Monday, July 18, 2022

Weekend Box Office

From THENUMBERS.COM, here's Weekend Box Office:

1 (1) Thor: Love and Thunder Walt Disney $46,632,172 -68% 4,375 n/c $10,659 $233,903,308 2
2 (2) Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal $26,838,560 -42% 4,111 -316 $6,528 $263,406,065 3
3 N Where the Crawdads Sing Sony Pictures $17,253,227   3,650   $4,727 $17,253,227 1
4 (3) Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pi… $12,268,764 -21% 3,292 -221 $3,727 $618,231,332 8
5 (4) Elvis Warner Bros. $8,000,873 -28% 3,305 -409 $2,421 $106,601,284 4
6 N Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Paramount Pi… $6,312,060   3,475   $1,816 $6,312,060 1
7 (6) The Black Phone Universal $5,372,505 -31% 2,271 -288 $2,366 $72,108,680 4
8 (5) Jurassic World: Dominion Universal $5,152,400 -40% 2,647 -604 $1,947 $359,911,400 6
9 N Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Focus Features $1,953,070   980   $1,993 $1,953,070 1
10 (7) Lightyear Walt Disney $1,400,546 -55% 1,350 -740 $1,037 $115,599,296 5


THOR had no real competition.  In a regular summer where one big film comes out every week, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER would have been sent packing.  Because the studios had no big movie out last week, THOR tumbled in ticket sales but held onto the number one spot.  $46 million?  For a MARVEL film in its second week?  That's laughable.   We're probably looking at $273 for its final US box office when it finishes its run.

It's a bomb.

Dropping 68% means it has no legs.  They're trying to spin it -- like they did that awful MS. MARVEL show -- but it's a bomb.  

The question is: Are we oversaturated with MARVEL or are the offerings that are flopping just not good enough.?

In the case of MS. MARVEL, it just wasn't good enough.  Ava and C.I. may tackle that next week.  They had planned to do this week but they ended up having to tackle that awful Sabby Sabbs.  Ann was right about that fake ass and then some.


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

Monday, July 18, 2022.  Joe Biden makes a historic (for the US) visit to Iraq, the Turkish government kills more Iraqi civilians, Iraq has a case of "Maliki Wikileaks" and much more.

US President Joe Biden concluded his Middle East trip over the weekend.  The visit to Iraq on Sunday was historic.  Why?

You’ll also hear President Biden welcome Iraq -- concluding agreements with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan -- to bring affordable energy to Iraq and diversify its supply, and ensure energy resiliency to meet the growing needs of its people. 

And the landmark agreement that was signed just last night in Iraq and the GCC Interconnection Authority -- the President mentioned this last night in his remarks -- will link Iraq’s electricity grid to the grids in the GCC, thereby providing the Iraqi people with newly diversified sources of electricity over the coming decade.  And it’s important because much of Iraq’s electricity, as of now and for many years, is very much reliant upon gas from Iran.  So diversifying Iraq’s electricity base and generation (inaudible) sources will benefit the Iraqi people, particularly as their demand continues to grow.

And this connection with the GCC -- between Iraq and the GCC -- has really been talked about for years.  I think the President mentioned yesterday that it was discussed when he was Vice President but it was never able to get done.  But over, you know, the last six months or so when, again, U.S. diplomacy relationships, partnerships, creativity was able to get these important agreements over the line for the first time last night. 

No, not for that nonsense of what may come and what may not come.

But that crap is why the US press sucks so damn bad.  And it does go to how stupid the people Joe has surrounded himself at the White House actually are.

Here's what they fed the press ahead of the visit.

It's what you read and heard from 'reporters' in the US.  They just know how to repeat, they don't know how to report.

Joe could have done a bit of a 'victory lap' while in Iraq.  

Though they're too stupid to grasp it, his visit was historic.  It was the first time, since the US-led war started the Iraq War in 2003, that a US president had gone to Iraq without having to sneak in.  Joe's visit was announced ahead of time.  It was public.

Now the UK had done that already, going back to when Gordon Brown was prime minister.  

From 2009 through 2016, all of Barack's visits were surprise, unannounced visits.

Adam Taylor (WASHINGTON POST) in December 27, 2018:

President Trump made his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief this week, visiting troops at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq on Wednesday. The unannounced journey took place just days after he declared that he planned to remove U.S. troops from Syria and saw his own defense secretary resign in response.

Donald only made the one visit to Iraq.  

Joe's the first sitting US President to visit Iraq without having to sneak in.  The trip was announced ahead of time and it was not a 'surprise' or 'unannounced' visit.  

Let's stay with Iraq because there was major news over the weekend though the only western outlet to acknowledge that was AFP.  On Saturday, AFP reported:

The Iraqi political scene has been ablaze for the past 72 hours due to the emergence of recordings attributed to Nuri al-Maliki, the ex-Iraqi PM, in which he appears to be criticising and insulting Moqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq's strongest Shiite political figures whose faction won big in the 2021 general parliamentary election. 

“The issue is that there is a British project aiming to put Moqtada in control of the Shia and Iraq, then they would kill him and give Iraq to the Sunnis. The issue is not al-Maliki [myself], I can just leave and take refuge in the house of Malek and have 2000 fighters protecting me, no one will be able to get to me. That project exists, but I am fighting it, and it is to be fought politically and militarily,” said Nuri al-Maliki about his longtime political rival, Moqtada al-Sadr, in a leaked recording.

“Iran helped al-Sadr, to make him a new Nasrallah [Lebanese Hezbollah chief] in Iraq”, he continued in his tirade against the Shiite leader. “Moqtada is a murderer, how many did he kill in Baghdad? The kidnappings, the car bombs, he is not a master, he is a coward, a traitor, an ignorant who knows nothing (…) I know the Sadrists, I fought them in Basra, Karbala and Baghdad, we had no weapons and the Iranians had given them advanced missiles and we still won,” he said of al-Sadr and his followers.

Nuri al-Maliki, leader of the Shiite party known as the State of Law Coalition and one of the leaders of the Coordination Framework, a Shiite coalition currently holding parliamentary majority, denied the veracity of the recordings via Twitter. He said that the recordings, released on social media by journalist Ali Fadel, were fake. Moqtada al-Sadr, for his part, said that the recordings mean nothing.

Nouri al-Maliki.  A major player in Iraq.  One that the press ignored in the lead up to the October 10th election -- the western press ignored.  That pleased the US State Dept but don't pretend it was journalism.  They really continue to ignore him.  

Recordings featuring supposedly Nouri aren't being covered by THE WASHINGTON POST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MCCLATCHY . . . go down the list.  It's a story, a rather major story and all over Arabic social media.  Just not covered by US outlets.

In a series of Tweets, Tammus Intel covers the recording.

Noori Almaliki: 1- The next phase in Iraq is war, the other speaker says "we are ready" ( after analyzing the records it turned out that the ones who were talking with Noori Almaliki are members of Kataib Hezbollah) #Iraq

2- I told Mustafa Alkadhimi that everyone will protect themselves by their own and Muqtada is coming to kill and slaughter and i will not count on army and police. 3- Muqtada will target me first because i ruined their agendas in Iraq. #Iraq

4- I started arming groups and if he attacks us i will even attack Najaf. 5- Muqtada wants blood and he's coward, he wants money and he robbed Iraq, he thinks that he's the Mahdi. 6- My tribe will protect me and they are ready. #Iraq
7- I call my good supporters to be ready and i will also not count on the PMF because they are also cowards. 8-Iraq is heading to a bloody war that no one will be saved from unless we end Sadr, Halbosi and Barzani project. #Iraq

It's being dubbed "Malaiki Wikileaks."  ASHARAQ AL-AWSAT reports:

Iraq’s judiciary is expected to examine two complaints to probe the voice recordings attributed to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in which he criticized politicians, notably his rival cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Known in Iraq as the “Maliki WikiLeaks”, the former PM threatened to attack Najaf city to protect the country’s highest Shiite authority should Sadr attack it himself.

Lawyers who filed the complaints have demanded that Maliki be held accountable for the recordings, which they said “harm national security and incite strife and sectarian violence.”

A rights source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Maliki may be tried in a special court over terrorism charges.

He added, however, that a trial is unlikely because the judiciary in Iraq is politicized.

On Wednesday, activist and journalist Ali Fadhel released around one minute of the recording. He has around 48 minutes worth of recordings and will release a minute or two a day so that they will have a popular and political impact in the country.

In the latest recording on Sunday, Maliki said: “The coming phase is that of fighting. I told this yesterday to Prime Minister [Mustafa] al-Kadhimi.”

“I told him that I am not relying on you, the army or the police. They will not do anything,” he was heard saying.

“Iraq is approaching a brutal war from which no one will emerge unscathed unless we manage to stop Sadr, [parliament Speaker Mohammed] al-Halbousi and Masoud Barzani,” he added.

Maliki’s remarks clearly date back to two months when the Sadr-Halbousi-Barzani alliance was still standing. Around a month ago, Sadr’s parliamentary bloc of 73 MPs resigned from the legislature. 

THE ARAB WEEKLY notes the recordings this morning:

The latest sequel of audio leaks of alleged statements by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and current head of the pro-Iranian Coordination Framework seems to highlight the prospects of a dangerous confrontation between Maliki and the Sadrist movement and its Sunni and Kurdish allies, in pursuit of political control in Iraq by force.

If authentic, the leaked audio recordings would mean that Maliki has reached the conclusion that an intra-Shia war might be unavoidable to break the stalemate with al-Sadr, whom he describes as a bloodthirsty murderer and calls his supporters cowards.

In the most recently-leaked audio recording, Maliki is heard saying, “Iraq is on the verge of a devastating war from which no one will emerge unscathed, unless the project of Moqtada al-Sadr, Massoud Barzani and Muhammad al-Halbousi is defeated. If we defeat their project, Iraq will survive and if we are not able to achieve that, Iraq will enter the danger zone.”

He added, "I know that Sadr will target me first because I destroyed him. But I will not keep the Shia and Iraq in the hands of Moqtada al-Sadr. The ministry of the interior maybe not be able to do so, but I am not. Sadr is a spiteful man with three three bad traits: he is bloodthirsty. He is also a coward who craves for money having robbed the whole country.”

Staying with Iraq, the Turkish government continues to terrorize northern Iraq (the Kurdistan) and to violate Iraq's national sovereignty.  Turkey has set up military bases in Iraq and has troops on the ground.  These are acts of war.  PRESS TV reports, "At least five people, including a woman, have been killed in a Turkish drone strike in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, as Ankara ramps up its cross-border offensives in the Arab country.Christian Peace Teammakers notes that Turkey has killed at least 129 civilians in Iraq and wounded at least 180 more since 2015Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) notes:

Sometimes it is used for domestic propaganda, with Ankara claiming great victories over “terrorists.” However, these victories are largely mythical and Ankara can’t seem to ever “defeat” the groups it is fighting. Instead, Turkey wants to expand operations. Airstrikes near Mosul represent an escalation. Baghdad has often ignored battles so long as they take place in the autonomous Kurdish region. But federal troops, and pro-Iran militias, operate in the Nineveh governorate around Mosul. As such, Turkey is bombing areas that are closer to Baghdad.  

According to Rudaw, Nineveh’s Governor Najim al-Jubouri “later in the day said the drone that hit the area was Turkish and called on the Iraqi government to protest such actions to the Turkish government. News outlets of Iraq’s Iran-backed parties also said that the attack was conducted by Turkey. Ankara has not commented on the incident as of yet.” 

Pro-Iran militias have increased their calls for Turkey to stop its attacks. In the last months, there have been numerous attacks on a Turkish base near Bashiqa. The attacks used rockets and are apparently carried out by pro-Iran militias. One of these militias has taken a name linked to Yazidis, the minority once targeted by ISIS and which is now targeted by Turkey. However, it is assumed the militia is actually a stand-in for pro-Iranian militias such as Kataib Hezbollah. Iranian-backed militias also target US forces in the Kurdistan region. This means Turkey’s operations have wider regional implications. Turkey’s leader is meeting with Iran and Russia this week and Turkey wants to launch a new operation in Syria. Turkey claims its new operation in Syria will also target “PKK terrorists.” Thus, Turkey is extending its endless war potentially in the two countries. 

Al-Ain media in the UAE has also reported on Turkey’s growing operations. Al-Ain reported on Monday that a Turkish soldier was recently killed in northern Iraq. That report says this is the second Turkish soldier killed. “The Turkish Ministry had previously announced in several statements the killing of more than 10 soldiers and two security guards in northern Iraq, since June 11 last year,” the report says.   

Of Joe's visit to Iraq, we'll note his visit with prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.  Amr Salem (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

 The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, met on Saturday with US President, Joe Biden, on the sidelines of the summit held in Jeddah in which the United States, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan participated, according to a statement issued by the Prime Ministry press office.

Al-Kadhimi and Biden affirmed their mutual commitment to the strong bilateral partnership between Iraq and the United States, in accordance with the Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq.

Both sides also confirmed their determination to proceed with security coordination to ensure that ISIS will never reappear again, according to a joint statement issued by both officials.

Al-Kadhimi discussed with Biden several regional issues, and both sides agreed that the relationship between Iraq and the United States is based on common interests, strengthening Iraq’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and stability.

Both sides stressed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government that responds to the will of the Iraqi people, and respects Iraq’s democracy and independence.

Laurie Mylroie (KURDISTAN 24) adds:

Unlike Obama, under whom Biden served as Vice-President, Biden supported the 2003 war that ousted Saddam Hussein and his regime. Indeed, in late 2002, as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden, along with his Republican colleague, Chuck Hagel, was dispatched by the George W. Bush administration to consult with the Kurdish leadership in preparation for the war coming. 

As Biden noted in comments before his meeting with Kadhimi, he has known the Iraqi leader “for a long time,” and “we want to be as helpful as we can” to help you in building Iraqi democracy.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting, the two leaders “reaffirmed their shared commitment to the strong bilateral partnership between Iraq and the United States under the Strategic Framework Agreement and their determination to continue security coordination to ensure that ISIS can never resurge.”

The Strategic Framework Agreement was concluded in 2008 under the Bush administration as it prepared to leave office and sought to establish the basis for an enduring relationship with Baghdad. 

The two leaders “also reaffirmed the importance of forming a new Iraqi government,” which is “responsive to the will of the Iraqi people” and reflects “Iraq’s democracy and independence,” their joint statement said.

Joe returned to the US where he faces many problems.  Shannon Jones (WSWS) reports:

The purchasing power of American workers’ wages suffered another sharp drop last month, as the official inflation rate reached 9.1 percent while pay rises remained suppressed far below that level.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, real wages fell 3.1 percent between June 2021 and June 2022. In the month of June alone, real average weekly earnings declined by 1 percent. More up-to-date figures from the Wall Street Journal put the decline in real wages at 4.4 percent.

The devastating impact of inflation on the working class is demonstrated by the collapse in purchasing power of the federal minimum wage. Frozen at $7.25 an hour since 2009, it stands at its lowest value in 66 years. The 13-year freeze on the minimum wage, enforced by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, is the longest period without a raise since it was established in 1938 during the Roosevelt administration.

By comparison, the real value of the minimum wage in current dollars was $12.12 in 1968.

The surge of inflation is part of a class policy aimed at making workers pay for the criminal and incompetent response of the ruling class to the pandemic, including the vast bailout of the banks and financial institutions to the tune of trillions of dollars. At the same time, while health care and vital public services are being starved for funds the government has lavished vast amounts on the war machine. Military spending under the Democratic Biden administration now stands at record levels.

As the demand on food banks increases across the United Sates, now might be a good time to remember Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's meltdown on CNN where she claimed "We feed them."

When, Nancy, when do you feed them?

Be sure to read Oscar Grenfall's WSWS piece on how the Australian government entered into a deal not to protest what's being done to Julian Assange -- how they betrayed their own citizen.

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