Thursday, November 17, 2022

Hollywood has run out of ideas

Whoopi Goldberg's telling the tired tale of Emmitt Till in TILL.  Why can't we get stories that are new?  Why can't we get stories that reflect today?

I ask because an actor I like is about to remake a sixties film.  Bradley Cooper will be playing Steve McQueen's role in BULLITT -- a remake of Steve's BULLITT -- a film shown every three months on TCM.


AMERICAN SNIPER aside, this doesn't really seem to be in Bradley's wheelhouse.  If he does action, it's more comic action (THE A-TEAM).  I don't know.

The director doesn't make me feel any better: Steven Spielberg.  Spielberg's coming off career lows.  And now he's going to do a remake?  His last remake was also of a sixties film: WEST SIDE STORY.  That was a huge flop.

I don't know why our films have to keep looking backwards and/or repeating.  Does no one have fresh ideas anymore?

And it just got worse.  Just saw that they're doing a reboot of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.  I think Kurt Russell, John Carpenter and everyone else already did that film perfectly.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2022.  As climate change threats increase, Joe Biden wastes billions on Ukraine. 

Steve Robinson (MAINE WIRE) reports:

Several Republican Members of Congress are escalating calls for a forensic audit of U.S. military and non-military aid to Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. Those calls for transparency come as President Joe Biden’s White House just asked the U.S. Congress for another $37 billion for the war in Ukraine. But is an audit of all that aid, which includes not just cash transfers but loans, military equipment, and humanitarian supplies, even possible?

To begin with, we need to answer a simpler question: how much money has the U.S. government sent to Ukraine?

Try Googling the question to find an answer. The search isn’t likely to be an easy one, as I discovered. There’s no media outlet keeping an ongoing tally of the cost of the Ukraine war to American taxpayers, and obviously there’s no government website doing so. Even conservative American think tanks, many of them stuck in Cold War mentalities, haven’t focused on financial transparency as they analyze U.S. involvement in the conflict. A factor that complicates the answer is the discrepancy between total aid appropriated and committed versus aid that has actually been delivered. The Biden administration has not been lightning fast in turning appropriations into actual aid, so there are significant differences between the two numbers.

The Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan in-house think tank for Congress, produced a report on total “security assistance” as of Oct. 21, 2022. Funding in that category, from 2014 to Oct. 14, 2022, was $20.3 billion. But this points up another complicating factor. Different sources measure buckets of aid differently: some will talk about security assistance, some talk of military assistance, some talk of humanitarian aid. Few offer a clear cut, “This is the total cost of all U.S. support for the war in Ukraine.”

Eventually I tracked down a database operated by the Kiel Institute, a German think tank. They have been tracking total military and non-military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict. Their numbers include all aid from Jan. 24, 2022 to Oct. 3, 2022 (the data is scheduled for an update on Dec. 6).

According to Kiel, the U.S. has transferred military and non-military aid worth $54.43 billion to the government of Ukraine. The database Kiel has maintained is by far the most granular and detailed accounting of what the U.S. government has provided to Ukraine, including descriptions of the individual batches of military equipment. If you’re interested, you can check it out here. 

Let that sink in.  $54 billion with Joe Biden now asking for $37 million more -- and all in less than 12 months.

$54 billion.  There's nothing that can be done for the American people.  They can't have true universal healthcare.  Medicare for All -- favored by most Americans -- is just too expensive says the government that sends $54 billion to fund and fuel an unnecessary war and enrich the war industry while the American people do without and while prices skyrocket here in the US.

As Graham Elwood observes in the video above, "Food costs have almost doubled in the last year.  It's insane.  They say, 'Oh, eight and a half percent inflation.'  I don't know what grocery store they're going to.  Not the ones I or any of my friends go to.'' 

But we can sit back and watch billions of our dollars go to support a war, to support an illegitimate regime installed by the US in 2014.  Alex Findijs (WSWS) notes that time period in a new article when he comments on Victoria Nuland:

Nuland is another major Obama-era foreign policy official who played a leading role in the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government and selection of its pro-Western replacement in 2014. A leaked phone call during the Maidan protests that culminated in the forced removal of Ukrainian President Yanukovych exposed her role in orchestrating the operation in behalf of US imperialism. “I don’t think Klitsch [Vitaly Klitschko, mayor of Kiev and former boxer] should go into the government,” she is heard saying. “I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea… I think Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk] is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the... what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.”

Oleh Tyahnybok is a neo-Nazi. As leader of the far-right Svoboda Party, he played a leading role in the US-backed Maidan protests in Kiev that culminated in the overthrow of Yanukovych. In a 2004 speech that was aired on Ukrainian television, he denounced the “Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine” and hailed Stepan Bandera’s World War II Ukrainian National Army, saying, “They were not afraid and we should not be afraid. They took their automatic guns on their necks and went into the woods, and fought against the Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”

In 2013, Tyahnybok and another Svoboda Party leader were barred from entering the United States for their open anti-Semitism.

Arseniy Yatseniuk is a right-wing, pro-Western politician who was installed as the first prime minister of Ukraine following the February 2014 Maidan putsch.

Following her stint in the Obama administration, Nuland served as CEO of CNAS from 2018 to 2019. She is now the under secretary of state for political affairs in the Biden administration. She has links to Pine Island Capital Partners, which has ties with other Biden administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin.

Ukraine shot missiles into Poland.  And then said Russia did it.  Walt Zlotow (ANTIWAR.COM) notes:

Both US President Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke cautiously regarding a potential tripwire setting off possible all out war between NATO and Russia. Biden said “There is preliminary information that contests Russia fired the missile. I don’t want to say until we completely investigate but it’s unlikely in the minds of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia.” Duda told reporters that “There’s no clear evidence of who fired the missile. An investigation is ongoing.”

But firebrand Ukraine President Zelensky, who tirelessly promotes direct NATO intervention, including strikes on Russia and an No-Fly Zone over Ukraine, likely triggering WWIII, remains undaunted. He took to Twitter on his talk with Polish President Duda, expressing “condolences over the death of Polish citizens from Russian missile terror.”

I’ve said before that President Zelensky is trying to get us all killed. Unless the US and NATO escorts him to the negotiating table to end a war he cannot win, he may succeed. 

Andre Damon (WSWS) explains:

One day after a series of explosions took place in a Polish farming village, it has become clear that Ukraine fired at least one missile into Poland, killing two Polish civilians.

While Ukraine’s imperialist backers acknowledged that it was Kiev that launched the strike, they have claimed, without a shred of evidence or plausibility, that Ukrainian air defenses accidentally carried out a precision airstrike dozens of miles in the wrong direction.

If the Ukrainian air force was attempting to intercept Russian missiles, flying from the east, why were its missiles aimed to the west, at Poland? And why were they able to precisely target an inhabited building in a sparsely populated rural area? Why did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dimitri Reznikov and an unnamed “senior U.S. intelligence official” falsely blame Russia for the attack before Polish authorities had even publicly confirmed details about the strike?

The claims that the missile was fired from a “defensive” weapon have no credibility because the S-300 missile system has a well-known capability of striking land-based targets. 

In reality, the missile strike was a calculated provocation by Ukraine, possibly with the assistance of factions within the American state, intended to accelerate direct NATO involvement in the conflict and preclude any discussion of a ceasefire or negotiated settlement of the war.

Ukraine’s attack on Poland took place as the G20 was meeting in Bali, Indonesia, with the United States seeking to whip other countries into line against Russia. It also takes place amid reported conflicts within the US government about the extent and pacing of US involvement in the war, and suggestions from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley that the United States might initiate a ceasefire or peace negotiations over the winter. 

Critically, both NATO as a whole and individual NATO members have now acknowledged that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that attacked Poland, with Ukraine continuing to insist that the strike came from Russia.

And $54 billion of our dollars going to these liars.  For a war that's going to push the entire world closer to nuclear war.  And on top of everything the lack of gratitude grates.  , and

But a phone call between the two leaders in June played out differently from previous ones, according to four people familiar with the call. Biden had barely finished telling Zelenskyy he’d just greenlighted another $1 billion in U.S. military assistance for Ukraine when Zelenskyy started listing all the additional help he needed and wasn’t getting. Biden lost his temper, the people familiar with the call said. The American people were being quite generous, and his administration and the U.S. military were working hard to help Ukraine, he said, raising his voice, and Zelenskyy could show a little more gratitude.

That's anger?  Joe shows more anger at progressive activists in the US.

Real anger would have been telling Zelenskyy to go f**k himself and to grow the hell up and try fighting his war without begging every other country for help like a useless little cry baby.  Real anger would have been telling him there was no more US tax dollars for his sorry ass.

$54 billion.  Think about what could have been done for the American people with that money.  Think about how a small portion of it could have ended homelessness in the US.  Think about what a portion of it could have done for our schools.  Think about the fact that our government gave away -- pissed away -- $54 billion while Americans go to bed hungry.


Maybe Joe Biden does have a plan to address hunger and homelessness!  Maybe nuclear war is his plan to end all the world's problems.  It would end the world while ending those problems but Joe -- even before senility kicked in -- was never accused of being a great thinker.

And you can see that in Joe's approach to climate change.  Kenny Stancil (COMMON DREAMS) notes:

Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate denounced world leaders Tuesday for continuing to support new coal, oil, and gas projects despite overwhelming evidence that extracting and burning more fossil fuels will exacerbate deadly climate chaos.

"The focus for many leaders is about making deals for fossil fuel lobbyists, surviving the next election cycle, and grabbing as much short-term profit as possible," Nakate said at an event on the sidelines of the United Nations COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Alluding to the presence of more than 630 fossil fuel lobbyists at the meeting, which is being held in a heavily policed and expensive resort city, Nakate said that oil and gas representatives are turning COP27 into "a sales and marketing conference for more pollution and more destruction and more devastation."

Nakate cited the International Energy Agency's 2021 blueprint for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, which made clear that investment in new fossil fuel projects is incompatible with meeting the Paris agreement's goal of capping temperature rise at 1.5°C above preindustrial levels—beyond which impacts will grow progressively worse for millions of people, particularly those living in impoverished countries who have done the least to cause the crisis.

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—the three main heat-trapping gases fueling global warming—hit an all-time high last year, and greenhouse gas pollution has only continued to climb this year.

Meanwhile, public subsidies supporting the production and consumption of coal, oil, and gas nearly doubled in 2021, and hundreds of corporations are planning to expand dirty energy production in the coming years, including several proposed drilling projects and pipelines in Africa.

Also at COMMON DREAMS, Edward Hunt warns:

The leaders of the United States are prioritizing great power competition with China and Russia at a time when much of the world is demanding that the world's great powers cooperate to address the climate crisis.

Officials in Washington recently confirmed that they see great power competition with China and Russia as their top concern in global affairs, even while acknowledging that the greatest threat to the planet comes from climate change.

"Simply put, we face two main strategic challenges," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan explained in a major policy address last month. "The first is geopolitical competition." The second "is the sheer scale and speed of transnational challenges," such as climate change.

"The climate crisis is the greatest of all the shared problems we face," Sullivan added.

For years, officials in Washington have been warning about the return of great power competition. They say that China and Russia are increasingly challenging the world order that the United States has dominated since the end of the Cold War.

"We're at an inflection point in history," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month. "The post-Cold War era is over. There is a competition on now to shape what comes next."

The Biden administration's National Security Strategy claims that the world has entered a new era of great power competition. Released to the public last month, the National Security Strategy presents a vision in which the United States is promoting democracy around the world while Russia and China are pushing autocracy and creating instability.

"We will prioritize maintaining an enduring competitive edge over the PRC while constraining a still profoundly dangerous Russia," the report notes.

Within this framework, the United States has sought to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and strengthen the U.S. military presence around China. Not only has the Biden administration funneled billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine with the goal of achieving the "strategic defeat" of Russia, but it has overseen a major military buildup in East Asia, where the U.S. military now has more soldiers stationed than any other region of the world.

 Though the country has already suffered enough due to the US-led war, Iraq is also set to be one of the most harmed by climate change.

This morning, RUDAW reports:

 The marshes of Iraq are no longer suitable for living after mostly drying up, with the droughts killing most of Dhi Qar’s livestock and driving inhabitants away. 

The effects of the drought are huge, with water scarcity in the al-Hammar Marshes in Dhi Qar being the main factor in the substantial financial losses suffered by locals. 

Ahmad Jawad Aziz, a resident of the al-Hammar marshes in Dhi Qar, told Rudaw’s Anmar Ghazi on Tuesday that “life has ceased here, and most of the residents here make their living on the marshes, by raising fish, buffaloes, and cows, and harvesting cane,” Aziz continued.

“Now everything has ended here, as the marshes have become a barren desert land.”

Livestock and sheep breeders in the marshes protested against the neglect endured by the al-Hammar marshes.

“There is no initiative by the decision makers in order to alleviate the brunt of the drought on buffalo breeders, such as providing them with fodder and granting them soft loans for the purpose of helping them overcome the crisis and supply safe drinking water,” Abu Hassan al-Musafiri, Head of the Gilgamesh Foundation for Antiquities and Marshes said. 

The International Organization for Migration shares:

Al Hadam, 17 November 2022 – Mohsin Faleh is a 30-year-old farmer in the southern Iraqi community of Al Hadam, Missan governorate. His face was weary as he surveyed the barren land that bears the scars of a complex water crisis that is expected to worsen.

“I don't remember the last time it rained; I think two years ago,” Mohsin commented in early October, on a day when temperatures hovered in the 40-degrees Celsius range.

Iraq has two main sources of water – the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The intake of water from both rivers is decreasing at an unprecedented rate, due to the construction of upstream dams and a prolonged drought.

Climate change, rising temperatures and the diversion of river water also mean that residents in Al Hadam struggle to access adequate water for use in their homes. This water scarcity is forcing some residents to uproot their lives and families.

Iman has six children and meeting her family’s water needs is difficult and expensive. “We are thinking of moving to the city because there is no water. We have to buy water,” said Iman, who was born and raised in Al Hadam.

Mohsin recalled that rainfall was predictable during his childhood, with rain arriving every year during the autumn season. The young farmer has observed dramatic changes to the climate, the soil and the water resources surrounding his community over the last few years.

Drought conditions are exacerbated not only by the decreased water levels in sub-canal systems near Al Hadam, but by their high saline content, making farming nearly impossible.

Dwindling fresh water enables the salty tidewater of the Persian Gulf to seep into the Tigris and Euphrates, which feed sub-canals like in Al Hadam. The high salt content then depletes the parched farmland even more. Even the arrival of autumn rains may not be enough for the cultivation of farmland to sustain the region’s agricultural livelihoods.

And REUTERS notes:

The worst drought Abed Hameed al-Brahimi has ever seen has killed virtually everything around him: his rice farm, most of his livestock and chickens - and accelerated a rural exodus that is jeopardising Iraq's future stability.

His home now resembles a desert, rather than the green oasis it was a year ago. Without water to irrigate his fields, he has not planted a single seed of rice, which used to feed his family of four and provide a surplus he could sell.

His guard dog does not bark. Thirsty and famished, it barely tilts its head in the direction of the strangers traversing its domain, oblivious to the sounds and sights around it.

"What is happening to us has never happened before. We are completely destroyed," Brahimi, 45, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, standing next to his brownfields in al-Meshkhab, a town some 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital Baghdad.

"This year our lives ended all at once."

The following sites updated:

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