Saturday, July 21, 2018

Oh these troubled times

Powerful and important message from Andre Damon (WSWS):

Following the theft of the 2000 presidential election, the World Socialist Web Site warned that there no longer exists a constituency for democracy in the American ruling elite, as growth of social inequality had made democratic forms increasingly impossible within the United States.
Eighteen years later, all of these processes have only intensified. Social inequality has risen to unprecedented levels, expressed most directly in the person of online retail oligarch Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post and has a net worth of some $150 billion.
With the campaign launched in the wake of Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the charge that Trump has “betrayed” the United States to Russia is associated with the most flagrant demands for military rearmament against Russia and for a police-state build-up in the United States.
The declaration by the intelligence agencies that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 US election has been treated as gospel truth, and anyone who questions the record of the US intelligence agencies, despite their role in coups, sweeping attacks on democratic rights, and flagrant lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in the United States, has been branded a traitor.
The fact that such statements are being made in the American press is a warning of the direction in which the US government is headed. Whether or not sections of the US ruling elite, together with the state intelligence forces, move to oust or impeach Trump, this campaign portends a massive intensification of the policies, supported by both the Democrats and Republicans, of censorship, domestic repression, and militarism.

Our nation was never pure but it has gotten so much worse.  In my lifetime, I have seen despair increase and the corruption is now the norm.

Remind me of Joni Mitchell's "Three Great Stimulants."

Last night I dreamed I saw the planet flicker
Great forests fell like buffalo
Everything got sicker
And to the bitter end
Big business bickered
And they call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh these times, these times
Oh these changing times
Change in the heart of all mankind
Oh these troubled times

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot::"
Friday, July 20, 2018.  More protests today as the silence on Iraq largely continues.

I don't normally do this, but I will openly criticise H.M. Government for not producing any statement on Iraq, the protests have been going on for days now, and we've said not a word. People are dying, and it is clear some form of comment is needed. Even an expression of concern.

There's a great deal of silence about what's taking place in Iraq.  Many governments are silent, western media is largely silent.  The people are attacked and various bodies reveal their true colors.  It's not a 'news' story that the Iraqi government is attacking the Iraqi people.  It's not a 'human rights' issue either so the governments can be silent as well.

What you see is the silence of the corrupt and the guilty.

Remember when Goody Whore used to boast that she delivered "the war and peace report" on DEMOCRACY NOW?

The attacks have gotten one damn headline all week.  That's it.  So much for war and peace and alleged concern for the people of the world.  Those who remember the so-called Arab Spring, if they know reality, are aware that it actually started in Iraq and, long after the media had moved on from Egypt, the protests continued in Iraq.

Iraq got little coverage then.  In part because Nouri al-Maliki was attacking journalists.  Well, he was attacking Iraqi journalists.  There was no excuse for the silence from non-Iraqis.

What is their excuse?  They're slaves to their corporate masters?

That would certainly describe those yapping and howling from the kennels of THE WASHINGTON POST.  They're so indignant daily, those E.J.s and Clarences and Ruths and the lesser names.  But they're not so righteous that they will leave Jeff Bezos' payroll, right?  They care so much about the world.  They care so much about fairness and equality . . . except when it comes to their own pay check.  They want that pay check.  Screw the workers for Amazon -- Jeff certainly does.  Someone needs to knock them off their high horse and remind them that as long as Jeff pays slave wages to Amazon workers and as long as they work for Jeff, they are just as guilty.

Oh all around the marketplace
The buzzing of the flies
The buzzing and the stinging
Divinely barren
And wickedly wise
The killer nails are ringing

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

-- "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her NIGHT RIDE HOME

The protests are going on today.

It's been two weeks and the reality is that you have to to non-western media to find out what's happening.  With the exception of NPR, no US outlet has covered the story in a serious manner -- meaning more than a passing glance.  (CNBC did a good report yesterday that we'll note in a moment.  NPR has done several reports.)

AP has a video today.

Non-western outlets and voices have covered the protests repeatedly and powerfully.

The protests are continuing today.

! أحد يروي ملابسات استهداف أحد أصدقائه الخارجين في التي شهدتها ، بحرقة ودموع.


Tear gas is apparently being used on the protesters above.

AL-ARABIYA reports, "The southern region of Iraq continued to face crisis as hundreds of people from Basra resumed demonstrations on Friday, protesting in front of the of the governorate’s office, demanding the resignation of the governor and the districts directors."

Amnesty International UK just issued (40 minutes ago) the following:


Iraq: internet cut to stop protesters posting images of security force attacks

Disabling of internet in south of country occurred shortly before security forces used live ammunition and tear gas against people protesting about unemployment
‘They cut off the internet so they can beat us’ - protester in al-Zubeir
Amnesty International has learned that the Iraqi authorities have disabled internet access shortly before the security forces have attacked - and in some cases killed - people protesting over unemployment and inadequate government services across the south of the country.
In the past week, witnesses in Basra governorate have reported to Amnesty that security forces have been using tear gas and live ammunition against peaceful protesters. At least eight people are reported to have died in the protests so far, according to the Iraqi Health Ministry. Witnesses also reported peaceful protesters being beaten with batons, cables and plastic hoses in violent attempts to disperse them. 
Trusted sources have told Amnesty they believe internet access is being deliberately cut off to prevent protesters and human rights activists from sharing images of the excessive force being used by security forces. One source in Baghdad told Amnesty: 
“When there is no internet, people are being beaten and killed because we can’t upload it. Iraqis now know the value of social media. We need it to raise our voice.”
Protests in Iraq erupted on Sunday 8 July and the internet was cut late at night on Thursday 12 July. Although access was mostly restored on Monday, the signal reportedly remains weak across the country and several social media platforms remain blocked.

One 21-year-old man from al-Zubeir, to the west of Basra city, told Amnesty he joined a demonstration last Sunday to protest against a lack of job opportunities in the area. He said a member of the Iraqi SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) forces confronted the protesters and started firing at them before chasing and beating them. He said:

“They wanted to beat everyone and left no-one without injury. One person was shot in the leg and I saw one person bleeding from his eye. As we retreated, one of them [SWAT] grabbed me and one beat me. When I struggled away, he threw the baton at me and broke my arm. They cut off the internet so they can beat us.”
Another human rights activist in Baghdad said: 
“This is now about more than water and electricity - they are breaking us. They are insulting us. Is there anything worse than being taken, beaten and broken, and thrown on the street? We did not call for violence. We are peaceful.”
The Iraqi Ministry of Defence has reported that some 274 security force members have been wounded in the protests.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said: 
“Deliberately disabling the internet is a sinister restriction to the right to freedom of expression and strongly indicates that the authorities have something to hide. 
“We are closely monitoring the escalating situation across southern Iraq and are extremely worried by reports that security forces are beating, arbitrarily detaining and even opening fire on peaceful protesters.
“The Iraqi authorities must immediately put an end to the torture and other ill-treatment that has included beatings, harassment and intimidation of peaceful protesters by security forces and carry out prompt, independent and impartial investigations to bring all those responsible to justice.”

Arrested and tortured

According to information obtained by Amnesty, two protesters in Baghdad were arrested by armed men in civilian clothes - who said “We are from the authorities” - at around 8pm as they were leaving demonstrations in the city centre. The pair were dragged into a car before being blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. Later, they were beaten, Tasered and interrogated about those who had organised the protests and asked if they belonged to extremist groups. They were later forced to sign papers without being told what they contained, and then released.

Let's note CNBC, Natasha Turak reported on the protests yesterday and noted:

The protests come as a partial recount of Iraq’s election results is underway. The elections, which saw populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr win but failed to produce a clear majority for any party, had a record low turnout of 44 percent, reflecting much of the population’s disenchantment with politics.

Southern Iraq has lived in relative stability compared to the country’s northwest, which endured more than four years of brutal Islamic State (IS) occupation until it was largely defeated by Iraqi and coalition forces at the end of 2017. Because of this, regional experts say, residents expect more from their representatives.

The recounts?  The actual counting is done.  They have to be certified and announced.  On Arabic social media, the general feeling is there's no real change in the tallies or that would be announced already.

Earlier this week, ,Ammar al-Hakim -- who?  He has too many affiliations.  He's heading Wisdom -- a new grouping.  He's one of the National Alliance leaders (the press has called him the leader and we've repeated it here to get angry e-mails from others insisting their boss is also a leader so we are saying he's "one of") and he was the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq following his father's death in 2009.  He stepped down in 2017.  He's long been a favorite of the CIA.  He's long wanted to be prime minister of Iraq.  Earlier this week, Ammar insisted that the protests demanded that Iraq form a government and do so quickly.

Currently, Hayder al-Abadi is prime minister until a new prime minister is named.  However, Iraq has no president.  Fuad Masum has stepped down from his post.  There is question as to how much standing the Parliament has currently.  The new Parliament has yet to convene.

So it's Hayder.  And his Cabinet.  That he keeps meeting with as they plan how to 'deal with' the protesters.

Hayder's also been attempting to sway Massoud Barzani to allign with him (Barzani heads the KDP -- the political party that got the most votes in the KRG).  Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is also trying to woo Barzani.  Nouri's bravado is amazing considering the long history of bad blood between the two.  (Which doesn't mean Barzani won't team with Nouri.  He might be able to forgive the threats Nouri made on him -- arrest among others -- when Barzani gave asylum to Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.)

While Ammar insists that the government must form immediately to quell the protests (not sure how announcing a new government does that, but okay), Shi'ite cleric, movement leader and big winner in the May 12th elections Moqtada al-Sadr feels differently.

-Sadr calls for delay in formation of government as he backs protests sweeping south

Samer al-Atrush (TELEGRAPH OF LONDON) reports:

It was not immediately clear whether Sadr's comments amount to his bloc calling off the talks after he wrote on Twitter that factions "have to suspend all political dialogues for forming coalitions and until they meet protesters’ rightful demands".
The protests may be used by Sadr, who had backed previous demonstrations against the government, to gain an upper hand in the negotiations after the May 12 election marred by allegations of fraud. The talks have dragged on since, making little headway.

The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: