Thursday, March 26, 2020

Are you smarter than INDIEWIRE?

You probably are.  Read the following from INDIEWIRE and see if you can note the most important point -- a point they leave out:

At this point, nearly all 2020 wide-release films — as well as key specialized titles — are either available for home viewing, or soon will be. And the initial impact is dramatic. Based on the charts at iTunes and Amazon Prime, which are updated daily, premium sales (largely priced at $19.99) are flying high.
Both charts show strong performances for Vin Diesel’s sci-fi cyborg revenge actioner “Bloodshot” (Sony) and for Pixar’s “Onward” (Disney); at iTunes, initial results also are strong for “Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros.).
All of this must come with a caveat: Unlike theater box-office revenue, which is verifiable and comes from independent sources, these charts are created without oversight. However, assuming that they accurately reflect consumer choices, they give a sense of what the shelter-in-place public is willing to pay for.

Catch it?

"Largely priced at $19.99"?

The three hits mentioned -- BLOODSHOT, ONWARD and BIRDS OF PREY -- are priced at $19.99 for purchase.

On the iTunes and AMAZON top ten charts?  You won't find THE INVISIBLE MAN, EMMA or THE HUNT.  All three are UNIVERSAL films and all three rent -- RENT! -- for $19.99.

Talk about price gouging.

And the American people say, F-U UNIVERSAL.

None of UNIVERSAL's overpriced films make the top ten of either company's list.

Good.

The greed of UNIVERSAL is appalling.  The rejection by the people is the story.

Here's something else not to miss:



 Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, March 26, 2020.  When does the corporate press plan to address the economic anxiety facing so many Americans over the coronavirus, Joe Biden doesn't want anymore debates, a woman steps forward to detail what she says was an assault by Joe, Iraq still has no new prime minister, and much more.


Am I missing the great reporting being done right now about workers?  I'm not seeing it.  Big media or small media, corporate media or allegedly independent media, I'm not seeing it.  In the best of times, it usually falls down to just David Bacon covering workers.

These aren't the best of times.  Who's reporting on the tragedies right now?  Am I missing it?

I'm going through the e-mails this morning and it's one heartbreak after another.

One man is thinking of killing himself.  He's responsible for a family member in assisted living.  His job keeps slashing his hours.  He's not going to be able to afford the bills but he thinks if he kills himself the life policy might pay off.  It most likely won't.

The only person who is speaking about the anxiety level right now on the national stage is Bernie Sanders.  No one else appears get it.  Certainly not self-involved celebrities who think the worst crime in the world is boredom -- their own.  That they're bored right now -- as a 40-something hospital worker is found dead of coronvirus with her four-year-old child next to her -- goes to just how shallow, pathetic and unneeded they are.

Yesterday, we noted the health clinic workers whose hours were being slashed to 20 a week.  A number of e-mails came in from people who could relate because the same had happened to them.  Where in Congress proposed stimulus crap is there anything about "You can't be dropped from your insurance"?  Because I've gone through about 30 e-mails this morning where people have been reduced to 31 or less hours of work a week.  If you go under 32, you aren't full time and you can lose your insurance.

Where are these stories in the press?

Where is the sense of urgency?

Now I'm calling out Nancy Pelosi near daily but she is exactly right not to rush to back up the current b.s. put together by the Senate.  In what world do Americans in a crisis 'deserve' only a one-time payment of $1,200?  And that payment is estimated to arrive no sooner than May 6th if the package passed both Houses and was signed by the President today.

Every American should be getting $2,000 a month throughout the pandemic.  But Bernie and the squad are the only ones who seem to get that.

Here is the crap -- the useless crap -- that passes for 'dialouge' and 'discussion' instead.  From MSNBC trying to force Senator Elizabeth Warren to embrace corporatism:

Stephanie Ruhle: I want to bring in Massachusetts Democratic senator and former presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator, thank you for joining me this morning. Before we get into the bill, what we are asking every individual and company to do right now because of the health crisis is shut down temporarily, but we still have bills to pay. Every one of us. Do you support the idea of putting all of it on hold for two months, meaning no one owes anything, sort of a national economic holiday, the government takes over?

Elizabeth Warren: So, look, I think that is one approach that we can use. Another approach we can use right now that's in the bill that's pending in the Senate is to put cash into the hands of the American people. There are a lot of different approaches we could use here to be able to relieve the suffering that people are feeling, but we've got to move, and we've got to move quickly on behalf of the American people. And playing political games like Mitch McConnell was doing on the floor last night is simply not helping on that.

SR: But Senator, if you're just sending cash to every American, that certainly helps cushion the blow for the time being, but as I mentioned before, we're about to face a wave of bankruptcies for businesses big and small. If we just pay people for a couple of months and businesses are no longer in existence, they won't even have a job to go back to.

EW: Of course, and that's the reason that we need to make sure that there's help both to businesses and to individuals, but in both cases, notice where you focus this, Stephanie, is making sure that the help is making it down to the level of the individual worker. So for example, part of what we're proposing is cancel student loan debt. That will mean for tens of millions of people, they just got more money in their pockets. That's one bill they won't have to worry about. Also increasing Social Security and disability payments by $200 a month, doing it every month for the next two years. That's additional income that seniors can rely on. Having an unemployment system that is now expanded and covers gig workers and part-time workers and gives them a higher Social Security payment, that makes sure that we're directing money to people who are out of work and getting it straight into their pockets. And, the money that goes to big corporations is to say that's fine. We're willing to help the big corporations understand this is a time of crisis, but there are going to be some strings on that money to make sure it's not just used to pay executive salaries and payouts to shareholders and that that money goes right down to supporting people's paychecks. What we're looking for here is to make sure that whatever taxpayer dollars go in, they're there not to help the tree tops, but to help the grass roots.

I never understand why physically ugly people get hired for TV.  Who wants to watch Stephanie?  Clearly, no one -- as evidenced by the ratings.  But she serves her corporate masters and always has so her ugly, pinched face goes out over the airwaves.


From Hamilton Nolan's piece at IN THESE TIMES:

“We must reopen the economy,” you say. “It is vital that we send people back to work,” you say. Well, it sounds important. By all means—you first.
The cure must not be worse than the problem, the president says. It is important that we not disincentive work, right-wing economists say. Keeping things closed could devastate the economy, business leaders say. These things are a tradeoff, you see. Yes, some people will die if we put everyone back to work sooner than the health experts say. But these things are inevitable. And the economic damage could be awful if we don’t.
Okay. All of you line up, to report to work.
Lloyd Blankfein, the reasonable cheerleader for restarting commerce, you can be a doorman, throwing open the doors of your Manhattan office building for all the bankers to return to their desks. The doorman, who prefers not to die, can be the CEO of Goldman Sachs. That office is sufficiently large for social distancing, I’m sure.
Art Laffer, the discredited economist, can be a waiter in a crowded restaurant. A waiter, who prefers not to die, can become an economist. No waiter could be a worse economist than Art Laffer, anyhow.
Let the lieutenant governor of Texas, raring to sacrifice himself on the altar of the free market, become a grocery store worker. Let the CNBC pundits become retail cashiers. Let the Washington corporate lobbyists beating the drum for restarting production become warehouse workers. And let the regular people who work in crowded restaurants and crowded stores and crowded warehouses and crowded factories take jobs in statehouses, and on cable TV, and at think tanks. It is only fair that the bold leaders urging us all to be brave enough to disregard scientifically sound warnings of millions of deaths in order to prop back up American business be the first ones out there, in close proximity to the infectious public, getting coughed on as they enable each and every one of the transactions that will get money flowing again. That is what leadership is all about.

Besides, there will certainly be a number of job openings in politics and cable TV punditry and think tanks once all of those free marketeers go out into the workforce and promptly catch coronavirus.



Exactly.

Stephanie wants to try to shame Warren into accepting nonsense.

"But Senator, if you're just sending cash to every American, that certainly helps cushion the blow for the time being, but as I mentioned before, we're about to face a wave of bankruptcies for businesses big and small. If we just pay people for a couple of months and businesses are no longer in existence, they won't even have a job to go back to."

What Elizabeth Warren should have replied: "Hey, bitch, if we don't send cash to every American, they're not going to have a place to live in or food to put on the table.  Why don't you take the corporate stick out your ass, stop whoring, and start thinking about the people?"

That's what Elizabeth Warren should have said.

People like Stephanie should be booed in public.

This is class warfare that the Stephanies are carrying out and they're trying to pretend otherwise.  "I'm thinking of the economy!"  No, you're not.  If you're thinking of the economy, you're figuring out how to get money in the hands of the American people to keep the economy going.

When the pandemic is over and isolating is no more, I hope people boo Stephanie every time she goes somewhere to eat, I hope wait staff refuse to serve her.  She's is not helping the American people, she is only whoring for the corporations.  We look the other way on this reality and we reward her behavior.  She needs to be held accountable.

Speaking of accountable, Joe Biden wants to keep Hidin'.  After embarrassing himself repeatedly this week, over and over, trying to 'connect' with the voter -- as polls show him to be an iffy candidate, Joe declares we don't need anymore debates?

Really?  Our nation is in a pandemic?  How are you going to address it?

We need that April debate.  The debates have allowed Joe to lie and to ignore issues and to let his dentures come loose and dance around in his mouth and to have a blood vessel pop in his eyes and to tell racist stories about Corn Pop and others.  They haven't addressed leadership.  Joe has none.

We're in the midst of a pandemic.  Joe and Bernie have both had time to absorb that reality.  It's time for them to debate real issues and to do so before the American people.

While Joe flounders around trying to string together words into a coherent sentence, Bernie continues addressing reality.



That's last night.

Joe keeps getting protected by the corporate press.  Every woman who claimed any sort of assault or attempted assault by Donald Trump was paraded in front of the American people by the media.  But Joe's special, he has to be protected.  So the media continues to ignore Tara Reade.

Krystal Ball interviews Ryan Grimm below about his report yesterday for THE INTERCEPT.




How does Anita Hill get to work for TIMES UP and also get to be the woman who offered Harvey Weinstein advice on how to stop the press from reporting on his assaults?  The corruption runs so deep.  If TIMES UP had any self-respect at all, they would announce that they were no longer associated with Anita Dunn who, by the way, works for the Joe Biden campaign today.


Katie Halper interviews Tara Reade below.




Is Tara telling the truth?

I don't know.  I know that it's a serious charge and she's come forward so we should all be aware of what she's stating and we should decide for ourselves whether we find her believable or not. The only way that happens is if the press covers the story.


Women have been dehumanized by powerful politicians for decades.
Tara Reade,
had shared her 93’ sexual harassment by Joe Biden & when revealed turned away by Time’s Up.
 
I’ve had enough of this. #IBelieveTara  





To get legal help, Tara Reade reached out to Time’s Up, established in the wake of the #MeToo



movement to help survivors tell their stories. She was turned down.
#IBelieveTara





You cannot, morally, both believe Tara Reade and cast a vote for Joe Biden. Fortunately he’s not the nominee yet so there’s time to prevent having to make that choice.


He is not the nominee.  The press never wanted to vet Joe on his treatment of women.  When Lucy Flores came forward to share her story, the press pretended like Joe apologized (he did not) and then they never held him accountable for, days after the 'apology,' making a joke of it while speaking to a union.  He was also assisted by people like Alyssa Milano who rushed in to prop up Joe and speak for him.  Heaven forbid a man ever has to answer for his own behavior, right?  When not hiding behind women's skirts -- usually their wives -- they're dependent upon women like Alyssa to serve as their handmaidens.

And never forget the very telling moment in the debate where Elizabeth Warren was raising the very serious issue of Michael Bloomberg's workplace harassment and two women -- Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell -- shut down the discussion because they wanted to give lip service to the very 'important' issue of 'electability.'

Iraq is addressing the coronavirus.  AFP notes that the curfew in Iraq has been extended to April 11th.  Fadhel al-Nashmi (ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) reports:



Most Iraqis who have died from the coronavirus haven’t had traditional burials after many graveyards refused to receive their bodies.

Families of the victims are now facing a challenge of properly burying them amid the threat of being exposed to the virus and transmitting it to others.

The traditional graveyards, whether those designated for the Shiite community in Najaf or the Sunni sect in Diyala, do not allow for the burial of COVID-19 victims.

The Health Ministry has so far announced 30 deaths from the coronavirus. However, people are concerned that the virus could be transmitted through dead bodies.

Observers warn against the accumulation of bodies in hospitals in the event of a rise in the number of victims.

Malik Kadhim Ismail al-Shammari, 67, died from the disease six days ago, but his body remains in Ibn al-Qaf hospital because his family hasn’t been able to find a burial place. The family is appealing to the religious authority in Najaf and the Iraqi government to find a solution.

The coronavirus is also prompting withdrawals.  THE NATIONAL reports, "France will withdraw its contingent of troops from Iraq, mostly trainers to local armed forces, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the chief of staff said on Wednesday.  France has around 200 military personnel working in Iraq either as trainers or in the headquarters of coalition forces in Baghdad."  Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) adds:

With 26,000 confirmed cases in France, the military is being sought to do more to help with the pandemic, and that’s going to be more possible for them if they aren’t deploying troops across the world in other operations.

Iraq has made clear recently they wanted foreign troops out anyhow. France was only engaged in training there, and they have suspended that for the sake of getting the troops out of the country and back to France soon.



In other news, AP reports two rockets hit the Green Zone today.  As the Green Zone remains under attack, Iraq still hopes to have a prime minister soon.  Iraqi president Barham Salih announced Mohammed Allawi as prime minister-designate.  He wasn't able to put together a Cabinet and he announced that he was resigning as prime minister-designate.  As noted in March 17th snapshot, Salih has now named Adnan al-Zurufi prime minister-designate.  Nazli Tarzi (ARAB WEEKLY) offers this background on Adnan:


Since 2003, Zurfi, 54, has held various political posts. He entered the post-Saddam political arena as a Dawa Party-aligned parliamentarian before securing his candidacy as mayor of Najaf after vetting by Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator Paul Bremer.
Zurfi was Najaf mayor from 2004-05 and 2009-14. In the intervening years he secured a seat on Najaf’s Provincial Council and served in the Interior Ministry as an assistant.
No different than members of the governing political class, Zurfi was an ardent opponent of Saddam Hussein’s government, attending Iraqi opposition conferences, including one at the London Hilton, he revealed previously to Iraqi satellite network Alsumaria News.
Against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war, Zurfi joined the Dawa Party in 1983. He was sentenced to life in Abu Ghraib prison in 1988 for ties to militant groups. He escaped after the 1991 uprising aimed at ousting Saddam.
Fearing rearrest by regime forces, Zurfi fled to Saudi Arabia’s Rafha camp before migrating to the United States. In 1994, he settled in Chicago and later in Dearborn, Michigan. He then returned to Iraq to carve out his place in the new Iraq.
Zurfi’s opponents, largely pro-Iran cohorts and militias, cite his time in the United States and dual Iraqi-US citizenship in alleging Zurfi is an American agent. Not even Zurfi’s image as a Shia moderate who studied Islamic jurisprudence has blunted criticism against him.

Despite Zurfi’s intimate ties to parties and paramilitaries aligned with Iraq’s clerical establishment, he was categorically rejected by hardliners connected to Tehran. Factions that represent the self-prescribed Islamic Resistance pointed to Zurfi’s membership in former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Coalition, Al Nasr, as proof of his US leanings.

YENI SAFIK offers this on reaction among various groups to Adnan:


Even while welcoming the appointment, Kurdish and Sunni groups have remained cautious. Top Shiite leader Muqtada Sadr refused to comment but said the issue concerns only to the Iraqi people. In other words, Sadr called on Iran and the U.S. not to interfere in the process. He did not oppose Zurfi's candidature in principle. But it is worth considering that Sadr, whose political maneuvers are unpredictable and is known for switching sides, may have made a surprise choice.
Ammar al-Hakim -- cleric and politician who led the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, from 2009-2017 – also did not oppose Adnan Zurfi as a name. But he criticized the appointment process, questioning procedures and demanded consensus.
As for the former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is in the same political coalition as Zurfi, is one of the prominent players supporting the new prime minister.



The following sites updated:



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Congress has declared Class Warfare on us

Need a video to watch?



Watch Bernie.  We need $2,000 a month every month during the pandemic -- we each need that, every American.  They're bailing out the corporations and doing nothing for the people.

It's save the Banks all over again.

We're getting screwed.  This is Class Warfare and they're fighting it and pretending they're helping.  Congress is not helping.  Rescuing businesses and failing the American people is not helping.

I'm not someone who does politics in my blogging.  But we need to be paying attention to what happens.  That means me, that means you.  A year from now our 'sudden' realization that we got ripped off?  That's not helping anyone.

And let me be clear, I'm not taking sides.  The Dems in the Senate are as bad as the Republicans.

No one's rushing to join Bernie right now.  He's truth telling but no Dem in the Senate is rushing to join him.

They're too busy joining with the Republicans who are attacking the American people.

Billions to the corporations -- that's what they're giving.  But if you filed income tax this year, they'll give you a one-time payment of $1200.  Wow.

They're disgusting.  We need $2,000 a month every month while the pandemic is taking place.

Stop screwing over the people and start working for them.  Isn't that what Congress is supposed to do?  Work for us.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Wednesday, March 25, 2020.  The Congress continues to betray the American people, Joe Biden continues to stumble in public, Iraq suffers under the coronavirus and much more.

Starting int he US.  One time only payment of $1200 to adults.  That's what the Congress is offering.  That's the best b.s. they can come up with and this is after Nancy Pelosi finally drags her lazy ass back to Congress.


In 1987, a "rank-and-file" member of Congress earned $87,000.  Now?  $174,000.


US minimum wage in 1987?  $3.35 an hour.  Today?  $11.

They are making a minimum of $174,000 -- as Speaker, Nancy makes $223,500 and they can't work to provide for the American people.

When they think they themselves are in need, they vote themselves a raise.  That's how you go from $87,000 a year to $174,000 a year.

But it's screw the American people -- over and over again.

A community member for North Carolina asked me to note this:

I am a 'healthcare professional' - ha!  I am on the front desk of a clinic.  While others in contact with patients in this clinic -- doctors, nurses and techs -- wear masks and gloves, I wear nothing for protection.  All of us on the front desk are told that masks and gloves must be closely watched, that they don't have enough.  So we are left to fend against the coronavirus via prayer.

In our clinic, we use wristbands.  So every patient that comes in must get a wrist band that we put on, putting us further in contact with the patient.  There is no concern at all for our safety.  We take cash and credit cards and checks from these patients.  They are not six feet from us during this period.  They cough and they sneeze as we go through the screening process before they are allowed to go to the back.  

Again, our protection is prayer.  At THIRD, a piece quoted Senator Bernie Sanders talking about the "economic anxiety" that so many of us are feeling.  Thank you, always, Senator Sanders.  There's a reason I supported you last year for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and continue to support you now.  I am expected to smile and be welcoming while I am risking my own health and while I am scared to death of the future.








If I get coronavirus what happens to me?  Well, I can get workers comp -- provided the exposure was on the job and I can prove that.  How do I prove that?  Most are not being tested for coronavirus.  In other words, I have no workers comp available.  That's reality.  

Last week, while Joe Biden was hidin' and while Nancy Pelosi felt the need for some sort of vacation in the midst of a pandemic, poor over worked dear, I was informed that our clinic, to cut costs, is reducing the hours of those of us on the front desk to 24 hours a week.  I am a full time employee and now I'm only going to be getting paid for 24 hours?

Where is the $2,000 a month for every adult in America?  Senator Sanders is right that it is needed.  I am the mother of two young children (both under the age of eleven) and I'm at my wits end.  Every day, I worry that I will catch the virus because we are not protected in any way at the front desk.  Every day, I wonder how long my family can make it on me getting paid for only 24 hours a week.  Every day, I worry about the bills, the rent, the utilities, the medications . . . 

It is too much.  I go to bed crying and in the day time I just want to scream.

Why isn't the Congress helping us?

They're up for re-election.  The easiest way int he world to turn out the vote in 2020 would be to do something for the American people, to show real leadership. 

But that's not happening.

I can't hang on like this much longer.  I come home and my kids want to hug Mommy and I have to say, "Back, back."  Then I run to the bathroom and scrub down in the shower, get dressed and only then is Mommy able to touch the kids.

This is a scary time and Congress has not made it any less scary.  We, the American people, need assistance.  Members of Congress make a fortune every year.  And that is the money we pay them but they will do nothing to help us.  I am near the end of my rope.  










That's what real people are dealing with.  Real people are not Ellen DeGeneres whining that she's bored in her mansion.  Oh, boo, hoo.  Ruth's right that some of these celebrities just need to shut the hell up.












People are suffering, people are stressed and they are worried and the Congress is doing nothing.

A JACOBIN writer Tweets:

It appears that Bernie got his unemployment provision into the Senate Bill: 100% of salary for laid-off workers up to 75K/year, and benefits to include tipped and gig workers who are not usually covered.


If it happens, good.  But that's not helping the woman above.  She has not been fired.  She is seeing her 40 hour a week job slashed to 24 hours a week.  She's wording the working the way she does, by the way, because they are supposed to be at the desk, off the clock, for their lunch and if anyone comes in they are to deal with that patient during their off the clock lunch.

IN THESE TIMES offers an article by Josh Rivers.  Why?  The average reader is not going to understand and it's not written for a general publication.  They shouldn't have offered it.

It does not address the needs of the workers or anything else.

Reality: We have class warfare in America.  You saw it months ago when the 'country' was doing better and corporate hacks and whores told you Americans didn't deserve Medicare For All -- the kind of program that members of Congress get for life, by the way.  And now you're seeing the class warfare continue as the rulers tell We The People that they're not worth $2,000 a month.

That's the sort of story IN THESE TIMES needs to be telling.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden suffers one meltdown after another on TV yesterday.  He ended up cancelling his online press briefing and that's no surprise if you caught him on ABC or CNN.  He didn't know what he was talking about.  He couldn't stop coughing.  Jake Tapper pointed out that he's supposed to cough into his elbow and Joe insisted he was alone in the room -- he wasn't, at least one camera operator was present.


Bruce Haring (DEADLINE) covers Joe's appearance on THE VIEW:



Fresh off an online appearance in which he waved off his first point about the pandemic as his teleprompter allegedly malfunctioned, Biden came to The View seeking redemption. He appeared via satellite to reveal how he would handle the current coronavirus crisis.
He did offer one gem in response to Sara Haines’s question on whether businesses should reopen very soon. 
"Are you at all concerned, as Trump said, that we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself?” Haines asked.
Biden noted in his reply that the COVID-19 cure “will make the problem worse, no matter what.”
No one from The View followed up for a clarification. But social media didn’t let it go, seizing on it like a dog with a meaty bone.


Meanwhile, Ryan Grim (INTERCEPT) reports:

Last April, Tara Reade watched as a familiar conversation around her former boss, Joe Biden, and his relationship with personal space unfolded on the national stage. Nevada politician Lucy Flores alleged that Biden had inappropriately sniffed her hair and kissed the back of her head as she waited to go on stage at a rally in 2014. Biden, in a statement in response, said that “not once” in his career did he believe that he had acted inappropriately. But Flores’s allegation sounded accurate to Reade, she said, because Reade had experienced something very similar as a staffer in Biden’s Senate office years earlier.
After she saw an episode of the ABC show “The View,” in which most of the panelists stood up for Biden and attacked Flores as politically motivated, Reade decided that she had no choice but to come forward and support Flores. She gave an interview to a local reporter, describing several instances in which Biden had behaved similarly toward her, inappropriately touching her during her early-’90s tenure in his Senate office. In that first interview, she decided to tell a piece of the story, she said, that matched what had happened to Flores — plus, she had filed a contemporaneous complaint, and there were witnesses, so she considered the allegation bulletproof. The short article brought a wave of attention on her, along with accusations that she was doing the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So Reade went quiet.


Read on for how Times Up betrayed her.  And wonder how much Anita Dunn played into that.

Mike covered the latest polling which found Joe Biden   It wasn't good news for Joe.  From Monmout University:

Joe Biden holds a negligible 3 point lead over Donald Trump in the race for president, according to a national Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. The probable Democratic nominee has a larger edge, though, among voters in key swing counties across the country. The poll also finds that fewer voters say their financial situation is improving compared to a year ago, although most say it is stable for now.

 Biden has the support of 48% of registered voters and Trump has the support of 45% if the presidential election was today. Another 3% say they would vote for an independent candidate and 4% are undecided. Biden has an 89% to 6% advantage over Trump among Democratic voters, while Trump has a similar 90% to 7% lead among Republicans. Independents split 45% for Trump and 44% for Biden.


Joe should be killing it, that's what the media insisted, he was the choice.  He's not killing it.  He's not even winning tha tpoll.  The margin of error on it is +/- 3.5%.  That's why the call it "a neglibible 3 point lead."  It may not exist, it's in the margin of error.  So he's neck and neck with Donald Trump.  As those of us on the left watch and wonder what the rest of America is seeing from the White House, the reality is that they're seeing enough not to move towards Joe.

Joe should not be the candidate.  He is not up to the job.  And we know that right now.  Bernie does not need to drop out and if the DNC is so hellbent on refusing Bernie, they need to find someone other than Joe.  America can't afford that senile idiot.

Turning to Iraq, KURDISTAN 24 notes official numbers put out by the US government:

The Coalition, formally known as Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), “conducted a total of 18 strikes consisting of 48 engagements in Iraq and Syria” during February, the statement said.
“In Iraq, CJTF-OIR carried out 10 strikes against Da’esh targets,” the Coalition statement noted, using the Arabic acronym for the terrorist group. Those 10 strikes consisted of 38 engagements.
CJTF-OIR explained that a strike is “one or more kinetic engagements” in the same location “to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect in that location.”
“For example,” the CJTF-OIR statement continued, “a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone Da’esh vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of Da’esh-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use.”

The result of February’s strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq was, according to the CJTF-OIR statement, “16 enemies killed, two bed down locations and six defensive positions destroyed,” along with “eight caves closed.”

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the Iraq War continues.  KURDISTAN 24 notes, "The number of novel coronavirus cases across Iraq has risen to 323 and the death toll from the illness climbed to 27 on Tuesday as federal authorities announced the highest infections yet recorded in a single day." RUDAW adds that there have been 99 confirmed cases in the KRG and that at least two people have died.  This morning, Arhama Siddiqa (Pakistan's EXPRESS TRIBUNE) writes:

Though the October 2019 protests brought down the government, the appointed prime minister-designate, Muhammad Tariq Allawi, failed to win parliamentary approval to form a cabinet. On March 19, Iraqi President Barham Salih was forced to reappoint the former governor of Najaf, Adnan Zurfi, as the new Prime Minister-designate. March 19 also marked 17 years to the US invasion of Iraq. The sad reality is that in comparison to the US invasion of 2003, the stability of Iraq is at greater risk now. The country’s leadership has not been able to agree on a government despite months of protests against the ruling establishment.

In essence Iraq’s situation is one of political paralysis. Without doubt the rise and spread of al Qaeda and ISIS was challenging. However, these did not shake the Iraqi state’s core foundations the way the current accumulation of political crises has. The current crises have overwhelmed the current system to a breaking point, with a replacement nowhere in sight.
An examination of key demographic indicators shows why the common Iraqi is disenchanted with the prevailing system. Take education for example. Statistics from the World Bank show that under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, 74% of adult Iraqis were literate in the year 2000. Eighteen years down, this number has dramatically dropped to 50%.

Concurrently, the sudden drop in oil prices mainly due to the oil-price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, is threatening to propel an already faltering Iraq into an unparalleled crisis. Of Iraq’s revenue, 90% comes from oil and since almost half of the government’s spending is on public sector wages and pensions, a drop in oil prices means that the country cannot meet its wage scale.

Three main things help explain the grim state of affairs. The first is the US invasion in 2003 which caused power vacuums in the country. The second is the policymaking distribution in the post-invasion period. To this day, this is defined by an unwritten understanding among the ruling elites that commits them to ensure that no monopoly power prevails for the sake of protecting their interests. The third is the role of third party powerplay in Iraqi politics particularly the US and Iran. An accumulation of all three have resulted in a path dependent trajectory leading to a dysfunctional political system driven predominately by vested interests and corruption.


THE NEW ARAB adds:


Last week saw the seventeenth anniversary of the ill-fated US-led invasion of Iraq that led to the reported deaths of millions of Iraqis, the destruction of much of the country's infrastructure, and the establishment of an unstable democratic system.

Iraq's political system has been fraught with instability and has incubated almost two decades of corruption leading to several protest movements and the rise of violent Islamist militant groups, including many Shia militias who operate as part of the state security apparatus.

The Islamic State group was also born out of the sectarianism and violence that has been emblematic of the Iraqi political process since 2003, which has seen a succession of weak governments and a legislature divided along sectarian quotas.
 

Today's protest movement - ongoing since October of last year - has aimed to disrupt the cycle of corrupt political appointments, nepotism, and political actors who are beholden to both Iran and the United States.

With the appointment of the second prime minister-designate in as many months, Iraq is now facing an unprecedented political crisis that has been exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic.




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