't been covering that for the last three months.  And we've also provided a reality that Moqtada coverage keeps ignoring -- Moqtada's political party is running in the election.  Moqtada's move is grandstanding and largely meaningless.  His party is still running for office.  His statement only refers to himself.

And, yes, Moqtada will emerge to do anything he can should Nouri get the post or look like he might.  Moqtada has not forgotten all of Nouri's past threats -- during Nouri's first term -- to execute the arrest warrant on Moqtada -- one that dates back to 2004.  

If you've read this site even in passing, you already know this but for any drive-bys, I am not endorsing Nouri al-Maliki.  First off, I'm not endorsing anyone.  I can't vote in that election so I have no business telling anyone else how to vote in it.  Secondly, Nouri is a thug.

But, as we've noted so many times over the last year, Mustafa has been so inept as prime minister that he's made some nostalgic for Nouri.

In other news, Human Rights Watch issued the following today:

The Iraqi army has unlawfully evicted dozens of families from a village north of Baghdad since July 2021 in an apparent family feud involving a government minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The 91 families from al-Aetha, a village in Salah al-Din governorate, were sent to a displacement camp without any of their possessions.

The families from al-Aetha had been forced out of their village years earlier during fighting between the government and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). Many had previously been forcibly evicted by local and security authorities from displacement camps and made to return to their village. Those displaced recently say they were evicted as part of a family feud involving a government minister, who is from the village, and his brother, who had married a woman also from the village with alleged past ties to an ISIS member. The authorities should immediately halt the evictions and punish all officials responsible for the abuse of their authority.

“For years Iraqi authorities have claimed they are moving communities into or out of camps for their own protection or best interests,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But the case of these villagers being ping-ponged between their village and displacement camps is yet again proof that these evictions are often about the authorities’ personal or political considerations rather than the well-being of those affected.”

Human Rights Watch has been documenting the forced evictions of families, including those with perceived affiliation with ISIS, for years. From August 1 to 5, Human Rights Watch interviewed seven al-Aetha residents in in Salah al-Din. They said that starting on July 14, Iraqi army units came to their village and evicted people by force with no prior notice and without providing any justification or presenting any lawful order. On August 10, Human Rights Watch spoke to a representative from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration who did not provide any justification for the evictions.  

The residents said the village had been home to 370 families – about 14,000 people – before ISIS took control in 2014. In November 2016, all of the remaining families fled as fighting increased in the area, with many settling in displacement camps. They said that in 2019, 330 families returned from displacement camps. In January 2021, the remaining 40 families returned after displacement camp authorities ordered them to return home, families interviewed said.

Villagers said that on July 14, about two dozen Iraqi army vehicles arrived in the village with a list of names and forced about 19 families out of their homes and onto flatbed trucks, including four of the people interviewed. The soldiers told the villagers they were taking them to the one displacement camp still open – in Nineveh, 15 kilometers north – but gave them no reason. Between July 31 and August 4, the army returned and took another 72 families to the camp, including two of the people interviewed.

One woman said that when the army evicted her family on July 14, a woman had tried to flee the village to avoid eviction but the soldiers stopped her: “I heard a soldier tell her that if her family didn’t come, they would arrest her husband.”

The villagers all said that the army did not allow them to take any of their possessions. The mother of six said she has no mattresses, blankets, or fans in the camp. One mother said she left her three children in the village with their uncle because she could not bring any possessions and would have nothing to make them comfortable.

The people interviewed said these new evictions had severely disrupted their lives. The mother of six said one of her sons refused to leave and fled to his grandmother’s house: “My mother told me that he is traumatized and is refusing to eat. He cries all day. My other two sons have missed their final secondary exams and are stuck here in the camp.”

Although about 270 families remain in the village, on July 12 the minister’s son said on Facebook that all of the families from the village will eventually be evicted. One woman interviewed who is still in the village she worries that they will come for her soon.

Three villagers said they believe that the evictions took place because of a familial feud. They said that in July the minister’s brother married a woman from the village who had formerly been married to an ISIS member. They said that village elders told them that the minister decided to retaliate against his brother by evicting the residents. One villager said that when he asked one of the soldiers why they were being evicted, the soldier said, “It’s because of some problem between you villagers and the minister.” The villager said: “We are being blamed for something we had no part in. We are powerless victims.”

One woman who identifies herself as a journalist on Facebook posted on July 14 that she was extending her appreciation to the minister  and the security forces for the rapid response after she had posted on July 9 about the marriage. She claimed that the minister had banned his brother from speaking to the media and from “interfering with the affairs of the displacement,” and has had all weapons and government vehicles in his possession confiscated. She also accused the villagers of being “sleeper cells and time bombs” but provided no evidence.

While some villagers had been forced to return to the village, a few said that their situation had improved after returning. One woman said she had not wanted to leave the camp at the time because she had felt safe there. But after several months in the village her situation improved; she found employment and was able to enroll her children in school. “My son was so happy we were home that he even asked me to delete all the photos we had taken inside the camp from my mobile phone,” she said.

The government has not provided any official justification for the evictions. On August 5, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sent his national security adviser to investigate, the villagers said. The adviser interviewed some of the evicted families. Two people, including one who attended the meeting, said that someone who did not clearly identify himself beyond saying he was speaking on behalf of the minister approached her in the camp before the meeting and told her not to mention the minister’s brother’s wedding.

The authorities should immediately contact all affected families and provide them with the support they need to decide whether they want to remain in the camp, return to al-Aetha, or resettle elsewhere and provide assistance with relocating. The authorities should provide protection from future unlawful evictions.

The prime minister should ensure that those in power do not unduly influence the investigation of the evictions and that all officials responsible for the unlawful evictions are held accountable. He should also open investigations into other wrongful evictions by the authorities since he took office in May 2020, leading to public findings on the reasons and commitments to take measures to prevent illegal evictions.

“The notion that a minister can on a whim and without justification kick hundreds of people out of their homes should shock the conscience,” Wille said. “These families have been suffering for years at the hands of a government that has endorsed and sometimes participated in a range of collective punishment measures against them.”

The following sites updated:


    Monday, August 09, 2021

    Joe Biden acted unconstitutionally

    Jonathan Turley:

    During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden told voters that the choice between him and Donald Trump was between the lawful and the lawless. He called for voters to support “the rule of law, our Constitution,” a choice repeated mantralike by the media to “end Trump’s assault on the rule of law.” Now, six months into his presidency, Biden is openly flouting the Constitution with a knowingly invalid extension of the eviction moratorium — and some law professors and advocates on the left are cheering him for it.

    A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled on the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to impose a nationwide moratorium on the eviction of renters during the pandemic. Some of us criticized the CDC order as unconstitutional. The reason is the breathtaking authority claimed by the CDC under a federal law that gives it the power to “make and enforce such regulations as in [its] judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.”

    I have long been a critic of such unchecked and undefined authority in pandemics. This, however, is a particularly chilling example. It would give the CDC authority over huge swaths of our economy to avoid even the possibility of the “introduction” or spread of a disease. It means that a Constitution designed to prevent tyranny and authoritarianism becomes largely irrelevant if you put on a white lab coat. After all, the law was designed to control disease, not democracy, as a public health priority.

    In its 5-4 decision in Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, the Supreme Court kept the CDC moratorium in place but left no question that a majority of justices ultimately view the CDC order as unconstitutional. On the minority side of the vote, Justices Clarence ThomasSamuel AlitoNeil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett wanted to suspend the eviction moratorium as unconstitutional. Yet the CDC’s original order was about to expire anyway, so — in a somewhat baffling concurrence — Justice Brett Kavanaugh supplied the fifth vote in favor of the CDC to allow the law to simply expire and thereby enable an “additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance.” Thus, Kavanaugh voted with the majority in this case — but also indicated that he agreed with his conservative colleagues on the larger point that the CDC never had the authority to issue the nationwide eviction moratorium in the first place without a congressional act.

    Biden acknowledged the obvious — that any new order to extend the moratorium would be unconstitutional. Indeed, he admitted that legal experts overwhelmingly told him so: “The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.” Yet he added that he was able to find “several key scholars who think that it may and it’s worth the effort.” 

    Look, I support a moratorium on evictions.  But that's something Congress needs to do.  Joe Biden took an oath to uphold the Constitution and he's done something unconstitutional.  I'm not calling for impeachment.  I'm honestly glad he did something.

    But it was unconstitutional and shame on the Democrats in Congress for putting him in the position where he had to do something because they failed to do their job.

    Not a Joe Biden fan here but I'm not going to condemn him over this.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

     Monday, August 9, 2021.  Barack Obama is a super spreader and, for a change, we aren't talking about his legs, Iraq continues to suffer electricity issues during the midst of an exceedingly hot summer, Joe Biden's word tricks have misled a Shi'ite militia in Iraq who is promising violence if Joe's words do not bear out, and much more.

    Starting with Glenn Greenwald:

    A NYT reporter on CNN justifying Obama's huge maskless birthday bash because he only invited "a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd" is about as emblematic of liberal discourse as it gets. What happened to all the concerns about vaccinated people passing Delta to the unvaccinated?

    Annie Karni embarrasses herself by insisting it was "a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd."

    Either we are taking measures or we are not. The US needs higher rates of COVID 19 vaccinations per the current administration.  

    For Princess Barack -- the original Princess Tiny Meat -- to occupy Martha's Vineyard for his maskless birthday party is outrageous.   How dare he put the workers on Martha's Vineyard at risk.  We do get that, right?  That most who own property (including me) do not live there.  We visit, usually in the summer.  But the island isn't empty.  There are workers who make it their life.  And the people of Martha's Vineyard have done a very good job of following the government's ever-changing recommendations and getting vaccinated.  It is outrageous for this group of entitled elites to go to this island -- to descend upon it like a plague of locust -- and put them at risk.

    Barack is not of Martha's Vineyard and never will be.  The residents do not like him -- you have to be willing to mingle and to spend to be liked by the residents.  Otherwise, you're not helping their community.  

    Princess held a large event that shouldn't have been held anywhere but how typical of Princess Barack to risk the lives of the working class -- that is the bulk of the year-round inhabitants of Martha's Vineyard.  It is outrageous.  It is perfectly in keeping with his grand ego but (a) it wasn't safe and (b) it shouldn't have taken place.

    Don't whine -- US media -- about people not masking up in a grocery store or wherever while you're applauding this outrageous -- and excessive -- event.

    In the midst of a pandemic, a former so-called public servant holds that outrageous event?

    Oh look, there's Erykah Badu embarrassing herself as part of the party.

    Erykah's used to embarrassing herself, right?  Didn't think I'd tell this story, Erykah?  Oh, how wrong you were.

    What does Erykah really think about the government?

    She thinks that the people wo work for the government are to be screamed and screeched at.  She thinks they are to bend to her will and hop in a time traveling machine to meet her demands.

    Erykah loves to live large . . . but on the cheap.  See, she really doesn't have a lot of money.  That's how she ended up purchasing a grand but dilapidated mansion in Oak Cliff in a notorious run-down, drug infested neighborhood.  She paid pennies on the dollar because no one, driving by the home was interested in it -- unless they had a shotgun aimed out the car window.

    This run down home was decades old.  But Erykah goes on to terrorize the city workers.  Where are the original building plans!  She laughs about how they get red faced at her tantrum and start talking about how Oak Cliff wasn't always part of Dallas and when it was incorporated   Not good enough for Bitch Erykah who throws a screaming fit.

    She then finally has plans drawn up -- for a remodel.  And starts the process of taking out permits.  But she doesn't finish the process -- which, ys, would include paying the fees.  After several months, the city tosses the plans.  As they do on all residential projects.  Erykah now has a holy fit because she finally scrapped up enough change to be able to pay the fees and schedule the inspections.

    She brags about how she shouted and bullied and screamed to get her way.

    That's Erykah Badu.

    And reality, the only thing above she's really going to be offended about me repeating?  The reality that she doesn't have money.  "Tyrone" is years ago.  And though it was an "airplay" hit, it really didn't sale.  And she hasn't done an album in over ten years.  Glad she gathered enough scratch to fly to Martha's Vineyard but don't loan her money, she's not good for it.  She still, over a decade later, hasn't finished the 'improvements' to that dilapidated place she calls "home."

    I could do this all day long, by the way.  Go through each of the guests at Barack's party and tell you some truths about them.  I went with Erykah because she was the first one I saw and also because she borrowed several thousand dollars from a mutual friend only three months ago (a record producer) and still hasn't paid him back.  Again, don't loan her money -- she has none to pay you back with.  The gravy train dried up for her.  Which is probably why she wore that old outfit that we'd all seen her in before about twenty to thirty times over.

    Life is hard, Erykah -- especially when you try to pass for the elite and you're only keeping your head above water with personal loans.

    We could talk about, for example, Bruce Springsteen who explained to me that he had to go back on Broadway because his albums no longer sale and, in today's streaming and radio market, he really doesn't get 'plays' because he's over 60 and his core audience apparently abandoned music for talk.  His label has already made clear that with every album stiffing of late, there will be concessions when they discuss the next contract -- concessions on his part.  He long ago stopped being Bruce Of The People and to live the high life that he and Patty now expect, he's got to go on Broadway where a bunch of out of touch people think they'll look cool seeing a washed up 71-year-old musician.

    Again, I could do this all day.  I could tell you about the actor whose marriage is over but they keep it up for appearances and also because the only thing worse than only have X amount of dollars would be having to split X amount of dollars in a divorce settlement.  So she continues to see her singer-songwriter lover every Tuesday and Thursday and he amuses himself on those days and others with hired escorts.

    What a crowd that flocks to Barack -- the depressed, deprived and depraved.

    And then there's Barack himself.  He depends on others whoring.  His book didn't sell.  Not enough to justify that outlandish advance.  And his other big deal, the one with NETFLIX?  Well the Barack-ers NETFLIX installed are not working out.  Some like Channing have already been fired -- others soon will be.  And Barack himself is a liability.  The US market is saturated with NETFLIX subscribers.  They're dependent upon foreign markets.  What they didn't stop to consider was partnering up with Barack doesn't endear them overseas where people are much more likely to note that he murdered thousands with his drone war, that he never ended any wars, that he was a tool of corporatists and that he delivered nothing for the people.

    By the way, with all his money, he better not have stuck the American people with the security price tag for that outrageous birthday party.  Seriously, the American people have a right to know (a) whether we had to pay for that event that shouldn't have taken place and (b) how much it is costing us.

    It's easy for Barack to live large on our dime but it's neither fair nor ethical.


    Funniest part of the party?  That Trap Beckham -- if you don't know him, you're not missing anything -- performed his awful "Birthday Bitch" at the party.  

    Sample lyric:

    I'm trying to get you to the birthday bed
    You can even get the birthday head
    That's what you call birthday sex
    You don't need no love from ya birthday ex

    Trap, did you tap?  You get you some of that Princess Barack coochie?  Oh, don't tell.  It's better that we all wonder.

    Doesn't appear he scaled his 'super spreader' party back much at all.

    How outrageous.  What a poor example he continues to be.  And sympathies to the residents of Martha's Vineyard, the people who actually live there, that their health is now at risk because of Barack's preening ego and his idiotic guests.

    This morning, Morgan Chalfant and Amie Parnes (THE HILL) report:  "The White House is grappling with a resurgence of coronavirus cases that Democrats see as a real political threat given the central role getting the pandemic under control plays for President Biden. "  And there's supporter Barack hosting his super spreader event.  Think of how that played to the country.  Or around the world?  In Iraq, which the CIA estimates has a population of 40 million (no census has been done in Iraq in decades), only 5% of the people have been vaccinated.

    But, hey, Princess got her big birthday party and isn't that all that matters . . . to Barack?

    As I dictate this snapshot, the temperature in Baghdad is 113 degrees F.  This in a country that does not have dependable electricity, where the residents have to rely -- if they're lucky enough -- on generators.  The government fails them and does so as the out of date electrical grid is also being attacked.  AHRAM ONLINE reports:

    A power transmission line in Iraq's Nineveh has been stopped due to a sabotage act, INA reported Monday.

    A statement by the General Company for Northern Electricity Transmission stated that the line east of Mosul - Mosul Dam with a voltage of 400 kV was stopped due to an act of sabotage, by detonating the tower numbered (23) type (XYB) with IED; which led to its fall and a cut in the wires in Salamiyah area near the village of Al-Kasr, Nineveh province.

    HAARETZ Tweets:

    Experts are warning of a "severe medium-term existential crisis" in Iraq as government corruption, neglect, heat waves and a resurgent ISIS leave Baghdad with too many challenges all at once

    And we'll note this Tweet from Ameera Baadia:

    #Iraq has urged #Syria to increase water releases to compensate for a lack of rain and scorching heat, which have resulted in a revenue shortage.

    At MIDDLE EAST MONITOR, Haifa Zangana offers:

    Despite spending more than $50 billion since 2003 in Iraq, official Iraqi, British and American statements, as well as specialised reports, justify power outages by citing technical reasons, some of which date back to the 1990s. They also cite the destruction inflicted on the country after the US-British invasion, followed by the emergence of Daesh. The increase in population, air conditioning, a rise in consumption and the non-payment of electricity and gas bills are also given as reasons for power cuts. These point to a deteriorating political and economic reality, at all levels, that requires immediate and strategic solutions to ensure the preservation of the life and dignity of Iraqi citizens rather than blaming them. This will not be achieved unless there is independent political action on the part of the government in Baghdad, which in turn requires Iraq to have control over its own sovereignty and be free of corruption.

    The latter is a major factor in the lack of projects being implemented in Iraq. Fraud is commonplace in government contracts with external parties on the one hand, and the generator mafia at a local level on the other. This mafia controls everything related to electricity, including its price and distribution; politicians and militias alike have stakes in it. As a result, the rate of meeting per capita electricity needs in Iraq is still one of the lowest in the Middle East.

    As for foreign contracts, a recent Chatham House report — "Politically sanctioned corruption and barriers to reform in Iraq" — provides examples of fraud in government contracts by using shell companies. One of these is the contract signed by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity with the British company Power Engines to build 29 power stations in the city of Nasiriyah, in southern Iraq. The government paid a total of $21 million only to find that the company was fraudulent. Nobody was dismissed or punished for this, and nor was legal action taken. Another official document revealed a loss of $8 million from the General Directorate of North Energy Production.

    Anyone watching the television interviews of Iraqi politicians will find that accusations of corruption related to foreign contracts pass without question or accountability. The lack of accountability for corrupt Iraqis is not limited to those within their country; it extends to the US and Britain if the official involved holds dual nationality or a residency permit.

    As we wind down, let's turn to the non-withdrawal.  US President Joe Biden is not withdrawing troops from Iraq.  He's pretending to.  He's changing their label but they will remain in Iraq.  His stunts aren't appealing in the US.  They also do not play well overseas.  His words were taken at face value by some who don't speak English.  Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

    The recent agreement between the US and Iraq to withdraw American combat troops is insufficient, the spokesperson of an Iran-backed militia group told Rudaw, promising an “appropriate response” should all US forces not withdraw. 

    “The talks that took place between Baghdad and Washington, and the outcomes they produced, did not achieve the Iraqi ambition, which is the exit of all US forces,” Sheikh Kadhim al-Fartousi, spokesperson for Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, a militia part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) told Rudaw on Sunday.

    “Changing clothes and appearance is not a withdrawal … the US and foreign forces withdrawal from Iraq has to be in full,” Fartousi said, adding that if that is not achieved there will be an “appropriate response.”

    US President Joe Biden received Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi late last month, and announced that the US combat mission in Iraq will be over by the end of the year. “The delegations decided, following recent technical talks, that the security relationship will fully transition to a training, advising, assisting, and intelligence-sharing role, and that there will be no U.S. forces with a combat role in Iraq by December 31, 2021,” read a joint statement.

    There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq, including in the Kurdistan Region. As the US formally shifts to an advisory role, it is not immediately clear if this will change the number of American soldiers in the country.

    Uh, thanks, Joe Biden?  He's created this situation with his own lies.

    The following sites updated: