Wednesday, April 13, 2022


NBC wrapped up THE THING ABOUT PAM, the six-episode limited series starting Renee Zellweger.  I did not catch the press on Pam Hupp.  I did not catch the true crime podcast that this series was based upon.  So this was all new to me and I had no idea how it would end.

Pam just got more vile.  

As the town suspected her of the murder of her friend Betsy and it was impacting her ability to sell homes, Pam came up with a new idea.  She went to Dollar Tree, got some items including a butcher knife.

She then went driving through a trailer park offering $1,000 for someone who would record some ''soundbytes.'' She was working, she explained, for NBC's DATELINE.  She would drive the person to a home where things were set up and they'd say their lines.

She lured a woman, Carol, into her car and started driving her to the house (Pam's house) but the woman was rightly suspicious and demanded that Pam take her back to her own home.

Then Pam saw a family leaving a man by a trailer as they went off on errands.  Pam offers him the thousand dollars.  

While in the car taking him to her home, she rehearses him.  He is supposed to say one line.  The line makes it sound like he was working with Russ (Betsy's husband, the man Pam framed for Betsy's murder) and that the man killed Betsy.  But he keeps messing it up.  What is wrong with you? -- that is what Pam demands.

He has some cognitive issues.  Knowing this dos not sway Pam.  She seems more eager to go through with her plan.  She has him follow her into the house.  She picks up the phone, dials 911, pretends he is there to kill her and has him say his line which he gets wrong and then she shoots him in the chest.  He just stares at her stunned so she unloads all the bullets from the pistol into him.

The police come.  But this time they are not as eager to believe Pam.

Everything quickly crumbles and Pam ends up going to prison.  

It was a tight hour and I hope you watched.  Remember that you can stream it on YOUTUBE, HULU, PEACOCK, and at the NBC website.

Stealing from C.I.'s snapshot (in full in just a moment):

Starting with a reminder, Ruth and Betty have been covering THE THING ABOUT PAM at their sites.  Tonight, NBC airs the last episode of the six episode series.    As Jim has noted, like all broadcast TV fair of recent years, the second episode saw a drop off in the number of viewers but, unique to THE THING ABOUT PAM, viewership then began improving with each episode.  So much so, as Jim notes in his piece posted earlier this morning, episode five (last week) had more viewers than episode one.  NBC, like every other broadcast network, has had to settle for programs that bleed viewers each episode.  So that is rather significant.  The series is based on a true story and, as Ava and I noted, Renee Zellweger is excellent in the lead role.

Be sure to check out Betty's take and I cannot wait to see what the ratings did.

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

 Tuesday, April 12, 2022.  The continued persecution of Julian Assange, the Kurdish genocide, tiny man Joe Biden and his war lust, all that and even THE THING ABOUT PAM.

Starting with a reminder, Ruth and Betty have been covering THE THING ABOUT PAM at their sites.  Tonight, NBC airs the last episode of the six episode series.    As Jim has noted, like all broadcast TV fair of recent years, the second episode saw a drop off in the number of viewers but, unique to THE THING ABOUT PAM, viewership then began improving with each episode.  So much so, as Jim notes in his piece posted earlier this morning, episode five (last week) had more viewers than episode one.  NBC, like every other broadcast network, has had to settle for programs that bleed viewers each episode.  So that is rather significant.  The series is based on a true story and, as Ava and I noted, Renee Zellweger is excellent in the lead role.

Turning to Julian Assange.  US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian for the 'crime' of journalism.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

A coalition of progressive leaders from across the globe demanded Monday that the Biden administration immediately drop all charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently jailed in a high-security London prison as he fights U.S. extradition attempts.

In a letter to Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), more than 30 progressive advocates, intellectuals, and former heads of state argued that dropping the Espionage Act charges against Assange would "send a strong message to the world: that freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of the press constitute an instrument that can controvert the interests of any government, including that of the United States of America."

"The cases where there are reports of serious violations of freedom of expression would also be impacted by the dropping of the 18 charges against Assange," the letter reads. "It would affirm the defense of this fundamental human right and would undoubtedly represent a clear and robust sign that everyone can express their opinion without fear of retaliation; that all the press outlets can give news to all the citizens of the world, with the certainty that the pluralism of thought is guaranteed."

Signed by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chilean intellectual Carlos Ominami, and 30 others, the letter was sent on the third anniversary of Assange's forced removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019.

Assange has since been languishing in Belmarsh prison under conditions that human rights experts have characterized as "torture." Last month, the U.K. Supreme Court denied Assange's request to appeal an earlier decision allowing him to be extradited to the U.S., where he could face up to 175 years in prison.


s his extradition to the United States looms large, Julian Assange completed three years of imprisonment in the United Kingdom on Monday, April 11. Held in a high security prison complex in Belmarsh in the outskirts of London, the Wikileaks founder has been in prison since 2019 when he was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by the police.

Marking the anniversary, Assange’s supporters held vigils in London and around the world. Last month, on March 14, the UK Supreme Court rejected Assange’s request to appeal against his extradition sanctioned by the High Court in London, making his extradition very likely.

Later this month on April 20, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which had earlier declined the US extradition request, is expected to issue the order to extradite as per the High Court’s directive. The order is then to be passed on to the UK home office, which will have the final say to sanction the extradition.

Joe Biden could end the persecution at any point.  The tiny man in the White House refuses to do o.  And history will not look any fonder on Joe than the American people currently do.  He has nothing to offer but maybe, like Barack, he can get millions of dollars from NETFLIX to refurbish his image?  Do nothing to protect, for example, nature while president but pretend to care once out of office?

What Joe can do, as David North (WSWS) observes, is scream for war:

In a warmongering speech before a major trade union conference last week, President Biden lined up the trade union bureaucracy to back the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. The speech was part of the administration’s efforts to put together a “labor front” with the AFL-CIO unions to suppress the opposition to the demands for massive sacrifice to pay for American imperialism’s preparation for all-out war against Russia.

Biden spoke to a legislative conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), a federation of 14 national construction unions. The entire first half of Biden’s speech was devoted exclusively to the war in Ukraine. His remarks left no doubt that, far from their hypocritical claims to be defending “freedom” and “human rights,” the US and NATO are using Ukraine as a launching pad for a regime change operation in Russia and the transformation of the country into a semi-colony of the Western powers.

Biden bragged about the devastation wreaked by sanctions on the Russian economy, citing the fact that its GDP has shrunk by double digits. “Just in one year, our sanctions are likely to wipe out the last 15 years of Russia’s economic gains,” Biden said. “And because we’ve cut Russia off from importing technologies like semiconductors and encryption security and critical components of quantum technology that they need to compete in the 21st century, we’re going to stifle Russia’s ability and its economy to grow for years to come.”

Biden said the reason for the military setbacks inflicted by Ukraine against Russia are due to arms and training which NATO has flooded into Ukraine for years. “We’ve trained them, and we’ve given them the weapons.” The announcement of each new weapons system sent to the Ukrainian military and the prospect of the destruction of the Russian economy evoked raucous applause from the assembled union officials.

The speech demonstrated the staggering degree of recklessness which prevails in the Biden administration. Washington has deliberately incited the war and is risking a nuclear exchange with the world’s second largest nuclear power.

Biden made it clear that the US was preparing a long, drawn-out war, which would require massive sacrifice from workers in terms of economic and human costs. “This war could continue for a long time, but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the fight for freedom.  And I just want you to know that.”

Significantly, Biden added, “If I got to go to war, I’m going with you guys. I’ll tell you. I mean it.” 

Joe's not going anywhere except to a nursing home.  He didn't serve in Vietnam but he wants to glorify military service now.  And that's not a cue for him to bring up Beau Biden. In fact, probably better not to  because it's getting harder and harder for me to hold my tongue about Beau.  I honestly thought it would come out in Hunter's book.  It didn't.  He elected to keep the family secret -- even when it could have benefited him.

Joe is perfectly fine with destroying the world, it's not like he plns to live in it much longer.  He's got very few gasps of air left at his age.  Those thinking that, in his ifnal years, he's going to have some soft of transformation are kidding themselves.  He was in the US Senate for decades.  He never served the American people or the world in any noble capacity all that time.

He's a tiny man who was upstaged in 2008 by Barack Obama and so he had to be president to try to show the world tht he as up to it.  And he's not.  And he never will be.  

What is he?

More and more, he looks like a four year, paid advertisement purchased by Donald Trump.  As though his only real purpose is to remind people just how awful a government can be when the idiot in charge elects to harm the American people to pursue war that not only could bring us all to the brink of nuclear war but also is destroying the American way of life -- or whatever was elft of it -- with inflation, soaring gas prices and empty shelves at thee grocery store.  

No one elected Joe to put their own lives at risk so that he could pursue ssome distant war that the US shouldn't be involved in to begin with.

At WSWS, David North points out how THE NEW YORK TIMES helps Joe bring on war:

Yesterday’s New York Times’ editorial, “Document the War Crimes in Ukraine,” draws belated attention to the 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal, which indicted and convicted Nazi leaders. It cites the tribunal’s definition of a war of aggression as an international crime:

“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

In 2004, at a debate at Trinity College, I cited the Nuremberg trial as the basis in international law for the indictment of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Blair and many others as war criminals for having launched a war of aggression against Iraq. 

During the last 30 years of repeated US wars of aggression, the Nuremberg precedent has been ignored by the Times. It now invokes the precedent against Putin, demonstrating again that the media’s attitude to international law is determined solely by US foreign policy interests.

There may well be a case against Putin, but to hold him accountable for a “war of aggression” while ignoring the far more blatant culpability of numerous US presidents and high-ranking officials (i.e., Hilary Clinton) would be a legal travesty.

Turning to Iraq, Doctors Without Borders notes:

Undeterred by the stormy weather, a line of women formed outside the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Al-Amal maternity center, located in the Al-Nahwaran neighborhood of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq

Maram is three months pregnant. She is expecting her third child, but this is the first time that she’s visited this center. “I came here because my relatives told me about [it],” she says. “My sister-in-law came here before, and she recommended it.” Many other women here also heard about the center through word of mouth, and patient numbers have increased in recent months. 

Al-Amal offers routine obstetric care, newborn care, family planning, and mental health support. The MSF team also conducts health promotion. Thirty midwives and five midwife supervisors work in the facility, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The team assists between 10 and 15 deliveries daily, but a busy day can see up to 25 births. “Unfortunately, we still can’t cover all the needs,” said Rahma Adla Abdallah, an MSF midwife supervisor. “We help most women who come here, but we have to have admission criteria to maintain the best possible level of care within the limits of our own resources.”

A long road to recovery 

In June 2014, Mosul fell to the Islamic State group. In October 2016, a military offensive led by an alliance of the Iraqi security forces and an international coalition was launched to retake the city. The battle of Mosul lasted for more than 250 days and was described as one of the deadliest urban battles since World War II. 

Almost five years after the city was officially declared retaken by Iraqi authorities, many medical facilities damaged in the fighting have yet to be fully renovated and are not fit for use. “What has mainly been done is to [temporarily] install containers next to destroyed facilities until they are rebuilt,” said Adla Abdallah. “But the containers are often not properly equipped for receiving patients. Right now, especially [with] COVID-19, the needs are too big for hospitals in Mosul to handle.”

On top of this, there are still shortages of medical supplies, and thousands of families in Mosul and surrounding areas still struggle to access quality affordable health care. 

Filling the gaps 

In response to the high level of unmet needs after the conflict, MSF opened a specialist maternity unit in Nablus hospital in West Mosul in 2017 to provide safe, high quality, and free health care for pregnant women and newborns. In July 2019, a second MSF team opened the Al-Amal maternity unit within Al-Rafadain primary health care center, also in West Mosul. Last year, MSF teams in both facilities assisted the births of almost 15,000 babies.

“We first opened this maternity unit because there were significant needs in the city when it came to access to health care in general, and even more so in the field of sexual and reproductive health care,” said Loay Khudur, MSF’s assistant project coordinator. “Three years later, many women still need to come here because the city’s health system is far from functional.”

“Women in this community not only need access to physical health care, they also need full mental health support,” said Adla Abdallah. “Gender-based violence is an issue we sometimes witness. Some of our patients have experienced it but they very rarely talk about it.” 

Iraq’s Directorate of Health has set up dedicated health services in the city to provide care for survivors of gender-based violence. But stigma continues to prevent many women from seeking this care. 

“Most of the time, it’s the people who live with them who bring [the patient] here,” said Adla Abdallah. “The women themselves don’t speak because they feel scared. Gender-based violence is still very taboo and is an additional challenge we face when treating women here.”

Barriers to accessing care 

Stigma is not the only barrier women face to accessing care. “The environment is particularly complicated here,” said Bashaer Aziz, an MSF midwife supervisor. “A significant number of women cannot access health care either because they do not have the means to pay for it, or because they face other challenges, such as not having official administrative document due to the recent conflict or being displaced from their homes.” 

MSF offers free care in all its facilities. “When patients come to our facility, they are generally very grateful to receive good medical and obstetric care,” said Aziz. “They don’t have other places to go, they cannot afford to pay for services at hospitals or private clinics. Our maternity unit makes a big difference to them.”

“Before this maternity unit existed, nothing was available and we used to deliver at home,” said Mahaya, 50, who traveled more than an hour with her pregnant daughter-in-law to come to the clinic. “A midwife would come, deliver the baby, and that would be it. There wasn’t even a hospital we could go to. This maternity unit is a big improvement in our lives.”

“There is still a long way to go before proper access to both physical and mental healthcare can be guaranteed in Mosul,” said Adla Abdallah. “But I focus on the little wins to keep on going. One day a patient left us a note to thank us for the services we provide, but also for the human approach we take at the maternity unit. Her thanks meant a lot to me.”

Meanwhile, in 2020, KRG Prime Minister Masrour  Barzani declared:

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the worst genocide against the peoples of Kurdistan. The genocide was a series of massacres which aimed to eliminate the Kurdish identity and wipe out the Kurdistani nation.

This was an horrific crime, which the people of Kurdistan cannot forget. Thousands of innocent people were killed while the world watched. The profound pain will continue to live on in our memories. But this anniversary should not merely be a commemoration of our past suffering. We must work together to eradicate the evil and racist ideologies that drove the Anfal genocide.

The Kurdistan Regional Government will continue to strive for a global recognition of Anfal as genocide, and improve the living conditions of the families of the victims. The Iraqi government too should fulfil its moral and constitutional responsibility to compensate victims of this terrible crime and provide reassurances that it will not be repeated in the future.


We bring that up because this Thursday will be the 245h anniversary of the genocide.  

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