Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Armie Hammer and DEATH ON THE NILE

VARIETY wonders if Armie Hammer will sink DEATH OF THE NILE?

I don't see how.  It's an ensemble piece.

A woman has come forward recently to state he raped her.  Did he?  I don't know.  I assume the police will investigate.

Is the woman telling the truth?  I would hope she wouldn't make an accusation like that up.  But this is the United States and I will wait to see what happens.

Other than that?

He's accused of 'inappropriate' fantasies.  He apparently gets off on blood and cannibalism.  Thoughts of.  I've never had that fantasy nor is it one I find interesting but we all do have our fantasies and they are fantasies.  So he's got a role play fantasy, so what?

And more to the point, I'm sick of little bitches.

What's a little bitch?

A little bitch is a man or a woman who engages in sex texting with someone and doesn't cut it off and doesn't say that they're offended but waits months later to whine about it.

No one forced you to text back.  You clearly took part in the conversation since you're now exposing his Tweets.  I don't have a lot of sympathy for you as a result.  

DEATH ON THE NILE is an ensemble piece.  I don't think Armie's going to hurt the box office.  The pandemic might, it's more of a movie for adults.  

And on Armie, he's an excellent actor.  As long as he's not guilty of rape, I will continue to see his movies.  

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

 Tuesday, March 30, 2021.  The Squad remains suspect (as do those who rush to rescue The Squad from criticism), the US and Iraq gear up for talks next week and more.

If The Squad's  is not a fake ass unit, they're an incompetent one.

Daniel Luepker is correct, word salad served up, nothing of value.  And if they can't learn from their mistakes while they're in power, there's nothing that's going to get done.  Nothing of value.  And as we do Zoom talks with various groups, we hear over and over that Joe Biden didn't deliver on the stimulus promise.  And the people saying this aren't talking about the $2,000 -- clearly Joe failed there.  These are people who were willing to overlook his lie about $2,000 and acdcept the $1400.

You know, the $1400 that idiot Bernie Sanders wanted you to Tweet about -- what it meant to you?  We're hearing it meant s**t.  We're hearing that over and over because many people did not get $1400.  See THIRD's "Did Joe Biden just lose the mid-terms?" and grasp that if you had medical debt, student loan debt, whatever, you didn't get $1400.  

People are mad and angry and they have every right to be.  This will not bode well for the mid-terms.  And, if historical pattern holds, the House will flip due to the mid-terms.  Any chance of real change will have vanished.  Now was the time to push and to demand and The Squad did nothing.

By the way, numerous e-mails complain about BAD FAITH's program that we highlighted yesterday.  I didn't stream it.  I just posted it. But I hear you and that'll be strike two.  Strike one was bringing on a fake ass liar -- John Nichols -- recently.  John Nichols is a known liar.  He will lie and he will do so knowingly and convinced that he can fool you.

Samantha Power self-destructed in March of 2008 and we noted it in real time.  She had to leave Barack Obama's presidential campaign.  It wasn't for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster."  It was because of what followed -- something we covered in real time -- her BBC interview .  She dropped out of the campaign hours before the BBC started airing that interview -- the one where she explained that Barack's "promise'" of ending the Iraq War in ten months wasn't a promise and that he'd figure out what he would do and wouldn't do after he got elected.  That's why she had to walk away.

Barack was using the Iraq War to rip into Hillary -- his rival in 2008 for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- and now his top foreign policy advisor was saying Barack's words on Iraq were, to use Juan Gonzalez' phrase -- a lot of Barack-aloney.  That would have damaged him immensely at a time when the nomination could have gone either way.  So Samantha had to drop out.

Instead of focusing on that reality, John Nichols chose to write about the "monster" comment long after it really didn't matter.  Even worse, he felt the need to lie to you that Hillary and Samantha were besties.  No, they weren't.  They weren't friends but that's John Nichols serving up one lie after another.

Never forget that John Nichols held the powerful accountable for the Iraq War -- if by "the accountable" we mean Barbra Streisand.  That's who John targeted with one of his nonsense columns.  He couldn't call out the Dems in Congress that supported the war.  But he could blame Barbra (who, for the record, did not support the Iraq War).  So you've got the Iraq issues, you've got his lying for Barack about the talks regarding NAFTA with Canada (Barack decrying it in speeches on the campaign trail while his campaign staffer told Canadian officials that these were just words to win an election and he didn't mean them).  I don't know where we stop?  This is the same John Nichols who was part of the 2004 lie that Gen Wesley Clark was just a place holder and, at the convention, Hillary would declare herself a candidate.  He will spout any ridiculous lie over and over and over.

He is not to be trusted.  He offers nothing of value.  That BAD FAITH had him on as a guest is one strike against them.  Now they've gone after Eric London (WSWS) for his report that noteds:

On March 19, the Democratic Socialists of America’s magazine Democratic Left published an interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in which the Democratic congresswoman and DSA member combines the most lavish praise for the Democratic Party with vicious denunciations of socialism.

The DSA has treated the interview as an important political event. This is the first time their official magazine has interviewed the New York Congresswoman, and the interview was carefully prepared before publication. Though Democratic Left editorial board member Don McIntosh conducted the interview on January 26, it was only posted online seven weeks later. The choice of interviewer is also significant: McIntosh is a high-level operative in the AFL-CIO with close ties to the Democratic Party. He is listed as an author on the AFL-CIO’s press office website and is a long-time promoter of Democratic politicians and candidates at the NW Labor Press, which he edits.

In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez presents the Democratic Party as having been completely transformed into a working class party. She says the Biden administration and incumbent Democrats are “totally reinvent[ing] themselves in a far more progressive direction.” Pressure from the left has forced “almost a radical change” among entrenched Democratic leaders. What is needed, she says, is a turn deeper into Democratic Party electoral politics.

John Nichols doesn't do feet-to-the-fire.  He does justifications and minimizes the failures of politicians with a "D" after their name.  I'm very worried now that BAD FAITH plans to do the same.  They've got two strikes.  If April brings another, we're done with them.  I don't have time for fake asses.  Or, as Michelle Pfeiffer says in THE RUSSIA HOUSE, "I hope you're not being frivolous, Barley.  My life now only has room for truth." 

I don't believe Eric London's article needed correction, let alone clarification.  It did need amplifcation.  And BAD FAITH showed bad faith by the way they responded to it.

AOC has no real accomplishment -- and that's outside of Congress as well.  She graduated college?  Yeah, a bunch of people in the US can say that as well.  Doesn't mean they're ready for Congress.  She has an image that's not reality and never has been and Eric London, at WSWS) has a new article where he addresses that:

This milquetoast record posed a challenge to the creation of an image of Ocasio-Cortez as the champion of working people and icon of socialism. Therefore, the Democratic Party conjured up that meaningless label—“community organizer”—to present her as somehow connected to social struggles. This ploy was last used by the Democratic Party to provide Barack Obama, the drone warrior and deporter-in-chief with a mysterious background and connections to intelligence agencies, with street bona fides.

In the March 21 interview with Democratic Left, Ocasio-Cortez explained how she joined the DSA:

What initially drew me to DSA was the fact that they showed up everywhere that I showed up. I started my work as a community organizer before I even knew about the existence of DSA, and I was busy doing work in my community, working with children, working with families, advocating for educational equity.

This sheds light on the milieu in which the DSA operates. Since Ocasio-Cortez spent her post-college years in the orbit of the Democratic Party and corporate startup world, it is no wonder the DSA “showed up everywhere I showed up.”

The DSA, like Ocasio-Cortez, has no connection to the struggles of the working class, let alone socialism. Since the founding of its predecessor, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC), in 1972 and the DSA in 1982, the organization has existed as a continuous presence within the Democratic Party. For fifty years, its operatives have attended Democratic National Conventions, worked as staff for Democratic Party politicians and trade unions, and fought for a “realignment” within the party.

Over this time period, the Democratic Party has turned further to the right, abandoning any pretense at social reform. All the while, the DSA has served as a left shield for the Democrats’ rightward maneuvers, assuring the population that the Democratic Party can be reformed as it launches imperialist wars across the world and eviscerates social programs and corporate regulations.

The DSA provides Ocasio-Cortez her “socialist” credentials

The DSA’s role in facilitating the rise of Ocasio-Cortez testifies to its function within the Democratic Party. In the absence of any association with social struggles, it was the DSA which provided the young Democrat and aspiring entrepreneur with a “socialist” imprimatur. This was necessary not only for Ocasio-Cortez’s “story,” it also allowed the Democratic Party to de-fang the word “socialism,” translate it into a byword for Democratic Party pressure politics, and orient workers and young people away from genuine socialism based in the working class.

Ocasio-Cortez acknowledges in the interview with Democratic Left that she joined “around the time when DSA was picketing one of the major camera companies in New York City, trying to call attention to the warehouse workers.” This is apparently a reference to DSA pickets of B&H Photo Video stores in Brooklyn that, according to DSA announcements, took place beginning in April 2017.

AOC has been made a hero when she's done nothing heroic in her life and nothing of any real value.

Turning to Iraq (a topic The Squad has been remarkably silent on), Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reports:                                                                           

The third session of the strategic dialogue between Washington and Baghdad will begin on April 7, according to the US State Department, becoming the first such talks between the two countries since US President Joe Biden took office.

“The United States and the Republic of Iraq will hold Strategic Dialogue discussions via video teleconference on April 7th in accordance with the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between our two countries,” said the Department’s Press Office for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in a tweet.  

The talks - aimed at bolstering bilateral relations in various sectors - were first held in June and then in August 2020, under the administration of Donald Trump. 

“The discussions will cover security and counterterrorism, economics and energy, political issues, and educational and cultural cooperation,” added the office. 

Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL)offers:

US President Joe Biden’s administration will hold its first round of strategic dialogue with Iraq on April 7, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Last June, the administration of former president Donald Trump held a virtual meeting to clarify that the coalition forces are in Iraq for training and to advise Iraqi forces, so that ISIS remnants cannot make a comeback.

“The United States and the Republic of Iraq will hold Strategic Dialogue discussions via video teleconference on April 7 in accordance with the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement between our two countries,” the US State Department said.

The relationship between the US and Iraq, including its military presence in the country, is based on a strategic framework agreement signed in 2008. It called for close defence co-operation to deter threats to Iraq's “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity".

The talks, due to take place next Wednesday, will focus on security, counterterrorism, economics and energy, political issues, and educational and cultural co-operation.

At ANTIWAR.COM, Ted Galen Carpenter reflects on the 18th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.


The following sites updated:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


STARZ has cancelled AMERICAN GODS.  It doesn't really surprise me.  STARZ cancels pretty much everything these days.  They had something strong and unique with Gregg Araki and Steven Sodenbergh's NOW APOCALYPSE and they cancelled that.  I really enjoyed that show.  The look of that show alone -- those vibrant colors and the way the shots were framed -- was so unique they should have given it a second season.  I wish they'd do a graphic novel to wrap the storylines up.  

Meanwhile this, this and this address the possibility that MARVEL will unveil Bucky Barnes as gay during the first season run of FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER and the possibility that MARVEL's just gay baiting again..

I'd love for Bucky to be gay.  And he and Sam would make a good couple.  But I don't see MARVEL being brave enough to do that.  I think the closest we're going to get to that is the opening of Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The way things are or are thought to be" that I noted last week:

DISNEY+ dropped THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER last Friday.  Bucky Barnes, traumatized by the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME which saw the deaths of Black Widow and Iron man and, most importantly, Steve Rogers' decision to abandon Bucky and go back into the past to be with Sharon Carter, imagines a world where his pain disappears.


The first seven episodes revolve solely around Bucky and the new partnership he finds with Sam Wilson.  As life partners, the two bond, a bond that is so much more important to Bucky than dating women -- like the woman he leaves quickly to go check out an older man.  In this world he imagines, he and Sam carry out the relationship he always wanted with Steve Rogers.  They set up house together and while Sam works on the family boat, Bucky stays home imagining himself as Laura Petrie, Carol Brady and, after acknowledging the well known theory of womb envy while giving birth to twins, Florida Evans.  But even the twins and the time they absorb can't distract Bucky from the fact that Sam lacks Steve's hairy chest -- that light fur covering that Bucky had a fetish for -- or that Sam also lacks the dank, musky smell that Bucky found so irresistible in Steve.  In episode eight, with reality intruding into Bucky's new world, he is forced to realize that he's created an artificial world using his left arm.  He knew his artificial limb had an enhanced reaction time ability, he did not realize that the time ability action also included the ability to impose an artificial world.  While his life with Sam and their two boys has moments of happiness and joy, he realizes Sam is not -- and never can be -- Steve.  So, with a heavy heart, he ends his artificial world and, in the ninth and final episode, he begins using his heart and his abilities to fight evil and we finally get some action scenes.




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

 Monday, March 29, 2021.  Iraq celebrates Palm Sunday while corruption continues.

Palm Sunday was celebrated by Christians around the world, including in Iraq. Palm Sunday marks the day Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, the beginning of the trip that ends with him on the cross.  They celebrated Palm Sunday even when ISIS held territory in Iraq.  The video below is from three years ago.  We'll note this Tweet:

Palm Sunday procession in Qaraqosh, Iraq. This Christian land was under ISIS occupation for many years until its liberation in 2017.

And we'll note this Tweet:

Happy Palm Sunday! Hosanna in the Highest! A #PalmSunday procession from the #Chaldean #Catholic town of #Alqosh in Nineveh Plains, #Iraq! We thank God that Chaldean Christian & other Christian towns in Iraq are still alive with our faith and heritage.
Folded hands
Folded hands

Stayin on the topic of religious minorities in Iraq, AFP reports:

The death of Dhafer Eliyahu hit Iraq hard, not only because the doctor treated the neediest for free, but because with his passing, only four Jews now remain in the country. At the Habibiya Jewish cemetery in the capital Baghdad, wedged between the Martyr Monument erected by ex-dictator Saddam Hussein and the restive Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, an aged Muslim man still tends to the graves, but visitors are rare.

The day of Eliyahu’s burial, “it was me who prayed over his grave”, the doctor’s sister said. “There were friends” of other faiths who prayed too, each in their own way, she added, refusing to give her name. To hear Jewish prayer out in the open is rare now in Baghdad, where there is but one synagogue that only opens occasionally and no rabbis. But Jewish roots in Iraq go back some 2,600 years.

According to biblical tradition, they arrived in 586 BC as prisoners of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II after he destroyed Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. In Iraq, they wrote the Babylonian Talmud on the very land where the patriarch Abraham was born and where the Garden of Eden is considered by some to have been located, in the heart of the Mesopotamian marshlands.

More than 2,500 years later, in Ottoman-ruled Baghdad, Jews were the second largest community in the city, making up 40 percent of its inhabitants. Some were very prominent members of society like Sassoon Eskell, Iraq’s first ever finance minister in 1920, who made a big impression on British adventurer and writer Gertrude Bell.

When the Iraqi government prepares deals, there's a lot of press about it.  When the money comes in -- and quickly vanishes -- not so much.  ARABIAN BUSINESS notes:

Iraq is discussing a “giant” agreement with French oil giant Total SE to build large infrastructure installations, develop oil fields and produce gas, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told Asharq News in an interview that aired on Saturday.

The minister said he expected the contract to be finalized before July. The relationship with Total will be based on targeting low-carbon industry and capturing all flaring gas, and is set to produce 1GW of solar energy in the first stage. A specialized team from the oil ministry is leading these discussions with Total. 

BLOOMBERG NEWS adds, "Iraq this year is also expected to ink a deal to build an oil export pipeline from the southern province of Basra to Jordan’s Aqba port on the Red Sea. A framework agreement may be signed before mid-April, Abdul Jabbar said."  Where will that money go?  If recent history is pattern, it won't go to the people.  

And when someone blows the whistle on corruption?  They don't become heroes.  Instead, they have to fear for their own life.  THE VANGUARD reports:

Hassanein Mohsen spent months protesting against corruption in Iraq. He also lodged complaints against officials. But now he is shunned as a whistleblower and sees only one way out: emigration.

“You can’t live here without paying bribes,” the unemployed father-of-four told AFP. “I’ve given everything I can, and this country is still sinking lower.” 

The stout 36-year-old engineer from the shrine city of Karbala said he had been driven to despair by the endemic graft in his homeland, ranked the 21st most corrupt country by Transparency International. In January, the advocacy group said public corruption had deprived Iraqis of basic rights and services, including water, health care, electricity and jobs. It said systemic graft was eating away at Iraqis’ hopes for the future, pushing growing numbers to try to emigrate.  

AFP's Maya Gebeily Tweets:

For Hassanein, graft in #Iraq is like a stubborn weed. Yes, he’s paid bribes to get paperwork done. But he’s also tried to fight big-picture corruption, risking his life to protest for more transparency & filing proof of alleged graft to investigators.

From Maya's AFP report "Worse than a jungle:"

Like most of the government officials, port workers and importers interviewed for this story, this worker cited threats to his life and asked to speak anonymously.

The network they described arises from Iraq's glacially slow bureaucracy, fractious politics, limited non-oil industry and endemic corruption that is itself largely a product of years of chaos in the wake of the 2003 US invasion to topple dictator Saddam Hussein.

Customs provide one of the few sources of state revenues, and to keep disparate groups and tribes happy, many of them close to Iran, entry points are divvied up among them and federal duties largely supplanted by bribes.

"There's a kind of collusion between officials, political parties, gangs and corrupt businessmen," Iraq's Finance Minister Ali Allawi told AFP.

Who's watching the store?  AFP reports on one person watching:

Suitcases of spreadsheets are wheeled into her office, as infuriated MPs storm out. Her unmistakeable voice booms down the finance ministry hallways. 

Meet Taif al-Sami, Iraq's budget baroness. 

Detractors say she's an old-fashioned micromanager, while fans praise her as a bulwark against pervasive state corruption in Iraq -- and an independent, vocal woman in a male-dominated bureaucracy.

But they agree that the 57-year-old head of the ministry's budget department knows her stuff. 

"She stuck out because she filled a gap. She has good administrative abilities and very good financial knowledge," Finance Minister Ali Allawi told AFP.

Sami has the last word on individual budget disbursements, meaning parliamentarians and ministry officials need her to green-light funds for projects, promotions or other payments.

She often spots irregularities, including an attempt by a government ministry in 2018 to score a bigger annual budget by artificially increasing its employees' pay grades and introducing "ghost employees" -- workers that exist on the payroll but not in real life.

"It would have cost the Iraqi state billions of dinars," said Sami, or at least hundreds of thousands of US dollars out of a $100-billion budget.

It's a classic graft scheme in Iraq: that same year, parliament discovered that some $450 billion in public funds had been embezzled since 2003, including in similar ghost employee schemes.

"She has a major role in stopping budget corruption," said a top Iraqi official who worked with Sami.

"The country would have disintegrated without her," said the official, who did not want to be named.

[. . .]

She said that she once requested well-connected finance ministry couriers be changed after finding out they were only sending correspondence if they received a bribe. 

Within hours, men in SUVs with tinted windows surrounded her home, demanding the couriers be reinstated.

"Another time, I refused a request from a provincial official and the person involved threatened to drag me and throw me out the window," Sami recalled. 

"If I belonged to a party, I'd be untouchable."

The corruption in Iraq is a national scandal.  It's why Iraqis have been protesting for over a year now.

It goes on and on.  Prime ministers are sworn in with promises that they will end corruption and then they leave office with the corruption worse than ever.  

In the video below, a former deputy minister explains that the corruption is political.

In the video below, Minister of Finance Ali Allawi states that the US government is complicit in the corruption.

Corruption hasn't changed a great deal since Ghaith Abdul-Ahad filed this report back in 2018 for THE GUARDIAN:

The opening up of Iraq’s enormous verified oil reserves to foreign expertise in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein was hailed as the means to kickstart its economy and potentially transform the south into an economic stronghold. Instead, ordinary Iraqis have seen little or no benefit from the proceeds of the country’s multibillion-dollar oil industry, much of which has been siphoned off by corrupt politicians. Across the south in recent months, simmering anger over corruption and unemployment has been fuelled by the dire state of public services, regular power cuts and water shortages.

Once there was a time when the Bani-Mansour land, not far from where the Tigris and Euphrates meet, had water and more than 300,000 palm trees, villagers said. Large numbers of buffaloes and cows cooled themselves in the green muddy waters of its canals.

But drought and the intrusion of saltwater from the Gulf have wiped out most of the palm groves, the cattle have been sold, local rivers have dried up and the canals have stagnated, clogged with rubbish. Corruption and mismanagement on the part of local and central government, both dominated by a kleptocracy of religious parties that have ruled Iraq for more than a decade, has exacerbated a slow-motion environmental disaster.

The oil companies, which are supposed to train and hire a workforce from local populations and invest back into development projects, are forced to hire those with connections to powerful tribal sheikhs and the Islamist parties. Funds for those populations rarely materialise and almost none of the oil revenuestrickle down to the population. Meanwhile, local militias with links to clans and political parties have formed their own companies, which land lucrative security contracts with subsidiaries of foreign oil firms.

In the eyes of the local villagers, the heavy traffic rumbling along the narrow road has become a daily reminder of the contrast between the boundless wealth lying underneath their homes and the abject poverty above ground. 

We'll close with this from South Central Michigan Greens:

South Central Michigan Greens
Calhoun, Hillsdale, and Jackson Counties Local
People and planet over profit.


For more information:
Monika Dittmann Schwab, Local Contact/SCMiGreens

John Anthony La Pietra, Co-Founder/SCMiGreen

Celebrate the "Other MLK Day"
April 3 10am-Noon on Zoom
Public Invited to Hear, Help Read "Beyond Vietnam" Speech
Given in NYC One Year Before Dr. King's Assassination

To celebrate the "Other MLK Day", there will be a public reading on Zoom
Saturday, April 3 from 10am to noon of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
speech "A Time to Break Silence" -- also known as the "Beyond Vietnam"

Dr. King originally made the speech at Riverside Church in New York City
on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was assassinated while
supporting the Memphis sanitation workers' strike.

April 4 is Easter this year, so the sponsoring group -- the South
Central Michigan Greens local -- is commemorating Dr. King one day early.

Anyone attending may listen to -- or read a portion of -- the speech, in
which Dr. King called for a "revolution of values" and said:  "When
machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are
considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism,
materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

The reading will be a virtual event held as a Zoom meeting.  Anyone who
wants to attend can visit the link for the meeting:

Those interested in helping read the speech are asked to contact the
sponsors by the end of the day on Wednesday, March 31 to help with
co-ordinating the event -- which is listed on Facebook:

Readers and listeners can both find more details on the event, including
a copy of the speech and other ways to access the Zoom meeting, at this

April 4 has also been declared an international day of struggle against
the privatization of water, in commemoration of the Water War of the
citizens of Cochabamba, Bolivia against privatization of their water
supply.  A handout on that commemoration will be available.

Other upcoming events of the South Central Michigan Greens include:

* Its next monthly meeting on Zoom, scheduled to run 10am to noon
Saturday, April 24.

* The annual spring Labor History Walk in Marshall on Saturday, May 1 --
International Labor Day -- starting from the VFW Hall in Marshall at
10am.  (One of the landmarks featured on the walk is the monument to the
1847 Crosswhite incident, when Marshall citizens protected an escaped
slave and his family from agents for his former slaveowners.)