Friday, September 02, 2022

Simple Mushroom Soup in the Kitchen

Caleb e-mailed to note this recipe.

I liked that for a number of reasons including I've got mushrooms I need to do something with.  

I made hot and sour soup this evening.  I brought 4 cups of water to a boil with some chicken stock crystals to make chicken stock.  After it came to a boil, I reduced the heat and added about 16 sliced mushrooms to it, a can of water chest nuts, a can of bamboo shoots and let that cook for five minutes. Then I added a strong dash of ground ginger, some toasted sesame oil, some rice vinegar, and some soy sauce and cooked that with some sliced tofu for about five minutes more.  I added some water to some corn starch, mixed it into a thin paste and then added it to the soup.  I then whisked 3 eggs and added that to the soup slowly, in thin strips.  After that, I added four sliced green onions.  

And then we ate it.

Did I measure anything?  Or look at my recipe? No.  I usually don't.  If it's a recipe that I've made more than three times, I don't usually do either.  There are some recipes that I only make every two years or so and I'll generally glance at those ahead of time -- both to review the steps and to make sure I purchase all the ingredients.  

And that's the other thing I liked about the video recipe, the chef was telling you that he's got a recipe that's more exact but he's not using it.  I have a friend who can cook, she cooks very well, but every time she cooks, she pulls out her recipe card for that dish -- no matter how many times she's cooked it.  It's just how she cooks.  And it works for her.  But that's not really me.  

One of my grandchildren decided to give me crayola art when she was three.  And my notebook -- an honest to goodness notebook like you'd have for school -- was the closest to her so she used it.  She made beautiful art and I got a parental apology because they were all over my recipes.  I said -- and meant -- it was fine.  I had started that notebook with an actual notebook I used in high school and recipes written by me on notebook paper.  I hadn't used in years.  The art was fine.  All this time later, I've never needed it for anything except a vegetable chowder recipe.  And I was able to find one online.  

I really do not use recipes after I've cooked a dish after I've made it three times.


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

Thursday, September 1, 2022.   How bad are things in Iraq and how badly has Joe Biden bungled it?  Judith Miller feels safe returning to the topic of Iraq.  Judith.  Miller.

Mustafa serves Moqtada.  

If you're going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you need to note what Iraqis have been noting for weeks now -- when the Shi'ite youth peacefully worked for change, the Iraqis forces mowed them down and Mustafa did nothing.  You need to contrast that -- as Arabic social media has -- with how he's responded to Moqtada's cult.  But if you're really going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you go to someone like Mohammed Tawfeeq who has long covered Iraq for CNN and not two nobodies like Adam and Abbas who don't cover Iraq.  'Oh, they cover the Middle East!'  They haven't covered Iraq.  They lack the knowledge base and they lack the experience.  By contrast, not only is Mohammed someone with years of experience covering Iraq, he also hails from Iraq.  You've got expertise, experience and a triple Emmy winner in Mohammed but you ignore assigning this to him?  Maybe Adam and Abbas can be WARNER BROS DISCOVERY's next cuts because they are clearly useless and not up to the job.  

On the media.  I'm going to strongly critique CNN and others -- probably ALJAZEERA in a moment -- but outlets like BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR and DEMOCRACY NOW! that are picking up the story right now?  I'm not expecting much from them and, honestly, I'm just glad to see some Iraq coverage from outlets that usually ignore the country and the ongoing war.

But these other  outlets that do cover it some?  I'm not giving them a pass for presenting garbage to the western news consumer.

Turning to a different aspect, Jeff Schogol (TASK AND PURPOSE) notes:

Roughly 2,500 U.S. service members are currently in Iraq as the country’s political paralysis has erupted into the most serious outbreak of violence in years.

[. . . ]

So far, no additional troops have been requested to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, said Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Air sirens went off at the US Embassy this week.  But the US State Dept says the embassy's not going to be evacuatedKuwait and Bahrain are calling for their citizens to leave Iraq.  For over a month now, Congress has been sending letters to President Joe Biden telling him that more attention needs to be given to Iraq and Joe has just ignored it.  October 10th, Iraq held elections.  All these months later, still no president declared, still no prime minister.  And Joe's done nothing.  Let's note this:

As David Schenker, a former Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East under former President Trump wrote a week ago, senior State Department and National Security Council officials visited Iraq only twice in the nearly nine months between the national election last October and the most recent outbreak of violence this week. 

Do you get how bad Joe's doing?  I don't think you do.  Maybe this will help though, the admonishment above?  Coming from Judith Miller.  Yes, that Judith Miller.  Joe's doing such a bad job that Judith can return to the topic of Iraq despite her record of pre-war coverage.

On US troops in Iraq (all should be home) we need to note a report from last weekend.  Daniel Brown and Azmi Haroun (BUSINESS INSIDER) reported

In the 76 countries in which the US is currently fighting terrorism, at least three have been incredibly deadly: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And as the US pullout from Afghanistan nears the one year mark, Brown University's Costs of War Project report details just how deadly they've been. It counts how many people have been killed by the "United States' post-9/11 wars" in these three countries, along with others.

The report accounts for deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan between October 2001 and October 2018, and in Iraq between March 2003 and September 2021.

In October 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan to defeat the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and 20 years later, on August 30, 2021, the US completed a chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban regained full control of the country.

[. . .]

6,951 US military deaths.

Iraq: 4,550 deaths.

Afghanistan: 2,401 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

There were also 21 civilian DOD deaths, including six in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq, the Cost of War report notes.

7,820 US contractor deaths.

Iraq: 3,793 deaths.

Afghanistan: 3,937 deaths.

Pakistan: 90 deaths.


109,154 national military and police deaths.

Iraq: 41,726 deaths.

Afghanistan: 58,596 deaths.

Pakistan: 8,832 deaths.

1,464 Allied troop deaths.

Iraq: 323 deaths.

Afghanistan: 1,141 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

244,124 — 266,427 civilians.

Iraq: 182,272 — 204,575 deaths.

Afghanistan: 38,480 deaths.

Pakistan: 23,372 deaths.

109,396 — 114,471 opposition fighters.

Iraq: 34,806 — 39,881 deaths.

Afghanistan: 42,100 deaths.

Pakistan: 32,490 deaths.

362 journalists and media workers.

Iraq: 245 deaths.

Afghanistan: 54 deaths.

Pakistan: 63 deaths.

566 humanitarian and NGO workers.

Iraq: 62 deaths.

Afghanistan: 409 deaths.

Pakistan: 95 deaths.

479,858 — 507,236 total deaths.

Iraq: 267,792 — 295,170 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 147,124 deaths.

Pakistan: 64,942 deaths.

Read the full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

It's an undercount, to be sure, but it's the most serious attempt at a real count in over a decade.

Anyone worried about an overcount on US troops killed in Iraq and citing DoD figures, should grasp that the US government's count buries troops killed in Iraq after December 2011 under the heading "Operation Inherent Resolve" and which covers deaths in "Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 [degrees] longitude, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea."

That lumping is how they and the press get to pretend that the war ended at the end of 2011 -- when in fact, there are 74 more deaths after that.

In addition, Brown's Costs of War study notes that there have been 30,177 suicides among veterans of the post-9/11 wars.


Back to the media, I am so sick of the one-sided nonsense with regards to Iraq.  ALJAZEERA wants to 'explain' what happened.  They do so how?  By only quoting Moqtada al-Sadr's followers.  I'm sick of it.  They quote one who wants you to know he does what his leader tells him (how pathetic, shame on anyone taking marching orders from a politician).  The fool explains that he occupied the Parliament -- 

Stop.  A real journalism outlet then explains that the cult broke into the Green Zone.  That's what they did.  You can be glad, you can say it should belong to the people, you can say whatever you want.  But the reality is that they broke in.  Since 2006, the late spring, early summer, the big fear of Iraqi politicians and US leaders has been that the Green Zone would be breached.  Nouri al-Maliki would use that possible breach that didn't happen in 2006 to later justify his attacks on the press -- which included a correspondent for THE NEW YORK TIMES being threatened -- that followed in the fall of 2006.  It was a big deal.  Barack Obama never pulled all US troops out of Iraq.

If you want to whine about today's media not being believed, grasp that it wasn't just in the lead up to the Iraq War that they lied.  They lied about the 'withdrawal.'  Barack did a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  That's why the Pentagon never waivered in calling it a drawdown.  Troops remained in Iraq.  Ted Koppel reported on that.  He did so on an NBC program -- they got cancelled -- and on an NPR program -- they got cancelled.  Telling the truth, the lesson is, does not pay off.  Doubt it?  MCCLATHY NEWSPAPERS.  


That's not reality.  THE HOUSTON PRESS told the truth once upon a time and angered a Bush.  It closed shop in the 90s.

MCLATCHY had many newspapers in 2002 and 2003 and they did not tell the truth.

The only one doing actual journalism was KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They told the truth about Iraq.

You don't understand how corrupt American journalism is unless you start paying attention and note that, time and again, it is the outlets programs that tell the truth that close shop.

MCCLATCHY lied like everyone else.  After the start of the war, they would purchase KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They were going under. 

Lie about the Iraq War like THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, PBS, NPR and everyone else and you stay in business.

Lie, be wrong, just run with the pack and there is no fall out.

Why aren't people brave in the media?  Because too often they've seen reality.  

The ones that hang on play the game and deceive in the process.  It's been that way throughout the lifetime of the American press.  

US troops?  Some went to Kuwait, some remained.  The Secretary of the Defense testified to that in an open hearing, in response to the questions from the late Senator Kay Hagan.  She was a smart lady.  She knew the press was going to ignore it.  And they did.  All but one reporter.  We covered the hearing here, the day of the hearing, and returned to it for several days after the hearing.  

The press was lying to the American people and claiming a withdrawal.  Instead of correcting the record via the information from the Senate hearing, the press elected to focus on a cat fight between John McCain and Leon Panetta.  There was none.  There were sharp words at the start of the hearing and that was it.  They were both cordial to one another as the hearing progressed.

But that's what paid 'journalists' -- paid by respectable outlets -- chose to focus on.

In 2012, Barack sent a brigade of special-ops into Iraq.

Tim Arango worked it into a report for THE NEW YORK TIMES -- a report on Syria.

Jill would not allow it to be in a report on Iraq.  She would not allow it to be a front page report as it should have been.  Barack was running for re-election and repeating the lie that he had withdrawn.  Mitt Romney was an idiot who thought he could look tougher than Barack by attacking for the 'withdrawal.'  Jill Abramson isn't a journalist.  When she was wrongly elevated at THE TIMES, we got the Iraq War coverage from Judith Miller and others that Jill would try to pretend she didn't greenlight all the way through.  And she wasn't journalist when she was put in charge of the paper.  She refused to allow various stories into the paper.  If it would hurt Barack, she would censor the news.

And with an election less than three full months away, there was no way she was going to let the truth about US troops going back into Iraq -- even with a US military official on record with his comments.

In 2014, Barack publicly sent more US troops into Iraq.


The terrorist group ISIS had done more than just attack.  It had grabbed areas in Anbar Province and, further north, Mosul.  There was very real fear in the White House that Baghdad would be the next to fall.  They overestimated ISIS.  But that fear, that the Green Zone would be breached, is what prompted Barack to publicly send US forces back in.

And now Moqtada's cult has breached the Green Zone and the press wants to act like that's normal and not newsworthy?

This is the same hideous press that couldn't tell the truth regarding the militias.  They said they were disenfranchised and they were.

I knew that the moment the announcement was made.  I don't like the militias, so we didn't do a lot on it.  But we noted it.  When the elections did take place we noted they were disenfranchised.  When they took up that critique, we noted that they were right.

It's not about what I like or don't like.  The truth is the truth. 

And the press struggles with the public because the press struggles with the truth.

Right now, because of Monday and Tuesday's violence, some more people are paying attention to Iraq -- for a moment or two.  It doesn't help them and it doesn't help Iraq, for news outlets to lie.

While many western outlets are failing with regards to covering what's going on in Iraq, Jean Shaoul files a strong report for WSWS which includes:

The violence erupted after al-Sadr announced his “final retirement” from politics. Hundreds of his supporters in his Sairoon movement took to the streets and broke through the concrete barriers of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraq’s federal parliament and government buildings, as well as the US and other foreign embassies, are located.

Protests also broke out in Iraq’s southern provinces, where al-Sadr’s supporters burned tires and blocked roads in the oil-rich province of Basra, and hundreds demonstrated outside the governorate building in Missan.

The caretaker government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, while Iran, which has sought to bring Iraq’s Shiite factions closer together, closed its borders with Iraq, as millions of Iranians prepared to visit Iraq for an annual pilgrimage to Shia sites.

On Monday night, al-Sadr said he was going on hunger strike until the violence and the use of weapons stopped. The next day, in a bid to disassociate himself from the violence, he apologised and called on his followers to leave the Green Zone and the camps where they have been protesting for the last four weeks, prompting many of his supporters to leave.

Al-Sadr’s retirement threat—the fourth this erratic and unprincipled politician has made over the last eight years—and the violence he knew it would unleash are bound up with his determination to take direct control of Iraq’s sectarian-ethnic political system at the expense of his Shia rivals in the Coordination Framework.

While al-Sadr, who comes from a leading Shia clerical family, led the main Shia resistance to the US occupation, he has no progressive answers to the enormous social problems confronting the Iraqi people. Posing as a nationalist opposed to foreign interference in Iraq, he has links to both Washington and Tehran. He has acted as kingmaker in forging ruling coalitions and placed his own supporters in key positions in the cabinet, the state-owned oil company, powerful ministries and local authorities. They take a cut of government contracts to pass on to his organisation, which runs a militia and provides jobs and social welfare for his impoverished supporters in Baghdad’s slums.

Al-Sadr’s announcement of his “final retirement” followed the resignation of the 83-year-old Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, a close associate of al-Sadr’s father and spiritual leader of the Sadrists, who challenged his right to act as the heir of his father, Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, saying, “You cannot lead by their names. In reality you are not a Sadrist even if you are from the family of Sadrists.” Haeri called on his followers to transfer their allegiance to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and “obey” Iran’s supreme leader as “the most worthy and competent [individual] to lead the [Muslim] nation.”

Moqtada's getting desperate.  He's losing his hold on the cult.  He's stating he's out of politics and he's never going to be an Ayatollah -- hotel management is a general studies degree, Moqtada, it's not a religious honor.

The Atlantic Council's Abbas Kadhim notes:

One day before this arbitrary deadline, Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who enjoys a following from many Sadrists, announced his retirement and, oddly, issued a two-page letter that included a denouncement of Sadr and his supporters, accusing them of dividing the Iraqi people in the name of the Sadr family that has enjoyed long-standing respect in Iraq and beyond. Haeri also recommended that his followers emulate Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei— another gesture that antagonized Sadrist leaders who have protested increased Iranian influence and accused their rivals of being Iranian agents. 

The Sadrist response to Haeri’s retirement letter was fierce and Sadr announced his “complete withdrawal” from the public scene, leaving his rivals to face the angry masses—mostly Sadr’s followers.

We'll wind down with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest column for BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

The Biden administration announcement of so-called student loan debt relief does little to alleviate the problem it claims to solve. Forgiving $20,000 for Pell grant holders and $10,000 for all who earn less than $125,000 is questionable for a variety of reasons. It is a midterm election bait and switch that pleases gullible democrats, helps only a minority of borrowers, and is nothing like what candidate Biden proposed during the 2020 campaign.

Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. This crisis did not occur by happenstance. Universities did not escape the neoliberal onslaught and are fund raising machines charging astronomical amounts of money for tuition and room and board. Decades of austerity have slashed spending for public institutions. Once so inexpensive that they were practically free, they now offer little respite from crushing debt. There is no way for working people to secure the higher education they’re told they need without ruining themselves financially, and in so doing defeating the purpose of attending college.

Of course college should be free and student loan debt should be forgiven. The issue is of great importance to Black people, who are usually unable to pay very little if any tuition and incur debt from the first day of school. White people are more likely to have assets and family resources they can tap. They may not incur any student loan debt at all unless they attend graduate school. 

The rationale for this catastrophe is quite simple. The race to the bottom is an essential part of the corporate drive to keep Americans desperate. The living wage work that is the holy grail for college students is less likely to exist. The international capitalist overlords want the system to be this way, and they have created a system which keeps everyone, including the educated, in a grip of stagnant wages, insecure employment, and a diminishing social safety net.

Senator Joe Biden played a role in creating these terrible conditions. In 2005 he and 17 other democrats joined republicans in voting for the Bankruptcy Act, which made it all but impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. The Delaware senator was beholden to the consumer credit industry, like all of that state’s elected officials. They were the drivers in ensuring that filing for bankruptcy for any reason would become very difficult and they were always among Biden’s biggest campaign contributors.

Of course Biden knows what people need and want. During his campaign he said , “I propose to forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000.” At other times he included Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in this debt forgiveness plan.

It is easy to point out the discrepancy between what he promised and what he now proposes, but the problem is bigger than the laundry list of Biden campaign lies. There is great confusion among Black people about student loan debt relief, what it will really accomplish, and what is actually needed.

The following sites updated: