Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pandemic thoughts

 Renae Cassimeda (WSWS) noted:

Amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and an explosion of opposition from teachers and parents for plans to begin in person instruction in Hawaii Public Schools, the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) has altered their plan for reopening. The new plan includes full distance learning for four weeks after an initial in-person orientation for all students at their school sites, which will span the first week of school starting Monday, August 17. However parents and teachers argue it is not enough.

Nearly a month ago, the state of Hawaii was touting the low number of cases as a justification for full reopening of schools, but COVID-19 cases are now climbing at an alarming rate with 4,312 cases and 40 deaths. Yesterday saw a new record high of 355 cases, and already in the month of August, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 14 Hawaiians. Of added concern, Hawaii currently has the highest rate of transmission in the US, at 1.29, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The majority of recent cases have been traced to prisons and shelters on the island of Oahu. Approximately 86 newly reported cases are part of a growing cluster at the Oahu Community Correctional Center, and there is also a growing cluster at a homeless shelter in Iwilei, with 20 cases under investigation. 

Lauren e-mailed to note that story and to ask if my granddaughter in Hawaii was going back to school?

Mike and Elaine will be home schooling her throughout the pandemic.  On that granddaughter, let me note that she's already called to ask me if I loved Kat's "Kat's Korner: Haim and how it took a lifetime to get here" and, yes, I did.  It's a great essay.  Please read it.

Now here, in Boston, my grandkids are going to school -- in our house.  We've got four living here.  If we need to, more can move in.  We had one of our sons and grandchildren living with us before the pandemic.  We've added two more of our kids and three grandkids since the pandemic started.  One of our kids lost their job (sports arenas aren't open these days) and the other needed to reduce expenses when the pandemic resulted in tensions and a divorce.  We raised eight kids in this house so we certainly have plenty of room if any of our other children need to move in.  But, yes, home schooling is what I recommend to anyone who asks me.  I do not feel it is safe to return to schools.  Sorry.

On the pandemic, Jill Richardson has a very important article at CounterPunch:

I’ve been seeing memes online advocating shaming people who aren’t wearing masks. Please don’t.

If you see someone in a store without a mask, talk to the store instead of bothering the customer. There are two reasons why.

First, your bigger problem isn’t the person – it’s the store. What are their procedures? Ask them and find out. If they aren’t doing enough to keep their customers safe, you may sensibly choose not to shop there.

Second, it’s true: The person with no mask may be an able-bodied person who has decided the rules don’t apply to them. But they also might be a disabled person who is doing their best. Harassing them about a mask they’re unable to wear is harmful.

I’m disabled. I can’t wear a mask. If you saw me in public, there’s a lot more to the story you wouldn’t have seen.

You wouldn’t have seen me staying home, alone, trying to avoid people so that when I do go into public without a mask, I’ve minimized the chance that I’ve got any germs to spread. You wouldn’t have seen me making every possible attempt to obtain what I needed online, at curbside, or by delivery.

You wouldn’t have seen the things I simply do without when I can’t get them that way. Did you know that stores that offer curbside pickup or delivery sometimes don’t offer it for every item?

You wouldn’t know I live alone and nobody else could run the errand for me. If I’m in that store, it’s because I couldn’t find a way to avoid it.

You wouldn’t have seen me call the store in advance, explain that I can’t wear a mask because of my disability, and ask what they wanted me to do. You probably didn’t know that I was following their procedures.

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

 Monday, August 17, 2020.  Does Iraq matter in the US, does a virtual political convention matter, an activist is assassinated in Iraq, and much more.

Is Tony Blair a War Criminal?  PARLA poses the question as the Democratic War Party kicks off their convention online and as the US press tries to play what's-Iraq-never-heard-of-it?

The war continues, no matter how hard US outlets try to ignore it.  What will they do August 20th?  That's when Iraq's prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi is due to visit the White House.

In anticipation of that visit, or perhaps to get a few laughs or just to flaunt their stupidity, Aykan Erdemir and Philip Kowalski (NATIONAL INTEREST) offer "Joe Biden Will Be America's Most Pro-Kuridsh President."

First, "Would Be" is the wording they're looking for unless THE NATIONAL INTEREST no longer wants to be seen as objective journalism and instead wants to model themselves after Sibyl The Soothsayer in the film NETWORK.  The election will take place in November.  

The laughs never end, though.  Joe Biden the most pro-Kurdish?

Joe Biden gave lip service to the Kurds as a US senator.  As vice-president, when he was tasked with Iraq by Barack, he did nothing to assist the Kurds.  He repeatedly ignored their interests and their concerns.  

B-b-b-but he had to do what Barack told him!!!!!  

Did he?  Even after he was no longer vice president?  From the September 26, 2017 snapshot:

Yesterday, a historic referendum was held in northern Iraq.  Results above from RUDAW, the official results will be released later-- some day two to three days but Susannah George (AP) reports the results are expected this evening.  .

RUDAW explained the referendum as follows:

More than five million people are eligible to vote when the people of Kurdistan head to the polls on Monday, September 25, to decide whether they want to leave or stay with Iraq.

With an estimated global population of between 30 and 40 million, the Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups without a state. Under the post-WWI Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, Kurdish lands were divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

Kurds in all four parts of what is known as Greater Kurdistan have faced persecution, discrimination, and genocide, and have fought at times for greater rights, autonomy, and independence.

In Iraq, Kurds make up 17 to 20 percent of the total population. In the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, Kurds have had a semi-autonomous government since a no-fly zone was established over their lands in 1991 after the first Gulf War.

The new Iraqi constitution that came into effect in 2005, after the US-led invasion of 2003, recognized the Kurdistan Region as a federal region with its own legislature and armed forces, the Peshmerga. Both Erbil and Baghdad have accused the other of violating the constitution.

The September 25 referendum will take place in Kurdistan of Iraq only, not neighbouring countries.

It's worth noting that this vote was put together in about three months.  It's also worth noting that provincial elections were supposed to have taken place throughout Iraq earlier this year, then pushed back to September, then pushed back to next year.

Read the snapshot.  Two members of the US Congress bucked the Trump White House and issued statements supporting the Kurds.  Where was Joe Biden?

And isn't that kind of the cry throughout his long, long public servant career: Where was Joe Biden?

For those who've forgotten the entire US national security establishment trashed and shamed the Kurds -- that's the US State Dept, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, all the official and unofficial elements.  

And for what?

A long, overdue non-binding referendum on Kurdish independence.

They rushed to trash the Kurds.  They rushed to shame the Kurds.  They rushed to hector the Kurds.  Where was 'friend' Joe Biden?

The Kurds knew Joe checked out long ago.  He lied to them repeatedly.  Jalal Talabani looked like the biggest idiot in the world as he held on to the belief that Joe was going to come through on one of his promises -- at least one.  He never did. 

The Kurds have been betrayed repeatedly by the White House going back to the days of Richard Nixon -- as The Pike Report revealed.  This was not by accident, this was by design.   For those late to the party, February 16, 1976, The Village Voice published Aaron Latham's "Introduction to the Pike Papers."  Latham explained:

In 1972, Dr. Henry Kissinger met with the Shah of Iran, who asked the U.S. to aid the Kurds in their rebellion against Iraq, an enemy of the Shah.  Kissinger later presented the proposal to President Nixon who approved what would become a $16 million program.  Then John B. Connally, the former Nixon Treasury Secretary, was dispatched to Iran to inform the Shah, one oil man to another.
The committee report charges that: "The President, Dr. Kissinger and the foreign head of state [the Shah] hoped our clients would not prevail.  They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq].  The policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting.  Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise."
During the Arab-Israeli war, when the Kurds might have been able to strike at a distracted Iraqi government, Kissinger, according to the report, "personally restrained the insurgents from an all-out offensive on the one occasion when such an attack might have been successful."
Then, when Iran resolved its border dispute with Iraq, the U.S. summarily dropped the Kurds.  And Iraq, knowing aid would be cut off, launched a search-and-destroy campaign the day after the border agreement was signed.
A high U.S. official later explained to the Pike committee staff: "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."

That last sentence?  THE NATIONAL INTEREST doesn't comprehend it.  It leaves their thick head confused.  

There's also the fact that Joe Biden became Vice President in January of 2009.  What are the KDP and PUK, by the way?

They're political parties in the KRG.  The Talabani family controls the PUK and the Barzani family controls the KDP.  

While Joe Biden was vice president, these two political parties were also another thing?  

Any guesses?

Terrorist organization -- according to the US government.  Joe Biden, friend of the Kurds, was just fine with that. It wasn't until February 2015 that these designations were finally removed.  Grasp that.  Joe's friend Jalal Talabani was the president of Iraq from 2005 through 2014 and, that whole time, the US government considered him the head of a terrorist organization.

What a friend they have in Joe.

Blue no matter who?  Not for US presidential candidate Joseph Kishore (Socialist Equality Party) who writes:

Whatever reservations they may have over the right-wing character of the Democratic Party and its candidates, the argument goes, this is the only way to get rid of Trump. Everything else must be subordinated to this electoral outcome.

This is hardly the first election in which such “lesser evil” arguments were advanced. In 1988, it was a matter of voting for Dukakis, the right-wing governor from Massachusetts, to finally put an end to the Reagan years. After Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush, the following election in 1992 became a matter of putting an end to the Bush years by electing Bill Clinton, whose right-wing policies cleared the path for Bush II in 2000. In 2008, the argument became the need to elect Obama, the “candidate of hope and change,” in order to end the disaster produced by Bush II, above all, the war in Iraq.

Obama continued the most right-wing policies of George W. Bush (with whom, by the way, he has established a close personal friendship), including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the overseeing of the Wall Street bailout following the 2008 financial collapse. It was the right-wing policies of Obama and the nomination of Hillary Clinton on the basis of a prowar program, glossed over with identity politics, that created the conditions for the election of Trump in 2016.

This act, in other words, has been played out before, and each time the result is a further shift to the right of the entire political establishment.

In this case, amidst all the hoopla over the “historic” character of the Biden-Harris ticket, attributed entirely to the race and gender of Harris, the nominees have been selected through the machinations of the Democratic Party against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and even Elizabeth Warren.

That is, the Democratic Party’s campaign is founded on a repudiation of any suggestion that it will carry out a policy of social reform. The Democrats are not even making the pretense of providing a program to address the catastrophe unfolding in the United States.

Bill Glauber (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINAL) tries to create interest in the online DNC convention by noting the following will be performing: Billie Eilish, John Legend, Common, The Chicks, Leon Bridges, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Prince Royce and Stephen Stills.

What an unimpressive line up.  Removed Jennifer Hudson and Common and what's the point?  Billie is not a live performer (so the virtual convention may actually benefit her).  The Chicks?  Their career is over.  And should be, I say that as a friend of Adrian Pasdar.  'B-b-b-but their new album debuted at number three!'  A few weeks later, where's that album?  At number 54.  No one's buying it, no one gives a damn.  It's seen as the desperation move it is, Natalie's solo career flopped so she decided to try to reform the Dixie Chicks -- now called the Chicks, though they're too long in the tooth to be considered to be considered baby chicks.  

The group did 'bravery' in 2003.  A weak and ad libbed remark from Natalie on a British stage which was quickly followed by trashing themselves and begging for mercy.  Only after it was clear that wasn't going to work did they find enough spine to stand up for themselves.  And Natalie never talked Iraq again?  The Iraqi people have never been a concern of hers, have they?

They suffer but she didn't give a damn, did she?  All the years after, 'political' Natalie has had nothing to say in defense of the people of Iraq.


Save The Iraqi people posted the above video on Saturday and noted:

Iraq, BASRAH 15/Aug/2020 Tahseen Osama is a civil rights activist, Father of 4, was assassinated on 14/Aug/2020 with more than 20 Bullets from an Iranian Backed militias members‼️ By the orders of albasrah Governor Asa'ad Alaidani; the Aidani has many crimes files against him: Killing of the ex-governor (Mohammed Al-waieli), Killing The demonstrators in albasrah in 2018, records of him giving direct orders of Killing the demonstrators in 2019, and many other crimes of killing, kidnapping, corruption, theft of money & lands, and more.. 🔴THIS IS THE LAST POST OF THE VICTIM (TAHSEEN OSAMA) AS HE WAS ASKING FOR A TRIAL & JUDGMENT OF ASA'AD ALAIDANI: https://youtu.be/jccD-eZ46ns

Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reported:

Tahseen Oussama was shot 20 times at his internet service company in the city's al-Junaina neighbourhood by "militia" gunmen, according to local media outlet Basra Today. The identity and affiliation of the perpetrators has not been confirmed.

Oussama had taken part in anti-establishment and anti-corruption protests in Basra that had spread from Baghdad across the country in October of last year. He was a vocal critic of both the government and of militias accused of killing protesters with impunity.

On July 6, the day of Iraqi security analyst Husham al-Hashimi's assassination  – largely suspected to have been conducted by Shiite militants – Oussama took to Facebook to warn “we will all be slaughtered in the Islamic way one day,” sharing a photo of a gun and its silencer.

Iraqi activists have been warning of an increasingly threatening environment for those who speak out against the country's current political order. Data provided to Rudaw English from the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) last month put the number of protesters and aligned activists killed between October 1, 2019 and March 17, 2020 at 22.

Let's note some reactions to the assassinations.  Kazthoomy Tweets:

Tahseen Oussama, an activist and a father of 3, was shot 20 times in his hometown of Basra today. His daughter warned him "don’t go out I’m scared they might kill you", he replied "we have to bring down those who steal and kill your dreams". His name won't be said.

Hossain Tweets:

+40 days after the assassination of , yet the government of is not willing to bring the ones who did it to justice. Today, we've lost another good and brave man, Tahseen Oussama, who was assassinated in Basra. #تحسين_اسامة_شهيد #اربعون_يوم_وقاتلك_حر
12:26 PM

H Tweets:

Tahseen Oussama posted on his Facebook: I was speaking to my daughter she was saying don’t go out I’m scared if they kill you, I told her we have to bring down those who steal and kill your dreams, she was saying (Alawi, Mastofi, Rathawi and I) will grow up and bring them down +
12:35 PM · Aug 14, 2020

Khaled Sulaiman Tweets:

An Iraqi activist called #Tahseen_Oussama, was #assassinated by Iraqi militias in #Basra. The victim wrote On July 6th 2020: One day we'll all be slaughtered in an Islamic method. And he wrote 4 days ago: Political parties & militias control Basra city and no one can deter them
9:22 AM · Aug 15, 2020

Journalist Steven Nabil Tweeted:

Iraqi activist Tahseen Oussama was shot 20 times today in Basra, a horrendous crime. Tahseen is a civil rights figure and an important thinker among the protest movement.
5:15 PM · Aug 14, 2020

The following sites updated: