Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We can learn from the past

At MEDIUM, Richard Hobday looks at the influenza epidemic of 1918 and notes:

When the influenza pandemic reached the East coast of the United States in 1918, the city of Boston was particularly badly hit. So the State Guard set up an emergency hospital. They took in the worst cases among sailors on ships in Boston harbour. The hospital’s medical officer had noticed the most seriously ill sailors had been in badly-ventilated spaces. So he gave them as much fresh air as possible by putting them in tents. And in good weather they were taken out of their tents and put in the sun. At this time, it was common practice to put sick soldiers outdoors. Open-air therapy, as it was known, was widely used on casualties from the Western Front. And it became the treatment of choice for another common and often deadly respiratory infection of the time; tuberculosis. Patients were put outside in their beds to breathe fresh outdoor air. Or they were nursed in cross-ventilated wards with the windows open day and night. The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.
Doctors who had first-hand experience of open-air therapy at the hospital in Boston were convinced the regimen was effective. It was adopted elsewhere. If one report is correct, it reduced deaths among hospital patients from 40 per cent to about 13 per cent.[4] According to the Surgeon General of the Massachusetts State Guard:
`The efficacy of open air treatment has been absolutely proven, and one has only to try it to discover its value.’
Fresh Air is a Disinfectant
Patients treated outdoors were less likely to be exposed to the infectious germs that are often present in conventional hospital wards. They were breathing clean air in what must have been a largely sterile environment. We know this because, in the 1960s, Ministry of Defence scientists proved that fresh air is a natural disinfectant.[5] Something in it, which they called the Open Air Factor, is far more harmful to airborne bacteria — and the influenza virus — than indoor air. They couldn’t identify exactly what the Open Air Factor is. But they found it was effective both at night and during the daytime.
Their research also revealed that the Open Air Factor’s disinfecting powers can be preserved in enclosures — if ventilation rates are kept high enough. Significantly, the rates they identified are the same ones that cross-ventilated hospital wards, with high ceilings and big windows, were designed for.[6] But by the time the scientists made their discoveries, antibiotic therapy had replaced open-air treatment. Since then the germicidal effects of fresh air have not featured in infection control, or hospital design. Yet harmful bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Sunlight and Influenza Infection
Putting infected patients out in the sun may have helped because it inactivates the influenza virus.[7] It also kills bacteria that cause lung and other infections in hospitals.[8] During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.[9] They knew it was a disinfectant. What they didn’t know is that one advantage of placing patients outside in the sun is they can synthesise vitamin D in their skin if sunlight is strong enough. This was not discovered until the 1920s. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza.[10] Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.[11] New research suggests they can alter our inflammatory response to the flu virus.[12] As with vitamin D, at the time of the 1918 pandemic, the important part played by sunlight in synchronizing these rhythms was not known.

We can learn from the past.  We just have to know the past.  We have to know what worked and what didn't.  And we have to realize how to apply it to today because somethings from the past can be utilized and can be effective.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Coronavirus demonstrates how ugly greed can be, Joe Biden has no plans to address anything, Iraq has a new prime minister-designate and much more.

Starting in the United States and with the coronavirus.  At WSWS, The National Committee of the Socialist Equality Party (US) notes:

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global disaster. In just three months, the coronavirus, since its initial detection in China, has spread across the planet. This virus combines a high rate of infection with a substantial lethality. It is wreaking havoc throughout Europe and North America, where every day brings reports of thousands of more confirmed infections. The number of dead is rising rapidly. The virus is now appearing in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
The scale and impact of the pandemic has been intensified by the indifference and criminal negligence of capitalist governments, which have wasted precious time. At his press conference on Monday, US President Donald Trump, while heaping praise on his own leadership, stated repeatedly that the coronavirus pandemic had come as a complete surprise. “We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about,” Trump claimed. “This came out of nowhere.” This is a lie. Scientists have warned of the danger of a global pandemic for years. The world already has the experience of the SARS coronavirus of 2002-2003 and the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic of 2009-2010.
The World Economic Forum has repeatedly ranked infectious diseases as one of its top 10 global risks. Its last report on security and related capabilities in 195 countries found that no country was prepared for an epidemic or pandemic. It wrote that “our collective vulnerability to the societal and economic impacts of infectious disease crises appears to be increasing.” This warning was ignored.
Scientific studies show that an effective response to a pandemic demands rapid implementation of mass testing to slow its spread. However, even as the outbreak in China left no doubt about the scale of the danger, no effort was undertaken in Europe and the United States to detect the illness and stop its spread. But even if the government had wanted to initiate mass testing, the necessary kits hardly are to be found in the United States.

The major centers of world capitalism, above all the United States, have proven so completely incapable of responding to this crisis as a direct consequence of the destruction of social infrastructure over the past half century. All considerations of social planning have been subordinated to raising share values on Wall Street and facilitating the accumulation of staggering levels of wealth by the ruling elites.
To support and get involved in the SEP election campaign,

As the essay continues, they note ways in which the workers are discriminated against.

We'll note one not in the essay.  Right now there are discussions and calls for hazard pay for those working with the public and that usually translates as healthcare providers and retail workers, etc.  For example.

I feel like everyone, from supermarket employees to nurses and hospital staff, should be receiving bonus hazard pay for continuing to work in these conditions.

I've got seven different e-mails from across the country written by community members who are front desk staff at clinics.  You think we're treating everyone fair?  We aren't.  All seven explain that in the clinic they work at, everyone behind the door -- that mighty door you go through to see the doctor -- wears masks -- techs, nurses and doctors.  But those on the front desk, the people doing the screening -- asking the questions about travel and health, taking any payments, making sure all forms have been signed, etc -- are not provided with masks.  Even if they are at risk due to age or health conditions.  Apparently, we're all in this together but, at some clinics, some are in lifeboat while the rest float in the sea.  That's outrageous.

There aren't enough masks, they are told.  But somehow, even a coder who is not even around any patient in the office, just sits at his or her computer all day, in the back, away from any patients, coding procedures warrants a mask.  Not the people greeting and checking in every patient and also checking them out after the visit.

That's outrageous.

That it's taking place in a medical environment makes it only more outrageous.

Fran Quigley (COMMON DREAMS) points out:

Last week, I listened as several Indiana workers in the hospitality industry gathered in southeastern Indiana to talk about their health. A cook in her 60s shared how she had gone months without her asthma inhalers because she couldn’t afford them. During that period, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance twice. A restaurant server talked about not being able to pay for tests her doctor recommended for potentially cancerous breast tissue. Another has seven prescriptions. She tearfully described her perpetual calculation about which to fill, because she can’t come close to affording them all.
Each story was greeted by sad, knowing nods. Several workers spoke about skipping doctor visits, reluctant to add to the stack of unpaid medical bills already piling up on their kitchen tables. 
Beyond their inability to get the care they need, they all had another thing in common: They all had health insurance.
At least, they had what often passes for health insurance in the United States. Unique among other nations, we prioritize the interests of corporations making billions of dollars in health care profits over the goal of ensuring access to care. While 27 million Americans have no health insurance at all, four in ten working Americans have a high-deductible plan that forces them to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before they get any benefit from the premiums taken out of their paychecks each week.
Reams of academic medical studies confirm what the workers in Indiana tell us: Price tag barriers to accessing health care deter people from seeking the care they need. As recently as last month, most Americans may have seen this as a problem solely for the worker who could not afford to see a doctor about her high blood pressure or diabetes. This month, we know it is a problem for everyone.
That same worker is unlikely to seek testing and treatment for the coronavirus, which means they may unknowingly spread it.
“The reality is, there are a lot of people that are thinking, ‘I don’t want a couple-thousand-dollar bill to get tested or to get treated,’” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told the Huffington Post. “That’s going to hurt all of us.”
The fears of financial catastrophe coming from treatment are well-founded. Although President Trump in a primetime television address last week claimed that health insurance companies had agreed to waive copays for coronavirus treatment, those companies quickly walked it back. They were waiving copays for testing only, not treatment. And that treatment could be enormously expensive. As the New York Times reported, a father and young daughter quarantined after coronavirus exposure already face “a pile of medical bills” adding up to $3,918. 

We don’t have to guess at the damage that will be caused by financial barriers to care. A Harvard Medical School study showed that 45,000 people in the U.S. die each year because of lack of health care coverage. In the case of an aggressive infectious disease like the coronavirus, where lack of testing and treatment will impact others, that total could mushroom.

Medicare for All is what is needed.  That's during a pandemic and it's at other times as well.  Candidates like Joe Biden have repeatedly lied about Medicare For All and dismissed it -- no surprise, Joe and Tiny Pete and others are funded by the insurance lobby.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) notes a new line of attack:

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the United States, laying bare the myriad dysfunctions and inefficiencies of America's for-profit healthcare system, a powerful insurance industry front group is openly ramping up its campaign against systemic healthcare reforms that experts say would help mitigate the outbreak and guarantee essential care for all.
Forbes Tate Partners, the lobbying firm behind the anti-Medicare for All group Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PAHCF), tweeted late Monday that while its employees have been working from home since last Friday, "our work on behalf of our strategic partners and clients continues full steam ahead."
To that end, PAHCF last week launched a Facebook ad blitz against Connecticut's state public option plan and began laying the groundwork for propaganda efforts in other major states, including New York and California. PAHCF was formed in 2018 by major healthcare industry interests with the goal of squashing growing public support for single-payer.

"While this is disturbing, it should not be surprising," tweeted Medicare for All NOW!, an advocacy group that is tracking PAHCF's activities. "The healthcare industry will fight any threat to its profits with force and gobs of cash, even in the midst of a global pandemic. They cannot be bargained with. And they must be defeated."

Meanwhile alleged efforts at helping the people leave out huge groupings.  Sarah Lazare and Adam Johnson (JACOBIN) explain:

In the rush — or at least the pretense of rush — to bring immediate economic relief to the millions of average workers gutted by the tanking global economy brought on by the coronavirus, Democratic Party elites and centrist papers of record Washington Post and New York Times are cementing the terms of the debate to a narrow, ineffective, and wholly inadequate discussion of paid sick leave.
Over a forty-eight-hour period from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, the New York Times has run twelve articles and op-eds online that substantively mention paid sick leave, including Associated Press and Reuters reprints. Not a single one of those pieces mentions the fact that informal economy and contract workers would not benefit from such protections, which are urgently needed — but ideally would just be one strand of a much larger safety net.
piece published Saturday by the New York Times editorial board does criticize the legislation for paid sick leave passed by the House Saturday morning, shepherded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for not going far enough because it doesn’t apply to companies with 500 or more workers. “In fact, the bill guarantees sick leave only to about 20 percent of workers,” the piece notes. “Big employers like McDonald’s and Amazon are not required to provide any paid sick leave, while companies with fewer than 50 employees can seek hardship exemptions from the Trump administration.” Yet nowhere in this article will you find any mention of the informal economy workers who are entirely excluded from this legislation.
This omission is glaring, because a significant portion of the US workforce is employed in the freelance and informal economies not covered by paid sick leave. According to some counts there’s over 56 million freelancers in the United States (though not all are economically precarious, many  almost certainly are.
As for the informal economy, it is, by definition, difficult to determine the exact scale of this sector. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated in 2018 that 18.1 percent of total employment in North America is in the informal sector (the ILO didn’t look just at the United States). A 2011 Urban Institute report found “there are no precise estimates of the size of the informal employment sector in the United States, but it could range from 3 to 40 percent of the total non-agricultural workforce,” which means it could be as low as 4 million or as high as 53 million Americans.
Many of these informal economy and freelance workers are already in crisis. “Sex work has given me a level of financial stability I’ve never had before, but I’m still just one rent payment away from crisis,” a New England–based sex worker told Jacobin. “Most sex workers don’t have a safety net and will almost certainly be left out of any formal systems put in place to make up for lost wages. I’m already worried about what I will do when I lose income and have nowhere to turn.”
During the same forty-eight-hour period, the Washington Post published fifteen articles and op-eds that substantively mentioned paid sick leave, including Associated Press and Bloomberg Wire reprints. Of those, none gave a clear mention of informal economy workers. One opinion column by Adam Shandler discussed gig workers, but this brief mention provided the entire scope of coverage of the informal, freelance, and undocumented economy in the context of the coronavirus relief package.
Reading the Times and Post coverage, and statements from both Republican and Democrat leaders, it’s clear that helping the vulnerable and precarious dig out from the economic conditions they face is almost incidental to the paid sick leave mechanism. “The House’s failure to require universal paid sick leave,” the aforementioned March 14 Times editorial concluded, “is an embarrassment that endangers the health of workers, consumers and the broader American public.”

The urgent concern for our political and media leaders at the moment appears to first and foremost be containing the rate of the virus’s spread. A noble goal, of course, but one that is separate from making sure people don’t suffer economic hardship.

Liza Featherstone has a good article at JACOBIN that's marred by its accusatory headline and a photo of shelves empty of toilet paper.  I keep hearing that people are 'hoarding.'  Are they?  Are there photos daily of people with buggies full of toilet paper?  There are no guidelines from the government -- a fact that Liza would probably agree with since she's calling for the government impose certain things.  There's no clear message.  Will we be able to go out next week?  The week after?  People are shopping for themselves and maybe their families and maybe their friends.  "I'm going to change it and go to the grocery store.  Do you need anything?"  I know those calls are taking place and those calls go to compassion and working together -- topics that are ignored when we blindly toss around the accusation of "hoarding."  There's no action plan.  There's no clear talk from the top of the government -- I'd include Congress in that, not just the White House.  I've yet to hear of people battling each other Mad Max Thunderdome style in supermarkets, so I'd suggest that writers back off from attacking people by using terms like 'hoarders' unless they have a specific example and not some free floating, trend story nonsense.

How wonderful and how corporate media of all of us to make the issue that people are supposedly 'hoarding' with no proof at all when we no the grocery chains are raking it in and we're not focusing on that or other actors in the system who are corrupt and benefiting.

For the record, I doubt Liza picked the illustration and I hope she had nothing to do with the headline.  Strip both of those away and you've got a very strong piece of journalism.

In deeply unequal societies, nations where wealth and power have concentrated intensely, a few people do have the means to undercut the common good. These wealthy few can exploit the vulnerabilities of societies in crisis to make themselves even wealthier."

And we're seeing it happen right now.

In the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, you have Bernie Sanders who is calling for Medicare For All and solutions that address our needs and then you have Joe Biden who thinks that returning to the status quo of 2015 will solve everything.

Did it solve climate change in 2015?  Nope.  Did it end deportations in 2015?  Nope.  What exactly did it accomplish? Glenn Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) has repeatedly spoken of (on BLACK AGENDA RADIO) and written of how eight years of Barack Obama only accomplished the transfer of the country's wealth into the hands of a few billionaires and millionaires.  Here's Glenn in January of 2014:

President Obama, the Grand Facilitator of the greatest consolidation of financial wealth in human history, began his sixth year in office declaring that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” The Grand Bargainer who saved George Bush’s bank bailout and presided over the (ongoing) infusion of tens of trillions of dollars into Wall Street accounts, and who bragged less than two years ago that, “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has actually risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years,” now calls for government action to reverse the momentum of his own policies. The Great Pretender, who in 2008 called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and then did absolutely nothing to effectuate it when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, now proposes to raise the bar to $10 an hour in order to embarrass Republicans in an election year. The Daring Debt Buster who, on his own initiative, has frozen federal workers’ wages since 2010, and worked hand in glove with Republicans to gut social programs in the name of fiscal restraint, laments “growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” among the masses.
The chief executive who lifted not a finger to pass “card check,” the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009, that might have given organized labor a fighting chance to survive, now pretends to be a born again champion of collective bargaining and yearns for the days when “you knew that a blue-collar job would let you buy a home, and a car, maybe a vacation once in a while, health care, a reliable pension.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s Justice Department sided with the Republican-appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit, who was seeking to impose bankruptcy on the mostly Black city and raid retiree’s pensions – revealing the administration’s true colors.

Joe's not going to accomplish anything if he managed to get elected.  I doubt he would get elected.  Joe's bumbling and stumbling is being denied by his cult but we are in a time of crisis and there are independents who will look at Joe and realize he's not up for the job and vote for Donald Trump instead.  Joe only became 'electable' after the press was able to repeatedly attack Bernie (no one but Chris Matthews has been held accountable for their lies and insinuations) and after Barack pressured Amy Klobuchar, Tiny Pete and others to drop out ahead of Super Tuesday, Joe managed to look like a winner.

But is Barack going to be able to press Donald Trump to drop out.  Is the press going to be able to smear Donald?  He's immune to press criticism because the press refused to play fair with regards to him.  They have lied about him repeatedly and the American people are aware of it.  There are valid critiques of Donald Trump and those could have been made.  Instead we got lies and conspiracies pimped as truth by the corporate press.  It will have no impact on the American people's opinion of Donald Trump.

The senile imbecile Joe Biden muttering and making a fool of himself in a general election will ensure a second term for Donald Trump.

The better candidate for the Democratic Party is Bernie.  And the DNC knows that, the polls show that, but it appears to be more important to deny the American people what they need then to win the White House.

Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) notes the Biden campaign's latest attack on Bernie and his supporters via Anita Dunn.  Near the end of the article, she notes Dunn's work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein.  Her work for Harvey is not a minor issue.  Harvey's actions have resulted in a 23 year prison sentence.  In October of 2017, Steven Perlberg (BUZZFEED NEWS) reported:

A former top adviser to Barack Obama was among the list of public relations professionals and lawyers consulting Harvey Weinstein over a major New York Times story, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Anita Dunn, a top Obama campaign staffer and former White House communications director, helped offer damage control advice for the Hollywood mogul.
On Thursday afternoon, the New York Times published a major investigation into Weinstein that features on-the-record claims of sexual harassment, including from actor Ashley Judd.
The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported Wednesday that the Times was working on the story on Weinstein’s personal “behavior." The two Hollywood trade outlets also reported that NBC News' Ronan Farrow is working on a piece about Weinstein for the New Yorker.
Dunn was not paid by Weinstein for her help, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. But she did offer her PR advice, including in regards to a Sept. 23 Times story written by Megan Twohey. The story, about a controversy over Weinstein’s work with AIDS charity amfAR, was thought to be a precursor to the big investigation posted on Thursday.
Sources said that Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, has been central to the PR effort for Weinstein, who is a major Democratic donor. Davis is engaged as an attorney providing legal advice to Weinstein, according to a spokesperson for his law firm.
Dunn, for her part, is the managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a Washington public affairs firm with deep ties to Democratic politics. She was communications director for Obama’s 2008 campaign and served briefly in his administration.

Well we all donate our time.  I like to help children's causes, I believe in them.  Anita Dunn likes to help rapists because she apparently supports rape.  That she could be a high level official in anyone's campaign right now goes to how little anything has changed since the hashtag.  Mark Penn on Hillary's 2008 campaign was an issue, why the hell isn't Anita being on Joe's campaign -- a campaign of someone notorious for invading women's spaces and boundaries -- an issue?

Bernie's the clear choice for America.  Something that's not clear?  How to use YOUTUBE.

That's Bernie's Fireside Chat from Saturday.  At least ten e-mails have come in saying there's nothing there to watch.

Yes, there is.  It would have been smart for Bernie's crew to have let the video start with the chat but all you have to do is go minute 15 and that's where the chat starts.  You don't have to wait for that to load minute fifteen, you can use your mouse and advance the feed to the 15 minute mark.  Bernie's addressing real issues.

Bernie Sanders: What does this mean for ordinary people?  What does this mean?  Say you are a waiter or a waitress, okay?  Business is cut in half.  What are you supposed to do right now? Your mortgage bill is coming due or your rent bill is coming due.  Maybe you have illness and you have to buy your prescription drugs.  Maybe your kid is sick from an illness and you have to go to the doctor.  Maybe you owe and you have to make your monthly payments on your credit card.  What happens to you if your income goes down?

Meanwhile Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

US Secretary Mike Pompeo threatened the Iraqi government that the Pentagon will carry out fresh attacks in retaliation for rocket strikes on bases in Iraq housing US military personnel, according to a memo released by the State Department Monday.
Pompeo held a telephone conversation Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, one day after the al-Taji base, north of Baghdad, was struck by 33 Katyusha rockets leaving three US soldiers wounded, two of them seriously. The attack is the latest in a series of retaliations and counterretaliations that are spiraling dangerously toward the eruption of another major US war in the Middle East.
The threat of more US military action in Iraq comes as the country is reeling from the combined impact of the spreading coronavirus and a drastic fall in the price of oil, its virtually exclusive export.
The latest attack on the al-Taji base followed US airstrikes that left five Iraqi regular army soldiers, two policemen and one civilian worker, a cook, dead, along with a number of others wounded. The US bombing raids, which struck a civilian airport under construction outside Iraq’s Shia holy city of Karbala were launched after an earlier rocket attack on Camp Taji, as the US military refers to the base, which killed two US and one British soldier. A separate strike against a base of the Kataib Hezbollah Shia militia in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border reportedly killed 18 fighters.
According to the State Department’s readout of the call: “Secretary Pompeo reiterated that the Government of Iraq must defend Coalition personnel supporting the Iraqi government’s efforts to defeat ISIS. Secretary Pompeo underscored that the groups responsible for these attacks must be held accountable. Secretary Pompeo noted that America will not tolerate attacks and threats to American lives and will take additional action as necessary in self-defense.”

The tone of this ultimatum expresses all the arrogance of a colonial occupier toward an oppressed country.

By definition.. The state that invaded #Iraq on a lie; killed and displaced millions; occupies Iraq’s land; pillaged its resources; poisoned it with depleted uranium; gave rise to ISIS; and now refuses to leave while still dropping bombs on Iraqis.. Can never act in self-defense.

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The Hill



JUST IN: Pompeo warns US will act in self-defense in Iraq after attacks on troops

In other news . . .

Iraq ex-governor named PM-designate as Baghdad residents rushed to stock up on supplies ahead of a planned days-long curfew amid a global pandemic.

Who are we talking about?  Adnan al-Zurufi.  From WIKIPEDIA:

Adnan al-Zurufi was deployed to Iraq in April 2003 as a team member of Iraq Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC), a US DoD financed group led by Emad Dhia. Later, he was appointed by Paul Bremer, the CPA Administrator as governor of Najaf Governorate appointed May 2004. 17 March 2020 Iraqi President Salih appoints Adnan al-Zurfi as new PM-designate [1] He accused Muqtada al Sadr of constantly violating his agreements to disband the Mahdi Army.
As a result of his willingness to work with the Iraqi government and the coalition he and his family were targeted by insurgents and militias. His uncle was killed in April 2004,[2] and his brother was kidnapped in Kufra on 1 December 2005, just prior to the 2009 governorate elections, in which Zurufi was running.[3]
A member of the Bani Hassan tribe, al-Zurufi earned a degree in Islamic law at Alfik College, the Islamic jurisprudence college, in Najaf. He was a sports hero as a youth, and also captain of the cheer leading team.[1]

We've been noting the implosion of Moqtada al-Sadr for some time.  Despite this, many in the corporate media still insist Moqtada is a big player.

No, he's a bit player.

Before he turned on the protesters, he was a movement leader.  Then he turned on them and he's just a cult leader.  Many of his supporters -- adults in middle age -- walked out on him when he turned on the protesters.  This was not a minor deal.

Before he turned on them?  He was able to insist that Mohammed Allawi be named prime minister-designate.  After he turned on the protesters?  Even Moqtada's threats were enough to make Parliament vote on Allawi's cabinet and Allawi had to announce that he was bowing out.

And now?  The new nominee is a longterm foe of Moqtada al-Sadr's?  He was a big player.  He's currently a bit player.

Never count him out.  He could rise again.  But at present, he has little influence in Iraq.

The following sites updated: