Monday, November 14, 2022

Weekend box office and FAMILY GUY

First up, weekend box office:

1 N Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Walt Disney $181,339,761   4,396   $41,251 $181,339,761 1
2 (1) Black Adam Warner Bros. $8,050,473 -56% 3,603 -382 $2,234 $150,573,563 4
3 (3) Ticket to Paradise Universal $5,900,900 -31% 3,633 -433 $1,624 $56,313,345 4
4 (6) Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Sony Pictures $3,200,624 -5% 2,486 -519 $1,287 $40,840,233 6
5 (4) Smile Paramount Pi… $2,335,355 -41% 2,271 -775 $1,028 $102,781,872 7
6 (5) Prey for the Devil Lionsgate $1,934,749 -50% 2,164 -816 $894 $16,885,993 3
7 (7) The Banshees of Inisherin Searchlight … $1,650,114 -20% 960 +65 $1,719 $5,734,777 4
8 (2) One Piece Film: Red Crunchyroll $1,447,807 -84% 2,213 -154 $654 $12,768,073 2
9 (8) Till United Artists $607,574 -67% 1,358 -778 $447 $8,027,746 5
10 (13) TÁR Focus Features $383,060 -47% 359 -731 $1,067 $4,563,533 6

Not much to say about the above that I didn't already say in "The ugly lesson of BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER."

FAMILY GUY doesn't do a lot of good episodes these days.  So I'll take a moment to note last night's episode on FOX which was not good but pretty great.  The main story was Stewie.  He's just learned this "new game" called Hide And Seek.  Brian gets upset with him when he hides in the drawer of the fridge and tries to talk to him about safe places to hide.  Stewie ends up hiding in Quagmire's suitcase and ends up in Paris.
Meanwhile, Lois is bothered that Bonnie has become the star Instagrammer in the neighborhood.  So she and Peter go to Vermont so Lois can get some shots to post.  Learning that Stewie's in Paris?  She's sure Quagmire can handle it.  She just wants to beat Bonnie.
The stories intersected well and it was a funny episode -- proof that FAMILY GUY still has some life left in it.

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

Monday, November 14, 2022.   The persecution of Julian Assange continues as press whores finally note an attack on The Kurdistan, Iraq's future dims as climate change goes unaddressed, and much more.

 Where the wealth's displayed

Thieves and sycophants parade
And where it's made
the slaves will be taken
Some are treated well
In these games of buy and sell
And some like poor beasts
Are burdened down to breaking

-- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album DOG EAT DOG

Thieves and sycophants?  What a wonderful to describe Jane Arraf.  Over at the increasingly useless NEW YORK TIMES, Sycophant Arraf teams with Sangar Khaleel to inform you that "Iran launched ballistic missile and drone attacks across the border at Kurdish Iranian opposition bases in Iraq on Monday, killing at least two people and wounding at least nine, according to opposition groups."  Is that wrong?  Or, as George Constanza put it in "The Red Dot" episode of SEINFELD, merely frowned upon?

The reason I ask is, NYT looks the other way constantly as the Turkish government attacks the Kurdistan, as they set up bases illegally in the Kurdistan, as they refuse to respect Iraq's sovereignty in Iraq.  Even the use of chemical weapons doesn't prompt this kind of coverage from NYT.  And Jane Arraf, the whore of Baghdad, has never covered the bombings -- not for CNN, not for THE CHRISTIAN SCIENE MONITOR, not for PRI, not for NPR, not for PBS, not for THE NEW YORK TIMES . . .  In all her years (mis)covering Iraq, she's never covered it.

But when Iran does it, it's news.  Is it really news or is it just another thing to hold against a country that the US government sees as an enemy?

We've called out the bombing of northern Iraq for years.  It's very telling that Jane Arraf and NYT only care when the bombing is carried out by Iran.

Dropping back to Thursday's snapshot

In other news, the Turkish government bombs northern Iraq, drones it, sends troops on the ground into it and has set up military bases.  All are acts of war.  Yet, the bulk of the world shields its eyes and pretends nothing is going on.  Stockholm Freedom Center notes:

Professor Noam Chomsky, a well-known American linguist, philosopher and political activist, said in an interview with the Medya Haber news website that an independent organization should conduct a serious investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces in northern Iraq.

In October the pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency (ANF) published a video showing two members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, apparently under the influence of a chemical agent.

“The Turkish government has committed many atrocities. … Every imaginable form of torture was used during the 1990s against Kurds in Turkey,” Chomsky said. “Therefore, although there is no direct evidence of chemical weapons use by the Turkish government, the allegations provide a legitimate basis for a serious investigation by an independent team in northern Iraq.”

Chomsky also pointed out that the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) could be a highly reliable institution to undertake the investigation as a continuation of a probe they conducted in September with support from the United Nations or one of its member states.

And when might Jane Arraf cover that?  Magic 8 Ball replies, "Don't count on it."

Julian Assange is another topic Jane Arraf won't cover -- again thieves and sycophants.  

Not everyone's a silent whore.  Geoffrey Macnab (SCREEN DAILY) reports:

Laura Poitras, the Oscar and Golden Lion-winning  director of documentaries including Risk, Citizenfour and this year’s All The Beauty And The Bloodshed, revealed the calculated risks she takes and the extraordinary lengths to which she goes to protect her footage at a masterclass at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) this weekend where she is this year’s guest of honour.

She used the masterclass to voice her fears about what she believes will be an increased threat to filmmakers and journalists from governments if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to the US.

“It’s important right now to emphasise the danger to journalism because of the US efforts to extradite [Assange] and prosecute him through the Espionage Act,” said Poitras. “Which is for his journalism, for publishing truthful information about US occupations and war crimes.”

Assange is currently in Belmarsh Prison in the UK as the extradition process grinds on.

He is the subject of Poitras’ 2016 film Risk. She had started filming Assange in 2011, before she went on to make her Academy Award- winning documentary, Citizenfour in 2014, featuring Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who worked at the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) before revealing the extent of the NSA’s global mass surveillance programme.

“[Assange’s extradition order] s the biggest threat to press freedom right now,” Poitras told a packed crowd inside Amsterdam’s Carré Theatre. “It is also very personal. Everything, if you read his indictment, are things that I could be accused of.”

Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden and a host of people who should be supporting him stay silent or heap scorn on him.  Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death. 

Also speaking out for Julian is his wife Stella Assange.

At SCHEERPOST, Matt Kennard writes of his interview with Stella Assange (video above):

The wife of the world’s most famous political prisoner is speaking to Declassified as part of her relentless battle to save her husband’s life.

“Sometimes it’s been really, really very difficult for him, and sometimes when he’s able to see the children, when he’s with the children, when there’s progress in the case, then he’s energised,” she adds. “And he’s energised by all the support that he sees out there for him. He gets letters of support and expressions of support constantly.”

One thing immediately noticeable when talking with Stella is she has the same unusual intensity and focus as her husband. For anyone who has met Julian, the similarities are striking.

[. . .]

In 2020, Declassified published a story showing Assange was one of just two inmates at Belmarsh, which then housed 797 prisoners, being held for violating bail conditions.

The figures showed that more than 20% of the prison population was held for murder, while nearly two-thirds — or 477 people — were imprisoned for violent offences. A further 16 inmates were held for offences related to terrorism, including four people who planned to carry out terrorist attacks. Assange himself has never been charged with a violent offence.

“I think they keep him in Belmarsh because they can get away with it, because it’s the most effective way of silencing him, precisely because of this extreme regime that Belmarsh is known for,” Stella says.

“It’s a punishment in itself. The very fact that he is in prison for having exercised his right to seek and actually obtain asylum…that’s a right that’s enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is a long recognised right that every person has. And it violated a technicality, and it’s usually treated as a technicality if there is a sufficient reason for violating the bail. In this case, there undeniably was.”

Stella, whose real name is Sara, continues: “Very rarely is it actually punished with prison time, and he finished serving that prison sentence in October 2019. But effectively it’s an indefinite sentence because while he exercises his right to challenge the US extradition request, the UK keeps him in Belmarsh at the request of the American government.”

Stella Assange also speaks with franceinfo:

franceinfo: How is Julian Assange today?

Stella Morris: He has been in Belmarsh high-security prison since April 11, 2019, when he was arrested outside the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​and his health has been declining ever since. The conditions of detention are very harsh. He had a mini heart attack in October last year. And it is of course very difficult for him to be in isolation. He’s not serving any time, he’s here because the United States wants him extradited because he did his job.

Where are you in the fight for his extradition?

Julian appealed the decision of the British government, which agreed to his extradition. Since that decision in January 2021, we have discovered that there were plans to assassinate Julian in the embassy, ​​to kidnap him etc., when Mike Pompeo was at the head of the CIA. So we defend the fact that Julian cannot be extradited to the country that tried to plan his assassination. There were incredible abuses of process that involved criminality. And we have much more evidence of that today.

When can you present these conclusions and get the final answer to his incarceration?

This is the uncertainty of this whole procedure. We don’t even know if he will be able to appeal, there is no legal obligation to accept it. It can also try to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but the United Kingdom is trying to free itself from its obligations to this Court. 

Saturday, Iraq saw heavy rains.  They are needed because the rivers are drying up.  

IRAQI NEWS AGENCY notes the Deputy Special Rep of the UN Secretary-General.  These are the Rep Ghulam M. Isaczai's statements:


When I traveled to Baghdad a month ago to assume my mission in Iraq in order to help in coordinating our support for the government and the people of Iraq, Mesopotamia was completely different from what I had in my mind two decades ago when I first worked in Iraq. Dust is everywhere stirred by hot air. There are also wide areas of desert in which palm trees exist, standing with patience against desertification. It wasn’t Mesopotamia which was described by history as the cradle of civilization
And when I asked Iraqis and others who spent years here, I was told that it wasn’t  likethis before. It’s clear that weather has bad effects on this country. 
In my career, I have visited many countries and seen many problems, but the effect of climate change is massive here. This beautiful fertile land known through history by its civilizations that flourished around the great Tigris and Euphrates is now confronting the international climate crisis as the fifth of the most vulnerable countries in the world.
I was hoping to be more positive in my first speech to the Iraqi Public, but it is hard to hide reality. I must say that we’ve not lost everything, that there is hope in changing the course of things and the Iraqis should take the lead.
With holding the UN 27th conference for Climate Change COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, it is important to discuss environmental issues and challenges in Iraq and what should be done in their concern.
COP27 will rely on the results of COP26 and respond to the intense international climate state of emergency, providing the most needed efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and building the ability to adjust to the inevitable effects of climate change.
COP27 needs to fulfill its obligations to fund climate work in developing countries, including Iraq. COP27 is regarded as an important chance to governments of the world to hold on their climate obligations keeping to develop them ( nationally specified participations) in accordance with conveying awareness of climate change to Iraq again.
We are all aware of the problems here: extreme weather and climate changes such as heatwaves, heavy rains, rising temperatures, increased precipitation volatility and unpredictability, sandstorms and dust droughts, land degradation, inundation, and water scarcity.

The Iraqi people are living in a toxic land and they endure a government that refuses to take action despite Iraq being identified as one of the countries that will be the most harmed by climate change.  Owen Pinnell (BBC NEWS) reports:

Far removed from the world leaders making climate pledges at COP, are people like Ali Hussein Julood, a young leukaemia survivor living on an Iraqi oil field co-managed by BP. When the BBC discovered BP was not declaring the field's gas flaring, Ali helped us to reveal the truth about the poisonous air the local community has to breathe.

I first saw videos shared on Twitter of burning skies and clouds of black smoke over people's houses in Iraq's oil fields in 2019, and learned that this was a common procedure known as gas flaring - burning off the toxic excess gas that is a by-product of oil drilling.

We discovered through satellite data that Rumaila in Basra, southern Iraq, is the world's worst offender for gas flaring. Gas flaring is not only a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, it is also known to emit benzene - which heightens the risk of cancer, particularly childhood leukaemia.

Dozens of people we spoke to living in five different communities near oil fields like Rumaila, told the same story - that they had a close relative or a friend who was suffering from cancer, often leukaemia. 

One of those was Ali, then 18 years old, whose father had sold everything in his house to raise money for his son's cancer treatment in Turkey. Ali said that the cancer hospital in Basra was full of people like him who lived near oil fields. Rumaila, home to several thousand people, has been given the nickname "the shadow town" by locals, because it is cut off and lacking in basic services. Ali and his friends call it "the cemetery".

"We'd be playing football, then we'd have to run inside, because of the clouds of smoke suffocating us and oil raining from the sky," Ali told us.

"When I told the doctor [in Basra Children's Cancer Hospital] I lived in this area he said: 'This is the main reason for your illness.'"

And RUDAW reports:

Severe drought has taken its toll on the wetlands of Iraq's southern province of Dhi Qar, turning them into a barren desert and threatening them with extinction.

Walking towards the little boat that he used to use for fishing in the Hammar Marshes south of Dhi Qar, Abu Hussein, a man in his fifties, is deeply worried about the drying up of the waters of the marshes, and the livelihood of his family of more than ten members.

The family's sole breadwinner, Abu Hussein told Rudaw that he ponders leaving the region in order to secure his livelihood and his children elsewhere, calling on the government to take measures to reduce drought and provide water.

Hundreds of families used to live in the Hammar marshes in Dhi Qar, but they migrated after these marshes turned into a barren desert due to drought and climate changes.ports:

Climate change isn't making the Iraqi government take action, leukaemia isn't making them take action.  What will?  Who knows?  But Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Iraq must take quick action to combat climate change as its affects would make it one of the most water scarce countries in the world, the UK’s ambassador to the country told The National.

Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate breakdown, impacted by high temperatures, droughts and frequent dust storms, presenting a serious threat to the public’s livelihood, according to the UN.

“There are a range of challenges for Iraq, reduced rainfall, desertification and increased droughts. There’s a wider list of things that needs to happen for Iraq to curb climate change,” Mark Bryson-Richardson told The National.

He said the new government in Baghdad must focus on water management as a “real priority” to improve its usage and prepare for and manage droughts.

“It’s going to be a challenging journey, Iraq will be one of the most water scarce countries in the world in the coming years,” Mr Richardson said during a visit to the UAE this week,

The diplomat’s comments come as world leaders gather for the UN climate summit in Egypt this week.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Robbie Williams re-evaluates his own work on XXV" went up Sunday morning.  The following sites updated:

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