Monday, June 15, 2020



That's  Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Joe The Racist" and be sure to also check out
Kat's "Kat's Korner: Hamilton Leithauser and Ronnie Spector and that album we never actually got to hear" -- both went up Sunday.

Soap fan?

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL returns to shooting episodes this Wednesday.

Do you watch soaps?

Has Marcia written about this?  She's my cousin.  We share one grandmother.  That grandmother and another were best friends.  They don't speak anymore.



It was apparently the 80s, early 80s, and they both watched GUIDING LIGHT.  Some guy named Roger was on and they both loved Roger -- he was a villain.

But then . . .

Luke and Laura went on the run on GENERAL HOSPITAL

Granny A was furious.  "How can you abandon GUIDING LIGHT!"  Granny B felt it was you go where the best story is.

This was the days when you watched when the show aired.  VCRs were not yet common in homes.  And GUIDING LIGHT and GENERAL HOSPITAL aired opposite one another.

It was so intense that they never spoke to each other again -- to this day.

And what's funny is Granny A walked away from CBS soaps in 1982.  She didn't go to ABC.  She went to NBC where she watched, as she will tell you, THE DOCTORS, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, ANOTHER WORLD and TEXAS.


And CBS?  Today, it has THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.  That's two soaps.  NBC and ABC each just have one now -- DAYS OF OUR LIVES and GENERAL HOSPITAL.

And, guess what, both grandmothers watch all four thanks to on demand viewing.

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

Monday, June 15, 2020.  Turkey continues to carry out terrorist bombings on Iraq, Mustafa finds an apparent patsy, Julian Assange is back in the news and much more.

Iraq is the land of unemployment and now it's only more so.

The protests that began September 30th had to do with corruption and the lack of dependable public services -- electricity, potable water etc.  It also had to do with the lack of jobs.

Now 10,000 oil workers have been laid off which just makes things worse.

That's Iraq's new prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on his recent trip to Mosul talking about jobs and other issues.  

A new International Organization for Migration (IOM) report sheds light on the negative impact the coronavirus has had on the Iraqi economy. The intergovernmental organization said that restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic will continue to hurt small and medium-sized businesses in Iraq.
“The already dire situation is likely to deteriorate and become even more challenging for job and economic opportunity creation,” the IOM said in the report. “Livelihoods have been widely disrupted across the country, driven primarily by movement restrictions."
The IOM is a “related organization” of the United Nations and works closely with the international body on migration and displacement issues. Its Enterprise Development Fund supports job creation and economic growth in Iraq. The country hosts more than a million internally displaced persons and refugees. The fund was responsible for the report.
Iraq went into a lockdown in March when its number of confirmed coronavirus cases was still relatively low. Only essential businesses like supermarkets and pharmacies remained open. The country then eased restrictions in late April. Late last month, Iraq returned to a full lockdown after a surge in cases.
The report based its findings on data collected in April from small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing, food, retail, service and other sectors. Small and medium-sized enterprises are independent firms that do not rely on subsidies and have a few hundred employees or less.

Iraq went into a lockdown in March . . . and that lockdown continues as this AP video report from last week makes clear.

There is so much to protest in Iraq.  There's Operation Claw-Eagle, for example.  That's the latest name the Turkish government has given to their terrorism of Iraq.  For years, going back to when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, the government of Turkey has been bombing northern Iraq.  The Turkish government gave the US government a location near the border to build a CIA outpost that allows them to monitor northern Iraq.  The US government does not trust the Kurds -- that's why they screw them over repeatedly.  The CIA deal was during the White House occupation of Bully Boy Bush.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump have both been president since.  Neither has bothered to object to the terrorism the Turkish government continues to carry out.  It is a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.  Despite the claims that the strikes are 'precision' and only take out 'terrorists,' many civilians and animals (livestock) have been killed in these strikes.

For example?

Dropping back to May 30th:

The government of Turkey continues to terrorize the Iraqi people.  For years now, they have been ignoring Iraq's sovereignty and bombing the country of Iraq.  These bombings have resulted in many dead.  Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) reports:

Turkish airstrikes killed civilians on Saturday, days after another set of airstrikes killed members of a far-left Iranian dissident group in the mountains of the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The attacks appear to represent an increase in Ankara’s use of drones and airstrikes against Kurdish groups. Ankara claims these groups, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are “terrorists” but presents no evidence that any of them are involved in “terror.”

The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

Frantzman notes, "Iraq has complained to Ankara about the airstrikes but Ankara acts with impunity and international organizations that usually monitor human rights refuse to critique Turkey or visit the areas of the drone strikes." 

This morning, Zhelwan Z. Wali (RUDAW) notes the Turkish government is yet again claiming that they targeted terrorists, however . . . :

 PKK-linked Firat News Agency claimed the strikes targeted a refugee camp and a hospital. 
“ The Turkish state has launched a wave of air raids in southern Kurdistan, northern Iraq tonight. The strikes targeted several positions in the regions of Qandil, Maxmur (Makhmour) and Shengal (Sinjar), including a refugee camp and hospital,” it said.
Makhmour camp hosts more than 12,000 Kurdish refugees who have fled persecution by the Turkish state, largely in the 1990s. The camp has a governing council and an armed force, the Makhmour Protection Units, established in 2014 when Islamic State (ISIS) militants attacked the area. The units are believed to have ties to the PKK.
Bedran Pirani, co-mayor of the Makhmour Camp Municipality, told Rudaw that strikes near the camp left several children unconscious, who were then rushed to hospital.

"The airstrikes lasted an hour from 12:10am to 01:10am. They were a large number of unmanned drones and jets hovering overhead," Pirani said.

 The Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) condemned on Monday the Turkish airstrikes against suspected positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in several areas in northern Iraq.
A JOC statement said that 18 Turkish warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes late on Sunday night on refugee camps in Sinjar, some 100 km west of Nineveh's provincial capital Mosul, and Makhmour, about 60 km southeast of Mosul.
The Turkish warplanes also flew over the areas of al-Kuwayr, Erbil and al-Shirqat, with 193 km deep inside the Iraqi territories, the statement said.
The JOC described the Turkish airstrikes as "provocative act and is inconsistent with the good-neighborliness in accordance with international conventions and is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty."
Iraq called on Turkey to stop the violation of Iraqi territories and said that it is "fully prepared for cooperation between the two countries to control the security situations on the common borders," the statement added. 
When will other government join the Iraqi one in condemning the terrorism that Turkey continues to carry out?  When will Turkey be forced to respect Iraq's sovereignty?

When will trash outlets like BLOOMBERG stop referring to these acts of terrorism as "a show of military might"? 

Turkey bombs PKK in northern Iraq as Kurds attempt pro-democracy protests
The attack began hours before public protests in Turkey led by the country’s main pro-Kurdish political party, which were due to start on Monday.

How many have to be wounded or killed before the people of the world can find the courage to condemn these terrorist attacks carried out by the Turkish government?

BBC News (link has text and video) reports on last night's bombing, "An air strike by Turkish warplanes near a Kurdish village close to the border with Iraq has left 35 people dead, officials say. One report said that smugglers had been spotted by unmanned drones and were mistaken for Kurdish rebels." Reuters quotes Uludere Mayor Fehmi Yaman explaining that they have recovered 30 corpses, all smugglers, not PKK, and he declares, "This kind of incident is unacceptable. They were hit from the air." AFP adds, "Local security sources said the dead were among a group smuggling gas and sugar into Turkey from northern Iraq and may have been mistaken for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels."

How long?  How high must the death toll reach before the global community calls for these acts of terrorism to end?

May 7th, Mustafa became the new prime minister of Iraq.  In the lead up to this, he promised (in April) that his government would address the murder of protesters.  And now?  AL-MONITOR notes the government is trumpeting one arrest -- their only arrest so far:

Defense Ministry Spokesman Yehia Rasool confirmed to Al-Monitor that the suspect, identified only as Al Jurithi, is suspected of killing a protester in Baghdad and threatening others. He also confessed to rioting, burning property and striking security forces, and he was arrested under the direction of new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Sweeping anti-government demonstrations broke out in October 2019, aimed at dismantling the political establishment and bringing attention to government corruption, poor public services and high unemployment. Rights groups accused security forces of using violent tactics to suppress the unrest, including firing live ammunition at peaceful protesters.   
In documenting the deaths of 490 protesters, the United Nations wrote in a report last month that the “absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to the pervasive environment of impunity.” The UN also reported 33 activists were assassinated and at least 99 people had been abducted. 
The widespread protests prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in late November 2019. Some five months later, Kadhimi was sworn in as his successor, bringing an end to the political deadlock. 
Security forces are responsible for the killings and for injuring protesters and for disappearing protesters.  It appears the government has either found a patsy or the lone killer that was not connected to the security forces.  All the empty talk talk talk from Mustafa.  One arrest.  That's all he can muster. 

A spike in violations of the right to free expression during widespread protests at the end of the former government’s term in office and during the Covid-19 pandemic underscores the need for Iraq’s new government to reform its laws, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iraqi authorities, including in the Kurdistan Region, have routinely used vaguely worded laws to bring criminal charges against people who express opinions they dislike.

The 42-page report, “‘We Might Call You in at Any Time’: Free Speech Under Threat in Iraq,” examines a range of defamation and incitement legal provisions that authorities have used against critics, including journalists, activists, and other dissenting voices. The Iraqi and Kurdistan Region parliaments should replace criminal defamation articles in the Penal Code with civil defamation penalties and amend laws that limit free speech to comply with international law. Given Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s new role as prime minister and his stated willingness since taking office to address some of Iraq’s most serious human rights challenges, the government has a unique opportunity to tackle over a decade of free speech restrictions.

“The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the vital and sometimes lifesaving role of a robust and inquisitive press and social media,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi leaders should commit to fostering respect for international law as a way to better inform and protect their people.”

Human Rights Watch examined 33 cases involving the prosecution of 21 activists and 14 journalists who suffered attacks, 13 cases involving support of protest activities over social media, and 7 involving coverage of government corruption in mainstream or social media. None of the cases from Baghdad-controlled areas occurred since the current prime minister and government took office.

Iraq’s Penal Code, which dates back to 1969, includes numerous defamation “crimes” such as “insult[ing] the Arab community” or any government official, regardless of whether the statement is true. Although few people serve prison time for defamation, the criminal process itself acts as a punishment. Reporting on abuses by the security forces or about corruption is especially risky.

Haitham Sulaiman, 48, a protest movement organizer, in an April 6, 2020 Facebook post called on the Muthana governor to investigate allegations of health department corruption linked to the purchase of Covid-19 masks. He was arrested on April 10, beaten, and forced to sign a document stating that the United States had bankrolled the protest movement.

In 2014, the Communications and Media Commission, “an independent institution” linked to the parliament, issued “mandatory” guidelines to regulate media “during the war on terror,” which were updated and renamed the “Media Broadcasting Rules” in 2019 and are still in place today. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine any legal basis for the guidelines or the agency’s actions.

Following the start of widespread protests in October 2019, the authorities ordered the closure of 8 television and 4 radio stations for 3 months for allegedly violating media licensing rules, based on the guidelines, and issued warnings to 5 other broadcasters over their coverage. Unidentified armed men raided and damaged the offices of at least three news outlets in October. In early April 2020, the commission suspended Reuters’ license and fined it 25 million IQD (US$21,000) for an April 2 article alleging that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country was much higher than official statistics indicated. The authorities lifted the suspension on April 19.

Kurdistan regional authorities are using the region’s penal code, Press Law, and Law to Prevent the Misuse of Telecommunications Equipment to curb free speech. A 40-year-old man was arrested after he live-streamed a demonstration on the morning of January 26, 2019 and charged with Penal Code and Telecommunications Law violations. A judge dismissed the charges and authorities released him after 29 days in custody.

Interviewees who had been criminally charged felt that the prosecutions were to intimidate critics. Eleven said they did not hear from the prosecution for extended periods, leaving them unsure of whether the cases were still active. One said “When the Asayish [Kurdish security forces] released me after I paid a fee on March 10, 2019, they told me, ‘We might call you in at any time.’”

Eleven said security forces had ill-treated them at the time of arrest or in detention. All 14 journalists and 4 activists interviewed said they regularly received threats, usually from anonymous sources by phone or social media, and sometimes from security forces or government officials. Amanj Bakir, a journalist, said that threats he received over two articles about the Kurdistan region in March have taken a toll on him.

On April 29, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government soliciting information regarding the cases documented in the report. While the authorities in Baghdad did not respond by the time of publication, the Kurdistan Regional Government responded on May 20 in a “preliminary” manner, stating that the KRG “is committed to the preservation of journalists’ rights” and would follow up with more information.

International human rights law allows for restrictions on freedom of expression to protect the reputations of others, but such restrictions must be necessary and narrowly drawn. Human Rights Watch believes that criminal penalties are always a disproportionate punishment for alleged reputational harm.

Iraqi federal and Kurdistan regional authorities should direct security forces to end intimidation, harassment, arrest, and assault of journalists and others for exercising their right to free expression and investigate credible allegations of threats or attacks by government employees or others against critics.

“Given the mistrust between civil society and the media on the one hand and authorities on the other, Iraq’s new government and Kurdish authorities should reform laws to bring them in line with international standards,” Wille said. “Getting rid of vague provisions on insults and incitement would show that the authorities are committed to protecting free speech.”

Let's wind down by noting the latest on journalist and political prisoner Julian Assange.  Paul Daley (GUARDIAN) reports:

US prosecutors have failed to include one of WikiLeaks’ most shocking video revelations in the indictment against Julian Assange, a move that has brought accusations the US doesn’t want its “war crimes” exposed in public.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is remanded and in ill health in London’s Belmarsh prison while the US tries to extradite him to face 18 charges – 17 under its Espionage Act – for conspiracy to receive, obtain and disclose classified information.
The charges relate largely to the US conduct of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Assange’s publication of the US rules of engagement in Iraq.

The prosecution case alleges Assange risked American lives by releasing hundreds of thousands of US intelligence documents.

Dean Yates was the head of REUTERS' Baghdad beureau when the July 12, 2007 attack took place killing REUTERS journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh -- the attack carried out by the US government.  Daley quotes Yates stating, "What he did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq looks like and how the US military lied … The US knows how embarrassing Collateral Murder is, how shameful it is to the military – they know that there’s potential war crimes on that tape."

Julian Assange remains persecuted by the US government.  His crime is that of journalism.  THE GUARDIAN's been hostile to Julian for some time but possibly their current press indicates that they grasp what is at stake with the US efforts to criminalize journalism?

In another article, Daley focuses on Dean Yates:

Yates, shaking his head, says: “The US assertions that Namir and Saeed were killed during a firefight was all lies. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I updated my story to take in the US military’s statement.”
[. . .]
Reuters staff had by now spoken to 14 witnesses in al-Amin. All of them said they were unaware of any firefight that might have prompted the helicopter strike.
 Yates recalls: “The words that kept forming on my lips were ‘cold-blooded murder’.”
The Iraqi staff at Reuters, meanwhile, were concerned that the bureau was too soft on the US military. “But I could only write what we could establish and the US military was insisting Saeed and Namir were killed during a clash,” Yates says.
The meeting that put him on a path of destructive, paralysing – eventually suicidal – guilt and blame “that basically f**ked me up for the next 10 years”, leaving him in a state of “moral injury”, happened at US military headquarters in the Green Zone on 25 July.

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