We need to repeat this over and over, that we are not all in this together. A bunch of fake ass PSAs and pretend 'reporting' have tried to convince you that, in the United States, we are all in this together. But we're not. Some are making big money off the pandemic but most of us are suffering. Some of us are really suffering. Patrick Martin (WSWS) reports:
The cutoff of federal supplemental unemployment benefits in July has driven eight million Americans into poverty in the ensuing five months, according to a study published Wednesday by the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.
The increase of 2.4 percentage points in the poverty rate, in the space of only five months, is the fastest increase since the US government began collecting figures on poverty in 1960. It is twice the size of the worst previous increase, during the 1979–1980 oil crisis.
The increase in poverty is greater for African Americans (3.1 percentage points) and for those with only a high school education or less (5.1 percentage points). The biggest increases in poverty were found in those states with the most primitive unemployment compensation systems, such as Florida.
Even these figures grossly understate the colossal impact of the coronavirus pandemic on working-class living standards. The official US poverty line stands at $26,200 for a family of four, an income that would leave such a family homeless or near starvation in most major US metropolitan areas.
The study confirms that driving workers and their families into poverty is the deliberate policy of the US government and the two corporate-controlled political parties. The bipartisan CARES Act, adopted in March, led to a significant decline in poverty during the first three months of the pandemic.
The first step to changing things is grasping that we are not all in this together.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, December 16, 2020. The US government destroyed the lives of girls and women in Iraq and the US government has done nothing to repair the damage.
"Identity politics.'' Some on the left keep hissing that. You wonder if they have a brain -- one capable of learning and expanding. No this or that woman brought into Joe Biden's administration is probably not going to do anything for the country just because of gender. The glass barrier has been broken regarding press secretaries and heads of cabinet -- and Kamala Harris just broke the glass ceiling on the vice president. That really just leaves the office of president. And that will be broken at some point. Conditions for women in the US are not great. But they are better than in many countries and there are role models -- good ones, not corporate whores -- for young girls throughout the country.
REPUBLIC WORLD notes:
The British ambassador in Iraq, Stephen Hickey, visited Najaf on Tuesday and affirmed his country's support for Iraq.
Hickey visited the holy city at the invitation of al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue, where he delivered a lecture on relations between Iraq and Britain.
During his visit, Hickey discussed with seniors officials ways to enhance relations between the two countries and assured Iraq of international financial support to conduct the elections next June.
Speaking during a news conference Hickey said: "I am sure there will be financial support via the United Nations to conduct these elections and it is important that there be monitoring by the United Nations of these elections."
Stephen Hickey is the UK ambassador to Iraq. All of UK's ambassadors to Iraq have been men. Does it matter? The same is true of the US.
The US destroyed the rights of women in Iraq. Iraqi women have had to fight for their rights and did so against the extremists that the US government backed. Ava and I met with members of Barack Obama's transition team in late November of 2008. We explained that (a) there are qualified women who can be the ambassador to Iraq -- we provided examples, including Ann Wright but also women who wouldn't be so 'controversial' to centrist Barack. We explained that (b) women's roles in Iraq had been reduced and that it would be a plus for Iraq if a woman had a powerful role. We got nods and agreement and, after each meeting, we'd look at each other and say, "They're not going to do a damn thing." And they didn't.
Barack did nothing. Ryan Crocker was in office when Barack was sworn in. Barack then nominated: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Brett McGurk, Robert S. Beecroft, Stuart E. Jones and Douglas Silliman. All but Brett McGurk was confirmed. We were lucky to have friends in the Senate, Democrats, who would say hell no to Brett. What is acceptable in the US doesn't help women in Iraq. Meaning, his being married and having affairs in Iraq, leaving his wife finally to marry a woman who left her husband? No, that man could not be an ambassador in the regressive and restrictive Iraq that the US government created. Any Iraqi woman visiting or working for the US Embassy in Iraq would have a target on her back. This is a country that has 'honor' killings -- where women are killed for various 'disgraces' -- like being raped, or marrying the 'wrong' man or whatever they've done that has offended the sensibilities of those who would rob women of every right that they have. These people stood up to Barack and he had to tell Brett that the post just wasn't going to be his.
But look at that list. In eight years, he nominated six people and all six were men. There were, in Barack's mind (Joe Biden's too), no women who could handle the duties of being an ambassador.
Now in the US, the net effect is that we just realize how stupid and sexist our leaders are.
But putting a woman in that position could have helped women and girls in Iraq. In Iraq, that isn't 'identity politics.' This is about providing a role model, this is about making men who aren't necessarly wanting to interact with women learn that they have to do so.
It would have made a difference.
If you're wondering, there were five other US ambassadors to Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion. John Negroponte was the first, next came Zalmay Khalizad and then Ryan Crocker. Those were under Bully Boy Bush. We've covered the five Barack got confirmed (and six nominated). Donald Trump has had two if you count acting ambassador Joey R. Hood. He was replaced with Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller.
The US is responsible for the destruction of the rights of women in Iraq. So is the UK and Australia -- the three main leaders of the illegal war. Today, Australia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued the following:
Ambassador to Iraq
Today I announce the appointment of Ms Paula Ganly as Australia’s next Ambassador to Iraq.
Australia and Iraq have a long history of partnership and cooperation. We stood by Iraq during the Da’esh conflict and continue to work with the Government of Iraq to build a more stable and secure country.
Together with New Zealand, Australian Defence Force personnel have trained more than 47,000 Iraqi security force personnel since early 2015. We have assisted Iraq’s recovery through our $100 million humanitarian and stabilisation assistance package. Australia’s aid package focuses on assisting vulnerable Iraqis, particularly women, girls and people living with disabilities.
With more than 67,000 Australians born in Iraq, our personal ties are strong.
Ms Ganly is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently the Executive Director, Diplomatic Academy. Her career reflects a wealth of experience in diplomatic security, consular policy and ministerial support, having worked in DFAT and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
She has previously served overseas in London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Prague, Seoul, Dhaka and Caracas.
I thank outgoing Ambassador Joanne Loundes for her contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Iraq since 2018.
\She will be Australia's ninth ambassador to Iraq since the start of the illegal war and the second women -- as the release notes, Joanne Loundes is who Ganly is replacing. Australia has now found two qualified women but the US can't find one.
UNAMI is the United Nations mission in Iraq. It is headed by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative. There have been seven of them since the start of the illegal war. Only one, the current one, has been a woman. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert since November 1, 2018.
The US and UK have done nothing to make up for the hell they created for Iraqi women and girls. Let's remember that just a few years back, the Parliament was trying to pass a law to allow men -- grown men -- to marry girls as young as nine. Let's remember that they have 'trial marriages' that leave women with a scarlet letter but don't harm the man if the man opts out of the pretend marriage.
No woman could ever do worse as US Ambassador to Iraq than Chris Hill. And certainly, many, many women are immensely qualified for the post. And whomever is picked -- man or woman -- will only implement policy -- they won't make it. They might argue for or advocate for something but, in the end, they're just implementing policy. So why can't it be a woman?
And why hasn't the US government made a real effort to help women in Iraq.
Iraq, the land of widows and orphans. That's thanks to the US-led war.
The United States first used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition against Iraq during the Gulf War of 1990-1991, and then again during the 2003 invasion. According to available estimates, the US contaminated Iraq with at least 2,320 tonnes of the highly toxic substance, with DU affecting both American servicemen and Iraq’s civilian population.
Baghdad will be filing a case against the United States with European courts over Washington’s use of DU weapons, Iraq’s al-Maalomah News Agency has reported, citing Hatif al-Rikabi, an adviser to the Iraqi parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Speaking to the news agency on Sunday, al-Rikabi indicated that he would be filing suits in courts in Sweden and Germany over alleged major US crimes, including the use of depleted uranium munitions.
That's damage caused by the US government. There is other damage the US government caused. MEMO reports:
Three separate simultaneous bombs targeted liquor stores west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, causing material damages, the Iraqi security media cell said.
The Iraqi Defence Ministry's Media Cell said in a statement that an unknown group calling itself Ahl Al-Ma'rouf targeted the stores on Monday night using improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
According to the statement, a fourth bomb attached to a civilian car has exploded in a neighbourhood in western Baghdad, causing material damage.
Local media circulated a statement issued by the group calling on the security forces deployed in the vicinity of liquor stores and nightclubs to withdraw from the areas ahead of the areas being targeted.
So three stores are no more. Probably stores run by Iraqi Christians since they were alcohol stores. The radical mob is back and ready to terrorize Iraq. How? The US didn't just coddle them, it put their people in charge. Nouri al-Maliki, forever thug and former prime minister. That was due to the US and he's part of the thuggery (and the corruption).
Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) provides context on the latest bombing:
Six days earlier, Iraqi security forces dismantled an explosive device near a liquor store in the upscale district of al-Mansour, which is located far from the influence of armed groups.
A group calling itself People of the Good issued a statement on Dec. 14, calling on Iraqi security forces to stay away from liquor shops. "After the number of security forces increased to protect these stores, we call on them to move away from them, because we will continue targeting them until the land of Baghdad is cleared of their filth," the group said.
People of the Good is one of the unknown groups that appeared recently; it is widely believed to be affiliated with Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah.
Prior to his death on Tuesday, Al-Iraqi urged the Iraqi people to not sit down and watch injustice. “The free die, while the cowards rule,” he said in a Facebook post.
Social media videos show Al-Iraqi’s coffin being carried by a crowd of mourning and chanting protestors.
Al-Iraqi is not the first activist involved in the protests to be assassinated.
Nearly 560 protesters and security force members have been killed since October 2019, according to data provided in July by Hisham Dawoud, advisor to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Iraqi security analyst and Rudaw columnist Husham al-Hashimi was assassinated in July by unknown armed groups in Baghdad, with many accusing Iran-backed militias of being behind his death. Despite Kadhimi’s promise to hunt down the killers, no one has been arrested over his death.
Two high-profile activists in Basra were brazenly killed in the span of a single week in August.
Back to a previous topic, Tahsin Qasim (RUDAW) reports:
A hundred Shingal (Sinjar) women will become police as part of the
recent Erbil-Baghdad security and administration agreement for the
disputed area, according to Shingal mayor Mahma Khalil.
As part of the deal’s new armed force to be created from the local population, Yazidi women in Shingal will serve as police for the first time ever.
“I have registered my name for the Shingal police force. It has been my dream to hold a gun someday, to defend my country, and become police,” Halaa Jardo, an applicant to the new force.
Many of those expected to take up the role survived horrors under the Islamic State (ISIS).
That is good news but the KRG region has always led on this issue. Both the Barzanis and Talibanis, for example, have had strong women in prominent roles. Those are the two political dynasties in Iraq.
Iraq's ceremonial president Barham Salih Tweeted the following a few days ago:
He is also a Kurd. The Kurds have led on this issue and we've noted this. But where is the US? Something as simple as naming a woman to be ambassador to Iraq is just too much for our so-called leaders.
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