Benjamin Mateus (WSWS) reports:
Public health authorities in Harris County, Texas, confirmed that a male adult who was severely immunocompromised and diagnosed with monkeypox died on Sunday, making it the first known fatal case in the US since the outbreak was declared a national emergency by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on August 4.
[. . .]
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who has called out the Biden administration on their inaction on delivering monkeypox vaccines, released a statement on the death of the as of yet unnamed individual: “We are sharing this information to err on the side of transparency and to avoid potential misinformation about this case. The best way for us to fight this virus is through [Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos Smallpox] vaccines. Our goal is still to get as many people who qualify vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
It would be great if we had a president who knew what he was doing. We have instead, as C.I. has noted repeatedly, a senile old man stumbling from one senior moment to the next. And we are all suffering as a result.
His answer to COVID? We'll all get it eventually.
Do you think if he had campaigned on that, he would have won? I know he hid, he didn't campaign. But even so, if he made that statement, a lot of people wouldn't have voted for him -- the fear of Trump wouldn't have helped him.
We need vaccines. We need real efforts. Joe Biden's an idiot who's not fit to hold office. He's corrupt and his whole family is. Hunter traded off Joe's name to rake in millions and Joe knew and Joe went along with it. It's how he's a millionaire. A public servant shouldn't have millions at their disposal because they were a public servant their whole life. That sort of bank account is our first clue that Joe is corrupt.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Iraq appears to be headed for another round of elections.
Starting with the US war on Russia. From DEMOCRACY NOW!:
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, President Biden announced $3 billion in more military aid for Ukraine last week, including money for missiles, artillery rounds and drones to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia.
We begin today’s show looking at U.S. policy on Russia and China. We’re joined by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He’s president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He served as adviser to three U.N. secretaries-general. His latest article is headlined “The West’s False Narrative About Russia and China.”
He begins the article by writing, quote, “The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous,” Jeffrey Sachs writes.
Jeffrey Sachs, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you take it from there?
JEFFREY SACHS: Thank you. Good to be with you.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the story that people in the West and around the world should understand about what’s happening right now with these conflicts, with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine, and with China?
JEFFREY SACHS: The main point, Amy, is that we are not using diplomacy; we are using weaponry. This sale now announced to Taiwan that you’ve been discussing this morning is just another case in point. This does not make Taiwan safer. This does not make the world safer. It certainly doesn’t make the United States safer.
This goes back a long way. I think it’s useful to start 30 years ago. The Soviet Union ended, and some American leaders got it into their head that there was now what they called the unipolar world, that the U.S. was the sole superpower, and we could run the show. The results have been disastrous. We have had now three decades of militarization of American foreign policy. A new database that Tufts is maintaining has just shown that there have been more than 100 military interventions by the United States since 1991. It’s really unbelievable.
And I have seen, in my own experience over the last 30 years working extensively in Russia, in Central Europe, in China and in other parts of the world, how the U.S. approach is a military-first, and often a military-only, approach. We arm who we want. We call for NATO enlargement, no matter what other countries say may be harmful to their security interests. We brush aside anyone else’s security interests. And when they complain, we ship more armaments to our allies in that region. We go to war when we want, where we want, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq or the covert war against Assad in Syria, which is even today not properly understood by the American people, or the war in Libya. And we say, “We’re peace-loving. What’s wrong with Russia and China? They are so warlike. They’re out to undermine the world.” And we end up in terrible confrontations.
The war in Ukraine — just to finish the introductory view — could have been avoided and should have been avoided through diplomacy. What President Putin of Russia was saying for years was “Do not expand NATO into the Black Sea, not to Ukraine, much less to Georgia,” which if people look on the map, straight across to the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Russia said, “This will surround us. This will jeopardize our security. Let us have diplomacy.” The United States rejected all diplomacy. I tried to contact the White House at the end of 2021 — in fact, I did contact the White House and said there will be war unless the U.S. enters diplomatic talks with President Putin over this question of NATO enlargement. I was told the U.S. will never do that. That is off the table. And it was off the table. Now we have a war that’s extraordinarily dangerous.
And we are taking exactly the same tactics in East Asia that led to the war in Ukraine. We’re organizing alliances, building up weaponry, trash-talking China, having Speaker Pelosi fly to Taiwan, when the Chinese government said, “Please, lower the temperature, lower the tensions.” We say, “No, we do what we want,” and now send more arms. This is a recipe for yet another war. And to my mind, it’s terrifying.
We are at the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, which I’ve studied all my life and I’ve written about, have written a book about the aftermath. We are driving to the precipice, and we are filled with our enthusiasm as we do so. And it’s just unaccountably dangerous and wrongheaded, the whole approach of U.S. foreign policy. And it’s bipartisan.
Meanwhile Elena Evdokimova Tweets:
The violence got so much, Iraq's actually getting a bit of attention. Here's BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR.
A tense calm has returned in Iraq's capital city after the worst violence there in years. Fighting between rival factions left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.
Simona Foltyn is in Baghdad and has this report.
After a night of deadly clashes between Iraq's Shiite factions, a sudden reversal today, as followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone, home to embassies and government institutions in Central Baghdad.
Ahmed Ahmed, Protester (through translator):
As members of Sadrist movement, we follow what our leader orders. The leader asked us to withdraw.
In a televised address, Sadr ordered his supporters and militia to leave.
Muqtada Al-Sadr, Iraqi Political Leader (through translator):
I still believe that my supporters are disciplined and obedient. And if in the next 60 Minutes, they do not withdraw, as well as from Parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.
Sadr's call for de-escalation came after weeks of unrest, during which he tried, but ultimately failed to force his will onto his political rivals.
Moments after he announced his withdrawal from politics on Monday, hundreds of angry supporters stormed the government palace. The protests quickly turned into heavy fighting, and armed wings of Iran-aligned parties who oppose Sadr forcing the cleric to back down.
Muqtada Al-Sadr (through translator):
I had hoped for peaceful protests, with pure hearts, hearts filled with love for their country, not ones that resort to gunfire. This saddens the revolution.
The clashes stoked fears that the country could descend into a fresh cycle of violence.
Nour Al-Moussawi, Iraqi Civilian (through translator):
This dangerous situation and the overtaking of the government's property or storming the highest authority, which is the Republican Palace, will destabilize the economic situation, as well as our daily lives.
All of this played out against the backdrop of political deadlock. Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in last October's parliamentary elections, but not enough to form a government.
His refusal to negotiate with Shia rivals has left the government, and the country in limbo. The curfew has now been lifted and life in the Iraqi Capitol is slowly returning to normal, marking the end of Baghdad's bloodiest day in recent years.
But a dangerous precedent has been set and, for now, the rifts over government formation that sparked the armed clashes remain unresolved. In the absence of a clear path towards a political solution, there's a risk that the two sides may once again resort to settling their scores in the streets.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Baghdad.
At THE WASHINGTON POST, Ishaan Tharoor recaps:
Supporters of prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces and Iran-allied militias in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and stormed the presidential palace. The sound of machine-gun fire and the thud of rocket-propelled grenades rocked the heart of the city. The violence sprawled across the country, with Sadrists attacking the offices of factions linked to Iran in various cities. More than 30 people were killed, with the death toll expected to rise at the time of writing.
But by Tuesday afternoon, Sadr called on his followers to withdraw and lamented the loss of life. For his supposed restraint, he earned the plaudits of Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has been operating in a caretaker role as Iraqi politicians have failed for almost a year to form a government.
October 10th, Iraq held elections. Thanks to Joe Biden who, as US vice president, oversaw The Erbil Agreement in 2010, Iraqis support for elections has weakened. That's when they voted Nouri al-Maliki out after his first term as prime minister but Joe oversaw the contract that tossed aside the people's votes and gave Nouri a second term he didn't win. Iraq, under US occupation, has remained one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Many live in poverty while Iraq rakes in billions each year from oil, money that never makes it to the people. Right now, yet again, cholera outbreark, a regular feature any summer in Iraq. Potable water, a basic human necessity (as the people in Jackson, Mississippi can attest) is an issue. Iraq has suffered through a very hot summer with out dependable electricity (something residents of southeast Michigan can currently relate to).
The government does not serve the people (which people everywhere can probably relate to). And so the participation in voting had dipped and decreased. Iraqis actively sat out the 2021 election with the exception of members of the Shi'ite militias who were disenfranchised. They long ago became members of the Iraqi security forces -- recognized as such. At the last minute, Mustafa al-Kadhimi disenfranchised them because they weren't going to vote for him. All security forces are supposed to vote in the early election. This is because on actual election day, they have to be dispersed throughout the country to protect polling places. Mustafa banned the militias -- and only the militias -- from the early voting.
Moqtada al-Sadr would benefit from all of this. His political party did not get the most votes in the election. His alliance did. There's a difference. For months, he tried to form a government and he failed repeatedly.
He stamped his feet and threatened to withdraw his members from Parliament. No one really cared so he made good on this threat.
Then he started whining the Parliament needed to be dissolved. It didn't feel that way and he had no voice in it now because his MPs had resigned. He sent his cult into the Green Zone to occupy the Parliament. Then he demanded the judiciary dissolve Parliament.
They said no, they didn't have that power.
Now the violence has broken out.
Mustafa, a Sad supporter, is now saying he will resign if violence continues and Barham Salah (a Sadr supporter) is saying early elections might be the answer.
It's a system where Moqtada doesn't get his way so he stomps his feet and everyone rushes to appease the angry child.
A new election is very unlikely to give Moqtada what he wants.
A new election is most likely going to result in Shi'ites who sat out voting last time showing up at the polls this go round. Which means Moqtada returns to being a small part of Iraq.
What happens then? He stomps his feet and gets another election?
The following sites updated: