Friday, May 19, 2023

Streaming services -- where's the content?

I'm just doing streaming in this post.  Streaming services first and then news on content being removed from HULU and DISNEY+.

It's Friday.  We went to the movies Thursday night, so we're staying in tonight.  We go to the streams and what is the point?

HULU has the new WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP so if you're interested in that, go there.  But I'm not.  I liked the original, it was funny but I haven't been waiting on a remake.  I have no plans to ever see it.  And the layout of HULU is too damn messy.

Which is the reality for all of them.  

HBO MAX -- next month juts MAX -- is garbage.  It never has anything worth watching.  It's a garbage dump.

PARAMOUNT+?  Another nightmare.  I have it via WALMART+ (grocery delivery).  If my subscription doesn't include SHOWTIME, stop cluttering my TV screen with stuff I can't watch.

Now I do have SHOWTIME -- via AMAZON.  And yet when I go there it's a nightmare of bulls**t.  It's old movies and old shwos and it's the worst layout.  That's also true for my other channels at AMAZON: STARZ and MGM+.  They should note very clearly on their own screens what is new.  Maybe they don't do that because they don't have much new?  

DISNEY+ would be the biggest disappointment of late were it not for HBO MAX.  I didn't realize I was subscribing to a kiddie channel.  Family channel?  I can deal with that.  Kiddie channel?  Not interested.  Their TV shows just don't work.  I don't care about moralizing rescues that play like the old Goliath TV show -- the worst thing about Sundays was having my grandmother pass that crap off as 'cartoons.'  She still laughs when I make that comment.  Stop insulting us.  You can make a family friendly show without talking down to us.

PEACOCK.  Give it credit for having the best layout outside of NETFLIX.  They also have the NBC comedies that I like (LOPEZ V LOPEZ and NIGHTCOURT) as well as MODERN FAMILY and 30 ROCK which I watch in repeats.  I can also easily find whatever's new quickly -- again, great layout.

NETFLIX is the standard and remains it and it always has something.  By the way, credit to FIREFLY LANE and THE NIGHT AGENT which are still in the top ten of most streamed series.  April 27 is when the final episodes of FIREFLY LANE dropped and it's still in the top ten and THE NIGHT AGENT debuted March 23rd and is still in the top ten.  Those are two great shows, make a point to catch them if you haven't.  NETFLIX has a great layout and always has something new each week.  (More than one new offering a week, in fact.)

AMAZON PRIME.  I like AMAZON for AMAZON.  By that I mean, channel add-ons are useless here in my opinion.  See my comments on PARAMOUNT+ about SHOWTIME.  But in terms of having my AMAZON film and TV purchases and being able to find what's new on AMAZON -- free and paid -- it works. 

APPLE TV+ I dropped because it's just bad crap.  You can see how they make their programs.  "So and so is a moderate name let's put them in a quirky show and we'll pretend it's art."  They make garbage that's unwatchable for the most part.  They'll get a Stephen King adaptation, LISEY'S STORY, for example, that is worth watching and it'll end while all this garbage that no one would watch goes on and on.  Yes, the garbage shows that no one ever wants to watch will keep coming back for season after season.  Jennifer Aniston, if your interviews over the last few years didn't make me hate you (they did), then THE MORNING SHOW would.  It's not a show.  It's preaching.  And there's something really sad about an actress who so obviously seems to be a lesbian looking down on 60 and still playing "Why can't I find a man!" 

I'm more apt to watch PLUTO (a free streamer) and THE CAROL BURNETT channel on that streamer than the bulk of the channels I'm paying for.

I'm leaving out YOUTUBETV because I watch that for live programming, I don't usually do a la carte -- especially now that most TV shows are over until fall. 

It's not a question of not being able to afford it.  I make my bills.  But it is an issue of I'm just not watching it.  I haven't watched anything on HBO MAX, for example, in at least three months.  

NETFLIX is worth keeping and AMAZON PRIME and PEACOCK but the rest just aren't cutting it.

Now let's talk about shows and films being dropped.

So DEADLINE's reported on HULU and DISNEY+ both being about to drop shows.  But I actually learned about it through THE VERGE's coverage of the DEADLINE report.

Here's what DISNEY+ is dropping:

  • Big Shot 
  • Turner & Hooch 
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society 
  • The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers 
  • Willow 
  • The Making Of Willow 
  • Diary of a Future President 
  • Just Beyond 
  • The World According to Jeff Goldblum 
  • Marvel’s Project Hero 
  • Marvel’s MPower 
  • Marvel’s Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever
  • Rosaline 
  • Cheaper by the Dozen remake 
  • The One and Only Ivan 
  • Stargirl 
  • Artemis Fowl 
  • The Princess 
  • Encore! 
  • A Spark Story 
  • Black Beauty 
  • Clouds 
  • America the Beautiful 
  • Better Nate Than Ever 
  • Weird but True! 
  • Timmy Failure 
  • Be Our Chef 
  • Magic Camp 
  • Earth to Ned 
  • Foodtastic 
  • Stuntman 
  • Disney Fairy Tale Weddings 
  • Wolfgang 
  • It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer 
  • The Real Right Stuff 
  • The Big Fib 
  • Rogue Trip 
  • More Than Robots 
  • Shop Class 
  • Pick the Litter 
  • Own the Room 
  • Among the Stars 
  • Harmonious Live! 
  • Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays

Garbage.  The only thing on the list that mattered at all was MIGHTY DUCKS and that was only season one.  After Emilio was gone, it was garbage as well.

Now for HULU:

  • Y: The Last Man 
  • Pistol 
  • Little Demon 
  • Maggie 
  • Dollface 
  • The Hot Zone 
  • The Premise 
  • Love in the Time of Corona 
  • Everything’s Trash 
  • Best in Snow 
  • Best in Dough 
  • Darby and the Dead 
  • The Quest

Another list of shows no one cared about. 

I don't understand, however, why they have to prune.  FILMSTRUCK did that as well.  Which is why so much of the whining when it ended made me laugh -- it was obvious that many of the celebrity complainers didn't actually stream FILMSTRUCK.  Jean Harlow's BOMBSHELL is a film film lovers should all see.  And you could on FILMSTRUCK -- every six months.  They'd put it up, they'd take it down.

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

Friday, May 19, 2023.  Water, the budget, women's rights and war-war-war -- the UN hears about Iraq.

Starting with this from MENAFM:

 Iraq registered up to 119 cases of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF), including 18 deaths, since the beginning of this year, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said on Thursday, trend reports citing xinhua .

The ministry's spokesman Sayf al-Badr told the official Iraqi News Agency that 35 of the detected VHF cases were registered in the southern Dhi Qar province, followed by Basra with 18 cases, and the rest are spread across the other provinces.

Al-Badr added that six of the 18 deaths by the infectious disease were registered in Dhi Qar, followed by the southern province of al-Muthanna with three deaths.

From the Center for Disease Control:

Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are a group of diseases that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. The term “viral hemorrhagic fever” refers to a condition that affects many organ systems of the body, damages the overall cardiovascular system, and reduces the body’s ability to function on its own. Symptoms of this type of condition can vary but often include bleeding, or hemorrhaging. Some VHFs cause relatively mild illness, while others can cause severe, life threatening disease. Most VHFs have no known cure or vaccine.

Although VHFs are caused by several families of viruses, these viruses share some common characteristics:

  • They are RNA viruses, meaning viruses that have ribonucleic acid (RNA) as their genetic material. These viruses are the most common cause of emerging disease in people because RNA viruses change over time at a high rate.
  • They are covered, or enveloped, in a lipoprotein outer layer, making it easier to destroy these viruses with physical (heat, sunlight, gamma rays) and chemical (bleach, detergents, solvents) methods.
  • They naturally exist in animal or insect populations, referred to as host populations, and are generally restricted to the geographical areas where the host species live.
  • They spread to people when a person encounters an infected animal or insect host. After the initial spread into the human population, some VHF viruses can continue to spread from person-to-person.
  • Outbreaks of VHFs in people can be difficult to prevent since they can occur sporadically and cannot be easily predicted.

The United Nations Security Council got a briefing on Iraq yesterday.  As usually happens, the United Nations Special Representative for Iraq briefed the Committee.  Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert holds that position currently.  We're going to note some of the testimony.  

UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: With UNAMI’s next mandate renewal around the corner, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect, just a bit, and more importantly: to look ahead.  In the past months, numerous people and entities have analysed the events that shook Iraq 20 years ago, as well as the developments since.  Few would deny that it has been a very rough road. A road that has seen not only the compounding of existing fragilities, inherited from the previous decades, but also the exposure of new weaknesses. And while many acknowledged that Iraq, throughout its history, has overcome some very dark times - they also argued that the drivers of instability in the country’s more recent past remained, for the most part, the same. Drivers such as corruption, weak governance, the presence of armed non-state actors, impunity, factional politics, poor service delivery, inequality, unemployment, and an overreliance on oil.
[. . .]

Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.  Meanwhile, Iraq continues to rely on oil. And the public sector remains the biggest employer. Now, these phenomena are, of course, nothing new. But, as I have said so many times, neither can last indefinitely. Economic diversification and major structural reforms remain urgent.

Representing the US to the Security Council  Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis:  

The United States will stand side-by-side with all Iraqis as they continue their effort, which has come at great sacrifice, to ensuring an enduring defeat of ISIS. The United States and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition will continue to provide support for this critical effort, at the invitation of the Iraqi government.  An essential element of ISIS’s defeat is the dismantling of their networks for recruitment and radicalization to violence, particularly those that prey on children in displacement camps in Syria. We commend Iraq for its efforts to bring home Iraqis, overwhelmingly women and children, from al-Hol camp, and we call on all UN Member States to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and where appropriate, prosecute their nationals in Iraq and Syria.

So the US military is never leaving.  

We used to cover this briefing in detail.  It really has little importance.  They want the UNAMI mandate renewed that's probably the big thing out of this one.  Here's the United Kingdom's  Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley:

 Over the past twenty years the Mission has played a vital role in supporting Iraq and the Iraqi people. We strongly support the renewal of the mandate of the Mission and welcome the opportunity for an independent strategic review to ensure the Mission is aligned to the current peace and security threats facing Iraq.

He also stressed the importance of the budget for the year being passed.

We're going to note Khanim Latif's remarks in full (the main reason we're noting the briefing, in fact):

President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on the situation of women and civil society in Iraq this morning.

I am Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women, an Iraqi non-profit organization that strives to achieve gender equality, eliminate gender-based discrimination, and end all forms of violence against women. My organization established the first independent shelter for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Iraq in 2002.

The current situation in Iraq is characterized by widespread violence against women in all fields, including the targeting of women human rights defenders.[1] In recent months, we have witnessed campaigns against women human rights defenders in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq simply for using the term “gender.”[2] The precarious situation of Iraqi women, coupled with social and economic inequality and the unacceptably low numbers of women in decision-making, means that the space for women to fully and freely exercise their rights is highly restricted.

The current situation of women and girls in Iraq should deeply concern us all. My statement today will focus on how the international community can effectively address four key issues:

  • Legal protection from violence against women;
  • Women’s political participation;
  • The gendered impact of climate change; and
  • Renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) mandate.

With regard to legal protection from violence against women:

Discrimination and violence against women in Iraq are now widespread. Hardly a day goes by without reports of women being killed, maimed, and targeted by their own family members, simply because of their gender.[3] Besides the alarming levels of violence against women across the country — GBV increased by 125 percent to over 22,000 cases between 2020 and 2021, and over 75 percent of those at risk of GBV are women — the brutal nature of these crimes is also of grave concern.[4] So-called ”honor killings” of women for transgressing social norms, early and forced marriage and incest are also widespread across the country.[5] This sharp increase in GBV is occurring against a backdrop of impunity for perpetrators, and lack of access to services, legal protection, and justice for survivors of GBV.[6]

Excellencies, without protection from violence and freedom from discrimination, women cannot engage fully or equally on the political, social, and economic levels. The prevalence of GBV not only violates women’s basic human rights as guaranteed by international standards outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Iraq, but also violates Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security (WPS) that have, for more than 20 years, emphasized the important linkages between protection and participation.[7] For women to have a voice in determining their country’s future, the violence must end.

Therefore, I urge the Security Council to call on the Iraqi Government to take all necessary measures to protect girls and women from all forms of GBV and to support access to justice for survivors. This requires adopting the long-overdue draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law, amending the Penal Code, and preventing the interpretation of the Personal Status Law on sectarian grounds.[8] Adopting the Anti-Domestic Violence Law could provide an important solution for the thousands of Iraqi girls and women who are exposed to GBV on a daily basis. I also urge you to call on the Government of Iraq to provide GBV survivors with robust access to shelters for those fleeing domestic violence, including shelters operated by NGOs, and ensure their access to psychosocial support, access to justice and legal services, as well as support for livelihoods.

Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.[9]

As for women’s political participation:

Today, 29 percent of the members of Iraqi Parliament are women, and the cabinet includes three women ministers, including the Minister of Finance.[10] While this is a positive first step, there must be far greater efforts by political parties to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all processes. It is not enough to only increase the number of women in decision-making positions — they must also have meaningful influence over the outcomes of such processes and negotiations.[11] Quite simply, without women at the table, decisions will remain the preserve of men in the political process and fail to reflect women’s rights.

Therefore, I call on the Security Council to encourage the Iraqi Government to establish a national mechanism for women, whether it is a council or a ministry, with competent human resources, and to allocate a sufficient budget to implement the second National Action Plan to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

Concerning the gendered impact of climate change:

We know that Iraq is the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change in the world.[12] The percentage of Iraqi lands exposed to desertification reached 92 percent.[13] Iraq also contributed 9 percent on average of all global emissions of greenhouse gasses, methane, and carbon dioxide.[14]

As is the case with wars, the first victims of climate change are women. After the agricultural lands dried up in Iraq, migration from rural to major urban centers increased in search of livelihoods, exposing women to sexual harassment, economic violence, loss of adequate shelter, and deprivation of their most fundamental rights.[15]

In this regard, Asuda organized awareness campaigns calling on stakeholders to take concrete measures to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on women and girls and to include them in programs to improve irrigation systems and resource management.

Therefore, the Security Council should call on the Government of Iraq to abide by the Paris Agreement and the Helsinki Principles on climate change. This would help ease internal migration to large cities and provide livelihoods for the displaced, especially women, rehabilitate them and provide them with information, psychosocial support, and economic opportunities to ensure security and respect for their rights.

On the renewal of UNAMI’s mandate:

The United Nations has a vital role to play in supporting and advocating for the protection and advancement of women’s human rights, gender equality, and their full, safe, equal and meaningful participation in peace and political processes within Iraq.

As the mandate for UNAMI is renewed, it is essential to strengthen its role in advancing any issues related to WPS. I strongly encourage the Security Council to be explicit in calling on UNAMI to support women’s participation in all political and decision-making processes. Additionally, UNAMI must monitor and report on any violations or retaliation against women human rights defenders and civil society leaders. UNAMI should also prioritize regularly engaging with Iraqi civil society to ensure their views inform its work throughout the country. UNAMI must also provide the necessary support to the Government of Iraq to carry out judicial and legal reforms, protect women’s rights, support women’s organizations, and prevent all forms of GBV in line with all relevant Security Council resolutions. Finally, the Security Council should urge the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMI to provide comprehensive analysis on WPS issues in all upcoming briefings and reports to the Security Council.

In conclusion, I can say that Iraq is currently in the process of being built. I urge the international community to relinquish militarized approaches and to instead support us, with technical expertise and resources, as Iraqis, to rebuild our homeland, end corruption and work towards lasting peace. As I hope my statement today highlights, none of this is possible without respect for women’s rights, or without women taking their rightful place at the table.

Thank you.

The rights of women in Iraq get very little attention from the international press.  If a murder gets reported -- not takes place, but actually gets reported in the international press -- we might see a paragraph of two on the issues facing women in Iraq today -- we might even get a sentence of how women's rights were destroyed in the 2003 invasion.  That's pretty much all.  Ali Younes (ARAB NEWS) is the only one I'm seeing who reported in English on the testimony above (click here).

 UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert didn't address the issue nor did she speak of the disappeared.  The latter was especially surprising since it was just last month that the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances noted that forced disappearances continue in Iraq -- their timeline covered "he Ba’ath era from 1968-2003 - characterized by the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein - through to the anti-Government protests from 2018 to 2020. "  She may represent UNAMI but how can Hennis-Plasschaert represent the UN when she can't even speak to that?  And please note, this is not a minor issue.  She has been protested in Iraq for ignoring this very topic.  She's also been protested for some of the people she elects to meet with -- known assassins and gangsters and she infamously refused to meet with the mother of Ihab al-Wazni.  Ihab was one of many activists who was assassinated.  In 2021, she had to be publicly shamed into meeting with Samira al-Wazni. 

One thing Hennis-Plasschaert did address, as an aside and late into her remarks, was water:

Something else, Madam President: water. Water represents the most critical climate emergency for Iraq. By 2035, it is estimated that Iraq will have the capacity to meet only 15% of its water demands. 90% of Iraq's rivers are polluted, and 7 million people are currently suffering from reduced access to water. This is a significant multiplier of threats to Iraq’s stability.

The priority placed on the issue of water security by Iraq’s Government is, therefore, most welcome. And, plans for the extensive updating of Iraq’s water management systems are said to be underway. This will be vital in meeting demands driven by population growth and urbanization.

The fair sharing of resources among Iraq’s neighbours is equally important. If water is a competition, everyone loses. Bold domestic actions and close regional cooperation offer the only winning solution.

Saturday, May 6h, Baghdad hosted the International Water Conference.  Though the conference was needed, there was no real attention from the international press.

You'll note Iraq's prime minister, foreign officials, a WHO rep, the United Nations, etc.  Why isn't this being covered by the US press?

Lack of interest in Iraq?  Lack of interest in climate change?  Or both.

Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) reported:

Iraq on Saturday called for emergency assistance from the international community to help restore the flow of water in the country's two main rivers.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani made the plea for “urgent international intervention” at the start of the two-day Baghdad International Water conference.

“The issue of water has become a sensitive one not only in Iraq but in all countries,” Mr Al Sudani said.

Water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which account for more than 90 per cent of Iraq's freshwater reserves, have declined significantly over the years, partly as a result of the construction of dams and diversion of water upstream in Turkey and Iran.

The Prime Minister warned that a shortage of water compounded by climate change would have a substantial impact on Iraq's economic development and environment, with wider ramifications for regional stability.

KURDISTAN 24 noted:

The KRG Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Begard Dlshad, is heading the delegation to present the Region’s perspective on water issues such as drought, that has negatively impacted Iraq in recent years, the minister told Kurdistan 24.

The United Nations is also participating in the conference along with representatives of neighboring countries, including Iran and Turkey.

“The KRG’s dam construction project aims to reduce the reliance on water flow from neighboring countries,” the minister told Kurdistan 24 and added that 30 percent of Iraq’s water reserves are in the Kurdish region.

45-year-old Begard Dlshad Shukralla has her degree in biology and has previously held the following posts: 2011 to 2013 head of the PUK's Office for Monitoring and Follow Up, 2013 to 2017 MP in the Kurdistan Parliament and, in 2017, Secretary of the Kurdistan Parliament.  Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) reported:                                                                             

Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the United Nations. It is facing a severe water shortage because of reduced precipitation and higher temperatures, and waste and mismanagement. The crisis is worsened by dams upstream in Turkey and Iran that have led to a significant decrease in the volume of water entering the country. 

A visit by Sudani to Turkey in March saw measurable success after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to double the water releases in the Tigris River for a period of one month, saying the decision was made “in order to relieve Iraq’s distress.”

“The government has set the water file as one of its priorities, and has taken many policies. And it was necessary to identify the problems with upstream countries so our meetings with the countries emphasized the need to give the full share of water,” Sudani said. 

During the conference, Sudani also pleaded for “the efforts of all friends” of the international community to “urgently” assist Iraq counter water insecurity.

In one of the latest stark warnings of the threats a heating climate poses to Iraq, a report by the Ministry of Water Resources late last year predicted that unless urgent action is taken to combat declining water levels, Iraq’s two main rivers will be entirely dry by 2040. 

The following sites updated:

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