Friday, May 04, 2018

Frozen food, frozen government

Why didn't I post last night?  Because I'm an idiot.  I thought I posted the below last night.  I was talking to a friend about frozen vegetables a few minutes ago and we were sharing when she said, you should mention that -- and I was thinking I had.

I forgot to title the post so it wasn't just forgetting to hit the publish button.

I will be blogging tonight.

Neda Ulaby (NPR’s Morning Edition) reports that frozen food sales are static and that



Other challenges are apparent to analyst Phil Lempert, of the food and health website

"You are physically cold," he said of the disadvantages of shopping for frozen food. Plus, he adds, much of the problem comes down to design, including the packaging — a predictable blur of black Lean Cuisine, green Healthy Choice and red Stouffer's entrees. Then there's the literal wall between shoppers and food.

"That glass door," Lempert says. "It really creates a fence."


I agree that the ‘predictable blur’ is an issue.  I will buy Chinese in frozen – or would.  There’s no point.  It’s either that cheap stuff – in a new container that takes up more space --  Tai Pai, we called it out at Third back in Janaury.


And then you get this tiny glut of everything crammed together that might be Chinese (Viola is not Chinese – not even if it’s sweet and sour chicken).  And it’s just a nightmare.  I really do believe it could be organized better.   I still buy frozen vegetables to have them on hand for drop by events or emergency dinners.  But even there, they are crowding out the frozen vegetables to put in all this seasoned vegetables and I’m not buying those.  I have a spice rack – actually a spice carousel – and I use those.



Now on to Patrick Martin (WSWS):


Apple, Inc. announced Tuesday that it would convert much of its overseas profits, held in a huge cash hoard for several years, into a $102 billion windfall for corporate executives and other shareholders. The financial bonanza for a single company is comparable to the GDP of Ecuador or Sri Lanka.

The maker of the iPhone, the Mac personal computer and other consumer electronics is raising its quarterly dividend by 16 percent, from 63 cents a share to 73 cents a share, a move that will provide $2 billion in increased income directly to owners of the company’s stock. Apple will become the largest payer of dividends in corporate America, surpassing ExxonMobil.

As princely as this payout is, it is dwarfed by the $100 billion buyback of Apple stock, to be carried out over the course of the year. Its effect will be to boost the company’s share price indirectly. Moreover, by reducing the number of Apple shares in circulation, it will dramatically increase such financial indicators as earnings per share, the principal measure by which Wall Street judges a company and which corporate boards use to set executive pay levels.

The $100 billion figure is not so much a record as it is another dimension in corporate plunder. With that sum, Apple could have bought every share of stock in UPS, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs or Boeing. It is greater than the market value of 460 of the Fortune 500 largest US companies.

The funneling of $102 billion from Apple to its shareholders is a distribution of wealth within the ruling elite. The top five individual shareholders are all Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook. The top three institutional shareholders, holding nearly 18 percent of the stock, are Vanguard, Black Rock and State Street, three giant investment funds. These and others like them will reap the bulk of the financial plunder from the dividend payout and buyback.

The bonanza for the super-rich is the product of two interrelated processes. First is the sweatshop labor of millions of workers in Asia, mainly China, who manufacture components and assemble the iPhones, laptops and watches Apple sells. Second is the tax cut pushed through last December by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress, with only token opposition from the Democrats.


Maybe my great-great-great grandchildren will have a Congress that works for them and not corporations?  I doubt it.  It’ll probably be even worse by the time they’re alive.



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

Thursday, May 3, 2018.  Hobby Lobby's back in the news while elections in Iraq are nine days away.

Hobby Lobby is back in the news again.

US returns thousands of stolen artifacts smuggled out of Iraq by Hobby Lobby

Those ancient artifacts that were illegally smuggled to Hobby Lobby after they were falsely labeled as "tile samples" are now being returned to Iraq

U.S. returns thousands of smuggled ancient artifacts to Iraq

Susannah Cullinane (CNN) explains, "The move comes after ICE and the Justice Department last year brought a civil action against Hobby Lobby, saying it had received thousands of falsely labeled Iraqi artifacts from a United Arab Emirates-based supplier. Hobby Lobby in July agreed to forfeit the artifacts and pay a $3 million fine to resolve the action."

In Iraq . . .

Head of DFR currently attending the conference of High Election Commission, foreign diplomats and observers as ’s parliamentary elections are set to take place in nine days (📸 ).

May 12th, elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.  Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explains that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women. Ali Abdul-Hassan and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report, "Iraqi women account for 57 percent of Iraq’s population of over 37 million, according to the U.N. Development Program, and despite government efforts to address gender inequality, the situation for Iraqi women has declined steadily since 2003.  According to the UNDP, one in every 10 Iraqi households is headed by a widow. In recent years, Iraqi women suffered further economic, social and political marginalization due to decades of wars, conflict, violence and sanctions."    RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.  How do they elect the prime minister?  This comes after the general election and is based on who won seats in the election.   Abdulrahman al-Rashed (AL ARABIYA) explains, "To win the premiership, a candidate needs to win the majority of the votes, i.e. the votes of 165 MPs out of 329. Since it is a multi-party system, it is almost impossible to win these votes without sealing political alliances. The governorate of Baghdad is the most important one because it is the largest with 69 seats."  The chief issues?  Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies them as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption."

As noted in the April 3rd snapshot, pollster Dr. Munqith Dagher has utilized data on likely voters and predicts that Hayder al-Abadi's Al-Nasr will win 72 seats in the Parliament, al-Fath (the militias) will get 37 seats, Sa'eroon (Moqtada al-Sadr's new grouping) will get 27 seats, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law will get 19 seats, al-Salam will get 18 seats (KDP and PUK parties for the Kurds), Ayad Allawi's Wataniya will get 15 seats. There are others but Dagher did not predict double digits for any of the other seats. The number are similar for the group of those who are extremely likely to vote (Hayder's seats would jump from 72 to 79 seats).  Other predictions?  The Middle East Insstitute's Fanar Haddad insists to Sammy Ketz (AFP) that the post of prime minister will come down to one of three people: Hayder al-Abadi (current prime minister), Nouri al-Maliki (two time prime minister and forever thug) or Hadi al-Ameria "a leader of Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating IS. Ameri comes from Diyala province and is a statistics graduate from Baghdad University. He fled to Iran in 1980 after Saddam executed top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr. The 64-year old is widely viewed as Tehran's favoured candidate."

Tough road for Iraq’s female candidates in May 12 elections

“One of the most important women’s issues in Iraq that needs to be urgently addressed is marginalization," a female candidate tells . My latest on female candidates running for parliament in 's May 12 election w/help from cameraman Ali Abdul-Hassan

From the AP report:

Sex videos have been widely circulated on social media purporting to show female candidates in bed with men, as well as photos allegedly showing candidates posing in underwear or revealing outfits.
One such video — which she dismissed as a “fabrication aimed at pushing her out” — forced Intidhar Ahmed Jassim, allied with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Victory Alliance party, to withdraw from the race.
In Iraq’s southern Najaf province, tribal arbitration was held over a video showing a young man kissing the poster of a female candidate from another tribe. The outcome: he apologized, the apology was accepted and the female candidate’s tribe even declined compensation for the insult.
Alarmed by the unseen level of harassment, the U.N. chief’s special representative for Iraq, Jan Kubis met last month with several women candidates over the “alarming situation” and “vulgar acts” targeting women, which he said only undermines the democratic process.

“Those behind defamation, cyber bullying and harassment are trying to scare you off,” Kubis told them, adding that the perpetrators are “afraid of educated, dynamic, qualified, courageous and open-minded women candidates that rightfully claim their space and meaningful role in political life of Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Hayder al-Abadi, the current prime minister of Iraq, wants a second term.  As Elaine noted last night,  Hayder's 2014 promise to address corruption has amounted to nothing.  He's staked his entire reputation on his 'success' in addressing ISIS.  When he became prime minister, ISIS controlled the city of Mosul.  He likes to boast that he's defeated ISIS and reclaimed Mosul.  Mahmoud al-Najjar, Gilgamesh Nabeel and Jacob Wirtschaffer (USA TODAY) explain:

Nearly a year after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared this war-devastated city liberated from the Islamic State, a putrid odor still fills the air from thousands of corpses left in the rubble.

The bodies of both civilians and Islamic State militants can be found throughout Mosul, once Iraq's second-largest city, abandoned in bombed-out buildings, tossed in roadside rubbish heaps or discarded in and around the Tigris River.

Mohammad Salim (THE NATION) adds:

While those on the campaign trail are doing their best to sell themselves and their positive vision of Iraq, the people they are trying to convince seem split about the vote.

Mechanic Abu Fayez, 41, has been waiting for hours to receive his voter registration card.

"After the liberation of Mosul it is a national duty to vote to change our lives and not just take advantage of the day off as during previous elections to have a holiday," he tells AFP, his hands and trousers stained with oil.

"We must... elect people who will genuinely represent us and obtain compensation for the material and moral damage we suffered."

While Mosul remains in ruins,  ISIS remains active in Iraq.  ANADOLU AGENCY reports ISIS killed 1 police officer today in Diyala Province and left four more wounded.  And the day before?  XINHUA reports another attack being credited to ISIS, "Three people were killed Wednesday and four others wounded in two roadside bomb attacks in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a provincial police source said."

Let's close with this:

Proud of two young leaders from Kurdistan Iraq awarded today at . Sara Abdul Rahman, a peace-builder from , and Zina Hamu, a photojournalist. Both aged 21 and ready to take the world by storm


From the US State Dept:

     May 1, 2018

Announcing the Recipients of the 2018 Emerging Young Leaders Award

In recognition of the positive role young people play in building sustainable peace, the U.S. Department of State is honoring outstanding young leaders from around the world.  On Wednesday, May 2, the ten recipients of the third annual Emerging Young Leaders Award will be acknowledged in a public ceremony at the State Department for their efforts as partners for peace and drivers of economic growth and opportunity.
The 2018 awardees are:
Sara Abdullah Abdulrahman, Iraq
Diovio Alfath, Indonesia
Ece Çiftçi,  Turkey
Tanzil Ferdous, Bangladesh
Zina Salim Hassan Hamu, Lithuania
Dania Hassan, Pakistan
Nancy Herz, Norway
Isasiphinkosi Mdingi, South Africa
José Rodríguez, Panama
Firuz Yogbekov, Tajikistan
These 10 remarkable young people will visit the United States for an intensive program, April 29 to May 12, specially designed to expand their leadership capacities, strengthen their knowledge of management strategies in the non-profit, government and private sectors, learn and share best practices, and broaden their networks of resources and support. The exchange program provides skills training to set awardees on paths for increased collaboration on global issues affecting youth, particularly those involved involved in building peace, combating extremism, and empowering youth.
Learn more about the award and exchange program at  
The Emerging Young Leaders award ceremony will take place on May 2 at the U.S. Department of State, and will be open to credentialed members of the media.  Interested media should contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at  Follow the conversation online with #EYLeaders and @ECAatState

The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT, DISSIDENT VOICE and PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: