Friday, May 6, 2022. Another severe sandstorm hits Iraq as it still struggles with the political stalemate, Margaret Kimberley and Ajamu Barack ask serious questions about intent and purpose in their latest commentaries, and much more.
Let's open with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:
On April 4, 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most significant speeches of his career. In “Beyond Vietnam - Time to Break Silence ” King declared his unequivocal opposition to the war in Vietnam. His very public break with Lyndon Johnson was greeted with derision, including from his own allies, who believed that the president was an ally who should not be attacked. The NAACP board passed a resolution calling King’s statement a “serious tactical mistake” that would neither “serve the cause of civil rights nor of peace.” The media joined in the condemnation, with the New York Times characterizing his comments as “facile” and “slander.” Even Black newspapers such as The Pittsburgh Courier judged his remarks to be “tragically misleading.”
It is important to remember this speech in which he declared that the United States was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” There are individuals and organizations who routinely claim King’s mantle until they fall prey to the war propaganda promoted by the present day purveyors of violence.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber is sadly one such person. In an April 30, 2022 email on the subject Moral Clarity About Our Own Atrocities he made many specious arguments on the issue of war as it pertains to U.S. policy in Ukraine.
“To see the butchery at Bucha or the massacre at Mariupol and do nothing would be to forfeit any claim to moral authority. We know this instinctively. It is why, despite the political gridlock on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have acted swiftly to approve historic military aid to Ukraine. In the face of such a moral imperative, it would be anathema for either party to ask, “How are we going to pay for it?”
There is no independent investigation of what the Biden administration and corporate media label as “massacres.” No one who claims to act in the interests of humanity should praise the historic levels of military aid to Ukraine, an oligarchic kleptocracy under U.S. control which depends upon military and police support from openly neo-Nazi formations. So blatant are the connections that in past years members of congress have moved to ensure that these groups are denied U.S. aid .
Furthermore, Rev. Barber ought to know that questions of funding for domestic needs must always be raised. Joe Biden is requesting $33 billion in aid to Ukraine, which means money for the military industrial complex, after ending stimulus payments and other support for struggling people in this country. Barber opens his email with the story of a woman who lost children in her care to a child welfare agency after the termination of the child tax credit program plunged her into poverty. It is disturbing to see Barber’s attempt to have it both ways, demanding help for the poor while also supporting the system that keeps them in their condition.
The child tax credit which kept families afloat disappeared, along with enhanced unemployment benefits, anti-eviction protection, and free covid related treatments to the uninsured. The much vaunted Build Back Better bill is dead and Biden seems uninterested in resurrecting it. It is reasonable to ask the Biden administration for a monetary accounting and for an explanation of how their actions led to a humanitarian disaster for the Ukrainian people, mass theft from Americans’ public resources, and a risk of hot war with the Russian Federation.
Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign are preparing for a Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls taking place on June 18, 2022. His ill conceived email was meant to bring attention to this event but instead he brought attention to the deep connections that liberal politics has with right wing forces.
Another severe sandstorm has hit Iraq.
There have already been two severe sandstorms in Iraq in the last five weeks -- see "AFP needs to learn to count -- over 429 is not 'dozens'" and "Iraq snapshot." Their frequency is on the rise and this is not by chance but an effect of climate change. Sandstorms "increased from 243 to 272 days per year over the past two decades, and is expected to reach 300 dusty days annually in 2050." Louise Franco (NATURE WORLD NEWS) notes:
Although sand storms are common in Iraq, they have become more frequent over the years due to various weather and climatic factors, such as declining rainfall, desertification, and drought, according to Amer al-Jabri, director of Iraq's meteorological office, as cited by France 24 news.
And PHYS.ORG adds, "In November, the World Bank warned that Iraq could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050 due to climate change."
One person has died and more than 5,000 people have been admitted to hospitals with breathing problems in Iraq after a seventh severe dust storm in a month.
A health ministry spokesman said 2,000 of the cases of "suffocation" had been reported in Baghdad province, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.
He advised people with asthma and other chronic diseases to stay indoors.
AFP observes, "Residents of six of Iraq's 18 provinces, including Baghdad and the vast western region of Al-Anbar, awoke once again to a thick cloud of dust blanketing the sky. As the storm swept across Iraq, it shrouded the capital Baghdad and the holy city of Najaf in ghostly orange clouds of choking dust." Click here for a photo essay. Australia's ABC adds, "State media reported Thursday's sandstorm was the seventh to hit the country in the past month." Isabella Kwai files a report for THE NEW YORK TIMES which includes:
Although it is difficult to directly link individual weather events with climate change, experts say it is one driver behind sandstorms that are growing in frequency and intensifying. And climate change will likely compound the challenges ahead for a country like Iraq, which is already facing water shortages after low rainfalls and increasing temperature.
Twenty years ago, Iraq could expect about two sandstorms each year, said Professor Jaafar Jotheri, a geoarcheologist at the University of Al-Qadisiyah. This year, it is expected that about 20 sandstorms will hit Iraq, he said.
Visibility was so poor during a sandstorm this week that flights from the Baghdad and Najaf airports had to be grounded, according to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority.
“It is a disaster,” Professor Jotheri said, adding that sandstorms were becoming a regular feature of TV weather forecasts in Iraq. The increase in sandstorms could cause respiratory problems, road accidents and changes to the economy — pushing people to consider migrating away from the country’s drier west, he said. “The sandstorms are changing the Iraqi way of life.”
In April, environment ministry official Issa al-Fayad warned Iraq could face "272 days of dust" per year in the coming decades, according to INA, the Iraqi state news agency.
This projected increase in the overall number of dusty days is due to Iraq and much of the surrounding areas becoming hotter and drier over time due to climate change. A lack of rainfall has led to a lack of moisture in the area soils and sands for Iraq.
And PRESS TV points out, "The World Bank has already warned that Iraq - a country of 41 million people - could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050. "
Iraq is no different from most countries in the world when it comes to not dealing seriously with climate change. Around the world, citizens lives are devalued and the earth destroyed by faux actions and outright ignorance on the part of their so-called representatives.
In Iraq, a country still at war and still occupied by the US, it may be a little worse because (a) they are predicted to be one of the fie most harmed countries in the world by climate change over the coming decades and (b) they really don't have a government.
October 10th. That's when the country held elections. Since then, the only high level position filled was Speaker of Parliament with the same person who held the office before the election). They have yet to name a president or a prime minister-designate.
In four days, it will be seven months since the election. As we speak to students, they ask how does this not get huge coverage?
The answer can be found in 2010. The western press bent over backwards to ignore what was taking place. In the US that was to protect the administration. A cable news friend explained at the time that they couldn't cover it too prominently because it would look like they were attacking Barack Obama, the sitting president.
In march 2010, Iraqis had voted. The western press had whored for Nouri al-Maliki who was the incumbent seeking a second term. They did that despire the fact that it was already known he was running secret prisons and torture chambers and despite the fact that it was clear the CIA's projection that Nouri's paranoia would make him easy to control was not the case.
That political stalemate lasted eight months with Nouri refusing to tep down and Barack -- on the advice of Samantha Power and Susan Rice -- deciding that demoncracy sidn't matter, toss out the Iraqi votes and give Nouri a second term. He lost the election. But the US government crafted a contract, The Erbil Agreement, that they got various political parties and blocs to sign off on which gave Nouri a second term. The day after that contract was signed, Parliament held a session and named a president who immediately named a prime minister-designate (which was Nouri).
Now when THE GUARDIAN did an editorial calling out the comments by Barack about what a success the election was, a cable network finally felt that they could seriously cover what was gongon.
That's who a 'free' press works in the US.
As bad as the coverage in the US was prior to THE GUARDIAN editorial, it did get a tiny bit of attention. Thats really not the case with this stalemate which, again, hits seven months in four days.
The Iraqi people are suffering and there is no government assembled all this time later. That's a detail that the western press is normalizing -- again normalizing.
Harry Istepanian Tweets:
Another topic the western press loves to ignore is the way Turkey is committing Acts of War in northern Iraq as they continue to bomb the Kurdistan, continue to maintain ground troops and bases in the Kurdistan and continue to violate Iraq's national sovereignty. PERSECUTION.ORG notes:
As a result of the Turkish offensive and conflict with the PKK, at least eight predominantly Christian villages in the Amedi region of Duhok province have been completely abandoned. Turkey announced its latest air and ground offensive, Operation Claw Lock on April 18, which follows twin offensives in 2021 and 2022.
Though the PKK is also dubbed a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, Turkey’s indiscriminate bombing of Iraqi Kurdistan has led to the displacement of residents of many Christian villages. As reported by Rudaw, more than 500 villages have been emptied in the Kurdistan Region in the past three decades of Turkey-PKK fighting.
Simultaneously, the Iraqi army is combatting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliates, resulting in the displacement of over three thousand residents as of earlier this week from Sinjar. The majority of the displaced fled to Duhok. The army later declared control of a Sinjar village that had been controlled by armed groups post-Islamic State.
We'll wind down with this from Ajamu Baraka's latest column (BLACK AGENDA REPORT):
Rev. William Barber, an indisputable champion of the poor and a consistent voice demanding an end to poverty, may have made a serious moral and ethical error that effectively placed him outside of the “Kingian” framework that informed Dr. King’s work especially during the last year of his life.
In an attempt to make a point about the flawed priorities of the duopoly, Dr. Barber wrote in an email to the “movement family” on Saturday, April 30, 2022 that, “despite the political gridlock on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have acted swiftly to approve historic military aid to Ukraine. In the face of such a moral imperative, it would be anathema for either party to ask, “How are we going to pay for it?”
He then went on to suggest that the “moral clarity” that informed the decision to provide military support to Ukraine was contradicted by the lack of moral clarity or support for addressing the pressing needs of the poor. He identified those two contradictory policy orientations – money for war but no money to pass “Build Back Better” legislation, for example, as representing the moral and ethical contradiction at the heart of U.S. politics.
I will give our dear brother the benefit of the doubt. He was making the point that the duopoly will support in a bipartisan manner those items that it deems a priority. For Rev. Barber and the Campaign, the issue of poverty and its devastating social consequences should be a priority for the U.S. state. However, in trying to make that point Rev Barber seemed to support the Biden’s administration’s war policies which as a follower of Dr. King would seem like a major contradiction. It would seem that to equate a moral imperative for providing military aid to Ukraine to wage war, no matter if it is claimed to be defensive, would be a dramatic departure from the non-violence ethos at the center of Dr. King's worldview.
Dr. King said himself that it was his silence on the war that presented a moral contradiction that could only be ultimately resolved by him speaking out in opposition to the Vietnam war . It is unimaginable that Dr. King would give his blessings to a military aid package that Rev. Barber’s language appears to do while simultaneously not demanding an end to the conflict as Rev Barber clearly failed to do in his communication to the movement family. We must now ask Rev Barber if his characterization of the military aid package as a moral imperative was just a clumsy use of words or does he actually support the ultimate expression of violence – war?
We all know the history. After the student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and all the radical Black liberation and socialist organizations had condemned the war in Vietnam, Dr. King finally broke his silence, as he framed it, and began to speak out against the war in early 1967 with the most extensive and important speech on April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in New York. The capitalist rulers understand symbols and so on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was murdered in Memphis where he was supporting a strike of Black sanitation workers against the Memphis city government.
Rev. Barber claims that “King was gunned down for his efforts to build a Poor People’s Campaign.” There is no doubt that the poor people’s campaign was a significant factor. The rulers understood the danger of Dr. King venturing into class politics, especially with his social democratic positions becoming more evident. But what Barber glosses over is that while the poor people’s campaign was seen as a threat, it was King’s break with the democratic party establishment, and at that time the majority position of the U.S. public who supported the war effort, that made Dr. King the most hated man in the country.