Thursday, April 28, 2022

Kick Instacart Out Of The Kitchen

I would never use Instacart if I were you, especially not if you're in Boston.

My youngest daughter has used it and never had a problem until tonight.  She came over and while we were talking, used her ap on the phone.  She ordered 92.48 worth of groceries to be delivered by 8:00 pm.  About 6 she left to head home and waited for the order that was supposed to be there around 8.  It got to be 8 so she was checking the door.  Then it got to be after 8 and was not at the door so she checks again. Supposedly, it was delivered at 6:49 pm.

Okay, mix ups happen.

I understand that.

But when they do, you need a real process to address them.

A useless A.I. 'agent' that can't (won't) connect to a human being and questions like is your InstaCart -- remember "Insta" -- order more than two weeks late?

What the hell?

Marcia has written about problems she's had herself with WalMart's own delivery and how she no longer uses it.  So I called her tonight after I helped my daughter.  (It's rent due time.  And they've got a hold on her money for who knows how long and she has nothing to eat.  Of course, we told her we'd cover it and, as I told her, she doesn't need to worry about paying it back.)

She said, no, that did not ever happen.  She said as bad as WalMart was, she was always able to speak to a person, either on the phone or in chat -- and that it was her choice which way it went.

I don't care if they refund it tomorrow or Saturday or Monday.  If I use a service that's supposed to deliver something within X number of hours that same day and I can't speak to a person about that order not arriving until two weeks have passed -- that's what the AI assistant says -- I'm not using that service.  

That is beyond garbage and it's completely unacceptable.

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

 Thursday, April 28, 2022.  The bloom's falling off Barack's rose and the persecution of the Kurds gets some international attention.

Building on comments Rebecca ("follow it back to barack") and Elaine ("Joe Biden continues to hurt other Democrats") made last night, let's note how much self-inflicted prominent Democrats have done to the party.

Due to his extreme youth upon being first sworn in as president, it was always doubtful Barack Obama was going to be able to cast through to a natural death on the whorish press he got.  A historical reckoning was due and would likely be forthcoming many years before his state funeral.  

But Barack appears to be hastening his own reckoning.  

Joe Biden's questionable actions as vice president with regard to raking in money via Hunter Biden's corrupt deals?  We would not be talking about it now if Barack hadn't fixed the process so that Joe got the nomination.  

The press had willfully and gladly looked th other way in real time.  They had pronounced Barack scandal free -- ignoring many problems that were visibile all along and I'd certainnly include releasing Iraqis that had murdered US soldiers in a trade for the dead bodies of some British soliders.  That was not in the interest of the US and it did not play well with the families.  THE NEW YORK TIMES, to their credit, did front page that.  No one else did.  But they -- and CNN -- made it a one day story.  Most Americanns still don't know about that to this day.

Or that the terrorist group who secured the release of their members them publicly mocked Barack to the Iraqi media repeatedly.  

Barack knew Joe wasn't up to the job which is why he refused to back Joe for the longest and why his mouth pieces made sure to hype others.  At one point, Barack was even willing to back Elizabeth Waren for the nomination.  But in his desire to stop Bernie Sanders, Barack conspired with others to deliver the blow to Bernie.  

And his thanks?  We now know just how corrupt his administration was.  We now know that Joe Biden was a part of Hunter's uethical schemes, that Joe was part of pay-to-play and granted White House access and face-to-face meetings to ensure that his family raked in millions.

Joe is the face of corruption.

And that's another reason that Anie Apples and all the rest don't want to get serious about Hunter today.

She's at THE ATLANTIC today but that's not where she was then.  And she wasn't overing reality back then.  She was whoring -- as a cheap whore will do.

For eight years they sat on their asses ad looked the other way over and over as Barack broke promises, as Barack ad his administration broke ehtical rules, as contempt of Congress was rewarded by Barack.

Someone lied to Cogress?  Well, Barack loves James Clapper.  And we all know David Peatraeus' downfall was not because of that affair and shared sectrets, it was because David was being asked to run against Barack in 2012.  

There was always more than enough scandal to see if we had a functioning press.

Barack pimped Joe and secured the nomination for him.  And that's bad when you grasp how unfavorable Joe has become to the American people.  There's a reason you should be careful before writing a letter of recommenation for someone -- your support then reflects on you.  

But the other reason that Barack should be kicking himself regarding Joe is that all the rot of his administration may be exposed.  He brought it on himself.

And he's so unpopular himself today.

I twas always seen as the 'right' thing to support Barack.  So people lied.  They thought it was the socially acceptable thing to do.

When the corporate media is telling you that there is only good and evil, and we started noting this over a decade ago, and digging through the polling data to show the conflicting responses, you're not going to get honest responses.

The edia has repeatedly demonized Repubolicans for many, many years.

It's not enough that they have a different opinion than I do, they, the voters, have to be demonized.  They're evil.  They're racist, they're stupid, they're this, they're that.

That sort of garbage shouldn't take place.  But if it does, it should be from the rival major party.  

Instead, it came from what was supposed to be neutral and impartial media.

It's not just their lies about Iraq that tarnished the media's reputation.

It's garbage like Brian Stelter who pretends to do a media critique for CNN.  Howie Kurtz used to do that job.  And I could criticize him for being elitist.  But he was striving to be impartial when it came to partisan outlooks.  Not so with Brian Stelter whose mind must be as grotesque as his body.  

The corporate media has refused to take accountability for their consuences of their actions, they refuse to even acknowledge their actions.  

Their lack of accountability only further breeds mistrust in them from healthy portion of the public -- throughout the political spectrum.  

And, yes, a Special Counsel is needed.  And, Elaine is right, it is hurting the Democrats as they go into the mid-terms.  Don't be surprised, as Americans continue to face inflation, if the GOP doesn't use Hunter against incumbent Democrats in various races.  'Joe was getting fat while you're struggling to pay bills.  Unlike ____, if you elect _____, we will hold the corrupt accountable."

Turning to Iraq.  The beggar media has followed corporate media i dismissing any interest in the Turkish government's ongoing bombing of Iraq, setting up military bases in Iraq and targeting the people of Kurdistan.  Silence.  This has been going on for years.  THE NATION hasn't been interested.  JACOBIN hasn't been interested.  It's not a 'lifestyle' piece so you know THE PROGRSSIVE won't write about it.  DEMOCRACY NOW and all the rest of the beggars have refused to cover it.

That may change.  Their British poster boy has weighed in.

Ex leader of the #UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn condemns UK arms sales to Turkey for use against the Kurds and condemns Turkey's invasion of Iraqi #Kurdistan.

  • 8 hours ago 

  • Shaun Yuan (ALJAZEERA) reports:

     Turkey’s latest military operation in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq began early last week, with Ankara launching an air and ground offensive targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in pockets of Duhok province on April 18.

    These operations against the PKK, an armed group fighting for the autonomy of Turkey’s southeast and considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, have become a regular occurrence over recent years. However, they are growing more controversial in Iraq, and not just in areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

    “This operation is basically trying to intervene and establish networks of observation, monitoring, and bases,” Sardar Aziz, an analyst and former adviser to the KRG parliament, told Al Jazeera. “This time Turkey is planning to stay.”

    Only days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the launch of the operation, dubbed Claw-Lock, he met with the KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, an apparent signal that the KRG was supportive, to a certain extent, of the operation. Erdogan has also said that the Iraqi government cooperated with the operation.

    Demonstrations took place in Kurdistan.

    Demonstrators gathered on Tuesday by the #UnitedNations offices in Iraq's #Kurdistan regional capital Erbil to protest against Operation Claw-Lock, a military operation launched by Turkey last week.

    This is not about the PKK.  It is about targeting Kurds and the Turkish government makes that clear with their actions outside of Turkey as well as inside.  They persecute the Kurds and they've done it for decades.  The PKK is a rsponse to this persecution -- a detail a whorish media always 'forgets' to point out.  The PKK did not rise up because things were perfect for the Kurds in Turkey.

    The following sites updated:

    Scrambled Eggs With Salmon, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese in the Kitchen

    Tiffany is getting married in June so congratulations and may you have a very happy and fulfilling marriage.  She e-mailed to ask how many dinner recipes she needed to know?

    I guess that depends first upon whether or not she's the only one cooking dinner.  Second, will you be eating dinner at home every week?  Third, do you plan on eating home cooked every time you eat at home?

    Let's say, looking at the worst possible situation, that Tiffany is going to responsible for fixing 7 dinners a week all by herself.

    I would say starting with six solid recipes is fine.  At least one dinner a week make sandwiches -- and, yes, this can be vegetarian.  Sometimes, I'll grab two slices of bread, toast them, grab some salad from the salad bowl, add a spoon of mayo to one slice of toasted bread and eat that.  

    Those six recipes, you can repeat them while you learn new ones.

    And you can do other things as you wait for those additional recipes.

    Hot dogs -- with or without chili sauce.  A baked potato night (if meat's required you can have bacon bits or shredded chicken or pork to top the potatoes with).  You can look into Betty Crocker Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper boxes.  A soup and crackers night.  Or a soup and grilled cheese night.  My kids used to love it when we'd do cereal for dinner on a Saturday night.  You can do scrambled eggs or fried eggs or omeletts for dinner.

    Marriage is one long conversation on a good day.  On a bad day, it feels like one long argument.  The thing that saves the bad days and makes the good days is having someone who listens. So you two need to talk and figure out now what the expectations are in terms of meals.  You need to grasp that these words?  That's the ideal, it's not going to be the actual practice and you will have many more conversations about this over the years.  And your needs may change.

    I was okay with the first three kids in terms of meals.  By the time we hit five kids (we would have eight), I was very clear that I wasn't little home maker anymore.  I couldn't handle that many children and be doing all the cooking.  So, on the weekends, I either did dinner or lunch and he cooked the other meal on Saturday (Sunday we went to one's parents for lunch and one's parent for dinner).  In addition, he grabbed a night during the week to cook and we did take out on Fridays.

    In the fall and winter, keep a warm pot of beans on the stove.  Beans are good for you, they have fiber and if you're using dried beans you're saving money.  And you're both filling up on beans during the day so there will be less need for lunch or at least for fixing a big lunch.

    La Choy makes Chinese in cans.  I used to make brown rice and we'd use La Choy and that was a dinner.  Today you could do that, brown rice, with Chinese from the frozen section -- or still La Choy -- and La Choy in the cans?  Very low carb.

    When I was first married, I thought I needed to learn a new recipe every week -- at least every week.  There were a lot of disasters as a result.  Looking back, I would urge you to learn from me and try to learn one new recipe a year.  In ten years, you'd have ten more than you started with.  And, when you move slower, it usually allows you to do better and have the will to learn another recipe so you might end up with two a year or three a year or more.

    Also realize that you can dress up basics.  This is a scrambled eggs recipe from Eat This ,Not That:

    You'll Need

    1 Tbsp butter
    8 stalks asparagus, woody bottoms removed, chopped into 1" pieces
    Salt and black pepper to taste
    8 eggs (Spend the extra dollar or two to buy the highest quality eggs you can find. Free-range farmers market eggs are best.)
    2 Tbsp fat-free milk
    1⁄4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
    4 oz smoked salmon, chopped

    How to Make It

    1. Heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
    2. When the butter begins to foam, add the asparagus and cook until just tender ("crisp-tender" in kitchen parlance). Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk with the milk.
    4. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper and add to the pan with the asparagus.
    5. Turn the heat down to low and use a wooden spoon to constantly stir and scrape the eggs until they begin to form soft curds.  A minute before they're done, stir in the goat cheese.
    6. Remove from the heat when the eggs are still creamy and soft (remember, scrambled eggs are like meat— they continue to cook even after you cut the heat) and fold in the smoked salmon.

    Eat This Tip

    There is no shortage of stellar scramble combinations. Invent on the fly, or go with one of these flavor-packed approaches.

    • Sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, and caramelized onions
    • Chorizo and onion, with diced avocado and chopped cilantro stirred in before serving
    • Chunks of chicken or turkey sausage, scallions, and cheddar
    • Cherry tomatoes, with a swirl of pesto stirred in at the last moment, or even a couple spoonfuls of spicy tomato sauce

    Returning to the topic of nurses striking for a better world, Norisa Diaz (WSWS) reports:

    Five thousand Stanford and Packard nurses have launched a powerful and open-ended strike for wages, mental health services and a halt to dangerous understaffing, which has undermined patient safety and driven hundreds of thousands of nurses from the profession. 

    The striking nurses are taking a stand for all health care workers who want to fight the abuse by giant hospital chains whose priority is profit, not saving lives. Throughout the pandemic, nurses at Stanford, like their brothers and sisters throughout the US and the world, have suffered mass infection, lack of PPE, and the tragic loss of thousands of frontline workers. 

    Now nurses and other health care workers are starting to fight back. The battle at Stanford takes place as tens of thousands of California nurses engage in or prepare for strikes at Sutter, Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, University of California and other locations. In the next few months, tens of thousands of other health care workers have contracts expiring in Michigan, New York, Illinois and other states. 

    This is not only happening in the US. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of nurses and other health care workers have struck in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and many other countries. No matter what state or what country, health care workers face the same problems and are in the same fight. 

    The growing sentiment for a united struggle was summed up by a Cedars-Sinai nurse who told the WSWS, “I’m glad nurses are striking in Northern California too … We need to all go out together!” But transforming this powerful sentiment for unity into concrete, common action requires a new strategy and new forms of organization. 

    The Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) is appealing to Stanford Health for a “fair contract” and has asked Democratic legislators to urge management to back off on its threat to stop health care coverage. These appeals are falling on deaf ears. Stanford Health’s board of trustees is stacked with billionaires, Silicon Valley executives and other powerful corporate and political figures. They have no intention of making concessions that would set a higher standard for the wages and working conditions of other workers in the health care industry and outside. 

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, the fortunes of Musk, Bezos and Gates and the rest of America’s billionaires rose 62 percent even as 1 million people in the US unnecessarily died from COVID and tens of millions struggle from paycheck to paycheck. The board’s plans to cut off health care benefits to nurses show the utter ruthlessness with which the corporate and financial elite defend their class interests. 

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

    Tuesday, April 26, 2022.  Joe Biden continues to persecute journalist Julian Assange, Iraq faces more consequences of climate change, and much more.

    Starting with Julian Assange.  The publisher of WIKILEAKS committed the 'crime,' in the US government's eyes, of publishing the truth.  Despite what THE WASHINGTON POST and its overgrown and middle-aged  adolescent Taylor Lorenz think, journalism is supposed to punch up, not down.  They are supposed to provide a public service by holding the powerful accountable.  Those that are over the decisions that impact our lives are supposed to be reported on, those acts that our government commits are not supposed to b hidden.  In our names, War Crimes were carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Julian brought shined the sunshine on these acts that a democracy requires.

    That is why The First Amendment is the First.  You can't have a democracy without freedom of speech.

    US President Joe Biden does ot believe in free speech.  He was unethical -- possibly to the point of criminal -- in his actions to bring in money for the family via his son Hunter Biden.

    Joe Biden refuses to stop the persecution of Julian.  He wants to make Julian a scarecrow -- to put his head on a pike to scare off every media outlet.  That's what this is about.  And that's why he's demanding the UK turn Julian over to the US government where they can punish Julian.

    And we know how they punish.  They want to break hi, they want to destroy him.  As they did the people held in the Guantanamo gulag.  Kit Klarenberg (MINT PRESS NEWS) reports:

    In March the CIA declassified a 2008 CIA Inspector General report on the agency’s treatment of 9/11 suspect Ammar al-Baluchi at overseas ‘black sites’ and Guantanamo Bay. The report was released as a result of legal submissions and its shocking contents offer an unprecedentedly candid snapshot of the brutal physical and psychological torment to which he and hundreds of others were subjected by the agency over many years, under its global torture program.

    The nephew of purported 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Baluchi was arrested in Pakistan in April 2003. He was accused of serving as a “key lieutenant” within al-Qaeda and its chief “bagman,” having provided pivotal financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. U.S. officials declared his capture would offer crucial information on the plot, prevent future attacks by the terrorist group, and potentially even lead to the apprehension of Osama bin Laden. Despite years of incarceration, interrogation and torture, none of this proved to be true.

    Quoting contemporary cables, the Inspector General’s report tracks Baluchi’s induction at the “Salt Pit,” a CIA black site in Afghanistan, in detail. New arrivals were physically examined, their beards and heads shaved, and then put through a “non-enhanced” psychological assessment to determine their “willingness to cooperate without enhanced techniques…displace their expectations and begin the conditioning of subjects.”

    [. . .]

    The distinction between enhanced and non-enhanced interrogation methods was evidently something of a misnomer. If initially uncooperative, Baluchi would be “immediately” placed in the “standing sleep deprivation position” for up to 12 hours; this agonizing technique was considered “non-enhanced” if applied for less than three days.

    In response to the cable, CIA HQ at Langley signed off on a welter of enhanced techniques to be used on Baluchi, including “the facial attention grasp,” facial and abdominal slaps, numerous excruciating stress positions, “cramped confinement,” sleep deprivation lasting up to 180 hours, dousing with freezing water, starvation, “loud music or white noise” 24 hours a day, cessation of access to reading material, and “walling” – slamming his head against a flat surface.

    Based on his initial psychological evaluation, it was ruled that none of these unspeakable horrors would inflict “permanent psychological or emotional harm” on Baluchi. This was the universal approach to using “enhanced techniques,” based on the assumption that their use in U.S. military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training did not cause lasting harm. But, while in SERE training the subject is typically confined for only a couple of days, and knows it is training and they will soon be released, the black site prisoners had to endure months or years of brutalizing treatment, with little to no prospect of escape.

    The Inspector General notes that CIA superiors offered little to no clarity on “how many times or for how long interrogators could perform a particular measure or combination of measures.” This may well account for why Salt Pit interrogators “applied some of the measures exuberantly.”

    Their ‘exuberance’ was no doubt also influenced by Baluchi’s disobliging response to torture techniques. One CIA operative at the site recorded how the inmate’s “presentation” had “elicited the strongest reactions from interrogators.” His attitude was considered “dismissive, condescending, and arrogant,” typified by “obvious stonewalling, minimizing, and denying,” which served to “frustrate” his captors “and make a difficult task even harder.”

    Still, some interrogators seemingly sympathized with Baluchi. One, with whom he spent a “significant amount of time,” described him as “one of the more intelligent or ‘bookish’ of the detainees.” Another regretted the monstrous methods to which they’d subjected Baluchi, stating “I wished I’d never been asked” to do so, and “wouldn’t do them again.”

    Likewise, when Baluchi was submerged in a bath of “excessively cold” icy water, on at least one occasion an interrogator was “so uncomfortable with the technique he sat outside the dousing room” to avoid witnessing it first-hand. Another admitted to the Inspector General that this practice was “probably…outside the bounds of what we were supposed to be doing.” A similar strategy killed Salt Pit inmate Gul Rahman in November 2002.

    By contrast, CIA torturers had no reservations whatsoever about using Baluchi as a “training prop.” Several new interrogators at the site, “who had only two weeks of classroom instruction,” needed “on-the-job practice for certification”: Baluchi represented “an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of techniques,” in particular “walling.”

    After he was stripped naked, interrogators “lined up” one-by-one to slam Baluchi’s head into plywood – and, on occasion, concrete – walls over and over again, until they became “fatigued,” whereupon another would take their place, in sessions lasting up to two hours. A CIA operative interviewed by the Inspector General claimed this method was “meant more for ‘sensation’ than to hurt the detainee,” and “simply made a big noise.”

    The US government knowingly carried out torture.  Torture is a serious crime.  The UK government should not had anyone over to the US government for that reason.  If they do hand Julian over, whatever happens to him is on their hands because they did so knowing that the US government was breaking laws and conventions as they tortured prisoners.

    Joe Biden wants to harm Julian Assange.  This is not about justice.  It never was.  There is no legal reason to go after an Austrlian citizen who exposed US wWar Crimes.  None at all.  

    Joe Biden is a War Criminal who is complicit in the crimes that took place in Iraq.  He claims he was misled.  Well he was a senator in the US Senate, then he was a Vice President and now he is a sitting president.  If he was misled, he certainly has had the power to punish those who misled him.   Instead, he pins a medal on Bully Boy Bush.  And he goes after a journalist namedJulian Assange.

    The full US government weight -- and our tax dollars -- are being put behind punishing someone for the Iraq War and it's not someone who voted for it, supported it or advocated for it or hid the truth from the American people, it's an Australian journalist who told the truth.

    Joe Biden is a pathetic president.  If he continues to attack the First Amendment, he will go down in history as the worst president,

    John Kiriakou (SCHEER POST) notes of the gulag at Guantanamo:

    And it wasn’t just U.S. law that prohibited what the CIA was about to do.  It was also the United Nations.  The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment—of which the United States was the primary author and an original signatory—specifically defined and banned anything approaching “enhanced interrogation techniques.  Article 1 states, 

    “torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent of acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

    Meanwhile, the CIA, fully cognizant of what it was getting into, was making contingency plans for Abu Zubaydah’s potential death in custody.  Senate investigators reported on a July 15, 2002 cable to CIA headquarters from the detention site saying, 

    “If [Abu Zubaydah] develops a serious medical condition which may involve a host of conditions including a heart attack or other catastrophic type of condition, all efforts will be made to ensure that proper medical care will be provided to [him’.  In the event [Abu Zubaydah] dies, we need to be prepared to act accordingly, keeping in mind the liaison equities involving our hosts.”

    If he were to die in custody, the cable said, Abu Zubaydah would be cremated and scattered.  It went on,

    “…regardless which [disposition] option we follow, however, and especially in light of the planned psychological techniques to be implemented, we need to get reasonable assurances that [Abu Zubaydah] will remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”

    CIA headquarters responded similarly.

    “There is a fairly unanimous sentiment within HQS that [Abu Zubaydah] will never be placed in a situation where he has any significant contact with others and/or has the opportunity to be released.  While it is difficult to discuss specifics at this point, all major players are in concurrence that [Abu Zubaydah] should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life.  This may preclude [Abu Zubaydah] from being turned over to another country, but a final decision regarding his future incarceration condition has yet to be made.”

    The Senate knew.  Joe is a War crimianl who does not abide by the US laws outlawing torture or the international conventions that the US has signed on to.  No court should turn over prisoners to the US at this point unless they are in the practice of condoning torture and are willing to stand trial for their part in torture as an accessory.

    Moving to the ongoing tragedy that is the Iraq War, AFP reports:

    A "No Fishing" sign on the edge of Iraq's western desert is one of the few clues that this was once Sawa Lake, a biodiverse wetland and recreational landmark.

    Human activity and climate change have combined to turn the site into a barren wasteland with piles of salt.

    Abandoned hotels and tourist facilities here hark back to the 1990s when the salt lake, circled by sandy banks, was in its heyday and popular with newly-weds and families who came to swim and picnic.

    But today, the lake near the city of Samawa, south of the capital Baghdad, is completely dry.

    Bottles litter its former banks and plastic bags dangle from sun-scorched shrubs, while two pontoons have been reduced to rust.

    "This year, for the first time, the lake has disappeared," environmental activist Husam Subhi said. "In previous years, the water area had decreased during the dry seasons."

     Today, on the sandy ground sprinkled with salt, only a pond remains where tiny fish swim, in a source that connects the lake to an underground water table.

    The five-square-kilometre (two-square-mile) lake has been drying up since 2014, says Youssef Jabbar, environmental department head of Muthana province.

    The causes have been "climate change and rising temperatures," he explained.

    Iraq is predicted to be one of the country's effected the worst by climate change.  They need a governmental solution to address it and to plan for what's coming.  But they don't even have a government.

    October 10th, Iraq carried out elections that would determine the Parliament make up, the Speaker of Parliament, the president and the prime minister.

    It's nearly seven months later.  And  They have members of Parliament.  They have a Speaker of Parliament.  And?  That's it.

     An alliance of Iraqi and Kurdish opposition blocs on Sunday submitted a request to hold a session to elect Iraq’s new president in the first week of May as the country continues to suffers from a political deadlock months after the elections.

    For the People Alliance, formed between the Kurdish New Generation party, Emtidad Movement, and ten independents “presented an initiative that includes collecting signatures to hold a session [to elect the president] on Saturday, May 7,” state media quoted head of the alliance Alaa al-Rikabi as saying. 

    The session aims to “elect the president of the republic, find a political solution, complete the parliamentary committees and approve the budget law,” he added, while calling on all MPs to attend the session.

    There is a steep price to pay for having a conscience and more importantly the courage to act on it. The hounds of hell pin you to the cross, hammering nails into your hands and feet as they grin like the Cheshire cat and mouth bromides about respect for human rights, freedom of expression and diversity. I have watched this happen for some time to Alice Walker, one of the most gifted and courageous writers in America. Walker, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, has felt the bitter sting of racism. She refuses to be silent about the plight of the oppressed, including the Palestinians.

    “Whenever I come out with a book, or anything that will take me before the public, the world, I am assailed as this person I don’t recognize,” she said when I reached her by phone. “If I tried to keep track of all the attacks over the decades, I wouldn’t be able to keep working. I am happy people are standing up. It is all of us. Not just me. They are trying to shut us down, shut us up, erase us. That reality is what is important.”

    The Bay Area Book festival delivered the latest salvo against Walker. The organizers disinvited her from the event because she  praised the writings of the New Age author David Icke and called his book And the Truth Shall Set You Free “brave.” Icke has denied critics’ charges of anti-Semitism. The festival organizers twisted themselves into contortions to say they were not charging Walker with anti-Semitism. She was banned because she lauded a controversial writer, who I suspect few members of the committee have read. The poet and writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who Walker was to interview, withdrew from the festival in protest.

    Walker, a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has been a very public advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel for many years. Her friendship with Icke has long been part of the public record. She hid nothing. It is not as if the festival organizers suddenly discovered a dark secret about Walker. They sought to capitalize on her celebrity and then, when they felt the heat from the Israel lobby, capitulated to the mob to humiliate her.

    “I don’t know these people,” Walker said of the festival organizers who disinvited her. “It feels like the south. You know they are out there in the community, and they have their positions, but all you see are sheets. That’s what this is. It’s like being back in the south.”

    The following sites updated: