Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Those useless executive orders



 I like to note Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "DiFi Ethics" on top of the picture but Blogger is just not working with me right now so it is what it is, as Kat would say. 


The death spiral of the American Empire will not be halted with civility. It will not be halted with the 42 executive orders signed by Joe Biden, however welcome many are, especially since they can, with a new chief executive, be immediately revoked. It will not be halted by removing Donald Trump, and the crackpot conspiracy theorists, Christian fascists and racists who support him, from social media. It will not be halted by locking up the Proud Boys and the clueless protestors who stormed the Congress on January 6 and took selfies in Mike Pence’s Senate chair. It will not be halted by restoring the frayed alliances with our European allies or rejoining the World Health Organization or the Paris Climate Agreement. All of these measures are window dressing, masking the root cause of the demise of America — unchecked oligarchic power and greed. The longer wealth is funneled upwards into the hands of a tiny, oligarchic cabal, who put Biden into office and whose interests he assiduously serves, we are doomed.  

Once an oligarchy seizes power, deforming governing institutions to exclusively serve their narrow interests and turning the citizenry into serfs, there are only two options, as Aristotle pointed out — tyranny or revolution. The staggering concentration of wealth and obscene avarice of the very rich now dwarfs the hedonism and excesses of the world’s most heinous despots and wealthiest capitalists of the past. In 2015, shortly before he died, Forbes estimated David Rockefeller’s net worth was $3 billion. The Shah of Iran looted an estimated $1 billion from his country. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos amassed between $5 and $10 billion. And the former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was worth about a billion. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are each at $180 billion.  

The new wealth comes from a cartel capitalism far more concentrated and far more criminal than any of the cartels built by the old robber barons of the 19th century. It was made possible by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who, in exchange for corporate money to fund their campaigns and later Clinton’s foundation and post-presidency opulent lifestyle, abolished the regulations that once protected the citizenry from the worst forms of monopoly exploitation. The demolishing of regulations made possible the largest upwards transference of wealth in American history. Whatever you say about Trump, he at least initiated moves to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other Silicon Valley monopolists, none of which will happen under Biden, whose campaign these corporations bankrolled. And that has to be one of the reasons these digital platforms disappeared Trump from social media.


His point about executive orders?  Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The lack of self-awareness" makes that point but more clearly:


Krystal's happy with his executive orders.  But it's not enough, she says while insisting she doesn't want to be a "hater."

How about just being an "honest broker."  The executive orders that she waffled over are useless.  Take the one on abortion.  It's useless.  As long as he's in the White House, it's in effect.  That's all.  As BBC NEWS pointed out, "The Mexico City Policy was first enacted by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and has been repeatedly renewed by Republicans and cancelled by Democrats. For decades, the US has barred money from being spent on overseas abortions but the Mexico City policy takes that a step further. It prevents federal funds from going to organisations that provide abortions, abortion counselling or advocate for the legal right to abortion."  

What's needed, if you really care about the issue, is a law.  And guess what?  He has a Democratic Congress -- House and Senate.  A law is possible, easily possible.  But instead, he's doing an executive order that will be overturned when a Republican comes into the White House, the overturning will be overturned when a Democratic comes into the White House, and on and on and on.

That's not helping women.  A law on this would help women.  


Again, worry less about being a "hater," Krystal, and more about being an honest broker.


They wrote that on Sunday.  Here is the new content at THIRD:



I am not trying to pick but if you are not getting why Ava and C.I. are tired of THIRD, grasp that they wrote "Books," they wrote the WSWS piece, they took notes and typed up the roundtable, they wrote the TV piece.  And they did all of that by Sunday night.  THIRD did not go up until Tuesday morning.  And, honestly, that was only because C.I. heard Scott Horton's program and argued to make it the editorial.  Not trying to pick and not trying to upset anyone.  But that edition should have gone up Sunday and Ava and C.I. busted their butts to try to get it up on time. 

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


 Tuesday, February 2, 2021.  How to solve the problem of the many displaced in Iraq?  Just evict them, close the camps and pretend like you addressed the issue.

At the end of October, we noted:

It's amazing how the western press misreports.  Earlier this week, it was 'concern' for the people in camps -- the displaced in Iraq.  Supposedly, everyone, including the UN was concerned.  I ignored the story because it felt false on the face of it.  And it was.  DAR ADDUSTOUR gives you the truth about this 'concern' that western media left out.  The 'concern' is only that they exist.  The 'concern' doesn't translate into finding homes for the displaced or meeting the needs of the displaced.  What the 'concern' means, DAR ADDUSTOUR reports is that the camp in Baquba, the sole camp for the displaced, will be closed in five weeks.  150 families will be evicted from the camp.  Where are they to go?  No one cares.  Certainly, no one in the western press cares because they couldn't take a moment from acting as a megaphone to tell you what was really going on.  Again, just on the face of it, it was obvious that there was no 'concern' for the displaced.  

And the concern for the displaced still remains a minor key with few bothering to note it.  An exception?

Kelley B. Vlahos:  Entire city blocks are just rubble now in places like Mosul.  And these people have no homes to go back to.  A lot of them face persecution when they get back because either they were tied to ISIS or their family were tied or there was some connection to Sunni radicals who did not denounce ISIS at the time so there's a lot of social dynamics going on that prevent some of these people from going home.  And then there are people who had children at the camps and those children are not considered Iraqi citizens because either they had the children during the so-called caliphate so Iraq is not recognizing those children as Iraqis so they don't qualify for any of the assistance that the government -- even if the government could be providing any livable assistance, these children wouldn't qualify.  So you have this real damaged part of the population that numbers about a million right now who can't go home and, you know, frankly the Iraqi government can't afford to rebuild these cities like Mosul because they just don't have the budget for it.

Kelley was speaking to Scott Horton on his THE SCOTT HORTON SHOW.

They may not have money today due to COVID but they did have money.  COVID didn't hit until February 2020.  

As we noted in Friday's snapshot:

There are many problems with what Kullab wrote -- not reported, typed.  Including where did the reconstruction money go?  

Recently, the last seven or so months, the Iraqi government has claimed (lied) that they diverted it to COVID relief.  Again, that's a lie.  But if they had diverted it, it still wouldn't explain where all the money was prior to the COVID emerging on the world stage in February of last year.  Mosul should have been rebuilt long ago and it is an example of the ongoing corruption of the Iraqi government that continues year after year, regardless of which coward who fled Iraq is installed as prime minister.  

In 2020, AFP noted, "Iraq gathered $30 billion in pledges from international donors in Kuwait in 2018 to rebuild, but virtually none of the funds have been disbursed."  30 billion.  And yet no real rebuilding -- the rebuilding that has taken place has been done by the United Nations.

$30 billion.  Wasted.  A corrupt government that pockets the money -- over and over, we see this.


Hobbled by corruption, ineffective intelligence, and festering sectarianism ignored if not inflamed by the Shitte administration of then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (Washington’s man in Baghdad), the U.S.-trained Iraqi military didn’t stand a chance. As the United States was preparing to leave in 2009, then-Gen. Ray Odierno said the Iraqi forces were “ready” to take on their own security. In 2014, as ISIS raced across Iraq like a cancer, they fled. Several divisions “evaporated,” with 60 out of 243 battalions unaccounted for, all equipment lost. 

“ISIS took 40 percent of the country. Some of these cities were completely destroyed,” said Kadhim, noting that much of the real destruction came when the areas were later liberated in 2017 by Iraqi forces with the help of U.S. airpower and Iranian militias. At its peak, ISIS territory included the provinces of Mosul, Anbar, Saladin, as well as major portions of Kirkuk and swaths of outer Baghdad. Entire religious sects like the Yazidis in Northwestern Iraq were massacred, kidnapped, sold, and blown to the mountain winds like sand.

 “You’re talking about cities that are no longer habitable,” some, like Mosul still have unaccounted-for bodies lying under rubble, IEDs and unexploded ordnance still dotting the urban landscape, said Kadhim. There are booby traps everywhere. Reporter Mizer Kamel, writing in October, was overwhelmed by the apocalyptic scene in Mosul, two years after the city’s “liberation” from ISIS.

At one point he entered a house that served as an ISIS headquarters, with several families — a total of 64 people — living there during the central government’s fight to retake the city in 2017. Two missiles had hit the home at one point, igniting oil barrels stored in the basement. Men, women, and children were set on fire, their screams heard for two hours before an eerie silence. The injured had been taken away by ISIS, a neighbor told Kamel, who spotted human bones in the remains of the building. Some 50 bodies were never recovered.

“[Neighbourhood] residents, without exception, speak of the heavy psychological toll on their mental and physical health due to the unrecovered bodies under the rubble,” Kamel writes. “The house has become a health hazard, a breeding ground for stray dogs and a den for snakes, scorpions and insects.”

He said 80 percent of old Mosul was “wrecked” with many residential neighborhoods completely flattened. “Al-Shahwan (district) feels like a Second World War movie set. The destruction is terrifying, with torched cars piled up on tons of rubble, wreckage from destroyed houses, and skeletal human remains.”

There is no where for these people to go.  Mustafa al-Kadhimi, prime minister of Iraq, is attempting to push the problem off on others, not to solve it.  Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) report

Prime Minister Mustafa al- ­Kadhimi has promised to resolve the displacement crisis by closing Iraq’s camps and finding ways to reintegrate their residents into wider society.

But the pace of recent camp closures has alarmed humanitarian groups, which say that residents are often not given enough warning — what used to be months’ notice is now a matter of days — leaving them unable to find safe harbor and, in some cases, forcing them to sleep on roadsides or on rooftops in the rain.

On Monday, authorities began gradually vacating the Jeddah 5 displacement camp in Nineveh province. Residents said security forces had entered the facility, home to 7,000 people, and told families uprooted from three villages in the province to leave or be ejected.

Most of Iraq’s displaced are women and children. More than a dozen camps are still open in Iraq’s semiautonomous region of Kurdistan, housing 182,000 people.

“They told me to leave with dignity or be dragged from my tent,” said one man in Jeddah 5, reached by phone and speaking on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from security forces if he was known to have spoken to a journalist.

Smoke and mirrors from the failed and corrupt Mustafa.  He'll declare the crisis ended by closing the camps.  The crisis is not ended, it's just pushed off on cities.  He's an abject failure and he should be called out on the world stage for evicting people from a displacement camp when they remain displaced.  The Iraqi government wasted $30 billion of funds the world gave it to address the issue by rebuilding.  They elected not to do so.  It was more important that the billions go into the pockets of corrupt officials.  Now Iraq is shutting down the camps.  

Shereena Qazi and Kareem Botane (ALJAZEERA) report:

Activists and aid groups on the ground, who wished to remain anonymous, said on Monday that the Ministry of Displacement and Migration had instructed the camp mukhtars – men who often serve as heads of their communities – to inform all families from Tal Abta, al-Mahalabiya and al-Jaban districts to depart immediately.

The Iraqi government decided to close IDP camps last October and has since been pressuring IDPs to return to their homes in other parts of Iraq. But aid groups say those areas lack basic infrastructure and the homes refugees fled have still not been rebuilt since the territorial defeat of ISIL in 2017.

In November, humanitarian agencies raised concerns about the government’s decision. Refugees are also afraid that their old neighbours might assume that they are associated with ISIL and kill them for that.

That is true, by the middle of November, there were a few mute cries from humanitarian agencies.  And that's really all there was.  The minute the press started promoting the story in the last week of October, they were doing so with a lie, they were acting as though this was good news and failing to point out that there was no place for the displaced to go.  That's how we got here.  That's why these people are being evicted.

I'm looking around at the Twitter feeds of various people with humanitarian agencies.  I don't see Iraq.  I see many places and many issues -- including facial recognition technology -- but I don't see Iraq and the displaced.  They picked the ball up late and then they dropped it and forgot it.

And this isn't just Mustafa's failure.  The US government has given a ton of US tax payer dollars to Iraq.  Where's the accountability and what's the plan?  That's the type of question Jen Psaki needs to be asked.  She's got her binder with her, in case she hasn't paid attention to Iraq since her days at the US State Dept -- where she'd always have to flip to Iraq in her binder if she was asked a question about the country on a day that there wasn't a bombing.  In her binder

In her binder, she'll find this statement to the UN Security Council from the US Mission to the United Nations' Rodney Hunter last Friday:

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 29, 2021


Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you so much. And thank you to SRSG Gamba, as well, and Under-Secretary-General Voronkov, for your remarks today. This is such an important issue, and we’re really glad to be focusing on it today.

Ambassador Ilyassov, thank you in particular for sharing your country’s experiences with us during your briefing: we applaud the efforts made by Kazakhstan to repatriate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate more than 600 foreign terrorist fighters and their associated family members from Syria and Iraq. We especially commend your focus on meeting the needs of returned children, including psychosocial recovery, and efforts to prevent their stigmatization.

The current situation we face – with more than 8,000 children of foreign terrorist fighters residing in camps in Syria and Iraq – is not tenable. The international community can and we must do more. We cannot continue to let these children languish in overcrowded environments where they suffer from inadequate shelter, food, sanitation, educational opportunities, and health care.

We acknowledge that this is a complex humanitarian and security issue made even more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic; we also understand that repatriation efforts must be handled with sensitivity and with each child’s best interest as the paramount consideration.

To address these challenges, states must first take responsibility for their citizens who engage in and support terrorism, including by repatriating, prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating their nationals who have traveled to conflict zones, as is appropriate.

States must also repatriate their most vulnerable citizens – children – from these conflict zones. The United States, for our part, has repatriated 28 Americans, including 16 children, from Syria and Iraq. Repatriation is not only the best security solution to prevent these fighters from returning to the battlefield – it’s also the right thing to do morally to prevent an already dire humanitarian condition from deteriorating further.

I’d like to take a quick moment just to stress a few key principles that must shape any efforts to repatriate children from conflict zones. First, we remind states that we must treat children formerly associated with ISIS primarily as victims.

Second, it is of the utmost importance that any effort to repatriate foreign terrorist fighters and their family members are undertaken in compliance with states’ obligations under international law – including international humanitarian law – as applicable, and that states respect the principle of non-refoulement.

Third, every child has the right to acquire a nationality, and states should seek to prevent their nationals and the children of their nationals from being deemed as stateless. Children moved to or born in conflict zones should be provided immediate adjudication of their citizenship status and provided all of the appropriate civil documentation necessary for their travel and access to healthcare, education, and other basic services.

Without this needed documentation, as we all know, children can become invisible to responders and be excluded from receiving family tracing and reunification services, child protection assistance, or the ability to participate in civil registration and vital statistics systems.

Along these lines, Mr. Chair, the Biden-Harris Administration believes that children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers whenever possible. If family preservation or reunification cannot support the safety and well-being of a child, other family care options that are in the best interest of the child should be made available. And finally, we must recognize that children are not a monolithic group, and that our rehabilitation and reintegration programs must account for different needs and capacities based on gender, age, and other factors.

As today’s briefers have mentioned, the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters has not ended with the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. We see foreign terrorist fighters travelling with their families to join ISIS affiliates around the world, including in the Sahel and in the Horn of Africa. But there is hope, as demonstrated by the decisions of Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, the Maldives, Kosovo, Italy, Bosnia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, France, Finland, Germany, Ukraine, and others who have repatriated their citizens. Where there is the political will, we can overcome even the most difficult challenges together.

To conclude, Mr. Chair, the United States will continue to invest in preventive and responsive programming to protect children who have not yet been repatriated from conflict zones from violence and abuse. The United States sees the work of SRSG Gamba’s office, the UN monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict, and UNICEF as critical in this regard, and we welcome the SRSG’s ongoing engagement in Syria. As UNICEF’s largest donor, the United States calls on other states to join our partnership with UNICEF and other multilateral organizations by increasing your contributions so we can better leverage their expertise and capabilities in responding to the needs of children in conflict.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Maybe she can expand on that?

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