Monday, June 1, 2020

Laura Nyro

I always loved Laura Nyro.  In the video above, she's performing at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.  That was "the summer of love," for those of you too young to remember.

Laura was a singer-songwriter. 

Her only charting single was a cover of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Up On The Roof" from Laura's album CHRISTMAS AND THE BEADS OF SWEAT. 

Here's Bobby Darin introducing her when she performed "He's A Runner" and "Save The Country" on his show.

Everyone had hits with Laura's songs -- everyone but Laura.

The Fifth Dimension (a great vocal group) had hits with her "Wedding Bell Blues," "He's a Runner," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Sweet Blindness," "Blowing Away" and "Save The Country."  The Three Dog Night had a hit with her "Eli's Coming."  Barbra Streisand had a hit with Laura's "Stoney End." Blood, Sweat and Tears had a hit with "And When I Die."

Peggy Lipton (a personal friend of Laura Nyro's) recorded Laura's songs, as did Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Linda Ronstadt (with the Stone Poneys), Peter, Paul and Mary, Roseanne Cash, Morrissey, Thelma Houston, and Kanye sampled her "Save The Country" (for his song "The Glory").

She pushed the boundaries of song and was a true innovator. 

She put out many great albums.  I think her 1989 live album (LIVE AT THE BOTTOM LINE) is a classic as much as her first four albums.  My favorite track on the 1989 album was a new song entitled "The Japanese Restaurant."

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Monday, June 1, 2020.  THE NEW YORK TIMES rushes to trash Tara Reade again, many people aren't having it, in Iraq the water issues continue in Basra and much more.

THE NEW YORK TIMES drags Tara Reade through the mud again.  You can read it at THE WALLA WALLA UNION BULLETIN.  That way, you're not giving clicks to THE TIMES or it's putrid Jim Root-Toot-en-berg, Stephanie Saul and Lisa Lerer.  The bulk of the long, long article is trash.  Here are the parts that matter.  First:

Only two people know what did or did not happen between Reade and Biden in the spring of 1993. Still, like other significant chapters of the #MeToo moment, Reade’s comes with the statements of confidants who say they heard her account long before it became public.
But while five people have said Reade shared all or part of her account of sexual harassment with them around the time she says it happened, corroboration of the assault charge is shakier.
The two people who say she told them of it contemporaneously — her brother and a longtime friend — initially offered accounts of harassment, not assault. The friend told The Times in 2019 that Biden’s behavior was “a little bit just over the line, but nothing like, ‘Oh, my God, call 911.’”
The friend says she had withheld the full story because Reade was not ready to share it, and two other people have said she told them of an assault a few years later. Professionals who counsel sexual abuse victims say it is not uncommon for them to reveal what happened piecemeal, over time.
Nothing Michael Tracey and other pig boys have written or Tweeted about Tara changes or disproves the allegation of assault she has made against Joe Biden.

There's this:

There is some contemporaneous evidence that she complained of mistreatment while in Biden’s office.
As The Intercept reported in April, a woman living in California called in to “Larry King Live” in August 1993 to say her daughter had been working “for a prominent senator and could not get through with her problems at all.” She did not say what that trouble was. Reade has previously said her mother, who has since died, called into the program after she told her about her experience.
Three years later, in divorce proceedings, her husband, Ted Dronen, said Reade had “related a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.” He did not say Biden had himself harassed her.

And this:

"By coming forward about Joe Biden,” she wrote Friday, “I have lost everything again, my job, my housing and my reputation. I have been called every vile name imaginable and presented as a monster by the media for daring to speak about Joe Biden and what happened. But I am free.”

That is all that matters. 

Oh, my goodness, some people didn't get repaid when they helped her with an electric payment!!!!!

Who the hell cares?

That has nothing to do with the assault she alleges.

I loan money all the time and I never do it with the expectation that I'm going to be paid back.  I'm not seeing any story -- and it wouldn't matter if I did -- where someone's saying, "I had an overdraft on my account and I told Tara I could loan her X but I needed the money by noon the next day or I would bounce checks."  You had the money, you gifted the money.  In a perfect world, you'd get it back.  In the real world, you know someone supporting herself and her daughter that is already struggling with bills is probably never going to pay you back.

None of it has anything to do with the charge of assault.  

And no where in the article does THE TIMES take accountability for their smearing of Tara or for being in the tank for Joe Biden.

He claimed in an interview two weeks ago that he has been endorsed by the NAACP every time he's run for office.  The NAACP has never endorsed him.  They even issued a statement noting that fact.  We covered it at THIRD ("Does Joe Biden ever stop lying?").  Where's THE NEW YORK TIMES' article?  Where's their report noting all the lies he's told and all the character flaws he has -- including refusing to acknowledge a grandchild even after DNA tests made clear the child's father was Hunter Biden?

Joe Biden dropped out of the 1988 race for president why?  Because he got caught lying.  And he clearly didn't learn from it because he continues to lie -- over and over.

Why is he getting a pass on that from the press?

Oh, right.  Bully Boy Bush had the media's help selling the Iraq War because the corporate media wanted certain things.  Joe's already met with Comcast and others and promised them their shopping lists would be checked off.  

Left-wing corporate Democratic media and politicians not only proved me wrong, they betrayed my trust and respect as a student journalist and moral citizen. Regardless of whether you believe Tara Reade’s allegation against Joe Biden or not, no human and survivor who speaks up deserves death threats and harassment, interrogation, trauma-ignorant journalists, disrespect, vilified characterization, and media blackout.
Tara Reade is certainly not the first survivor to withstand such treatment nor will she be the last, but as readers and as voters, we need to start holding our institutions and representatives accountable for the messages of silence they send.
The New York Timeswas one of many left-leaning newspapers to exemplify this treatment against Reade. This was shown by their taking 19 days to report on her allegation, and by including interviews from extraneous staff members, using Trump as a strawman, and editing the article after publication to say "The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden'' and excluding "beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable" — without notifying readers of the update. Between all of it, this article and many others like it, politically trivalize sexual violence in a way that encourages silence for the sake of political convenience.
Many #MeToo leaders and liberal feminists, including Alyssa Milano, fell into this trap of political hypocrisy as well. The double standard reactions towards Reade's case as compared to Ford and other survivors was made clear as many went out of their way to criticize Reade, once more begging the question of trading in any actual conversation of Reade and her story for political convenience. 
[. . .]

As we see survivors on national television scrutinized and politically targeted by journalists, politicians, #MeToo leaders, and anyone with an opinion, there's a dangerous message that the burden is on the survivor and that the world is against them. Consider another reason many don't report: the length and difficulty of the reporting process and any following criminal case.
"I've spoken to a lot of people about this and that was why the case being so long felt even longer because they have to go through the trauma over and over again," Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) Director Nicole Sullivan said. 

[. . .]  a proper DNC inquiry is just what’s needed to give Reade’s allegation the full attention it deserves. Why be so afraid to carry one out? If the evidence is compelling enough on either side, then voters will know whether or not they have a candidate they can be confident in. As Representative Ayanna Pressley recently said: “I reject the false choice that my party and our nominee can’t address the allegations at hand and defeat the occupant of the White House.”

This is not going away.  Even after the 2020 election is over, this is not going away.  The Michael Traceys can savage Tara as much as they want.  It's not going to silence her or the people who are outraged over the trashing of a woman for stepping forward.  This is not a minor issue.  This is one of those issues that will never go away.  

The attacks on Tara have been outrageous.  What's passed for 'reporting' has been outrageous.

She's been held to a higher standard than an elected official has.  Joe's entire life has been as a public servant.  But he's not held to any real standard by the media.  A woman came forward and was savaged for her resume, for her rent payments, etc.  Joe has repeatedly lied to the American people.  He's easily told a thousand lies in public in interviews and appearances in the last 12 months.  

Where's the lengthy article examining his character?

The corporate media has never held Joe Biden accountable for anything -- including his part in the destruction of Iraq.  Miguel Gonzalez (EL PAIS) reports:

At the end of July, Spanish troops will be withdrawn from the Gran Capitán base in Bismayah, which is Spain’s most important base in Iraq. Before the coronavirus pandemic, 350 out of Spain’s 530 soldiers in Iraq were stationed at the Gran Capitán base. The base is one of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) centers run by the US-led international coalition in Iraq, which is tasked with training Iraqi security forces. According to military sources, troops are being withdrawn because the base has completed this mission.
The Spanish Defense Ministry is also preparing to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021, before the 14-month deadline for complete withdrawal of US and allied forces comes to an end, as set out in the deal struck between the United States and the Taliban.
At ANTIWAR.COM, Margaret Griffis offers her roundup of May's violence: "At least 262 people were killed, and 149 were wounded across Iraq during May. During April, at least 208 people were killed, and 185 were wounded. Although the new coronavirus kept many civilians in their homes, security operations against the Islamic State increased violence between those two groups."

The Iraq War has not ended.  And the government of Turkey continues to terrorize the Iraqi people.  For years now, they have been ignoring Iraq's sovereignty and bombing the country of Iraq.  These bombings have resulted in many dead.  Seth J. Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) reports:

Turkish airstrikes killed civilians on Saturday, days after another set of airstrikes killed members of a far-left Iranian dissident group in the mountains of the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The attacks appear to represent an increase in Ankara’s use of drones and airstrikes against Kurdish groups. Ankara claims these groups, linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are “terrorists” but presents no evidence that any of them are involved in “terror.”

The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

Frantzman notes, "Iraq has complained to Ankara about the airstrikes but Ankara acts with impunity and international organizations that usually monitor human rights refuse to critique Turkey or visit the areas of the drone strikes." 

The new prime minister, like the previous ones, can't protect Iraq from the continued Turkish attacks.  What can he do?  Corruption now threatens to topple Iraq's long standing food rations program.  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:

Iraq has only 190,000 tons of rice available in its coffers for its food rationing program, the trade ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.
The country needs around 1-1.25 million tons of rice a year to support the program.
In March, the trade ministry pleaded for money from the state's budget to build three months' supply of strategic wheat and rice stockpiles as Iraq grappled with the spread of the new coronavirus.

The corruption has long been noted.  A decade ago, some pretended to be interested in it and in eliminating it -- the US Congress, for example, and the US State Dept to name but two.  These days?  No one really seems to care except for the Iraqi protesters.  A few days ago, Khaled Yacoub Oweis (THE NATIONAL) reported:

A veteran Iraqi economist who is advising the country's new Prime Minister, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, has revealed astounding figures on government waste in the resource-rich but impoverished nation.
Mudher Salih told of a state obsessed with generating money from its oil sector without acting to develop the country or plug holes in the budget that have been sucking liquidity out of public finances for years.
The electricity sector costs the government about $10 billion (Dh36.73bn) a year to run but generates only 7 per cent of its operating costs in revenue, Mr Salih told the official Iraqi news agency on Tuesday.
Iraq also suffers crippling power cuts and imports electricity and gas from Iran to boost production.
Official datas show its generation capacity at 16,000 megawatts, compared with the 24,000 to 30,000 megawatts needed to satisfy demand.
Mr Salih, a former central bank official, is one of the few senior independent experts in Iraq who survived purges under Saddam Hussein.
He retained a senior position in the state after the consolidation of the Shiite political ascendency in 2005, the year Iraq had its first democratic poll post-Saddam.
Mr Salih said Iraq imported $50bn worth of fuel in the past 10 years, although it is one of the top five members of Opec.
"This amount could have been used to build 10 large oil refineries," he said.

The rice shortage comes as other things take place.  Ayad Allawi Tweeted Saturday about the burning of farms that is taking place in Iraq.

Fuel and electricity issues are not the only ones corruption has caused.  There remains the issue of Iraq having a lack of potable water.  This should have been seriously addressed in 2003.  Instead, 'addressing' it was handing out tablets to purify water and blaming women -- the United Nations blaming women, let's be clear.  That allowed the corrupt government of Iraq to continue to ignore the water issue.  Basra's water was so outrageous that it's part of what fueled the protests.  ALSUMARIA reports that the Water Ministry declared today that it 'plans' to address the issue of the lack of drinking water in Basra.  Corruption would also include the report that, as vice president, Nouri al-Maliki to four billion dinars (3,349,396 in US dollars) from the government to decorate his home.

Last July, as people in Basra were suffering, Human Rights Watch noted:

The situation culminated in an acute water crisis that sent at least 118,000 people to hospital in 2018 and led to violent protests. 
The 128-page report, “Basra is Thirsty: Iraq’s Failure to Manage the Water Crisis,” found that the crisis is a result of complex factors that if left unaddressed will most likely result in future water-borne disease outbreaks and continued economic hardship. The authorities at the local and federal level have done little to address the underlying conditions causing the situation.
“Shortsighted politicians are citing increased rainfall as the reason they do not need to urgently deal with Basra’s persistent crisis,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “But Basra will continue to face acute water shortages and pollution crises in the coming years, with serious consequences, if the government doesn’t invest now in targeted, long-term, and badly needed improvements.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 58 Basra residents, workers at private and public water facilities, and healthcare professionals, and reviewed water sample tests from the Shatt al-Arab river, treatment plants, and taps in homes. Human Rights Watch also interviewed representatives from Basra’s provincial council, governor’s office, and the Ministries of Water Resources, Municipalities and Public Works’ water and sewage departments, Health and Environment, and Agriculture, and analyzed academic and public health data and over 20 years of scientific and commercial satellite imagery of the region to substantiate many of the findings.
Basra’s primary water sources are the Shatt al-Arab river and its freshwater canals. Human Rights Watch found that Iraqi authorities have failed to properly manage and regulate Iraq’s water resources, depriving people in southern Iraq’s Basra governorate – four million people – of their right to safe drinking water for decades, including during the period of occupation by the US- and UK-led Coalition Provisional Authority. But multiple government failures since the 1980s, including poor management of upstream water sources, inadequate regulation of pollution and sewage, and chronic neglect and mismanagement of water infrastructure, have caused the quality of these waterways to deteriorate.
To cope with water pollution and shortages, Basra residents have had to rely on purchasing water. The high cost, especially during the crisis, falls hardest on poorer residents, and makes them particularly vulnerable to exposure to unsafe tap water.         

Some will argue that Mustafa al-Kadhim only became Iraq's latest prime minister on May 7th, give him time.  Really?  Back to Ayad Allawi who Tweeted May 26th:

No public tribunal has yet been formed to try protestors’ killers; and neither have martyrs’ families, those wounded and made handicapped been compensated. In addition, there must be a fixed date for fair and early elections; a new electoral law; and an independent commission.

This is not supposed to be a four year term as prime minister.  al-Kahim is supposed to be sorting things out and planning new elections.  We're not seeing that happen.  We're not even seeing him offer a full Cabinet yet.  

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ricky Martin re-emerges" went up Saturday.  New content at THIRD: