Thursday, December 5, 2019


The new Black Widow trailer?  I keep reading about it but I still haven't bothered to watch it.  Have you? I have read -- well, I've seen headlines about it.  I'm finally watching it right now on the TV on YOUTUBE.  

I don't think that my reluctance to even watch the trailer bodes well for the film.

The trailer is interesting.  It looks like it will be a good movie.

But I do think there is an exhaustion level setting in on super hero movies.  Especially when we're talking Black Widow.  It's like Elektra -- did anyone really need a movie about her?

It's not fair, I know, but when we see those two movies, many of us, if we're comic book fans, are ticking off in our heads all the female superheroes who still don't have films.  Like?  Spider-Woman, Black Canary, She-Hulk, Storm,  Batgirl, Huntress, Power Girl . . . 

Grasp that the superhero movie boom has been going on for almost 20 years now -- go back to the first X-Men film or Toby's first Spider-Man -- and yet we've only had three female super hero movies -- ELEKTRA, CAPTAIN MARVEL and WONDER WOMAN.  Three in about 20 years.  Think of the male films -- 3 THOR's, 7 Spider-Mans, 3 Iron Mans, 2 Hulks, 3 Batmans, 1 Batman versus Superman, a Green Lantern, a Green Hornet, 2 Dead Pools, 2 Supermans (Bryan Singer's is being counted), an Aquaman -- and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.  Captain America!  Two of those.    So that's 28 with a male lead and only 3 with a woman.  And it's probably higher.  I'm sure I'm forgetting some -- Daredevil!  29 with men, 3 with a woman.  

Black Widow's not really anyone the country's been dying for.  Batgirl?  Yes.  Storm?  Absolutely.  Scarlett's really the only reason the movie's being made.  She's more popular than Black Widow.  

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

Thursday, December 5, 2019.  Protests continue in Iraq and the protesters continue to be attacked while, in the US, Joe Biden appears to be making the case for why he shouldn't be president.

Starting in the US with the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Joe Biden campaign calls Donald Trump "a president the world is laughing at" in a new video

So two major points here.  First off, is that a bad thing?  Because if it is, maybe Joe and others need to take a look at themselves.  I really don't think it's the end of the world of an issue -- even if the claim is true.  But if Joe thinks it's important enough to make a Tweet about and a political ad about, apparently he feels this does great damage to the US?

If that's the case, then a lot of people need to be held accountable.  Those people would include the Senators like Tammy Duckworth who go around mocking and hissing with terms like "President Bonespurs."  If it's so damn important how the US president is seen around the world, then members of Congress who have spent the last years trashing Trump (and trashing the institution, yes, that is what they are doing), should be held accountable.

Again, I don't feel it's a big deal.  Clearly, Joe does.

Second major point, if a president who is a joke is so awful, is Joe announcing he's dropping out of the race?  This is the idiot who doesn't know where he's at and confuses New Hampshire with Vermont.  This is the fool who tells tales of Corn Pop.  This is the moron who said that African-Americans are failing their children by not using their record players (his term) enough.  This is the perverted stooge who got all glossy and waxy talking about letting children play with his leg hairs and bounce in his lap.

Biden claims he’s spent ‘a lot of time’ with Kim Jong-Un…Despite the fact that they’ve never met.
What in the world is wrong with Joe Biden? It’s one thing to make the occasional “gaffe” it’s quite another to be a senile old fool.

If Joe Biden doesn't believe laughingstocks should become president, he can help stop that by immediately dropping out of the race.

Joe had his groupies, in fairness, he has his groupies.  Like this idiot.

This is a solid ad and a great argument. This Republican is ready to vote for if he’s the eventual nominee.

Philip Paige wants the country to know that he's one Republican who could vote for Joe.  Guess what, we don't need him.

We're returning to the point we made last month.  There's no need to move to the center.  Has there ever been?  Probably not.  But this election cycle, there's no need at all.

Are the never-Trumpers like delicate Philip going to vote for Donald Trump?  No, they aren't.   Donald does have a base and it should not be underestimated.  He may win in 2020 -- especially if Democratic members of Congress continue their nonsense.  (They better pray that come December 31st of this year, Americans aren't asking one another: What did the Democratically controlled House do this year to try to reverse climate change?  They've done damn little in the House.)  But he also brings with him a lot of conservatives who will not vote for him (they love war and that's their beef with him).  So to win, you need a candidate who can energize the base of the Democratic Party and that's not a move to the center.  You need a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren who demonstrate that they can turn out crowds, energize crowds and really inspire.

People will get out and block walk for those two, they will get voters to the polls for those two, they will phone bank for those two.  Joe Biden?  Joe Biden's an argument for a long mid-day nap, nothing more.

At JACOBIN, Liza Featherstone observes:

Private equity, as an industry, has been responsible for massive wealth theft in recent years: that is, large-scale redistribution of wealth upward, from the working class to the ownership class. Whether through bankruptcies and job loss (famously at Toys “R” Us, for example), the looting of pensions, or increasing the ranks of the billionaire class, private equity is an enemy of the 99 percent and especially the working class.
The sector’s profiteers have money to spend to buy political influence, and they’d love to make a return on that investment. The good news is, some of their favorite candidates are tanking.

Bernie Sanders is running a solid second in most polls, with a message strongly opposed to the exploitation and inequality that private equity (PE) epitomizes. Not surprisingly, the industry flatly does not want either Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to be president, and its employees haven’t donated significant sums to either candidate. In fact, judging from their contributions, the industry — apart from the segment supporting Trump out of pure short-term id — is desperate to find candidates who can defeat the Left within the Democratic Party. PE doesn’t like the sound of wealth taxes, nor of redistributive programs like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or free college.

While these vampires do not like Bernie or Elizabeth, they love Joe Biden, Tiny Pete, Deval Patrick and other menaces to a free and fair society.

Turning to Iraq, some numbers.

After two months of protests in , 460 people have been killed and 17,000 injured according to the country’s High Commission for Human Rights. The Iraqi authorities have an obligation to protect its citizens and stop this bloodbath.

And the protests continue.

: Ongoing anti-government protests at Baghdad's Tahrir Square during afternoon hours (local time) of December 5; avoid nonessential travel

On the protests, Human Rights Watch issued the following yesterday:

Security forces across Iraq are using lethal force against protesters despite orders to stop, Human Rights Watch said today. The orders to stop using live ammunition were issued by Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, who resigned as prime minister on November 29, 2019, but remains in office in a caretaker status. The authorities should take urgent measures to stop security forces from using excessive force against protesters.
On December 1, Iraq’s parliament accepted Abd Al-Mahdi’s resignation, due to the ongoing demonstrations. The contrast between his statements and the continued rising death toll, particularly in southern cities, raises concerns that the government is incapable of reining in abusive forces, including groups formally under the prime minister’s control.
“The government needs to put a stop to the unlawful killing and to explain why it is unable to control its own forces,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The contrast between the government’s statements and what security forces are doing on the ground suggests that Iraq’s commander in chief is not in charge of his own forces.”
A spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on November 29 that by its count, at least 354 people had been killed and 8,104 injured since protests began on October 1, but that the actual total was most likely higher. In a November 28 statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned security forces’ use of live ammunition against demonstrators.
The most recent killings include at least 16 protesters in Najaf on November 28, and three more the next day. Security forces opened fire on mostly unarmed protesters at a Shia religious monument, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Hakeem shrine, and again after they burned down the Iranian Consulate in Najaf. An Iraqi journalist who was at the shrine told Human Rights Watch on November 29 that as about 300 protesters marched on Al-Hakeem shrine that day, forces protecting the shrine, most in civilian dress and some stationed on the roof, opened fire: “I have never seen anything like it, with bullets landing in all directions.”
A medic who was there corroborated the journalist’s version and said that he ended up treating at least 25 protesters wounded by bullets to the legs, neck, and chest. He said his hospital received 16 dead that night, and three more the next day.
After those killings, Najaf Governor Loai al-Yasseri urged the federal government to end the “bloodshed” in Najaf and punish forces responsible. He identified them as Saray Ashura, a unit within the Popular Mobilization Forces, which are formally under the prime minister’s control.
Also on November 28, the Interior Ministry’s Emergency Response Division opened fire on mostly unarmed protesters in the early morning hours at a Nasriya sit-in, killing at least 25 and wounding 160, according to a report from the Dhi Qar governor’s office, the Iraqi security forces’ Joint Operational Command, and Amnesty International. A protester who was there said that he and other demonstrators remained peaceful, though some threw rocks at security forces. He said he saw security forces from Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), as well as others wearing black uniforms without logos, shoot and kill four protesters next to him: “When the police opened fire on us, I felt as if it was raining bullets.”
In a letter to Human Rights Watch on November 20 about its reports on the death toll, Iraq’s Beirut embassy cited the High Investigative Committee that Abd Al-Mahdi created to investigate abuses against protesters from October 1 to 8. The panel had recommended dismissing senior security officials and investigating senior officials for the deaths of 149 protesters and 5,494 injuries during that period. The letter did not address the extent to which the government has enforced the recommendations.
However in one example of such action in response to more recent killings, on November 28, Abd Al-Mahdi stripped Lt. Gen. Jamil al-Shammari from his role as head of the crisis cell in Dhi Qar for the Iraqi security forces because of the high death toll in Nasriya on that day. He had only appointed al-Shammari 16 hours earlier. Local media reported on December 1 that a court in Dhi Qar governorate had issued an arrest warrant and travel ban for al-Shammari.
As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, so far there have been two prosecutions of security officers. Local media reported on December 1 that a police officer was sentenced to death for killing protesters in Wasit governorate, southeast of Baghdad, and that another Iraqi officer was sentenced to seven years in prison. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all countries and under all circumstances. An Iraqi security official said on December 3 that authorities would be prosecuting another 43 police officers.
The letter from the Beirut embassy also said that Abd al-Mahdi had issued strict instructions prohibiting the use of live ammunition against protesters under all circumstances, had ordered all security forces near the protests disarmed, and had instructed them to be “patient” in dealing with protesters, and ensure they are protected when demonstrating in designated areas. The letter announced the formation of a new unit “whose mission is to deal directly with protesters and protect major social events.” On November 28 the government confirmed the creation of a joint military and civilian “crisis cell.”
The statements in the letter sharply contradict the facts on the ground in cities like Najaf and Nasriya, as well as others including Basra, Muthanna, and some protests in Baghdad, where various military and law enforcement forces have fired on and killed protesters. The federal government should clarify to the Iraqi population whether security forces have ignored the prime minister’s orders, whether he has issued different orders, or whether other officials issued conflicting orders, Human Rights Watch said.
If live fire at protesters contradicts government policy, the government should condemn the unlawful killings of protesters, including the most recent killings in Najaf and Nasriya, and refer all security forces involved to the judiciary. If commanders gave orders for forces to open fire, the government should refer them for investigation and prosecution.
The authorities should investigate every death by the security forces, with the help of international experts if necessary, Human Rights Watch said. Such investigations should be speedy, fair, and independent of those being investigated with the participation of the families of those killed. They should lead to prosecutions of anyone found to have broken the law, including commanders.

“The government has chosen to hide behind claims that it has ordered the killings to stop, but that simply is not good enough,” Whitson said. “As long as this government is in power, it is responsible when its own forces kill protesters.”

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