Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Lettuce and economic justice

Romaine lettuce.  I’m still eating it.  Slate notes:

The Great Romaine Crisis of 2018 rages on. Last Friday brought news of 14 more people and three more states affected by an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona, region, bringing the tally up to 98 people and 22 states respectively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expecting more reports of illness since there’s a two-week delay between when a person falls ill and when they’re confirmed to be part of the outbreak. This particular strain of the bacteria also seems to be particularly nasty—according to WNEP, almost half of those reported ill have been hospitalized compared with the usual E. coli outbreak rate of about 30 percent.
For substitutes, Slate has some suggestions.
They start with kale.  I like kale.  I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t tried it.  It’s sharp and it’s a little tougher.   Butter lettuce is next and I recommended that last time.  I love it and red leaf lettuce and Boston lettuce.  They are good substitutes.  I would note that butter (or bib) lettuce has a softness to it.  Arugula’s there next choice.  I like it and I think you can try it (or serve it) even if you (or your dining mates) haven’t had it before.  It’s not a shocker the way kale might be.  Then they offer iceberg which is something I’ll feed to a kid’s turtle but otherwise don’t mess with.  (Not enough nutrition.) Herbs is noted but I’d pass.  Then they finally get to spinach which is a great substitute.  The only bad with spinach is it will interfere with calcium absorption (during the same meal).  But it’s great for iron and so much more.  Endive and power greens round out the list.  I’ll say pass.  I do love to steam mustard greens and serve them with a shot of lime juice.   Or I’ll blanch them and serve them with sea salt and lemon (a small, whole lemon squeezed over them).But I would never use greens in a salad.  They are too tough for salad for me.
Now for the issue of economic justice.  Don’t look for it in our current administration.  Kate Randall (WSWS) reports:

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s “Making Affordable Housing Work Act of 2018,” unveiled last week, would spell destitution for the poorest households receiving federal rental assistance, virtually all of which have annual incomes of less than $7,000. Roughly 1.7 million people, including 1 million children, would face eviction and homelessness.
The typical household affected would be a single mother with two children, with an annual income of $2,400—or just $200 a month. After paying rent, under this proposal, the family would have only $48 a month left to pay for necessities like clothing, diapers, school supplies and food or medical needs not covered by other assistance.
The housing proposal would impose a mandatory tripling of the minimum rent for households with an adult younger than 65, to at least $152; raise rents from the current 30 percent to 35 percent of gross income; and allow local public housing authorities to impose work requirements on those receiving benefits.
Carson’s sadistic plan is only the latest in a series of attacks on the most vulnerable and impoverished Americans that are being proposed or carried out at the federal and state level. It follows an executive order by President Trump instructing the secretaries of six federal departments to seek out new ways to gut existing programs and impose work requirements for Medicaid, food stamps, home heating assistance, housing assistance and welfare benefits.
Elaine wrote about this topic last week “The latest attack on the working class” and I agree that this is an attack and that this is sadistic.  It really is something.  It’s disgusting, in fact.


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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018.  Eleven days until elections are held in Iraq.

What do elections mean?

In Iraq . . .

Iraq's May 12 national elections approaches, & three of the biggest stories in Iraqi media: 1) attacks on women candidates, 2) "electronic armies" operating from Facebook, & 3) boys being paid to run around & tear down opposing candidates' election posters.

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.   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."

1001 IRAQI THOUGHTS has a poll of Iraqis -- there's no margin of error so take the poll for what you think it might be worth.  This is what they see as the polls chief findings:

  • Some 60% of people overall support a second term for Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. His popularity is highest in the three liberated provinces of Ninewa, Salahadin and Anbar. Even in the Kurdistan Region, Al-Abadi enjoys support from over 50% of those interviewed.
  • Voter turnout is expected to be high despite some calls by activists to boycott the elections. The poll’s findings show that participation from voters belonging to the liberated provinces, especially Mosul, will likely be among the highest in the country.
  • The popularity of Haider Al-Abadi’s Victory coalition consistently ranks highest among the competing lists with 24% of the vote share, while there is a close race for second place among Moqtada Al-Sadr’s Sa’iroon coalition and Hadi Al-Ameri’s Conquest alliance. Meanwhile, Nouri Al-Maliki’s State of Law appears to be far less popular in Baghdad than it was in the 2014 elections, and will likely pick up most of its seats from the southern provinces including Karbala and Basra, where Maliki still retains a strong support base.

Of the findings they offer -- again, take it for what it's worth, it appears to be more of a lunch time poll than a scientific one -- there are two that are more revealing than the above three.  First of all, the election is 11 days away (the poll took place between April 22nd and 28th) and the top vote getter was Hayder al-Abadi (current prime minister) with 24% yet 26% was the largest grouping and it was undecided.  People really don't know how they're going to vote?  If the results are accurate that would suggest that a large number of undecideds will not be voting.  When you've got no opinion that close to an election, you have no strong motivating factor for upsetting your day to get to a polling station.

The other key finding?  17% stated they would not be voting and, 63% of that 17%, when asked why not, chose "there are no qualified candidates."

Iraq’s Election coming, nothing will change, we are going to voting like a sheep without think to what we want to get. They will feed us to slay us.

Ahead of Iraq's elections this month, a satirical TV show is resurfacing candidates' broken promises

First-time voter says, ‘I don’t have any hope in the political parties — I don’t believe in the parties and their campaigning.’

0:07 / 1:26


One development this go round -- as noted in the top Tweet -- is the attention being given to female candidates.  Suadad al-Sahly (ARAB NEWS) notes:

This is the first time, however, that the participation of female candidates has generated such widespread public interest among an electorate used to taking a cynical view of more established politicians linked to corruption and sectarian violence.
Ziena Al-Shimari, another female candidate in Baghdad, told Arab News she had been granted permission to run by the head of her tribe and was now determined to stand up for the rights of a new generation of Iraqis.
“I am calling on us to unify the Arab tribes because they support the young while the state does not,” she said.Since campaigning began on April 14, the images of the women have given rise to a range of reactions, from anger and mockery to adulation and pride.

According to 1001 IRAQI THOUGHTS (see earlier for link), the top vote getter will be Hayder al-Abadi, second place will be a battle between Ammar al-Hakim and Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr while Nouri al-Maliki will be a distant fourth.  Nouri was a two term prime minister and is a forever thug.  Ibrahim al-Marashi (MIDDLE EAST EYE) offers:

The importance of examining the Shia parties and coalitions is that the next prime minister of Iraq will be chosen from among these factions, and that candidate will determine the fate of Iraq's national unity.
A recent nationwide poll conducted between 17-21 March and featuring respondents across all 18 provinces indicated that 60 percent of voters remained undecided, an indicator that the outcome is still not certain in a vote that is little more than two weeks away.
Iraq's various parties usually form coalitions going into each election to maximise votes. In the lead-up to the 2018 vote, Iraq's rival Shia coalitions include incumbent Prime Minister Haidar Abadi, who will run for reelection as the head of the "Victory of Iraq" (Nasr al-Iraq) coalition, its name capitalising on the Iraqi victory over IS. Polls indicate it has the highest number of potential voters at 15 percent.
The second faction, polling in second at 5 percent, is former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who stepped down in 2014 but is seeking a political comeback. He leads the "State of Law" (Dawlat al-Qanun) coalition, using the name he came up with during the 2010 electoral campaign.
Both Abadi and Maliki are politicians from al-Dawa Party, a party that had united during Iraq's first elections in 2005, but since then has split around loyalty to two political personalities rather than an ideological divide.

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