Saturday, February 25, 2023

Artistic resurgence in Iraq?

Winthrop Rogers (AL-MONITOR) reports:

Paintings with messy lines of black and grey with splashes of green and red cover the walls of Tara Abdullah’s studio on the top floor of Sulaimaniyah’s old tobacco factory. Kurdish lettering and motifs of femininity and masculinity are prominent. More delicate pencil portraits peek from an alcove in one corner. 

Abdullah plugs in a small space heater to ward off the winter chill in the industrial cavern, apologizing about the mess of electrical wires, sound cables and paint cans strewn about, left over from her most recent project. 

“It’s my dream place,” she said of her studio, where she has worked for the past 10 years. “Everything I’ve ever made here, it’s all part of a big web that helps create the new artwork I’m trying to do.” 

Sulaimaniyah is frequently referred to as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s “culture capital” and is a young city by regional standards. It was founded in 1784 and has attracted poets, musicians, merchants and political activists ever since. In 2019, it was designated a UNESCO City of Literature. Its warrenous bazaar and park-studded downtown feel alive and timeless compared with the ersatz Dubai under construction in Erbil, the Kurdistan Region’s political capital. 

The city also serves as a base for painters, sculptors and graphic artists who take advantage of the growing infrastructure of galleries, studios and training programs where they can hone their craft and exhibit their work. 

With talk of an artistic resurgence in the Kurdistan, it's worth noting Elissa.


Elissar Zakaria Khoury (Arabic: إليسار زكريا خوري; born 27 October 1972),[1] commonly known as Elissa (Arabic: إليسا), is a Lebanese recording artist.[2] She is one of Lebanon's most famous singers,[3] and one of the best-known artists in the Arab world.[4]

She has been among the highest-selling female Middle Eastern artists since 2005. In 2005, she became the first Lebanese singer to receive the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist, an award that she received again in 2006 and 2010.[5] She has currently sold over 30 million albums worldwide.[5][6][2] Elissa is also one of the richest celebrities in Lebanon, with a reported estimated wealth of over $40 million.[7] As of 2019, Elissa has over 50 million followers on social media.[6] In 2018, Elissa appeared as a judge on The Voice: Ahla Sawt, the Arab edition of The Voice

Lebanese superstar Elissa will perform live at the Duetto hall, in Erbil, Iraq, on Monday, March 20.

She is set to present several of her popular and latest songs.                                                                                                                                               


In other news, kidnappings are increasing in Baghdad.  This week, RUDAW reported on one:

The distraught families of two young girls - both cousins - who were found dead just 12 hours after they were abducted over the weekend in Baghdad, called on the Iraqi government to hold those responsible accountable. 

Aya Hassan 6, and Fatima Abbas 7 were kidnapped by three suspects in Baghdad's Jamila area on Wednesday.

Just 12 hours later, their dead bodies were found, 25 kilometers from the capital’s Sadr city.

"First of all, we are calling on the state, the interior minister and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, and all the relevant authorities that just like how they [the murderers] burned our heart, they must be handed over to us," Hassan Majid, the distraught and sobbing father of Aya told Rudaw over the weekend.

The suspects were arrested on Thursday and the families of the murdered girls call on the Iraqi government to execute them as soon as possible.

Some are e-mailing regarding Nina Turner's new YOUTUBE program.  I've been noting it here.  I wasn't aware, until after streaming that it was part of THE YOUNG TURKS network.  I don't endorse TYT and never have.  I will continue to note Nina's program.  We noted Nina throughout the 2020 campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- repeatedly reposting her Tweets.

I'm not interested in who you should vote for and I'm not interested in pimping out votes.  Any segment that by its title appears to be pimping will not be noted here.  I don't have time to stream everything.  When Nina herself was running for office, I did not take sides. I couldn't vote in the election and had friends who were for Nina and friends who were for Shontel Brown (who won).  You didn't see pro-Nina videos or pro-Shontel videos up here. (A friend who has her own YOUTUBE program and was very pro-Shontel was upset that I would note her show but not those videos and I explained to her that I wasn't getting in it and she understood.)  I'd really prefer we focus more and more on issues -- especially in those years that aren't presidential election years.  

I'm not interested in who Nina wants me to vote for.  I am interested in issues. That'll be the basis for what gets highlighted from her show.

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Let's brunch chat and rant


Wisconsin Green Party responds to misinformation on "Rage Against the War Machine" event

The Wisconsin Green Party issued the following:

False information is being shared about the Wisconsin Green Party’s relationship to a February 19th, 2023 demonstration in Milwaukee which was organized as a sister event for the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally held in Washington, DC on the same date. The Wisconsin Green Party did not partner with any other organizations, endorse, or in any way support “Rage Against the War Machine” or the organizing of the February 19th event in Milwaukee.

The question of supporting the demonstration was discussed amongst members of the WIGP Coordinating Council in the weeks preceding February 19th, and was considered again during the February 15th, 2023 Wisconsin Green Party Coordinating Council meeting.  Following this discussion, WIGP leadership voted 6-2 not to endorse the rally.

Those who opposed endorsing the February 19th rally recognize that peace on a global scale cannot be achieved without social justice.  The views and goals of numerous organizations and individuals who planned and participated in the Rage Against the War Machine Rally contradict the Wisconsin Green Party’s commitment to social justice and equity for all as outlined as part of our party’s Four Pillars:

The Wisconsin Green Party opposes all manifestations of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and discrimination. We fight to end the root causes of these issues through education and empowering people through collective action. We fully respect the rights and sovereignty of the Native American Nations. We defend civil rights and liberties against any encroachments and seek to expand their scope. We envision social justice in which people are actually treated equally before the law and in their day to day lives.

The primary organizers of Rage Against the War Machine overwhelmingly support the unjust and exploitative economic system of capitalism that consistently puts profits before people, engages in tactics of class war to maintain hegemony, and drives war and imperialism as its imperative for endless growth inevitably erupts in wars for resources and economic supremacy. 

The event prominently featured a lineup of speakers known for racism, antisemitism, transphobia, homophobia, pro-war views, sexual misconduct, and vaccine skepticism. At least two featured speakers were employees of Russian state media who have been disseminating the Russian government’s line on the war in Ukraine.

The event was attended and enthusiastically received by a variety of neofascists, cultists, war supporters (many flying Russian flags), and members of white supremacist groups.  These elements did not “just show up” as unwelcome guests - starting from the featured speakers and sponsoring organizations, the lead organizers deliberately fostered an atmosphere that not only tolerated, but encouraged right-wing extremists and pro-war forces to attend. More detailed information about the repellent views of many featured speakers and sponsoring organizations is included below.

Also of note is the fact that the event’s self-appointed lead organizers Angela McArdle of the Libertarian Party’s Mises Caucus and Nick Brana of the “People’s Party” registered Rage Against the War Machine as a 501(c)4 nonprofit corporation, and raised over $100,000 over the course of planning and promoting the event.  What this money is being (or will be) used for largely remains a mystery.

Other anti-war organizations and activists have expressed concern about the Rage Against the War Machine Rally, making similar points. These include the World Socialist Web Site, LA Progressive, Jacqueline Luqman of Black Agenda Report and Black Power Media, and Ajamu Baraka. Baraka, a National Organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace and 2016 Green Party Vice Presidential candidate, tweeted: “The white left in the U.S. is deeply delusional. Elements of the left actually believe a radical movement leading to revolutionary change will be led by white activists with Black & colonized people as backdrops. #AntiWarSoWhite”  

We stand in solidarity with these voices, as well as others whose concerns about this event and its speakers, participants, and larger intentions were marginalized and dismissed.

The rally’s poor attendance and reception, despite raising over $100,000 and being amplified by far-reaching right-wing media outlets like Fox News and Alex Jones’ Infowars, demonstrates clearly that the anti-war movement will only discredit and destroy itself if it attempts to join forces with known grifters, cultists, right-wing extremists, white nationalists, sexual predators, and pro-war trolls.

The Wisconsin Green Party remains committed to a peaceful world without war; this includes social and economic justice.  Anyone claiming to represent the Wisconsin Green Party in reference to supporting or partnering with any of the events of February 19, 2023, whether national or local, is operating in direct contradiction of the democratic majority decision of WIGP leadership.


Dave Schwab, WIGP Co-chair and National Committee delegate
Sam Chance, WIGP Co-chair and National Committee alternate
Mike McCallister, WIGP Coordinating Council CD-4 representative and National Committee delegate
Melissa Minkoff, WIGP Coordinating Council CD-2 representative and National Committee alternate


More information regarding Rage Against the War Machine organizers and invited participants:

  • Nick Brana has been the self-appointed leader of the “People’s Party” since 2017, during which time the “party” has continually raised money but has not run any campaigns, petitioned for ballot access in any states, or even held a convention where members could draft a platform or bylaws. Numerous ex-members have described a top-down, undemocratic organization where members who dissent from Brana’s decrees or who ask for greater democracy, transparency, or accountability have been repeatedly purged. The lack of transparency extends to the organization’s finances, which Brana has hidden from scrutiny by appointing his own father as treasurer. Brana carried out his latest purge of members when he was under investigation within the party for allegations of serious misconduct including sexual abuse of a staff member.
  • Scott Ritter, who was invited as a featured speaker, recently wrote on Twitter: “I don’t claim to be anti-war; never did. There are rabid dogs out there, and we need Atticus Finch’s to shoot them. I do, however, object to the senseless shooting of healthy dogs. Ukraine is a rabid dog. Russia is Atticus Finch. Thus ends my lesson.” While the Libertarian Party then asked Ritter to drop out of the rally due to his pro-war advocacy and past conviction for sex crimes involving a minor, he nevertheless released a Rage Against the War Machine rally speech online and was a featured guest at the after-party hosted by the Center for Political Innovation, a sponsor of the rally.
  • Featured speaker Jackson Hinkle, who is also connected to the Center for Political Innovation, has vehemently supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has sold t-shirts with the “Z” symbol used by the Russian invading forces, advocates for Putin to fully take over Ukraine, and regularly makes fascistic statements like “God will liberate Ukraine from the Satanists.”
  • The Center for Political Innovation, a rally sponsor that advocates for a national-socialism-like ideology of “MAGA Communism”, invited Matt Heimbach and Shandon Simpson, neo-nazi organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville where fascists murdered a counter-protester, to the rally and the CPI afterparty, where they had a recruitment booth for their rebranded organization “Patriotic Socialist Front”. Heimbach and his associates flew Russian imperial flags at the rally.
  • Featured speaker Diane Sare was a US Senate candidate in the LaRouche Party, connected to the LaRouche movement, a political cult based on adherence to the ideology of Lyndon LaRouche. As LA Progressive summarized, “In decades past, the virulent anti-Semite, racist, homophobic, neo-fascist and degenerate conspiracy theorist, LaRouche and his thugs collaborated with various local police agencies to spy on and disrupt left organizations. Armed with clubs and nunchucks (wooden bars connected by chains) and other weapons, likely with police and FBI collaboration, they repeatedly organized, via their well publicized “Operation Mop-Up,” violent physical attacks on left organizations, focusing on public forums of the US Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. Their stated objective was to physically obliterate these organizations.”
  • LaRouche’s wife also spoke at the rally as an unannounced featured speaker. The LaRouche cult had a heavy presence at the rally, with multiple featured speakers, numerous banners and signs, and members distributing literature and recruiting from the crowd.
  • Jordan Page, another featured speaker and musical guest, wrote the anthem for the Oath Keepers, a “far-right anti-government militia whose leaders have been convicted of violently opposing the government of the United States, including the transfer of Presidential power as prescribed by the US Constitution… As of January 2023, nine members have been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6 United States Capitol attack.”
  • Featured speakers Garland Nixon and Wyatt Reed are both employees of Sputnik International, a Russian state media outlet that disseminates the Russian government’s line on the war.
  • Featured speaker Tulsi Gabbard, a former member of Congress turned Fox News pundit, was heavily promoted by Rage Against the War Machine despite Gabbard’s record of support for war, increased military spending, drones, torture, and the brutal military occupation of Palestine. 
  • Featured speaker Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul institute tweeted "I'm with Russia 100%" in support of Russia's oppressive anti-LGBTQ laws and referred to the LGBTQ community as "perverts" who "sexually attack our children".

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When I first discovered Weiss watches, I was really impressed by the quality and especially the fact that they are American made. As a fan of the brand, it was an honor to partner with them on this limited-edition version and it was fun getting to be creative in a new way. I’m proud to wear this watch every day and I hope fans of my music, UNC football, or just all-around great craftsmanship love it, too.


Check out the brand new merch we just added to the store + tour merch.

Copyright © 2023 CHASE RICE, All rights reserved.

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Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 24, 2023.  The wars

Starting with the war on the LGBTQ+ community, let's note this report from QUEER NEWS TONIGHT on the over 120 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in January by Republican politicians across the country. Over 120.

For a state-by-state look at these bills, you can refer to this page at the ACLU website.

They sold the Iraq War, now THE NEW YORK TIMES sells transphobia.  Josh Marcus (INDEPENDENT) reports:

Critics have long argued that theTimes is falling short in its LGTBQ+ coverage, particularly of trans kids, but the debate around the publication’s standards exploded into public view last week.

Thousands of Times contributors signed onto an open letterorganized by the Freelance Solidarity Project and delivered to leadership on 15 February, which voiced “serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people.”

The letter accused the storied paper of violating its own ethical standards around neutrality by treating “gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.”

The letter pointed to a recent article referring to a person seeking gender-affirming healthcare with the term “patient zero,” and another instance where a source’s affiliation with an anti-trans hate groups wasn’t mentioned.

The document noted with dismay that coverage by The New York Times has been cited by various GOP officials who are waging attacks on trans youth in court and in legislatures across the country; it argued that the Times was fueling a similar media-political feedback loop that saw previous generations demonise those with HIV/Aids and those who were gay.

You may remember the great Glenneth Greenwald snickering and pooh-pahing the letter.  It's because he doesn't know journalism.  He had some legal training -- not good legal training -- though I do love the story from those years about how he went on a transphobic rant when a group of friend proposed they see PARIS IS BURNING, it's so very Glenneth -- but he's had no journalistic training at all and he doesn't understand what it's about to this day.  

It's no surprise that Glenneth would join NYT in endorsing the attacks, that's how he made his pathetic name, after all, by joining NYT's war on Iraq.  That is his history. 

You'd think by now he'd put some effort into being a decent human being but you would be wrong.

And he runs with others who are, at best, disappointing.

Max Blumenthal is disgusting.  

He attacked Jaqueline Luqman on Jimmy Dore's YOUTUBE program -- with Aaron Mate nodding along.  He lied about her.

BLACK POWER MEDIA called his lies out.

He lies about her.

He attacks Jaqueline Luqman with lies and then we see his followers throughout the thread  -- a bunch of White racists and Indian racists attacking her for her race.  And no one's supposed to notice that?

Let's pretend that at least one or two of Max's fans honestly do not get it and let's try to walk them through slowly.

If someone is racist, they aren't your friend.  It's not a can't-we-work-together-in-Congress Dem and Rep issue.  This is someone signing up for your destruction.  No, you cannot ask African-Americans to just try to get along with racists.  Do racists stay racist their whole lives.  No.  People can learn and they can grow.  But it's not the responsibility of an African-American to educate a White racist (or one from India).  Nor should anyone dismiss concerns of violence.  African-Americans have very good reasons -- historical -- for not electing to mix with racists.  You're too entitled and privileged if you can't see that on your own.  

And asking them to 'work together'?

How very Phyllis George of you, Max, how very Phyllis George.

Before Gayle King put CBS THIS MORNING on the map, the show was a joke for decades.  Never so much as when Phyllis George had her infamous moment.  Gary Dotson had just been released from prison after the woman who said he raped her, Cathy Webb, admitted she lied.  CBS just knew the thing to do was have them both on the program at the same time.  At the end of the segment, Phyllis suggested, "How about a hug?"  (CRAPAPEDIA is yet again wrong, she did not ask them to "hug it out" -- she did not use those words, nor would anyone have in 1985 -- so CRAPAPEDIA needs to take them out of quotes.  I would love it if I didn't have to dictate and anticipate e-mails at the same time.  But I did say, "Stop, look up Phyllis George on CRAPAPEDIA and tell me if they quote her."  They did.  They have it wrong.  Refer to Tom Shales, WASHINGTON POST report in real time -- May of 85 -- and if the link for it isn't there when this goes up, give me an hour or two -- we're doing Zooms -- and I'll have put it in myself.)

That's what Max basically wants, an African-American to give a racist a hug and then come work with him and the racists on his issue. 

That is disrespectful and its ignorant.  

And how dare you ask the oppressed to make nice with their oppressor.  On the face of it, Max should have realized how stupid this was.

Max and his ilk whine about both-side-ism all the time.  What's more both-side-ist than asking someone targeted with racism to work with a racist.  Civil rights and racism are not two equal views.  

Max chose to go with racists and transphobes and that's, sorry, because he is both.

That's why Anya Panya can't stop mocking trans persons online at her Twitter account.  It's why Max can't recognize that African-Americans are not his minions.  Just because he wants -- he says -- to avoid a nuclear war, doesn't mean they give up their own agency and their own beliefs to toe his line.  But when you don't see a person as a person due to their race, when you think you own their actions -- and, indeed, think you own them, that's racism.  Racism is also evident in Max's response to Jacqueline.  He attacks her because she won't do what he wants, he attacks her with lies and tries to ignite his White (and Indian) mob against her.  Max, you're doing everything but disclosing her address as you hand out white sheets.

It is not a good look for you. 

Once upon a time, Max, you were a very cute little boy who had the widest smile and the biggest heart.  If you've let the world beat that out of you, that makes me want to cry.   That's who I saw for years now when others picked on or attacked you and why I rushed to your defense over and over.  You are so much better than your current behavior indicates. You owe it to who you were to take a look at how you're behaving right now.  

Michael Anderson:  I was bartending that evening when the attack began.  I felt more terrified than I ever have before.  I ran for my life that night and hid -- praying and hoping the violence would end.  When I stared down the barrel of that gun, I realized I stood no chance against a weapon of that power, magazine capacity, and seemingly automatic firing rate.  While I prepared for my life to end in that moment, I prayed.  I panicked.  And I prayed some more.  God must have heard my prayers because two brave men stopped the shooter moments before he would have inevitably found me.  I saw my friend lying on the floor, bleeding out, knowing there was little to no chance of surviving the bullet wound.  I had to tell him goodbye while I continued to fear for my life, not knowing if the attack was truly over.

Michael Anderson from his Congressional testimony in December of last year -- see this snapshot -- describing what happened at Club Q.  The shooting left five people dead:

  • Daniel Davis Aston, 28
  • Kelly Loving, 40
  • Ashley Paugh, 35
  • Derrick Rump, 38
  • Raymond Green Vance, 22

The shooting also left twenty-five people injured.  We'll quote former US House Rep Carolyn Maloney from a US House Oversight Committee press release on that hearing:

“Last month, a person with an AR-15-style assault rifle entered Club Q—a nightclub that served as a haven for LGBTQI+ people in the Colorado Springs community—and opened fire on unsuspecting bar patrons and staff.  The attacker’s depravity robbed us of five innocent lives—Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump,” said Chairwoman Maloney in her opening statement.  “Let us honor them by recommitting to the bold action necessary to ensure that every person in the United States can experience the freedom to live authentically and safely—regardless of who they love or how they identify.”   

The great Glenneth, of course, rushed forward to insist that the shooter being non-binary meant that it wasn't homophobia.

It was shocking because you'd think if anyone would be an expert on internalized homophobia, it would be Glenneth.

As we noted then, it was very likely that the shooter was dealing with issues of homophobia -- whether the shooter was non-binary or not.  

John Russell (LGBTQ NATION) reports:

Detective Rebecca Joines testiftied that Aldrich ran a neo-Nazi website that featured a white supremacist training video glorifying mass shootings, posted an image of a Pride parade with a rifle scope trained on it, and used anti-LGBTQ+ and racist slurs while gaming. Joines said that while those who knew Aldrich were unaware that they identified as nonbinary, Aldrich had told them that their mother, Laura Voepel, was nonbinary and had taken them to gay bars. Aldrich’s defense showed a photo of Aldrich and Voepel at Club Q taken in August 2021.

Joines also testified that there was evidence that Aldrich planned to livestream the shooting.

We'll wind down with this from the one and only Jody Watley, the legend, the trend setter, the show stopper, the dance queen, the fashionista, the all around wonderful person, will be hosting her own program starting next month.  Reposting from Jody's site:

Jody Watley Celebrates Women’s History Month With New Radio Show

Jody Watley.


“Check out Jody Watley! She is out here making boss moves. For instance, in celebration of Women’s History Month, the musical icon will host a new monthly 2-hour show exclusively on SiriusXM’s The Groove. The first guest will be Emmy winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Read the full story on Eurweb 


Adding to Jody's post, in case anyone needs a reminder, two videos.  "Real Love" and "Still A Thrill."


The following sites updated: