Friday, June 11, 2021

I Like Being A Doormat


From December 8, 2019, that's "I Like Being A Doormat."  C.I. noted:

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "I Like Being A Doormat."  Hillary Clinton explains, "A lot of lesbians are mad at me for calling them man-haters.  Sorry, gals, I like the mens. I like the mens who cheat on me and humiliate me in public.  Being walked on like a rug gets Mama all hot and bothered."  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

Hillary is a doormat who lives for men who cheat on women, men who abuse women, there's her buddy Philippe and there's Tony Weiner and his wife Humana and she just loves the worst men -- don't forget to put Bill Clinton on that list.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Friday, June 11, 2021.  The Kurds, the PKK, Turkey, we walk through a lot of history

Kurdistan Junis Tweets:

"The population of Afrin was once at least 96 % Kurdish. Following the Turkish occupation, most of them were displaced, & the proportion of the Kurdish population fell to around 25 %. ". If this isn't genocide, what is it then ?!!!!

"In south Kurdistan, they have established tens of military and intelligence bases and outposts to be used against the interests of our people," Elyana Elyan remarked this week regarding Turkey's illegal actions in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

The Kurdish People's Assembly Tweets:

The Turkish military is attempting genocide against Kurds in South Kurdistan, targeting civilians and a large refugee camp. Ask your MP to sign an Early Day Motion condemning Turkey’s actions, and to speak up in favour of an arms embargo on Turkey:

What is going on?  Insisting that they must defend themselves from the PKK, the government of Turkey is violating international law by sending troops into Iraq on raids and other missions and bombing the Kurdistan Region with war planes and drones.  PKK?  The what?  The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

While Turkey pretends the problems started with the emergence of the PKK, they are lying.  The PKK is not an initiating incident.  It is a response to Turkey's long persecution of the Kurds -- perscuetion of the Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. 

Sirwan Renas (Washington Kurdish Institute) offers his take:

The foundations of Kurdish nationalism in contemporary history can be traced back to the historical transition from pre-modern empire political system to the modern state-building order in the Middle East. In regard to Islamism, what makes Kurdish nationalism different from its rival nationalisms is the contemporary historical context through which it emerged. 

The Arab, Turkish, and Persian/Iranian nationalisms are state nationalisms that were constructed in opposition to Western colonialism — namely, British and France — at the beginning of the twentieth century and the domination of the United State in the aftermath of World War II. In contrast, Kurdish nationalism is a stateless nationalism aimed at the creation of the state of Kurdistan, and, thus, it emerged in opposition to the domination of Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian states — not the domination of Western powers. While for Turks, Arabs, and Persians, Western powers were seen as interventionists and occupiers, for Kurds the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian states were perceived as occupiers. Even though Britain and France played a major role in dividing Kurdistan, for Kurds, it was their occupying authoritarian states that suppressed almost every Kurdish liberation movement throughout the twentieth century— a brutal suppression that led to all kinds of violations of human rights, from denying their fundamental rights to practice their language and culture and the possession of their homeland to mass killings, chemical bombings, ethnic cleansings, and genocides. The fact that the Kurdish national rights have been violated by the occupying states (not Western colonialists) made a significant difference in how Kurds perceive Islamism. 

Kurds do not have any state of their own to identify themselves with, nor do they identify themselves with any of the pre-modern Islamic empires or with any of the modern occupying states. That is not to say that Kurds have played no active role in the Islamic empires. Saladin Ayyubi, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, for example, led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusaders in the Levant. However, Kurds do not identify themselves with the Ayyubid dynasty and it has not become a basis for Kurdish nationalism. On the contrary, Turks identify themselves with the Ottoman Empire, Persians with the Safavid Empire, and Arabs with many Islamic dynasties since the birth of Islam. 

The transitional period from pre-modern empires to modern states in the Middle East is a crucial moment that helps us to understand how Kurdish nationalism and Islamism were affected by this historical context. It is widely believed that nationalism as a political ideology is a modern phenomenon.

Zooming in on recent events, Washington's Kurdish Institute notes the following for Iraq:


  • Turkey’s ongoing incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan stoked tensions between the Kurdish Democratic Party’s (KDP) Peshmerga forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) last week. On Saturday, the Peshmerga accused the PKK of ambushing one of its convoys traveling to Metina in an attack that killed five Peshmerga, wounded five more, and was denounced by Kurdish and Iraqi officials and US and European envoys. The PKK responded by denying involvement and calling for an “independent investigation.” That said, unidentified assailants killed another Peshmerga member near Zakho on Tuesday, and a joint federal and regional parliamentary group is set to conduct a fact-finding mission in the region soon. Meanwhile, Turkish forces conducted additional airstrikes, plundered more trees from the region, and appear poised to exploit KDP-PKK tensions by launching additional incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan.  
  • Turkish forces made good on a threat from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and ignored US warnings by launching an airstrike on the Makhmour refugee camp and killing three civilians. Erdogan continues to claim the camp, which houses thousands of Kurds who fled Turkish military operations during the 1990s, is providing a safe haven to PKK members. 
  • The first joint Peshmarga-Iraqi operation targeting ISIS (Da’esh) took place east of Tuz Khurmatu on Sunday. The Iraqi Security Media Cell announced Iraqi forces also launched five airstrikes on Da’esh positions during the operation. Likewise, a senior Peshmerga commander told Rudaw 13 Da’esh tunnels were destroyed during the operation. Iraq’s “Disputed Territories” have remained plagued by Da’esh since Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias removed the Peshmerga in October 2017.  
  • Anti-government protests continued in Kirkuk Governorate due to ongoing shortages of water, electricity, gas, and waste collection. Dozens of taxi drivers launched a demonstration to protest the lack of fuel, and even non-Kurdish demonstrators praised former governor, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, for his successes in providing services while bashing the current acting governor, Rakan Saed al Jabouri, who was imposed on the governorate on October 16, 2017. 

On the sixth of this month, Hunar Rasheed (RUDAW) reported:

Harmin Waheed, 19, is afraid she will miss out on this year's classes as she has fled home and sought shelter in another village with her family because of the ongoing conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Waheed, a grade 12 student, and her family left the village of Kesta along with dozens of other families in late April. She says instead of going to school, she now just does housework. They have taken shelter in Dargalka village.

"They [Turkey] fired missiles plenty of times causing huge bangs, not letting us study. They did not let us continue our studies. Nobody was in the mood to study," she recalls of the misery they faced back home in Kesta.

Waheed and her family took shelter at Begova Highschool in the village of Dagalka.

"The aftermath leaves us terribly frightened. Although the fight is a little far from our village, we can still hear it. The loud bangs sound so close, they terrify us," Warshin Hassan, a student, told Rudaw on Monday.

Teachers have warned that the number of students is declining year by year thanks to the decades-long impact of warfare in the mountainous border region.

According to data from the Amedi Education Department, 22 schools and 800 students have been affected by Turkish airstrikes and bombings.

The government of Turkey's actions are destroying lives.  On the eight of this month, Khazan Jangiz (RUDAW) reported:

Members of the Kurdistan Region and Iraqi parliaments visited Duhok province on Tuesday to speak with villagers displaced from border areas where Turkey is conducting an operation against alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions, a Kurdish MP has told Rudaw.

“A parliamentary delegation of the Kurdistan Region’s parliament, with some members of the Iraqi council of representatives … is investigating the tension at the border areas in Duhok province, in addition to losses created by this tension between both Turkey and the PKK forces, as well as the PKK and Peshmerga forces,” Shno Shahid Ashqi, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP said on Tuesday.

“We are sitting with some of the village chiefs, we are listening to their complaints. They are the ones who have evacuated their villages,” he added.

Ashqi, who is also a member of the Health, Environment and Consumer Rights committee in the Kurdistan Region parliament, said the villagers have said suffered great losses in a number of areas.

Not only “have their trees been cut but all of their lands has been burned and destroyed. They have suffered great losses, more than what is talked about in the media and on social media. Their houses are looted, their electricity destroyed, their livestock is being stolen.”

Yesterday, Yousif Musa (RUDAW) reported:

Six months after they fled their homes in northern Duhok because of clashes between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group of villagers returned and found their homes had been looted, their belongings stolen or destroyed.

"I saw all the doors were broken. The house supplies have been taken out into the streets, there was a mess," said Mahdi Naif, one of three men who snuck back to visit their village Roisy in the Batifa district. “The whole village was looted.”

"We found that they had left our houses in shambles," said Omer Ali, another villager who visited their homes. "The doors were smashed, no supplies were left for the people. What's left is not usable."

Roisy village has been abandoned for six months because of conflict between Turkey and the PKK. Eighteen families fled the community for safer areas in December. Four Turkish military bases have been established within close proximity of the village.

The PKK is an armed group fighting for greater rights for Kurds in Turkey. It has bases in the Kurdistan Region's mountains and the Turkish army frequently carries out cross-border operations against the group. Local civilians are victims of the conflict. They are targeted in bombing campaigns and driven from their homes. More than 500 villages have been emptied in the Kurdistan Region over three decades of Turkey-PKK conflict.

Let's also not forget the outrageous attack that took place last weekend when Turkey bombed a UN refugee camp.  Here is AFP's report on that bombing.

Where did Turkey get the drones?  The US has been supplying them with drones and other weapons for years.  In exchange, Turkey has provided spying intel on Kurdistan and other areas in Iraq.  Also, Turkey agreed to host a CIA outpost close to the border they share with Iraq.

We noted Elyana Elyan's statement earlier.  You can find her remarks in the video below.

She was speaking Tuesday at the webinar hosted by the Washington Kurdistan Institute.  The webinar was moderated by Sierwan Najmaldin Karim and Philip Kowalski.  The guests included analsts Hiwa Osman, Nilufer Koc, Dr. Henri Barkey and form US Ambassador Peter Galbraith.  (Dislcosue, I know Peter and have for several decades.)   The Institute issued a statement that included:

For a century, the Turkish state has persecuted the Kurds, denying their very existence, committing countless massacres, and seeking to eliminate the Kurdish identity. Since 2015, the current Turkish regime led by Erdogan has committed countless acts of military aggression against the Kurdish people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, openly pursing a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The Turkish military has occupied areas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for many years and is actively seeking to expand its presence – at present, there are tens of Turkish military bases and posts throughout South Kurdistan. This most recent act of unprovoked aggression is part of a larger plan to broaden Turkey’s zones of occupation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, prevent any type of self-determination for the Kurdish people, and eventually eradicate the Kurdish identity.
We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms and call upon the United States government and the international community to take immediate action to bring Erdogan’s campaigns of military aggression to an end and sanction his regime for systematic violations of international law and global human rights conventions.
We reaffirm once again a solution to the Kurdish question will only be achieved through dialogue between the Turkish state and the PKK, and the United States and international community could play an integral role in encouraging and facilitating this dialogue to achieve just peace for all peoples of the region.

That statement was issued in April.  It could have been issued any day of any month of any recent year.  That's how long Turkey's illegal actions have been carried out.  That's how long the world has largely looked the other way.

The government of Iraq has also not offered a strong response.  Though various officials have spoken out, there has been no leadership on this issue and the current prime minister has no clear stance.  In addition, Andam Aso Aziz notes:

The Iraqi president and foreign minister are Kurds. We have several Kurdish diplomats and parliamentarians in Iraq and the KRG. If we are not working effectively to throw Turkey out of the KRG now, when are we going to do it?


Also rather silent has been the US government.  But the attack over the past weekend did prompt one public remark from a US official who was quoted in a REUTERS report:


U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visited Ankara last week and said she told officials that "any attack targeting civilians at Makhmour refugee camp would be a violation of international and humanitarian law".

Elyana Elyan noted of the most recent wave of attacks, "The Turkish state's choice of this date, April 24th for the initiation of operations is no coincidence as it is the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.  This is a clear message, an open threat of genocide."

Changing topics, kidnappings continue in Iraq. notes:

 Assyrian activist, Husam Alkass, was abducted and later released by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), according to the Assyrian Policy Institute. Alkass, who was a member of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, was captured in Derik (Al-Malikiyah), located in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border.

Alkass was abducted on June 3 and later released on June 4. His whereabouts were unknown during his capture. Prior to his abduction, he was known for documenting human rights violations committed by the de facto Kurdish authorities. According to Anadolu Agency, Alkass was kidnapped and beaten by a group of masked men while he was returning to his car from shopping that afternoon.

Al-Malikiyah has a rich history of Assyrian heritage, with its indigenous inhabitants fleeing to Syria the Assyrian Christian genocide from Turkey. The city is now occupied by the terrorist group. The PYD has links to the perhaps more well-known Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which operates in Turkey and Iraq. The terrorist group closed all Syriac-Assyrian schools in Al-Malikiyah in August 2018, claiming they did not have the correct licenses. The closure was widely seen as repression of the Assyrian minority groups.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker:

Earlier this month, the Assyrian Policy Institute had Tweeted:

The Assyrian Policy Institute is deeply concerned by reports that Assyrian activist Husam Alkass, a member of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, has been abducted in Derik (al-Malikiyah), Syria by militiamen affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

We include that Tweet to put a face to Husam's name.  Again, he has been released. 

Yesterday, UNAMI issued the followig:

Baghdad, 10 June 2021 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has today been signed between the General Secretariat of the Iraqi Council of Ministers’ (GSCOM) Women Empowerment Directorate and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to advance gender equality and women empowerment in Iraq.

Building upon existing structures and ongoing gender mainstreaming efforts, the new partnership will strengthen the institutional and analytical capacity of relevant Iraqi stakeholders to advance gender equality, focusing on the specific needs of women and girls in Iraq. It will help Iraq achieve its gender equality commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by integrating gender perspective in governmental policies and plans.

One of the priority activities under the MoU is to assist the government’s Central Statistical Organization to establish an e-platform that aims at bridging the gender classified data gap by facilitating the flow of reliable, gender-specific data across different institutions in the country that will help shape government policies.

The Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, His Excellency Mr. Hamid Al-Ghizi said: “Whereas women around the world are seen as powerful agents of change towards advanced, sustainable and inclusive societies, Iraqi women have played a strong role in addressing the crises and challenges that Iraq has experienced and have had an effective role and contribution in establishing inclusive society. Hence, we believe that this MoU is an important step towards strengthening these roles”
“While Iraq still grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has disproportionately affected women and girls, exacerbating numerous existing social, economic and political challenges. This calls for increased gender responsive efforts towards achieving gender equality. UNDP Iraq will continue support the government to mainstream gender equality and fulfil its national obligations under the SDGs. This MoU with GSCOM will further strengthen inclusive and gender sensitive policies, as well as our efforts to achieve gender equality in Iraq,” says Resident Representative of UNDP in Iraq, Zena Ali Ahmad.

Media contact:
Mohammed Al-Bahbahanee, Communications Specialist | | +964770 439 9222

The following sites updated:

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

No Deal Nancy

no deal nancy

From November 17, 2019, that's "No Deal Nancy."  C.I. noted:

Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "No Deal Nancy."  Nancy Pelosi explains, "I am not a big fan of Medicare for All.  I'm not even a fan of botox -- at least not anymore.   Apparently after you reach 79 years old, it's about as helpful as putting Scotch tape on your face.  I say NO DEAL to completing FDR's New Deal!"  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

Imagine what we could accomplish with real leadership.  It's past time the party started thinking about the future and stopped propping up useless geriatrics who should retire.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Tuesday, June 1, 2021.  A brief look at Iraq and at media lies.


A Memorial High graduate is now a combat team commander in Iraq.

Captain Gregory Davis Jr. took over command this month from Captain Brandi Tregre.

Davis is leading the Louisiana National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

A change of command ceremony took place at Erbil Air Base.

Davis is a 2009 graduate of Memorial High School, where he commanded the school’s first NJROTC program.

Davis said the soldiers in this company have had more unique experiences in these past two years with mobilization, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, COVID-19 and deployment.

Leading a combat team.  Combat.  Oh, we're admitting to that now.  Mainly because you can't keep a lie forever.  They've been saying training forever.  Especially after ISIS was 'defeated.'  (It lost control of Mosul, it was not defeated.)  So for several years, the US government has lied that the US troops were in Iraq for training.  Over the weekend, the talking point became that the combat missions were over and they were just present for training.  And no one's supposed to notice that the script is being rewritten yet again.  Endless rewrites, caught in development hell as the Iraq War goes on and on.

We starve, look at one another short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies

-- "The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In)," written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot for the musical HAIR.

The Fifth Dimension took the refrain from the song and merged it with another song from the musical ("Aquarius") to end up with a chart topper.  It also weakened "The Flesh Failures." "Let The Sunshine In" was about openess.  Not just between people but about an open government.  A government's ies being exposed.  When you reduce the song to just the refrain ("Let The Sunshine In") sang over and over, you also dilute the point about how desperately sunshine (openess) is needed and why.

People think they're doing something new with media critiques.  They're not.  Media critiques start in what is now the United States before the United States starts.  What are Thomas Paine's truths but a rejection of an established media that censors while covering for the status quo.

THE NEW ARAB takes stenography and notes:

The US-led mission to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq announced on Sunday that it will change its role from direct combat to support.

Coalition forces will be focused on providing support to the Iraqi army, and will no longer be engaged in combat missions.

Missing anywhere in that dictation where THE NEW ARAB notes that the US government began claiming in January 2020 (following the vote in the Iraqi Parliament) that they weren't doing comabt or even support missions.  

Just paper over everything with a new lie and don't ask any questions?  Keep listening "for the new told lies."

As we saw last week, activists continue to be targeted and assassinated in Iraq.  Ahmed Maher (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Investigations into the killings of political activists in Iraq since the start of the latest round of protests have failed to produce a single trial or prosecution, the UN has found.

Arrest warrants have been issued against suspects in limited numbers, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq – known as Unami – said in the report, which covers the anti-government protests which began in October 2019.

“The rights of many victims and their families to truth, justice, redress and reparation have not been fully respected,” the report said.

Titled Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses by Unidentified Armed Elements, the report documents a range of human rights violations and abuses carried out by state security forces and unknown militia groups, many of which operate outside state control and have links to political parties.

The targeting of political activists, human rights defenders and prominent protesters by armed groups is not a new trend in Iraq.

Human rights violations have included the excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and related ill-treatment and torture, and interference with freedom of expression – including restrictions on internet access and on media outlets reporting on demonstrations.

However, the number and scope of incidents increased after October 2019 as demonstrators took to the streets across central and southern Iraq to vent their anger at the country's political system. This is perceived by many as corrupt and unable to provide even basic services.

At least 500 protesters have been killed since these mass demonstrations began.

Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) also notes the UN report:

In its latest human rights report published on Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) details investigative procedures the Iraqi government has undertaken to hold accountable perpetrators of crimes against the protesters who took the streets in October 2019 over the state’s structural corruption and weakness to resist foreign influence.

The 24-page report, titled, “Accountability for Human Rights Violations and Abuses by Unidentified Armed Elements,” comes as Iraq witnesses a new wave of protests demanding accountability and the end of impunity for the killings of demonstrators and activists.

Despite the government’s promises to investigate violations against protesters and activists, no one has yet been held accountable, according to the UN report.

“UNAMI could not identify any judicial investigations into crimes perpetrated by ‘unidentified armed elements’ against protestors and critics since 1 October 2019 that have culminated in a trial or prosecution,” the report said.

And that's all we're doing this morning, sorry.  I thought I'd be over the second COVID shot by now but my head is pounding and this is going to have to be it. I'm taking a shower (I worked out while dictating this) and then I'm going back to bed.

The following sites updated:

  • Read on ...

    Friday, May 21, 2021

    Pro-rape Deval

    prorape deval

    From November 17, 2019, that's "Pro-rape Deval."  C.I. noted:

    Isaiah's latest THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Pro-rape Deval."  The latest candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination is Deval Patrick who explains, "A lot of politicians are weak.  Not me.  I make the strong call, the hard call.  For example, I'm not afraid to confess that I'm pro-rape.  Doesn't that scream "Vote for Deval!"?  Isaiah archives his comics at THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS.

    Deval who?  So quickly forgotten.  Amazing to think of how many wanted the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

    Even more amazing?  With all those contenders, we somehowstill got stuck with loser Joe.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

     Friday, May 21, 2021.  Protests continue in Iraq, a man setting himself on fire in the KRG because of the asylum process results in blaming . . . the press, and much more.

    Starting with this:


    From left to right, students Austin Pritts, Taia Saurer, and Amanda Gutierrez have been named the winners of the Moon Pod Essay Contest for their creative visions of a journey to the Moon.
    From left to right, students Austin Pritts, Taia Saurer, and Amanda Gutierrez have been named the winners of the Moon Pod Essay Contest for their creative visions of a journey to the Moon. The contest was a collaborative effort between NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in partnership with the online platform Future Engineers.
    Credits: NASA

    NASA has named three students the winners of the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest for their creative visions of a pioneering journey to the Moon. Nearly 14,000 students entered the contest, each competing for the grand prize: a trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will witness the first launch of the Artemis era.

    NASA invited students to envision themselves leading a crew, or “pod,” on a mission to the Moon’s South Pole, and capture these ideas in their essays. NASA and Future Engineers, an online platform for student challenges, launched the contest in September 2020 for K-12 students nationwide. The contest’s goal is to encourage the Artemis Generation – kids growing up during the era of NASA’s return to the Moon – to think ahead about the human and technological needs of a lunar expedition. What types of tools or technologies would they bring to the Moon? Who would they include in their “pod” of crewmembers? What would they leave behind for future lunar crews to use?

    Grand-prize winning essays in the three, grade-level-based categories are:

    • Kindergarten through fourth grade category: Austin Pritts of Wolcott, Indiana.
    • Fifth through eighth grade category: Taia Saurer of Laguna Beach, California.
    • Ninth through 12th grade category: Amanda Gutierrez of Lincoln, Nebraska.

    “I want to extend my congratulations to the amazing Artemis Moon Pod Essay winners. NASA shares your excitement for humanity’s return to the Moon, and we are so inspired by your creative ideas for how to lead that expedition.” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at NASA Headquarters. “Get your boots ready, because you are the next era of space explorers – the Artemis Generation.”

    Students across the nation wrote in to share their visions of a weeklong mission to the Moon’s South Pole. Over 1,000 educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts served as volunteers for the first round of judging, and selected 155 semifinalists in March 2021. The list was narrowed further to nine finalists in April. A panel of four judges, including two from HEOMD and two from the agency’s Office of STEM Engagement, conducted virtual interviews with the finalists about their essays and ideas before choosing the three winners.

    Pritts’ essay, “My Mission to the Moon,” tells the tale of a daring Moon Pod crew consisting of a test pilot/navigator, chemist, and mechanical engineer who establish a permanent lunar research facility powered by Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology (KRUSTY).

    In “One Week on the Moon – The Artemis Adventure,” Saurer’s vision for the Moon Pod mission calls for a four-person crew – including the first woman to step onto the Moon – to build a habitat for future astronauts using a combination of lunar soil and a fibrous fungal material called mycelium.

    Gutierrez’s composition, “Dream Big Moon Pod,” follows the adventure of a three-person crew of a chemist, hydrologist, and astronautical engineer as they install an Endothermic Electrolysis Reactor (EER), designed to provide fuel and oxygen for future crews at the Moon’s Shackleton Crater.

    “I can’t tell you how inspiring and energizing it’s been to read these essays and see the students’ enthusiasm and creativity in action,” said Mike Kincaid, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of STEM Engagement. “The future of space exploration is in good hands.”

    The contest was a collaborative effort between NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in partnership with the online platform Future Engineers.

    Through Future Engineers, the grand prize winners will have the opportunity to travel with their families to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft during the uncrewed Artemis I mission. On this first flight of the Artemis program, the Orion spacecraft will travel beyond the Moon, nearly 280,000 miles away from Earth – farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled – during a three-week mission.

    The 13,898 essays submitted to the Moon Pod Essay Contest will fly on a USB flash drive aboard Artemis I, and NASA will provide each student who participated a signed certificate. Each semifinalist will get the chance to learn even more about Artemis through a series of virtual Artemis Explorer Sessions with NASA experts, along with an Artemis prize pack filled with fun educational materials. The contest’s nine finalists also will have the chance to travel with a parent to the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to learn more about lunar exploration.

    The Moon Pod Essay Contest aligns with NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, an ongoing collection of engineering and technological design challenges allowing students worldwide to learn about human spaceflight topics and technologies.

    Future Engineers hosts online innovation challenges for K-12 students. In 2014, Future Engineers launched its inaugural 3D printing in space challenge, sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation with technical assistance from NASA, which produced historic achievements including the first student-designed 3D print in space. Through the support of the U.S. Department of Education's Small Business Innovation Research Program, Future Engineers launched a multi-challenge platform in 2018 capable of hosting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) challenges of all kinds.

    For more information on NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, visit:


    Katherine Brown
    Headquarters, Washington

    Betty noted the above in her post last night.  She noted we needed more of a focus on science in the US and that she wished every outlet was noting this news.  Congratulations to the three winners and to all the students who participated in the competition.

    Turning to the Iraq War, to date, the largest global protests remain the protests against going to war on Iraq in 2003 right before the start of the war.  Do you ever wonder that if people knew back then that in 2021 US troops would still be on the ground in Iraq, would the protests have been even larger?

    Protests take place in Iraq to this day.  Activists are attacked regularly.  ttio_i Tweets:

    مرحبا أيها العالم هناك شعب يقوم بثورة الآن، في شوارع العراق Hello world, there are people making revolution now, in Iraq! Show your support for right of Iraqi people to protest Peacefully! #Save_the_Iraqi_people #العراق_ينتفض_25_5 #مليونية_تشرينية #٢٥_ايار_ثورة_الاحرار

    The protesters have been targeted and hunted.  Sunday, May 9th in Iraq (still Saturday, May 8th, in the US), activist Ihab Jawad al-Wazni became the latest to be assassinated when he shot dead in front of his home in Karbala.   Belkis Wille (HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH) notes:

    When protests erupted in Baghdad and other parts of central and southern Iraq in October 2019, tens of thousands of mostly young people took to the streets demanding improved government services and more action to curb widespread corruption. The protests quickly evolved into calls for accountability as security forces repeatedly employed excessive force against them, killing hundreds of the largely peaceful demonstrators.

    Although the protests have since diminished, those killings have not, as various armed groups continue to target critics of the government, including journalists and activists, in a vacuum of impunity. If the authorities are not able to take urgent steps to stop these extrajudicial killings, the palpable climate of fear they have created will severely limit the ability of Iraqis who have been calling for change to participate in upcoming parliamentary elections slated for this October.

    In late 2019, protesters were initially demanding more government action to rein in corruption and ensure adequate access to electricity, water and jobs. But when armed forces in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq used live ammunition to target the demonstrators—and even abducted, abused and killed protest organizers—they pushed those still on the streets to galvanize around calls for accountability for that repression. Then-Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi was unable to stop the killings or hold those responsible accountable. He resigned in November 2019, paving the way for a caretaker government led by Mustafa al-Kadhimi to step in pending new elections.

    While some observers, myself included, viewed these events with deep despair because of the death toll of more than 500 people, others I spoke with in Iraq kept highlighting what they saw as a major achievement of the protest movement. Demonstrators in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square were eager for an opportunity for political change—a chance to rewrite the social contract between the Iraqi government and the people written in the aftermath of the American invasion and occupation. Many spent their months in the square discussing political ideals and ultimately forming political parties with civic-minded platforms. Some protesters, rights activists and even foreign diplomats in Baghdad were quite optimistic at that point that the movement would be able to secure real change.

    But instead, over the past year and a half, the protests waned, while the killings have continued. The Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq has reportedly registered 81 assassination attempts against anti-government activists and journalists since the demonstrations began, 34 of which have been successful. Almost a third of the killings have taken place since Kadhimi took office a year ago.

    Many of these killings and abductions have targeted the people who were leading voices during the demonstrations and journalists who covered the unfolding events in Baghdad and other centers of protest. Despite the gravity and scale of the ongoing assassination campaign, Kadhimi's government has failed to ensure any accountability or justice.

    Soon after taking office, Kadhimi established a committee last May to investigate and hold accountable those behind the killings of protesters—but it has yet to publish any findings. There are few other signs that he has made any other progress. Armed groups have become so brazen that gunmen have no fear approaching someone in the middle of the street in a major Iraqi city and shooting them without consequence.

    Perhaps the strongest message of impunity was sent by the killers of Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, a member of the political elite in Baghdad and a close ally and adviser of the prime minister, who was assassinated in July 2020. Despite Kadhimi's commitments to hold his murderers to account— "We promise the killers that we will go after them so they may be served their just punishment," he said—the crime went unpunished. It felt to me, and to many others, like a checkmate moment between these killers and the Iraqi government.

    Because of these targeted killings, many Iraqis who led the protests and who were keen to become the soul of a new political movement in Iraq have fled their homes in fear or gone silent. Some, if not most, will most likely no longer risk carrying out a public political campaign focusing on calling out those behind these abuses, or on reviving protesters' demands for accountability.

    And so, instead of political change, the main outcome of the protests may instead be to further plunge Iraq into lawlessness. Many of the armed groups behind the recent killings have political parties, some of which are already in parliament. The parties may be able to use the upcoming elections to entrench themselves among the ruling elite. The more these groups are able to enter the governing structure and co-opt efforts to stop the killings—and provide justice for victims—the bleaker Iraq's future looks.

    The impunity exists because the press ignores what happens and works to erase the protest movement.  

    Ihab was assassinated.  Major US media outlets covered that how?  THE WASHINGTON POST did a prominent report.  The rest?  Silence.  Almost two weeks ago and silence.  Silence over the assassination.  Silence over his family's response.  Silence over the protests that took place.  Silence over the next protest scheduled to take place May 25th.  Silence.

    It's worse than that though.

    Last weekend, protests took place around Iraq against the Israeli government's assault on the Palestinians.  The Baghdad protest got some attention from western outlets.  But it wasn't accurate attention.  

    The protests were called for by the ongoing protest movement (the October movement, named for their start date being credited as October 1, 2019), it was called by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, it was called by various other militia leaders, it was called by other organizations and other politicians.

    But the press ignored all of that to turn the story into Moqtada calls protest, people turn out.  Now the Iraqi press didn't make that mistake.  They would have had their heads handed to them if they had.  But, time and again, the scant coverage that existed turned the protest into a Moqtada event.

    This didn't happen with similar protests in the UK, Australia, the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, etc.  There was no effort by the press to credit a single person with the turn out.

    But in Iraq, the western press made it all about Moqtada.

    Western outlets ignore it, but the protests against Israel's actions continue in Iraq.

    Protest against Israel in the holy city Karbala, Iraq 🙌🏻 #FreePalestine #SaveSheikhJarrah

    Can't credit Moqtada with Karbala.  Is that why they ignore it?

    Protests continue in Baghdad to support the Palestinian people.

    More protests in Baghdad in support of #FreePalestine, raising the Palestinian 🇵🇸 & Iraqi 🇮🇶 flags and denouncing Israeli terrorism and genocide against Palestinians

    Moqtada's not involved in that protest either.  Is that why the western press ignores it?

    Zahra Ali Tweets:

    From #Iraq to #Palestine: members of the #Iraq_protest movement (#ثورة_تشرين) organized a bus trip today heading towards Jordan aiming to cross to Palestine to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. Check for updates

    That's the October Movement.  That's not Moqtada.  

    The western press took an issue that inflamed all Iraqis and turned it into "Look, everyone's supporting Moqtada!"  Moqtada no longer even has the support of all residents of his slum Sadr City.  Nor should he.  Nearly two decades of 'leadership' and Sadr City remains a slum, a hazard to live in during the rainy season.  He has repeatedly failed to deliver.  That's a fact the western press also appears eager to ignore.

    We're going to drop back to Wednesday's snapshot to note another issue:

    In other news, we hear often of Iraqis who have sought or are seeking asylum outside of Iraq.  The US government, for example, has done damn little to assist those in need.  But Iraq is also a country in which people seek asylum.  Ghazi Ghareeb Zorab Tweets:

    An Iranian Kurd who was asylum seeker in Iraq doused himself in fuel and set himself alight, while the journalists and the reporters didn't stop him. It happened near the UNHCR office in Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurfistan Region in protest against living conditions.

    AFP reports:

    Medics in Arbil treating Mohammad Mahmoudi, 27, said he was in a critical condition.

    Before setting himself on fire, Mahmoudi was filmed on a video posted on social media saying he had fled Iran because he was a critic of authorities in Tehran.

    “Are we supposed to live the way I live because of my political activity? Is that life?” he said. “We have been living like homeless dogs for four years”.

    Friends of Mahmoudi told AFP he is a former Peshmerga and dissident originally from the Boukan region, 480 kilometers (300 miles) west of Tehran, but had sought sanctuary in neighboring Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

    A day laborer, he submitted an application for refugee status to the United Nations four years ago, but his request was still reportedly under review, friends said.

    “If I return to Iran, I will be executed,” Mahmoudi said.

    Shahram Mirzaei offers this Twitter thread:

    Mohammad Mahmoudi, an Iranian Kurdish political activist and #asylumseeker, has been living in Iraqi Kurdistan for four years in the worst conditions and without any right to asylum. The #UN did not activate his case and did not grant him any rights.

    He set himself on fire to protest the situation. He had previously warned UN staff that he would set himself on fire if his asylum case was not activated and his rights were not respected.

    But UN officials told him, "If you set yourself on fire, do not do this here so that our building is not damaged." He only wanted the right to asylum.

    There is no Kurdish homeland.  The closest thing to a Kurdish homeland is the area Mohammad set himself on fire in, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.  

    Today, NRT Tweets:

    #Updated: UNHCR says it is ‘saddened’ by Iranian Kurdish refugee’s self-immolation in Erbil, following protest by other asylum seekers urging the UN agency to do more to resolve their issues #NRTnews #Iraq #TwitterKurds #UNHCR #Erbil #Refugees

    AL-MONITOR notes:

    Journalists in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq were criticized by local authorities and on social media Tuesday after a man they were interviewing set himself on fire. 

    A man from the western Iranian city of Bukan “carried out an act of self-immolation” in front of the United Nations headquarters in Erbil on Tuesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement

    Video of the graphic incident posted on Kurdish social media showed the man speaking to reporters from a few media outlets holding a yellow liquid. He then poured the liquid on himself, set himself on fire and ran away from the journalists as the camera continued recording. 

    The Erbil-based news outlet Rudaw identified the man as Behzad Mahmoudi, a 25-year-old Kurd from Iran. He survived the incident; he told Rudaw that he has no work and money and was dismissed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) after asking for help. 

    The journalists at the scene received criticism on Kurdish social media for documenting an event in which the source was clearly in danger. “In what world do TV presenters interview a man with gasoline in his hand and a lighter, who is threatening to set himself ablaze?” wrote Ruwayda Mustafah on Twitter. 

    So journalists who are supposed to cover an event are being critizied and not the policies that led to the burning?  Not the UN who was informed by the man that he would set himself on fire?  Not by the UN who asked the man to please not do it in front of the UN for fear that it might catch the mission on fire?

    Those who covered it are the ones at fault?

    I wasn't aware that THE INTERCEPT had its home office in the KRG.

    That's a reference to the nonsense attacks various idiots at THE INTERFCEPT have launched on Glenn Greenwald whining that his accurate critiques of the outlet risk their lives. And Glenn's just posted -- ten minutes ago -- his response to this nonsense:

    On Monday, The Washington Post’s media reporter Paul Farhi contacted me to say that he had spoken with numerous editors and journalists at The Intercept, who voiced to him a wide range of personal and professional accusations about me. This was all in response to criticisms I had expressed about two recent Intercept stories. On Friday morning, The Post published Farhi's article about their attacks on me.

    Among other things, that Post article features The Intercept's ongoing attempt to depict me as mentally unwell in order to delegitmize my criticisms of their shabby journalism. It quotes the site's editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, as saying I have “lost [my] moral compass and grip on reality,” echoing The Intercept’s prior claim that mounting anger at their organization is being fueled not by widespread revulsion over their increasingly unethical and politicized journalism but rather by my “unbalanced tweets.” The Post also quotes Reed as claiming that I have “done a good job of torching [my] journalistic reputation": liberal journalists, who only speak to and for one another, always believe the the primary if not sole metric of journalistic credibility is how popular one is among other liberal journalists. "He's a huge bully,” she added.

    Depicting critics of liberal orthodoxies as mentally ill, a rage-driven bully, and a shadow of their former selves is a long-time tactic of guardians of liberal orthodoxies to expel dissidents from their in-group circles. A lengthy 2003 New Yorker smear job on Noam Chomsky headlined "The Devil's Accountant” — at the time when he was a rare and vocal critic of post-9/11 U.S. foreign policy — described how Chomsky was once a credible voice but, sadly, has now "become increasingly alienated from the mainstream” because he "has no ideas to offer.” Chomsky's "thinking has grown simplistic and rigid,” the author wrote. She quoted Christopher Hitchens as saying that while he once admired Chomsky's stable ideology and noble commitment to principle, he is now going basically insane, describing his views of the war in Afghanistan as "the gleam of utter lunacy piercing through.”

    The article also claimed that while Chomsky's criticisms of Israel has alienated his liberal following, it has caused him to become popular in far-right anti-Semitic circles. That article also described Chomsky as an angry bully, prone to outbursts of rage against his female critics to the point of making them cry, being humorless, and in general just plagued by mental pathologies which accounts for his unwillingness to accept liberal pieties. Sound familiar?

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