Monday, February 22, 2021. Snow in northern Iraq, snow in the southern US. Attacks in Erbil and in Balad.
Starting with: What is Joe Biden doing?
Bully Boy Bush was rightly criticized for his response to Hurricane Katrina. Katrina landed on August 29, 2005. By September 2, 2005 -- four days after the hurricane hit, he'd signed a ten million dollar-plus relief bill. It's over a week since the freeze weather in Texas, what's Joe doing? He's the president. We'll need to know what the federal government failed to heed in terms of advanced warnings, why Homeland Security was sleeping on the job, why FEMA's entire role last week in Texas appears to have been handing a little bit of bottled water, etc.
We need to know what the federal government is doing. One thing we do know, and credit to Joe for this, is this February 14th statement from the White House:
Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that an emergency exists in the State of Texas and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe winter storm beginning on February 11, 2021, and continuing.
The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 254 Texas counties.
Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.
Robert J. Fenton, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Jerry S. Thomas as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT: FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@FEMA.DHS.GOV
Again, applause to Joe for that (and I'm not being sarcastic) but if FEMA was authorized on February 14th, why didn't they do anything?
I say that as someone who spent Friday through yesterday on the phone with Texas community members. We have an article that'll go up at THIRD -- hopefully before this does. We spoke to over 100 community members in Texas.
Prior to starting this snapshot, that's all I knew. I didn't even Joe had issued a statement. But reading that statement, I'm reminded that over and over, I asked people, "Are your roads being cleared?" No one, and this was all over Texas, not just one area, told me, "Yes, they've got equipment cleaning the roads." Please, people didn't even have salt being put on their stairs. One community member in Mesquite, Texas was trapped for days in his second story apartment because there were no efforts made to address the ice on his rickety stairs.
Sabina, in Dallas, did hear that FEMA was passing out water. She didn't see but she heard about it. (And Sabina and her husband were a two person volunteer FEMA helping their neighbors, friends and family.)
So what got done?
Not Sunday yesterday but Sunday the week before, I had seizures again -- we're still working on the right diabetic medicine besides insulin (which, honestly, I'm fine with, I don't have any of these problems when we just stick to insulin) and went into the hospital. I was out of it for a great deal of the time. When I was aware of my surroundings, a nurse was speaking to me and asking why Bette Midler was do damn cruel? I had no idea. She read the Tweets to me.
Bette saw a public emergency as time to share her thoughts -- it thinks it has thoughts, that's so cute -- and they were all hateful and they were all partisan. No one needed it. But no one needs Bette. Middle-aged (closer to elderly, actually), White gay men hire her, no one else. And they don't hire her to carry a TV show or a movie. Because she can't. Because the career ended long ago. She was always rough and 'street' because she came from music (music tied to the mafia, let's be clear). She was tough and rough and she never learned to get along with others. Which is why she was kicked out of the film industry. She landed at CBS was her hideous sitcom BETTE and the industry learned that it wasn't just that people no longer wanted to pay money to see her, they didn't even want to see her for free.
Now she grabs any character role she can get (bit part) while thanking her lucky stars that Ryan Murphy is one of those not very demanding gay men. Did he ever have fight in him? Probably not. He's always given me the creeps personally. I get the same vibe that I got from Bryan Singer. Bryan didn't care about gay rights either or self-respect. Ryan's lack of self-respect allows him to hire Bette who pissed off more aware LGBTQs when she was riding her DISNEY wave and claiming in interview after interview to have had no idea what took place in the baths. Right, Bette, right. She rode her gay audience to fame in the 70s and then disowned them in the mid-to-late 80s. Meanwhile, she was out of control on every set and giving Gary Marshall chest pains throughout BEACHES. To work with Bette once truly was enough -- you'll find that if you speak to any of her co-stars or directors. It's not just Shelley Long that can't stand her, it's all of them. And she thought she could get away with it but she couldn't. And as soon as the box office started falling off, 1990, the roles started drying up. She had the 1991 releases (which also stiffed) already filmed and no real offers were coming in after. Finally, in 1995, she got offered the fat part in FIRST WIVES CLUB. We keep hearing all of this talk of all of these efforts to reteam her with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. But it just doesn't happen. Again, those who've worked with her once are not in any real rush to work with her again. Diane and Goldie have worked together since.
So Bette showed her ass and I'm hearing about it in the hospital so I did a quick post ("Oh Bette"), the only one I did last week, from my hospital bed via my cell phone. I didn't watch TV in the hospital -- I listened to music. And enjoyed the rest away from online. No offense, but every day since November whatever of 2004? Every day without missing a day? It was becoming and obsession/addiction. I needed a break. And chose to look at the hospital stay as such.
I got out on Friday and started, on Saturday, the piece I'd promised in "Oh Bette," but due to the links in that piece -- there are a ton -- "DUMB BITCHES or SISTERHOOD IS NO EXCUSE FOR PRAISING A BAD BOOK" did not go up until Sunday. And the good there was that I got to note this:
Because Bette Midler struggling to sing -- she really can't, listen to "Fly, fly, so high . . ." on "Wind Beneath My Wings" and grasp that she's shading, but she's singing the same note over and over. Gladys Knight and Judy Collins both sang the hell out of that song. Bette? Don't make me laugh. And while Bette can't sing, Diana can and Diana Ross doing a new music is news. Yea!
From snow and cold in the southern US to snow in northern Iraq.
Snow has been a bit of good news for Iraq. A bit. Not a lot more going on that's good. The second wave of COVID has led to Iraq (finally) doing another shut-down -- it was Thursday last week. It was overdue and medical professionals knew that. Some more bad news? Erbil. KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani Tweeted this yesterday:
Why is Khoshnaw governor of Erbil? Because Firsat Sofi died of COVID on November 18th at the age of 42. (He died in Turkey having been transported there in early November.) He is, so far, the highest ranking member of government in Iraq to die due to the pandemic. He was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party which is headed by Masrour's father Massoud Barzani.
Erbil also saw a rocket attack last week. The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following:
Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani spoke by phone today with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken about yesterday’s rocket attack in Erbil.
During the call, both sides expressed sympathy for the victims. Prime Minister Barzani called it a cowardly attack and urged Secretary Blinken to support the KRG and the federal government in the joint investigation to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators behind it. They agreed to stay in close contact in that regard.
They also discussed other recent security developments in Iraq.
Here's CNN's report.
After a rocket attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad late last year, the Trump administration renewed its threats of withdrawing diplomats from Iraq. A military retaliation against Iran was discussed, and the White House warned of a drastic response “if one American is killed.” None was.
Nor were any Americans killed in a similar strike this week on a United States military base at the airport in Erbil, in northern Iraq, that officials blame on an Iranian-backed militia. One foreign contractor died, and an American service member and several contractors were wounded, prompting Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to describe the United States as “outraged” and another official to sternly promise “consequences for any group responsible.”
But the Biden administration’s otherwise measured response to the rocket fusillade in Erbil stood in sharp contrast with President Donald J. Trump’s pitched campaign against Iran — one that often caught Iraq in the crossfire.
And it raised a question both in Washington and in Baghdad: What are President Biden’s red lines when it comes to responding to attacks from Iranian-backed militias that target Americans in Iraq?
Diplomatic and military officials said Mr. Biden’s larger goal was to lower hostilities between the United States and Iran and its proxies in the region, including in Iraq, and to look for a path back to diplomacy with Tehran. This week, the United States extended an opening to new negotiations with Iran to limit its nuclear program.
Lara . . . Is it too late to go running back to AP?
See NYT is going to kill you with this kind of garbage and you've always been a better reporter than this. The headline, by the way, refers to "seeking a fresh start with Iraq."
What fresh start? Oh, that's right NYT lied repeatedly to its readers over the last years. It didn't start when Trump was president. It started before that. It pimped and whored, it didn't tell the truth.
Iraq doesn't really give a damn about harsh language towards Iran. In fact, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government -- somehow NYT never found this story -- were against the deal that Barack Obama, when he was president, made with Iran, that nuclear deal. Remember it? NYT helped sell it and NYT wasn't going to tell you a damn bit of truth about it. (As noted in real time when that deal was being pushed through, I was asked to join in the whoring and refused. I didn't think the deal was a good thing -- historically, deals of that type tend to lead to war on the country entering in the agreement with the US -- and as someone who covers Iraq, I wasn't going to take a position on a deal that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government was opposed to. Not that deal.)
It would be nice if an article that puts so much prominence on that deal could tell the truth about that deal's lack of popularity in Iraq.
Otherwise, some strong information in the article. Jakes and Schmitt (and Jane Arraf who pops up in an end credit) tell you that Joe is waiting for feedback before deciding whether to send in "hundreds of diplomats, security personnel and contractors to the embassy in Baghdad" and they note:
The secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens
Stoltenberg, announced on Thursday that it would increase its military
mission in Iraq to 4,000 troops from 500 personnel, and expand training
The attack against the Erbil airport in the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan killed one non-American civilian contractor and injured a US service member and several American contractors.
A little-known militia, calling itself Saraya Awliya Al Dam (Custodians of the Blood) claimed responsibility for the attack that outraged the White House.
Tal Axelrod (THE HILL) notes another attack in Iraq (not the KRG section) that took place yesterday:
At least one person was injured in a rocket strike at an Iraqi military base in the northern part of the country that houses U.S. forces.
Officials told The Associated Press and Reuters that at least four rockets struck the Balad air base in Salahaddin province. One official told the AP that the wounded person is South African, and another official told Reuters the person’s injuries are not life-threatening.
Here's REUTERS' video report on the Balad attack.
Steve Balestrieri (SOFREP) adds, "The airbase at Balad is where the U.S. defense contractor Sallyport has its headquarters. Currently, there are 46 personnel contracted to support Iraq’s F-16 program. This was the second rocket attack to hit a base hosting U.S. forces or contractors in less than a week." Meanwhile, PRESS TV maintains that the US is setting up a new base in Iraq:
Swarms of helicopter gunships and drones are flying over al-Anbar as the US is setting up its second military base in western Iraq near the Syrian border, a report says.
Iraq's al-Maloumah news agency cited an unnamed security source on Monday as saying that the unusual overflights above al-Qa’im District extended as far as the border with Syria.
I'm told that a roundtable piece needs links and then we'll be ready to post the latest at THIRD so let me go help with that.