Thursday, November 17, 2016

A tiny bit of good news

Economist Dean Baker (CounterPunch) looks at Donald Trump's budget plan:

There are many other items on his campaign agenda and that of the Republican leadership that will have to be resisted, but at least one part of his agenda could actually offer real gains. Trump has proposed large infrastructure spending and also tax cuts that will hugely increase the deficit. Both offer real benefits, although with substantial risks.

The infrastructure story is straightforward. Roads and bridges in many parts of the country are badly in need of repair. This is both an economic waste, as people needlessly get caught in traffic, and a health hazard when bad roads increase the risk of accidents. Ideally, infrastructure spending would also go to repair schools and improve water systems so that we don’t have more Flints with people drinking lead in their water. It would be great if some of this funding also went to mass transit and clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that might be expecting too much from a Trump administration.

The infrastructure spending would also create jobs. Public construction has traditionally been a source of relatively good paying jobs for men without college degrees. In recent years, the construction workforce has been disproportionately Hispanic. Spending in this area benefits a segment of the labor market that badly needs help. Of course the benefits are considerably less if projects are privatized, as Trump has suggested, and this will have to be part of the battle.

Forget London, Boston bridges are falling down.

I'm glad he's going to put forward infrastructure rebuilding.

It is grossly needed.

It's also a way to create jobs.

Hopefully this will take place.

I'm not a Trump booster so I'm very wary of him.

I do, however, trust Dean Baker's judgement.

(Dean Baker finds much wrong with Trump's plan, I'm just highlighting the good news.)

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Mosul operation is yet again on "pause," Kurt Eichenwald slams everyone (so the world slams back -- ask Debra about her spill), blaming Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, etc let's Hillary and the DNC off the hook and brings about no change . . .

The question has to be, why is Kurt Eichenwald employed by anyone?

He's ticked off many Christians with his slurs against them.

And now our 'objective' reporter is going after We The People.

I love how whiners who refused to vote 4 the only person who could've beaten trump say they played no role in his victory. Its 2000 again.

Problem is, some dems view their vote as a gift they bestow on 1 person, insted of a vehicle 2 choose person who is best 2 lead. Narcissism.

Kurt's coming on a lot of people's radar due to psycho Debra Messing's Twitter feed (heard about the fall, Debra, won't be the last).

And as they encounter this alleged journalist, they're probably shocked by his Twitter feed.

"Whether this bullying, or self-sabotage, or hysteria, it's certainly not the behavior of a stable professional journalist."

That's Walker Bragman and Shane Ryan (PASTE MAGAZINE) on Kurt Eichenwald.

But it's not just PASTE that's dismayed by Kurt Eichenwald.  Here's John Ridley (NPR) in 2007:

In March of this year, in the trial of Berry's adult business partner, Greg Mitchel, it is revealed that Eichenwald wrote a check for two grand to Berry before their meeting. Though the money was subsequently repaid to Eichenwald by a relative of Berry's, it is contrary to journalistic ethics and Times practice for reporters to exchange funds with sources.
Once caught in this severe omission, Eichenwald's excuses for his actions are, frankly, lame. He claims he wrote the check and met Berry as a private citizen trying to help a young man who was caught out. It was only after meeting Berry that Eichenwald — according to Eichenwald — became interested in him as the subject of a story. Be that as it may, Eichenwald still had a responsibility to tell his editors about the financial transaction. Eichenwald writes on the media site Romenesko: "Once the reporting began ... a financial transaction from a month before ... just slipped away amid the 18 hour days, seven days a week of turmoil and chaos."
You know, I've been under deadline stress before. But never to the point I've forgotten about a two-grand check I've written to a kiddie porn star. Eichenwald did assure the Times that except for one further $10 transaction through a PayPal account, the two grand were the only funds exchanged with Berry.
While the Times cannot be faulted for being the victim of a lie, there was reason to suspect Eichenwald was being less than candid about his involvement with Berry.
In January of '06, the Times received an e-mail from Mitchel's mother. Among her accusations was that Eichenwald had "Fed Ex'd several thousand dollars" to help fund Berry's Web site. Eichenwald blew off the accusation, calling it a "crappy lie."
When the check became public, the Times did report that Lawrence Ingrassia, Eichenwald's editor, had queried Eichenwald about the e-mail. But the Times did not report as to why Ingrassia took Eichenwald at his word without further investigation — remember, this is all post-Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg, Judy Miller ... Ingrassia should have been reflexively concerned. Apparently, he was not.
That was that with that. But remember Eichenwald assuring that he'd only made the two-grand payment to Berry...?
Until the eighth of this month, when it's reported that sealed documents in the trial of another of Berry's business partners purport Eichenwald sent at least another $1,100 dollars to a PayPal account maintained by Berry and Mitchel, at times under another name.
And Eichenwald's newer, lamer excuse for actions he — according to him — may or may not have taken? "If these PayPal payments did occur in June 2005, I am deeply sorry that my inability to remember them has resulted in permitting a series of convicted felons to cast doubt on the nature of my wife's and my efforts to save a young man who was caught in the grip of a cycle of drugs and abuse."

Alberto Gonzales couldn't have said it better.

And here's John Cook (GAWKER) talking Kurt in 2012:

Kurt Eichenwald, the disgraced former New York Times reporter whose career went up in flames after he got caught secretly paying thousands of dollars to a child pornographer he wrote about, is on the comeback trail. 

Were we Kurt, we could go into deep suggestions about the rumors that Kurt met the kiddie porn star for reasons other than journalism and humanity -- and how those rumors circulate especially at THE NEW YORK TIMES.  How he's supposedly claimed emotional attraction to young men before and insisted they were the product of the strain his disease (epilepsy) puts on him.  We could talk about how in several earlier administrations (most infamously, LBJ's), straight or 'straight' men would make similar claims of their systems being taxed to explain their emotional attachments with young, underage men -- and how the stress was so great that the men must have lost their balance when they were discovered with the boys since the 'straight' men were to be found on their knees in front of the young boys.

Maybe they were just praying?

But we'll leave all of that for Kurt and his nasty flame wars.

Kurt has serious problems and there's no reason in the world for him to be employed by anyone as a journalist.

His nonsense on Twitter that we've quoted is bad.

Even worse is a story Kurt tells on himself. Walter Bragman reports it here.

After the election, Kurt's in an airport and encounters a man.

Put that scene from HIGH ANXIETY out of your heads, we're going a different way with Kurt.

The man approaches him (honest, we're going in a different direction).

Kurt is scared.  (Well, he's passionate, at least.)

The man tells him he loves Kurt's work.

Kurt is stunned -- as is everyone reading this.

Makes you start to think Kurt's made this encounter up as well.

Kurt still doesn't like the looks of him.

(Maybe Kurt just had a 20 and the ATM was out of order?  Some pick ups charge more.)

As the man attempts to walk away from Kurt (as so many have before and will again, Kurt was made to warble "The Man That Got Away"), the man says, "Get back to work."

Kurt says now he's suspicious.

So he stops the man and asks him who he voted for.

The man says Jill Stein.

Kurt then bellows for the man to go f**k himself.

And maybe that happened.

Maybe Kurt only had a 20, the man looked him up and down and said it would cost Kurt 60 even for a half-and-half.

And then Kurt exploded go f**k yourself?

That sounds plausible.

But the whole story sounds made up and, with Kurt's past history, probably is.

That he would tell someone to f**k themselves because of who they voted for goes to why he should not be employed by any respectable outlet.

Kurt doesn't appear to grasp the meaning of democracy.

He's allowed -- and encouraged -- to use his vote in any way he feels.

But when you're attacking others for voting as they see fit?

You've got problems.

As for 2000, all over again.

Oh, it's not going to be.

We're too smart for that.

In 2000, I voted for Al Gore (and donated).

I did not vote for Ralph Nader.

I never considered voting for Ralph Nader.

If I don't like someone, I generally have a reason.

I didn't and don't like Ralph Nader.

I have many friends who voted for him including a female producer who beat herself up over it after the election.

I never said to her -- or to any Nader supporter -- "You cost Al Gore the election!"

Because Ralph Nader did not cost Gore the election.

Al Gore cost himself the election in many ways (and the Supreme Court gifted Bully Boy Bush with the election).

Al could have had Ralph's voters if he'd moved to the left.

Ralph would suggest that in 2000 as well as in 2004 and 2008.

Ralph was right.

But Al was stupid -- and a cheater.

Worth noting.

Because he wouldn't use Bill Clinton -- then the sitting president -- in his campaign.

He wanted to take a 'moral' high ground (again, Al was a cheater, he was cheating at least as far back as 1992).

Bill was popular with the base.

Al didn't want to use him.

Al was running against right wing Bully Boy Bush.

So he picks as his running mate . . .

Right wing Joe Lieberam (he was a Democrat then, Joe would leave the party six years later).

And Al had his own baggage including opposition to abortion when he was in  Congress.

My friend and others did not cost Al Gore the election.

He refused to campaign on issues that mattered to them.

The Supreme Court cost him the election.

His bad campaigning cost him the election.

(He couldn't even win his home state?  Come on.)

I knew he was in trouble during the campaign because I'd already forecast the rise of Bully Boy Bush.

Molly Ivins had invited me to some party in Texas.  Ann Richards was there.  She was the governor.  It was a late party.  At one point, we were all in the backyard, drinking under the moonlight and someone said something about how Ann would be a two-term governor and then run for president.  And people were happy about that and then someone, Molly, I believe, said that I was good at playing the angles and asked who could defeat Ann.  I played along and came up with Bully Boy Bush except his wife was blonde.  Everything else, including school teacher and librarian, as Ann pointed out in a letter after she lost re-election, was correct.  I had the candidate down, that he would be the son of a famous politician (I wasn't aware of the Bushes connection to Texas) and even the sort of strategies they'd use to run against her.

I found out about that race as it was finishing -- the real thing.  And was appalled that there was no effort to counter the slanders Bush was running against her because it was everything I said it would be.

Maybe they couldn't have fought Karl Rove if they'd tried.

But Ann Richards tried to convey to Gore's campaign throughout 2000 that they weren't hitting back hard enough and that they were taken things for granted.

Al didn't listen.

More importantly, the Democratic Party didn't listen.

2004 rolls around and instead of addressing the problems, it's blame Ralph Nader.

Which is how you get John Kerry as a candidate and the John Kerry campaign.

(I supported Kerry in the primaries.  And, of course, in the general election.  But that was the first time in my life that the person I supported in the primaries won.)

Kerry's campaign was flat footed and tone deaf.

"John Kerry reporting for duty."

It was not  a pretty or natural moment and recalled Michael Dukakis in the tank.

He also wasted time on a vacation.

To Hawaii.

Now he could have campaigned there and should have.

Instead, he went out in public wearing shorts that no man over 40 should be wearing -- let alone a man running for president.

His visuals were wrong, his response time lagged.

And he was for it before he was against it.

Politicians who can't say they're wrong are not leaders.

But that's who we got.

And then we got four more years of Bully Boy Bush.

By demonizing Ralph Nader and those who voted for him, the Democratic Party was able to avoid addressing why they were losing voters.

If you're a Democrat, you should loudly fight back against blaming Jill Stein or her voters or Gary Johnson or his voters.

You should instead note the apathetic response to Hillary versus the turn out Bernie Sanders got.

You should be pushing for the issues that mattered to the Bernie voters.

You need a passionate turnout when an election rolls around.

Otherwise, you've got Hillary who couldn't inspire the voters in the states needed.

She couldn't inspire the voters because she had a lousy campaign.

"I'm with her!"

Politicians work for the people.

They are supposed to make promises to help the people.

Her campaign was always about her and not about the people.

It's amazing because in 2008, she campaigned as a populist.

She spoke about the people in every speech.

By 2016, she'd apparently taken it for granted that the presidency was her right and she kept the focus on herself.

In 2020, the Democrats need a candidate who speaks to the people on issues that resonate.

You can blame Jill or Gary or their voters all you want.  All that's going to do is allow the DNC to drift further right.

Mohammed Tawfeeq and Ingrid Formanek (CNN) report that the operation of liberating or 'liberating' Mosul continues today with the news that an airport "near Mosul" has been taken by Iraqi forces.

31 days after this operation began, Mosul still remains unliberated.

But don't call it a "slog" -- remember CNN's Elise Labott will interrupt the press conference to scream no.

Even though AP reports that today the operation was (again) put on hold.

We've noted before that these pauses are said to be due to the huge desertion rates taking place among the Iraqi forces (said on Arabic social media).

Apparently, that's being indirectly confirmed.

slowly but steadily dislodging from E Mousal yet need more troops to hold ground yet troops busy to secure arbaeen shia piligrams

The (disgraced) Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is saying more troops are needed.

So it's another pause for the operation.

Sadly, the occupants of Mosul can't put their lives on hold.

Even sadder, the Islamic State took Mosul in June of 2014.

Over two years later the so-called government of Iraq finally attempts to liberate it.

We'll note this joint statement (appears on UNAMI's FACEBOOK page):

(Baghdad, 17 November 2016): Today marks one month of intensified military operations to retake the city of Mosul. With tens of thousands of families in newly retaken areas urgently requiring life-saving assistance, the humanitarian community in Iraq faces a massive scope of need. These latest developments further exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in a country where 10 million people already were in need of aid.
In many newly retaken areas, civilian infrastructure such as water and power plants, schools and hospitals are damaged and medical services often unavailable. Families go hungry due to lost livelihoods, disrupted food production and supply, and increased food prices at markets. Water supply for drinking and agricultural production has been damaged, as has agricultural equipment. Many families are forced to drink untreated water from wells; their children are unvaccinated, without formal education and many are in high need of psychosocial support. Heavy contamination of newly retaken areas with improvised mines and scorched earth tactics employed by members of the armed group controlling Mosul pose immediate and long-term risks for the people and the environment.
“Wherever we can, humanitarian partners are helping displaced people and vulnerable families in newly retaken communities,” said Ms. Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in the name of the humanitarian community. “We are working as quickly as we can and in close coordination with Iraqi authorities to help some of the most at-risk people in the world.”
Nearly 59,000 people have been displaced, about 26,000 of them children. In support of the Government of Iraq, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to provide assistance to displaced and resident families in newly retaken areas. More than 40,000 displaced people have found shelter in formal camps in three governorates prepared and managed by the Government, the United Nations and national and international NGOs. More than half of the displaced people are women, girls, and female headed households who often are survivors of sexual and other human rights abuses.
More than 13,000 displaced people have been taken in by generous host communities or live in public facilities. More than 69,000 people have been given assistance within 48 hours of their displacement, more than 114,000 people have received food rations, more than 14,300 people have been provided with emergency health services and more than 66,000 people were provided with emergency household items and some 124,000 are receiving water, hygiene and sanitation services, including water trucking. Over 6,700 women and girls have received reproductive health consultations, including life-saving assisted deliveries. Some 1,400 sessions have been held to reach survivors of gender based violence. Shelter capacity and services in existing camps are being expanded and improved, and new emergency sites built.
The United Nations and NGOs are grateful for the support they have received from donors but urgently need additional resources to support the tens of thousands of families who need help. With winter approaching, and temperatures dramatically dropping at night, families, many who fled their homes with virtually nothing, need heaters, blankets and other winter items.
More than 100 humanitarian partners are currently assisting people affected by the ongoing military operations according to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
With military operations imminent in densely-populated sections of Mosul city, humanitarians are increasingly worried about the ability of families impacted by the conflict to reach safety and assistance.
In a worst case scenario, as many as one million people could be at extreme risk from cross-fire, snipers, contamination with improvised explosive devices, forced expulsions and could be used as human shields.
Civilian casualties, and the lack of capacity to treat these, are deeply worrying.
The humanitarian community in Iraq is profoundly concerned about the plight of civilians, and again, at the end of the first month of the Mosul campaign, calls on all parties to the conflict to do their utmost to protect the rights and lives of civilians and uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.
Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Resident Representative in Iraq, UNDP
Altaf Musani, Representative in Iraq, WHO
Bruno Geddo, Representative in Iraq, UNHCR
Fadel El-Zubi, Representative in Iraq, FAO
Ivo Freijsen, Head of Office Iraq, UNOCHA
Erfan Ali, Head of Iraq Programme, UN-Habitat
Paulina Chiwangu, Deputy Country Representative, OIC, UN Women
Peter Hawkins, Representative in Iraq, UNICEF
Sally Haydock, Country Director, WFP
Ramanathan Balakrishnan, Representative, UNFPA
Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission, IOM
Aaron Brent, Country Representative Northern Iraq, CARE
Aneta Sarna, Country Director in Iraq, ACF
Alberto Bocanegra, Country Director, Cordaid
Aram Shakaram, Deputy Country Director, Save the Children
Khalil Sleiman, Response Manager in northern Iraq, World Vision
Wolfgang Gressmann, Interim Iraq Country Director, NRC

For further information, please contact:
For further information, please contact:
HC Office / UNDP, Karim Elkorany,, +964 790 193 1292
FAO, Karina Coates,, +964 750 875 9701
IOM, Sandra Black,, +964 751 234 2550
UNFPA, Mohamed Megahed,, +964 750 342 7036
UN-Habitat, Alan Miran,, +964 750 342 7036
UNHCR, Caroline Gluck,, +964 780 920 7286
UNICEF, Sharon Behn,, + 964 782 782 0238
UNOCHA, Philippe Kropf,, +964 751 135 2875
UN Women, Bernice Rumala,, +964 751 583 0045
WFP, Joelle Eid,, +964 780 929 9910
WHO, Ajyal Manssour Al-Sultany,, +9647510101469
ACF, Florian Seriex,, +964 751 012 6492
CARE, Sandra Bulling,, +49 157 53 60 54 81
Cordaid, Sarah Baba,, +964 751 135 3194
NRC, Becky Bakr Abdulla,, +964 751 501 9899
Save the Children, Sarah Pilchick,, +964 751 124 0109
World Vision, Kayla Robertson,, +964 751 122 0837

International Organization for Migration:
Copyright © IOM. All rights reserved.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit

And this . . .

Over 100 agencies & are providing to people in need in the month since began in .

Iraq's Sunni Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi has Tweeted today: "we reject the presence of the Popular Mobilization Forces [Shi'ite militias] and the PKK" in Mosul.

Mosul's not the only problem.

Tensions remain high between the Baghdad-based government in Iraq and the government of Turkey.

  1. Must coordinate and activate constructive mediation to pacify and and the search for solutions to support the stability and preserve the unity and sovereignty of Iraq with Abdullah Gul

Tensions must be pacified whilst preserving sovereignty to fight terrorism and promote stability - with

At least one political leader in Iraq is paying attention to the issue.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and Cindy Sheehan and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated:



  • iraq