'will and grace' - the end

last thursday, what was supposed to be the last new episode of 'will and grace' ever aired.  they are not supposed to be coming back in eight years.  this was it.

with that in mind?

why the hell was grace pregnant?

i'm not talking the storyline where this season saw grace getting pregnant and will hiring a surrogate to carry his child.

that's fine, if that's the storyline they wanted.

but they couldn't have had the last episode end with grace and will in their new shared home holding their newborns?

the only thing more disappointing?

karen's final episode story.  stanley and her get back together and those are the best scenes they can give megan to act? 

the whole thing was a little too 'punky brewster' - the whole episode.

not enough laughs, not enough real sentiment - a lot of posing. 

i wanted so much more from that finale. 

jack made it on to broadway.  that was his end.  he was an understudy for a dancer and made it when other undestudy's were sick.  karen and will were very funny with regards to that storyline and it's a shame more time wasn't spent on that.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, April 24, 2020.  Joe Biden maintains his silence on the rape accusation, Iraq's prime minister-designate still struggle to come up with a portfolio, Barbara Slavin sees US troops leaving Iraq, and much more.

ADDED 4/24/203:28 EST: Ryan Grim has a scoop at THE INTERCEPT:

In interviews with The Intercept, Reade also mentioned that her mother had made a phone call to “Larry King Live” on CNN, during which she made reference to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill. Reade told The Intercept that her mother called in asking for advice after Reade, then in her 20s, left Biden’s office. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help? I was mortified,” Reade told me.
Reade couldn’t remember the date or the year of the phone call, and King didn’t include the names of callers on his show. I was unable to find the call, but mentioned it in an interview with Katie Halper, the podcast host who first aired Reade’s allegation. After the podcast aired, a listener managed to find the call and sent it to The Intercept.
On August 11, 1993, King aired a program titled, “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” Toward the end of the program, he introduces a caller dialing in from San Luis Obispo, California. Congressional records list August 1993 as Reade’s last month of employment with Biden’s Senate office, and, according to property records, Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County. Here is the transcript of the beginning of the call:
KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
KING: In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?
CALLER: That’s true.

King’s panel of guests offered no suggestions, and instead the conversation veered into a discussion of whether any of the men on set would leak damaging personal information about a rival to the press.

Joe Biden thinks he deserves to be president.  But he doesn't think he has to answer publicly when a woman accuses him of assault or rape.  Tara Reade has come forward to accuse Joe of assault.  Katie Halper interviewed Tara about the assault.  At THE GUARDIAN this morning, she writes:

You can hear and read Reade’s heart-wrenching account yourself, but to summarize her claims: she says she brought Joe Biden his gym bag as she’d been instructed. The two of them were alone and that is when she says “he just had me up against the wall and his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And then he went down my skirt, but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers ... Everything shattered in that moment.”
Reade’s good friend Jane (not her real name), who lived at the same residence and interned for another senator at the time, told me that Reade called her after the incident: “When I said, ‘Did you feel like you could walk away?’, [Tara] said no. And that his hand went where it shouldn’t below the belt...He said something that made [Tara] feel like a grain of dust… small and insignificant. On the phone...you can’t see someone’s facial expression… but you can tell when someone’s voice is shaking... She was definitely confused, disoriented.”
Reade’s brother also remembers learning about the incident: “First my mom told me about it. She was up in arms. And I was like I don’t know what happened. I think my sister was trying to spare me.” Indeed, Reade did try to spare her younger brother somewhat but, as he told me, “I remember my sister being specifically asked to handle a gym bag... And there was a moment he had her up against the wall and made a hand move under her clothes.”
[. . .]
Political leaders, the media and victims’ advocates for months have refused to honor Reade’s request to be heard, sacrificing not only one woman but basic principles at the heart of the Democratic party and the survivors’ justice movement that brave Democratic women helped build.

The corporate media has done an appalling job covering the story.  College newspapers, however, have led on this story.  Genna Edwards (THE PITT NEWS) observes:

Biden, like Trump, has been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by multiple women. And like Trump, he and his campaign deny these claims. Biden’s history as a “Democratic” politician is littered with choices that are incredibly un-Democratic. He’s more of a centrist than anything, going wherever the money and power want him to go. He wavers on abortion, having supported the Hyde Ammendment. He is not an LGBTQ+ ally. He voted for the Iraq war. He is anti-Social Security and anti-Medicare. Tara Reade, a former staff assistant to Biden, has accused him of sexual assault — I believe her. I’ve seen the videos of Biden inappropriately touching and sniffing young girls.
So. As both a leftist and a queer woman, I am appalled. Losing Sanders robs us of any dignity the American people may have had left. If I have to choose between two unfit men in the fall to lead my country out of a historic pandemic that neither are fit to fix given their policies, well — I’m moving to an underground bunker.

If I thought myself naive for believing in politics before this, boy, is that smacking me in the face now. I try to have hope, stupid white woman hope, and I’ve tried to have hope again and again. I thought Sanders was it this time, that we could escape this Trump hell and feel at least marginally better about living in this country.

We'll note another college paper, Liddy Grantland (DUKE CHRONICLE) offers:

I disagree with Joe Biden on many issues. I believe that there were better choices in the Democratic primary, and I voted that way. With his ever-increasing delegate lead, though, I was begrudgingly becoming accustomed to the idea of casting my vote for him in November. As much as I remain opposed to much of his past and current work, I believed fewer people would be harmed by his presidency than would be harmed by another four years of Donald Trump in office. I still believe that. 
But I now know that no matter what happens in November, the Oval Office will almost certainly be occupied for the next four years by a perpetrator of sexual assault.
This is not the first election where voters have had to choose between two candidates who have caused direct harm. Black, Brown and Indigenous voters have had to choose between the lesser of two evils—the person less likely to rob them of their freedom and dignity—in nearly every election where they have even been able to cast a ballot. 

It would be politically convenient for me to forget Tara Reade, to ignore the harsh reality about this member of my team. Many people on my team have already made that choice. I understand it. But I will not do the same.

Lena Felton (THE LILY) speaks to a number of women about the way the media and others have treated Tara Reade:

Such is the case for Alannah Raitt, a 25-year-old bus driver and barista who’s also a volunteer aide for Joshua Collins, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Tacoma, Wash. “I will not support people who can’t seem to respect people’s bodily autonomy or can’t seem to understand the concept of consent,” says Raitt, who identifies as a victim of sexual assault. “I don’t understand how so many people can say ‘Oh, well, Trump’s done it too.’ That’s the lowest bar on the planet, and that’s not an excuse.”

The same goes for Sarah Ann Masse, who was one of the first women in October 2017 to allege sexual misconduct by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It doesn’t matter which party the accused stands for, she says: “For me, sexual violence is not a partisan issue. If we’re going to believe survivors, we have to believe them regardless of the politics of their abuser and regardless of whether we like their policies.”

Survivors are watching what happens.  They are seeing this unfold and they are fully aware that this is harmful to all women, to all survivors.  Instead of reporting, most outlets are attacking Tara Reade.  It sends a message.  Fake asses like Alyssa Milano have used #MeToo to cover for their failed careers.  But when they could be of any value at all, the Alyssa Milanos refuse to support women.

At COUNTERPUNCH this morning, MG outlines her experiences and notes:

I might not be ready to tell my story, but I am sharing this anyways. Nothing Tara did in the subsequent years after Joe Biden digitally raped her disqualifies her story. Nothing I did in the years following my assault changes what happened to me. Holding such a secret for so long, living a lie as truth is a defense mechanism for those of us who are not ready to tell. It is a way to pretend that “that thing” never happened. That defense mechanism kicks into overdrive when the perpetrator is a public figure. You become smaller, so you do more to deny the truth. You share a different face publicly than the emotionally scarred one.
As George Orwell said, if you want to keep a secret, you have to hide it from yourself. Shame on everyone for trying to psychoanalysis a victim that is still concealing their truth. Shame on the Democrats for forcing Biden on all the women and men who can see their story in Tara’s story. Who now see a version of their attacker in what liberals claim is the “women’s rights” candidate for the President of the United States. Biden is a secret the party is trying to hide from themselves, and it is going to cost us all dearly in the end.

THE TAKEAWAY spoke to VOX's Anna North about the charges against Biden.

On THE KATIE HALPER SHOW this week, Katie offers an interview with Tara's friend who corroborates Tara's story and was told of it in real time -- after that she speaks with THE INTERCEPT's Ryan Grim and with journalist Rich McHugh.

We're also going to note this video.

On the one hand, I can see what she's going for, healing.  On the other, I'm damn tired of women being the world's punching bag, the canary in the coalmine.  I'm tired of it.

Would INFINITE LUNCHBOX do a video about the need to help killers find their way back?  It's only when women are the targets that we have to think about the criminals and the suffering of the criminals.  Let a woman be raped and the supposed 'fair' reaction is to think about the suffering that the rapist is going through.

Assault is a crime.

It's not my job to humor or defend Joe Biden if he assaulted Tara Reade.  It's not my job to do that for anyone who assaults a woman.

I do get the whole let's-heal-America which, let's be honest, is largely bulls**t.  But I am going to repeat, we only have this attitude when it's women.

We only have this attitude when it's women and man might suffer for his actions.

How is the nonsense INFINITE LUNCHBOX offers any different from the earlier nonsense of "boys will be boys"?

It's not.  It's a new twist on rape culutre.

Danny Schechter used to bother me all the time for money.  And then he got his little feelings hurt when I said no more.  That was after terrorist Ike Turner died.  I know Tina.  I love Tina.  She lived through terrorism.  But Ike dies and there's Danny claiming that Tina forgives Ike or has to if she doesn't because . . . STFU.  I told him not to ask me for money anymore, not to bother me anymore.  He was a fan boy and that supposed to mean that a man gets to wipe away all of his crimes.

Time and again, that's what happens to women.  Ike abusing and terrorizing Tina is well established.  Even then, it becomes a case of "Oh, well, he had a hard life and Tina's forgiven him or should . . ."

No one says that about a Palestinian who's been terrorized -- nor should they -- or someone who was tortured at Guantanamo (nor should they).  But let a woman be attacked by a man and it becomes a case of the woman has to soothe the delicate feelings of the male criminal.

Only women are expected to make things better for their attacker.  That's bulls**t.

Turning to Iraq, ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:

Four forged ministerial lists were circulated and were said to represent the composition of Iraqi Prime Minister designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government, yet it was reported that the fifth list that has been circulating for the past two days is the legitimate one.

The list which includes 14 ministers could be passed by the parliament, while the rest of the portfolios are to be discussed between Kadhimi and the political blocs that represent the three main components in the country (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds).

The PM-designate has not yet named figures who would head the defense and security portfolios.

Reasons behind this postponement vary. Some say differences over the interior and defense portfolios are limited between Sunnis and Shiites, while others suggest that Kadhimi wants to nominate both ministers himself without resorting to blocs or components.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi remains prime minister-designate.  He is the third prime minister-designate so far this year.  Will he succeed where the other two failed?

At THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL, Barbara Slavin offers:

A withdrawal of most US military forces from Iraq seems likely this year as the Iraqi government seeks to maintain some sort of diplomatic and economic relationship with the United States without alienating its powerful neighbor Iran. How this withdrawal is managed will help determine future US influence not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole.
Iranian support for Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi—who has had good relations with the United States—appears to be predicated on his agreeing to negotiate a new Status of Forces agreement (SFA) with Washington, which aims to remove the bulk of the several thousand US troops still deployed in Iraq.
The Americans’ mission was ostensibly to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and to train Iraqi armed forces. However, the US jeopardized their continued presence in the country by breaching the terms of a 2008 SFA; they targeted Iran-backed Shia militias and the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, on Iraqi soil after a spate of attacks on American military and diplomatic targets last year. Even if the US actions were justified both to defend Americans and to deter future attacks, they represented a significant escalation in the rules of the game—an unprecedented targeting of a senior Iranian official in a foreign country. 
The attack near Baghdad, when Soleimani was on an official visit, put Iraq in an untenable position. Iraq cannot afford to alienate a powerful neighbor with which it shares a 1,400-kilometer border and which has deep relations with a variety of Iraqi armed groups. If forced to choose, Baghdad will choose Iran, not the United States. It is, therefore, not in US interests to force Iraq to make such a choice.
While Tehran has long sought an exit of US forces from Iraq, Iran-backed militias did not attack US forces in Iraq while the US remained in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The situation deteriorated after the US withdrew unilaterally from that deal in 2018 and sought to put a total embargo on Iran’s oil exports in 2019. That was when Iran commenced a series of retaliatory actions in the Persian Gulf and Iraq that prompted the assassination of Soleimani in early 2020. Also killed by the drone strike near Baghdad airport, were several Iraqis, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia and deputy commander of all of the Popular Mobilization Forces that had battled ISIS. The assassinations led the Iraqi parliament to pass a non-binding resolution expelling American forces.
Tensions abated somewhat after Tehran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner on January 8, mistaking it for a hostile US missile. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran and its neighbors also took attention away from US-Iran strains. However, a second spate of tit-for-tat attacks occurred in March, leading to the death of two more Americans and a British citizen, as well as three Iraqi soldiers, an Iraqi civilian, and several militia members. US forces have now been withdrawn from three isolated outposts in Iraq and consolidated in the relatively safe Kurdish city of Erbil and at the al-Assad air base outside Baghdad. The United States also brought in Patriot missile batteries to defend these bases against militia rockets.
This author has argued elsewhere that the decision to kill Soleimani and Muhandis was an overreaction to Iranian provocations that would make a long-term US military presence in Iraq very difficult—if not untenable. That the crisis came at a time when Iraqis had been protesting in the streets against Iran’s excessive influence in their country made assassination even more strategically questionable. Overnight, the issue became the United States, not Iran.
However, it is still possible to retain US influence in Iraq and to offer Iraqis an alternative to complete domination by Iran. This goal would be advanced by an effort to de-escalate tensions with Tehran; at a minimum, to deal with any provocation by Iran-backed groups in a way that does not humiliate Iraqi politicians by violating their country’s sovereignty.
Ideally, the United States should re-examine its policy of “maximum pressure” toward Iran, which has not and will not achieve its stated goals. Iran is more, not less, aggressive in the region, continuing its development of ballistic missiles—including its first successful satellite launch—and has accelerated its nuclear program. More pressure will either lead to war, strengthen Iranian hardliners, or both. Even a botched initial response to the coronavirus does not appear to have increased the chances for regime change. If anything, these crises have increased the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ economic and political dominance. 
The United States could use the pandemic as an opportunity to make goodwill gestures toward Iran. While the Iranian government has rebuffed such offers, they resonate with the Iranian people, whose views of America and its citizens have historically been much more positive. The neutral US reaction to the first transaction by INSTEX was a good first step and further guidance from OFAC facilitating the supply of medicine and medical devices to Tehran was welcome. Iran should, also, be allowed to receive the emergency loan it requested from the International Monetary Fund and have access to revenue frozen in foreign banks for medical supplies.
However, even in the absence of any real improvement in US-Iran ties, it should still be possible to remove Iraq from the middle of hostilities. This will oblige the United States to significantly reduce its forces in Iraq and restrict the remaining troops’ role to training and counter-ISIS operations. Iran, in turn, should restrain its Iraqi proxies from attacking US targets and give Kadhimi a solid chance to stand up a new government.
Since 2003, little has happened in Iraqi politics without Iran playing a role, which is predictable, given Iran’s long association with the Iraqi Shia and Kurds that opposed the rule of Saddam Hussein. The US lost opportunities to cooperate with or, at least, avoid antagonizing Iran, swayed by those in the administration who hubristically believed that they could instigate regime change in Tehran. Other mistakes—such as dissolving the Iraqi army, failing to protect Iraqi infrastructure from looting, and installing a Lebanon-like system in Iraq, with top positions for ethno-religious factions—doomed the country to sectarian strife and increased Iran’s ability to manipulate political developments. Nevertheless, as memories of the 2003 invasion fade, young Iraqis are more focused on constructing a less sectarian society that delivers jobs and other tangible economic benefits. They resent Iran’s meddling and want to reconnect with the Arab world and beyond.

The United States can support this trend by keeping Iraq out of its fight with Iran to make it easier for Iraqi politicians, businesspeople, and security officials to maintain some sort of constructive relationship with Americans. US intervention in Iraq has cost thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives as well as billions in US taxpayer funds. For those who died and sacrificed on all sides since the invasion, the United States should find a way to withdraw most of its military forces with dignity. Otherwise, US credibility and influence throughout the region will fade to the benefit of Iran, China, Russia and ISIS.

The following sites updated:

  • 4/23/2020

    will & grace the clip show

    'will & grace' ended tonight.  i'll write about the episode tomorrow. 

    after the last episode, they had a 30 minute clip-show episode hosted by eric.

    why eric?

    i guess because debra's too much of a diva.

    so the show ran eight seasons and then went off the air.  then it came back and ran 3 more seasons.

    the best moment was probably when they just noted the guest stars.

    people like kevin bacon, lily tomlin, sharon stone, joan collins, andy garcia, suzanne pleshette, james earl jones, madonna, michael douglas, demi more, ben platt, ellen degeneres, rosie o'donnell, glenn close, woody harrelson, jennifer lopez, harry connick jr., cher, janet jackson ...

     eric was fine but i would have brought out sean hayes and megan to round it out.

    more to the point, if you're going to do a looking back show, it needs to be an hour, not 30 minutes. 

    i didn't see molly shannon in a single clip.  did i miss her or is val just not important?

    ellen and rob were in some clips.  and should have been.  but i don't remember them really getting to shine. and there was only 1 clip with beverly leslie.

    anyway.  the clip show was a disappointment.

    i've watched the actual last episode (which aired before the clip show) twice now.  i'll watch it a few more times before writing about it.

    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

    Thursday, April 23, 2020.  Struggling Joe Biden continues to attempt to avoid the rape allegations Tara Reade has lodged against him while Iraq remains in chaos.

    Weeks ago, Tara Reade came forward to detail an alleged assault by Joe Biden.  The media?  "See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they run" -- as the song goes.  Mary Sanchez (TRIBUNE SYNDICATE) observes:

    Biden holds up his work crafting and supporting the Violence Against Women Act as his defense — as if someone who introduced and guided such groundbreaking legislation can’t also be an abuser.
    Fortunately, women know better.
    They know that Biden wouldn’t be the first man that women trusted in a professional sense, as someone who had guided and aided their careers and aspirations, only to be exposed later for salacious behavior.
    Most must also concede this: Reade’s account strikes chords of believability. Sadly, it does so because so many women have endured similar circumstances.
    The assault to your body and dignity happens quickly. The victim is caught off-guard, in a compromising situation that she walked into unaware, a fact that will be used to shift responsibility back on her later. The man, when rebuffed, first choses to blame the woman. According to Reade’s account, after being rejected, Biden reportedly said in the moment, “‘Come on, man, I heard you liked me.'” The narrative lends itself to the typical development of sexual harassment and abuse of power.
    In her initial podcast interview with Katie Halper, Reade’s convincing. She describes being young, thrilled to be in such circles of power, planning on a career in politics.
    For some in many circles, that is all women should need to hear. They’re expecting women, as a collective, to stand firmly with Biden’s accuser, or turn in any feminist cred for not agreeing that women should be believed as a starting point.

    #BelieveWomen is a baseline, a starting point because so often women still are not believed. It doesn’t mean that every story can’t also be scrutinized, that it isn’t necessary to also expect, or at least try to obtain corroborating evidence. But this lack of scrutiny appears to be what Biden opponents appear to be counting on as a means to a political end.

    If you missed Katie Halper's interview with Tara back in March, Katie's now put the interview up on YOUTUBE:

    The corporate media has refused to ask Joe Biden to speak to this allegation.  He comes onto their programs and stumbles around on other topics and they never get a comment from him.  Bill Clinton was accused of rape two decades ago by Juanita Broaddrick.  He had a spokesperson blah blah some words.  Bill never commented then or since.  Joe appears to think that's the standard when accused of assault.  So does the media.  The accusations against Joe come not as he's in the twilight of his second term as president.  The accusations arrive as Joe is seeking to become president.  As Kennedy Bennett (YALE DAILY NEWS) observes, "The recent sexual assault allegations from Tara Reade add onto preexisting hesitations many voters express about Biden."  Biden's response appears to be: Vote for me without asking any questions.  REASON's Cathy Young notes at THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, "Biden isn’t the only one with a hypocrisy problem. Feminist pundits such as Salon writer Amanda Marcotte and New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, usually found in the “Believe women” camp, are now doubters who treat Reade’s allegation mainly as an inconvenience. Actress/activist Alyssa Milano, who used to tweet about the importance of supporting women’s #MeToo stories, now backs Biden and says believing women shouldn’t come at the expense of fairness to men. Major media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post waited a long time to report on Reade’s allegation and subjected it to much more skeptical scrutiny than the accusations against Kavanaugh."  And John Krull (TRIBUNE STAR) lays it out, "This will come as a shock to the most ideologically blinded fanatics on the left and right, but right and wrong aren’t partisan issues."

    Senator Bernie Sanders has been asked by the media about Tara Reade's accusation against Joe Biden as has Senator Amy Klobuchar.   But the corporate media just can't seem to ask Joe Biden about it.  Is it that difficult a question to ask?

    Below, Emma Green (THE ATLANTIC) interviews Briahna Joy Gray, the journalist who was the press secretary for candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign:

    Green: But we're moving into general-election season now, right?

    Gray: But we’re not! The Democratic Party would like us to believe that’s the case, and they behaved that way even before Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. But we are, in fact, still in a Democratic-primary season. Biden is only the presumptive nominee.
    We’re expected to be giving parades for policy positions that are more conservative than were offered up four years ago? We are living the status quo. At a certain point, voters are tired of having people—excuse the expression—piss on their leg and tell them that it’s raining.
    And there’s all kinds of whispers and rumors about whether or not something might happen at the convention, which might mean Joe Biden isn’t even the nominee.

    Green: Are you talking about the Tara Reade allegations?

    Gray: There’s a lot of reasons why Democrats might want to substitute a different person for Joe Biden as the nominee. The Tara Reade allegation has been handled abysmally by the press. If anyone looks at this closely, then they will see reason for concern.

    Oh my goodness.  Is Emma Green okay?  Did they have to call paramedics?  I mean, read the above, she managed to do an interview where she asked about Tara Reade.  Anderson Cooper has spoken to Joe how many times and he still can't ask him about Tara Reade's accusation.

    A lot of people are being silent and it sends a lousy message to survivors.  Holly Otterbein and Marc Caputo (POLITICO) offer:

    “The disgusting behavior that Christine Blasey Ford had to deal with from the right is the disgusting behavior that Tara Reade is having to deal with from many on the left,” said Sarah Ann Masse, one of the numerous women who accused Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. “Survivors in the world watch this, and those who have not come forward publicly, those who have not shared it with their family or gone to the police or sought out mental health support, they see this and it silences them.”
    Reade’s allegations against Biden, [. . .], have even led to scrutiny of the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, which was founded in 2018 to help victims of sexual harassment and assault. The group said it helped connect Reade to attorneys, but determined it could not fund a lawyer or public relations for her because Biden is a candidate for federal office and it believed its nonprofit status could therefore be threatened. 
    “It really bothers me,” said former actress Louisette Geiss, another woman who accused Weinstein of harassment, of its decision not to help Reade financially. “What we're saying here in the #MeToo movement is that's it, time's up, if you will. You cannot engage in this behavior anymore no matter who you are — Trump, Biden, Harvey.”

    Howard Lisnoff (COUNTERPUNCH) notes the hypocrisy of politicians who have endorsed Joe:

    Tara Reade’s allegations seem believable. She reported the incident to others following the incident and later, and she has suffered trauma in ways that are commonly reflected in this kind of assault.
    Even a casual observer has to weigh in on the insensitivity involved in endorsing someone like Biden when this most serious of allegations was made. A few days following Bernie Sanders grand capitulation, Elizabeth Warren followed suit, saying she would accept the office of vice president if asked by Biden. Left sufficiently reeling from these pronouncements of falling into line with neoliberalism, one wonders if anything political is sacred to these people? Certainly, integrity is not one of those scared values!

    When will those on the political left learn that electoral politics in the US is a zero-sum “game?” The liberal Vice President, Henry Wallace, was dropped from the Democratic ticket in 1944, as he was getting too close for comfort to the serious corridors of power. Lyndon Johnson blindsided the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic Convention in 1964. Hubert Humphrey dragged the Democratic Party to certain defeat in 1968, as he refused to take a bold stand against the Vietnam War and break with Lyndon Johnson. In 1972, antiwar progressive George McGovern won the Democratic Party nomination, and because of his defeat those with the levers of power in the Democratic Party vowed that another liberal candidate would get nowhere near the presidency. The latter became obvious through the neoliberal Clinton’s nomination by the Democrats in 2016 and her loss at the polls. The Democrats would rather lose electorally and continue as lapdogs of the power elite.

    The only thing worse than endorsing Biden?  A woman becoming his running mate.  Earlier this week, we noted a woman writing about Joe assaulting her.  That didn't surprise me.  A New York outlet is weighing going forward with another woman.  By the time summer rolls around, Tara may not be the only woman publicly accusing Joe of assault.  Imagine how Senator Amy Klobuchar or Kamala Harris will look -- or any other woman but especially those two 'tough on crime' women -- if they're the running mate and you've got six or eight women publicly accusing Joe of assault.  I believe that's called "career suicide."  You don't overcome that.  You don't get to show up in 2024 and say, "Look America, trust my judgment.  Sure, four years ago, I was on the ticket with a man accused of rape by multiple women, but trust my judgment this time.  In four years, I've learned, I've really, really learned."

    At THE GW HATCHET, Victoria Freire explains:

    I refuse to vote for Biden because he has consistently favored the wealthy elite over the working class. At a time in which radical policy changes are the only way to prevent climate catastrophe and mass deaths from COVID-19, Biden’s platform instead includes a want to not “demonize” the wealthy and have “no one’s standard of living change,” as he told rich donors at a fundraiser last June. When he attempts to glorify former President Barack Obama’s years in office, he notably neglects those who suffered the most as a result of the administration’s mass deportations, record civilian drone strikes and infamous Wall Street bailout. These policies have most directly affected low-income communities of color, communities Biden has not been particularly sensitive to. Biden has idealized his work with segregationists as work of “civility,” opposed integrated busing and worried such desegregation policies would cause his children to grow up “in a racial jungle.” He also authored the 1994 crime bill, which led to mass incarceration of disproportionately black and brown Americans. Just a few months ago, Biden gave a speech in Iowa claiming “poor kids are just as bright as white kids.” We have always known Biden was a racist, but Democrats only care about racial oppression when it’s their opponents who perpetrate it.
    Just as horrifying is Biden’s longtime pattern of sexual harassment, and now, Biden has an allegation of sexual assault. Regardless of who you decide to vote for, I implore you to listen to Tara Reade’s story. Any Democrat who dismisses these allegations as uncredible or illegitimate is a hypocrite. I believe Reade, just as I believed Christine Blasey Ford and E. Jean Carroll. And as much as Democrats want me to, I do not believe in voting for the “lesser” of two rapists.
    We must not forget that Biden voted for the Iraq war, voted for NAFTA, has consistently supported corporate bailouts and opposes Medicare for All amid a pandemic (one that he has been largely absent from).

    The Iraq War.  Yes, Joe voted for the Iraq War.  Every presidential cycle since the start of the Iraq War (2003) has seen the Democratic Party run at least one supporter of the Iraq War on the national ticket -- in 2004, they ran two.  They just don't seem to learn, do they?  This is considered the worst fiasco (the proper term is "crime') when it comes to foreign policy in the 21st century.  And, of course, Joe did more than just vote for it.  He attacked those opposed to it.  He repeatedly attempted to split Iraq up into three different governments -- he only gave that up in February of 2008.  As Vice President, he took part in tossing out the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010 when they said no to a second term for thug Nouri al-Maliki.  Joe sold not only the legal contract that overturned the votes (The Erbil Agreement), he also went to Iraq to explain to leaders why they had to support Nouri for a second term.  As he babbled away, it all had something to do with Ireland.  (Emma Sky does a perfect recap of that moment and how absurd it was and how stupid Joe came off to the Iraqi leaders.)  He did a lot including dismissing ISIS early on.  Joe's been no friend to the Iraqi people although he has managed to do his part to ensure that the war never ended.

    It goes on today.

    At The Atlantic Council, Abbas Kadhim offers:

    The protests that started in October 2019 ushered in a new political era in Iraq. For the first time in the post-2003 process of democratic transition, a government was forced to resign due to popular pressure.
    The resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet forced the Iraqi political leadership to face contentious constitutional and procedural questions about government formation. Iraq’s constitution contains many ambiguities about the prime minister selection process even under usual circumstances (i.e. following a regularly scheduled election). The challenging situation was exacerbated by a reckless combination of both politicizing the interpretation of the constitution and circumventing it entirely.
    Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi prophetically advised his opponents to agree on his successor before he submitted his resignation, for he knew that the Iraqi political framework would not function in the vacuum that would result from his absence. His fears were well-justified. The chaos that ensued following his resignation nearly paralyzed Iraq’s leadership, as they struggled to deal with mass gatherings of angry protesters with a broad list of demands, a dangerous escalation of the US-Iran conflict that played out on Iraqi soil over recent months, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
    After exceeding the constitutionally mandated deadline to choose a new prime minister and transparently exhausting all the loopholes to buy time to create a political consensus, President Barham Salih designated Mohamed Tawfik Allawi to form a government. Despite the selection, objections from various powerful political blocs ground the process to a halt. The Council of Representatives failed to reach a quorum twice and Allawi’s cabinet was not put up for a vote. Salih, then, designated Council of Representatives Member Adnan Alzurfi to form a cabinet, but Alzurfi’s candidacy caused deep cleavages within the Shia political blocs and he was forced to withdraw his nomination before a confirmation session could be scheduled.

    Salih, next, designated a third candidate, National Intelligence Chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to form a cabinet. Al-Kadhimi was supported by a Shia consensus and, absent any major disputes over the negotiations of “who gets what,” he will be confirmed as Iraq’s new prime minister. But this will only be the beginning of the formidable challenges Al-Kadhimi will face. 

    Not only did Joe Biden support the war, he supported every decision that led to the current shambles Iraq is in.  He can't stop telling America that "Barack put me in charge of Iraq."  Yes, Joe, he did.  And how does that speak to your qualifications?

    Iraq is a failed state.

    And ISIS remains active in Iraq.  Lawk Ghafuri (RUDAW) reports:

    Eighty-two Iraqi civilians were killed and 120 injured between January 1 and April 15 as a result of the conflict between the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Islamic State (ISIS) militants, the ministry of defense acknowledged on Tuesday evening.

    Despite the coronavirus pandemic and coalition withdrawal from several bases across the country, the ISF has conducted 1,060 operations and killed 135 targets since January 1, defense ministry spokesman Yehia Rasool said in a series of tweets.

    According to these latest figures, operations took place in every Iraqi province aside from those in the Kurdistan Region over the first 15 weeks of 2020, to clear bomb factories, arms caches, and secret tunnels used by the jihadists, Rasool said.

    At least 88 ISF soldiers were killed and 174 wounded during these operations.

    The following sites updated:


    we are still just a rat in a cage

    turns out, billy corgan was right.

    as he sings, 'despite all my rage, i am still just a rat in the cage.' 

    and we are just rats in cages.  doubt it?  this is from john w. whitehead's article at 'dissident voice:'

    I have never known any government to put the best interests of its people first, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
    Now this isn’t intended to be a debate over whether COVID-19 is a legitimate health crisis or a manufactured threat. Such crises can—and are—manipulated by governments in order to expand their powers. As such, it is possible for the virus to be both a genuine menace to public health and a menace to freedom.
    Yet we can’t afford to overlook the fact that governments the world over, including the U.S. government, have unleashed untold horrors upon the world in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.
    While the U.S. government is currently looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus spread from a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, the virus could just as easily have been created by the U.S. government or one of its allies.
    After all, grisly experiments, barbaric behavior and inhumane conditions have become synonymous with the U.S. government, which has meted out untold horrors against humans and animals alike.
    For instance, did you know that the U.S. government has been buying hundreds of dogs and cats from “Asian meat markets” as part of a gruesome experiment into food-borne illnesses?
    The cannibalistic experiments involve killing cats and dogs purchased from Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, China and Ethiopia, and then feeding the dead remains to laboratory kittens, bred in government laboratories for the express purpose of being infected with a disease and then killed.
    It gets more gruesome.
    The Department of Veterans Affairs has been removing parts of dogs’ brains to see how it affects their breathing; applying electrodes to dogs’ spinal cords (before and after severing them) to see how it impacts their cough reflexes; and implanting pacemakers in dogs’ hearts and then inducing them to have heart attacks (before draining their blood). All of the laboratory dogs are killed during the course of these experiments.
    It’s not just animals that are being treated like lab rats by government agencies.
    “We the people” have also become the police state’s guinea pigs: to be caged, branded, experimented upon without our knowledge or consent, and then conveniently discarded and left to suffer from the after-effects.
    Back in 2017, FEMA “inadvertently” exposed nearly 10,000 firefighters, paramedics and other responders to a deadly form of ricin during simulated bioterrorism response sessions. In 2015, it was discovered that an Army lab had been “mistakenly” shipping deadly anthrax to labs and defense contractors for a decade.

    While these particular incidents have been dismissed as “accidents,” you don’t have to dig very deep or go very back in the nation’s history to uncover numerous cases in which the government deliberately conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases and exposing them to airborne toxins.
    At the time, the government reasoned that it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society such as prisoners, mental patients, and poor blacks.
    In Alabama, for example, 600 black men with syphilis were allowed to suffer without proper medical treatment in order to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. In California, older prisoners had testicles from livestock and from recently executed convicts implanted in them to test their virility. In Connecticut, mental patients were injected with hepatitis.

    In Maryland, sleeping prisoners had a pandemic flu virus sprayed up their noses. In Georgia, two dozen “volunteering” prison inmates had gonorrhea bacteria pumped directly into their urinary tracts through the penis. In Michigan, male patients at an insane asylum were exposed to the flu after first being injected with an experimental flu vaccine. In Minnesota, 11 public service employee “volunteers” were injected with malaria, then starved for five days.

    they treat us like rats.  wonder what they'd do if the day came when we responded like rats.

    let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

    Wednesday, April 22, 2020.  Joe Biden remains silent regarding the allegations that he assaulted Tara Reade, his papers remain buried, his campaign remains stuck in the 90s, a bunch of elderly failures, burn-outs and sell-outs show up to lecture America's young people, and much more.

    That's Anthony Zenkus explaining why he believes Tara Reade and why Joe Biden needs to release his official records which are at the University of Deleware -- sealed at the university.  2019 is when the files could have been unsealed.  But the University is now stating that there's a two-year-out-of-public-life clause before the records can be released.

    Tara Reade worked for then-Senator Joe Biden.  She states that he assaulted her.  She states that she made a complaint about harassment.  That complaint -- and others -- could be in Joe's papers.  But, apparently, the world will never know.  Certainly not before a vote takes place in November.

    Rich McHugh notes:

    -- which houses the collection of Joe Biden's senatorial papers -- just confirmed to me that the papers "will remain closed to the public until two years after Mr. Biden retires from public life."

    Joe won't release his records, Joe won't go on camera and addresses the charges lodged against him.  He thinks he can get away with that.  His actions are making others suffer.

    Pia Singh (THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN) reports:

    The Coalition Against Fraternity Sexual Assault publicly removed Penn Democrats from their 
    group on Tuesday. CAFSA said in a public statement that Penn Dems was removed because 
    they endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president, a figure who has been accused 
    of sexual harassment and assault.
    CAFSA, an on-campus organization officially founded in September 2019 to combat rape 
    culture and support historically underrepresented minorities, released their statement in a 
    Google Document on Twitter. CAFSA's document highlighted allegations made against 
    Biden and denounced Penn Dems’ response to the allegation that the former vice 
    president had sexually assaulted Senate staffer Tara Reade in 1993. 

    "We are writing this statement not only to criticize Penn Dems for endorsing a sexual 
    predator for President, but also to reinforce our commitment in supporting and believing survivors," CAFSA's statement read.  

    Kieron Kessler (WEBSTER UNIVERSITY JOURNAL) observes:

    We, as American citizens, are left to choose between two people who were both accused of sexual assault. We are left to choose between two people who do not want universal healthcare. We are stuck between two people who both engage in racism, whether it be covert or overt, and it was the Democrats that allowed this to happen.
    This is the same party that is supposed to “believe women,” yet have selective hearing when it comes to the voice of Tara Reade. Reade came out accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault while she was staffing for him in the ‘90s. Since Reade has spoken she has received little publicity and it seems that the Democrats have not noticed. Despite the party’s criticism of Trump’s history of sexual assault accusations, they have yet to apply it to their own electors.

    Now, sexual assault survivors cannot exercise their right to vote without acknowledging that if they do vote, either way they would be voting for an accused abuser. The ones who say “vote for the lesser of two evils” do not realize their privilege in saying that. These women are at risk for reliving their trauma by casting a vote, and moderate Democrats have turned a blind eye.

    A story is playing out and most are ignorant of that fact.  Most have no idea or care for the issues Kessler and Singh are reporting on.  That's especially true of Joe's middle-aged to elderly base.  They grew up embracing rape culture.  Let's not lie.

    They embraced it, they celebrated it.  It is what they know.

    And they can't accept the reality that times have changed.

    The young people in America are not going to put up with this nonsesne.  They're not.  They are not going to weaponize assault, they are not going to decry it for one person and ignore it for the other.  Rankk hypocrisy belongs to Joe's core supporters.

    Support for rape culture is dying -- not as quickly though as the people who were raised with it and normalized it.

    They continue to try to normalize it.  The youth is not buying into it.  Equally true, survivors are not buying into that nonsense.  Hannah Madden (SIMMONS VOICE) explains:

    Dr. Christina Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh came four years after I was sexually assaulted. I began to speak, for the first time, about my own experiences after listening to Dr. Ford; after the #MeToo movement gained momentum and after #BelieveSurvivors started trending. In no small part, this massive public outcry helped me to break my own silence. Watching Tara Reade come forward is a harsh reminder of why my silence felt necessary to maintain for years.
    Tara Reade, a former senate aid, first accused Joe Biden of sexual misconduct one year ago. Three weeks ago, she further expanded on her allegations. The New York Times, in its “examination’” of Reade’s account, claimed that in their investigations, they could find no pattern of misconduct from Biden. The Times then noted that Reade is the 8th woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Biden, and that his other accusers believe Reade’s account.
    Biden’s campaign has openly denied the allegations. Major media outlets have been slow to report– most outlets reported on it almost three weeks after Reade’s story initially broke, (if they reported at all.) Every piece seems more concerned with proving that Reade’s allegations are false than investigating Biden in any substantial way.
    Elizabeth Warren is proud to say that she believes Dr. Blasey Ford. She is also proud to endorse Joe Biden for president. Democrats rallied around the #MeToo movement at a convenient time. Believing survivors became a pillar of progressive politics in 2018– when believing one survivor suddenly had massive political implications. Now, Reade represents a threat to the democratic establishment, and is being treated as such. Skepticism abounds in any article concerning her allegations. Paragraphs of comparisons to accusations mounted against Donald Trump are included to remind us that in the end, he is the greater of two electoral evils.
    To be clear, this transcends partisanship. Democrats intentionally look the other way while the GOP capitalizes on an opportunity to shame and undermine opposition to Kavanaugh. Any support I once witnessed from my liberal peers, throughout the Kavanaugh hearings and beyond, feels negated now. Conversely, after the attacks on Dr. Blasey Ford from the right, now hearing their rallying cry that, “listening to every accuser is only fair and just,’’ is equally as hypocritical.

    What I have learned from this is now, as a survivor weighing the costs of coming forward, first I have to figure out who will be inconvenienced by me speaking out. Once I know that, I’ll have a better idea of who will pretend to support me, and we can go from there.

    The elderly rape culture doesn't give a damn about survivors.  They instead show up at THE NATION trying to lecture the youth of America.  Let's be clear, the useless who accomplished nothing are hectoring the youth of America.  Carl Davidson?

    I thought he was dead.

    Thought.  Hoped.  What's the diff?

    But Carl will be dead soon and the world will be a better place.  There's Casey Hayden.  She's the 'feminist' that was with Tom Hayden -- the sexist pig who was kicked out of the Berkeley commune because of his rank sexism.  Casey, no one gives a damn about you.  Years ago, you pretended to care about women.  It wasn't about women.  You cared about you.  Your complaints basically were that because you yourself were a woman you weren't allowed to rise higher in the SDS.

    You've done nothing since to address the issues or concerns of women.  You're just a whore.  And you know what I'm talking about Casey, be glad I'm not detailing here.

    Mark Rudd?  Be glad I'm just quickly moving on.

    Every one of these people is a whore -- especially Toad.  They have done nothing with their lives.  In the sixties, they were full of passion.

    That's why they're lecturing the young now.  They're jealous.  They had passion when they were young and they can't stand the fact that they're old, have a foot in the grave and no passion and no energy.

    The young don't need to hear from embarrassing burnouts.

    Who among them has, since 2009, raised even a public concern about the never-ending Iraq War?

    None of them.

    They're whores.  They're elderly whores trying to ply a trade in a world they've aged out of.

    If craven Tom Hayden were alive, I'm sure he would have signed the letter too.

    Tom was the most accomplished of any of these losers.  Of course, his big accomplishment was marrying Jane Fonda and using the millions she earned to buy elections.  That's what he did.  A state legislature race that was more expensive that any Congressional race?  He bought his seat at the table.  When he repeatedly betrayed Jane, the marriage ended.  And without access to constant millions coming in, Tom could no longer buy races and his political career was over.

    But while it was active, grasp that he didn't accomplish very much at all.

    Appalled by the Democratic politicians who rush to the center and center-right?

    Hey, Tom was part of that.  Even ran a TV commercial in one race distancing himself from his past to reassure every one that he was not an activist or a radical or anyone who would ever make a difference.  He rushed to the center-right.  To secure the Zionist vote, he went to Israel to watch attacks on Palestinians.  Watch?  Hell, to cheer on these attacks.

    That's who these elderly freaks from SDS are.  That's who wants to lecture the youth of today.

    They need to shut the hell up.  They should hang their heads in shame.  They want to be public?  Then start taking public accountability for how you betrayed the left, how you betrayed the needs of the American people and how you continue to do that by trying to tell the young in America to shut up and roll over and take it.

    We all get it, that's how you've lived your lives.  Carl Davidson, you are the king of roll over.  You're the king of rape culture.

    They're failures, their entire lives are a testimony to failure.  Why would anyone listen to them?

    No one should.

    I also question THE NATION's editorial coherence.  They slammed the Weather Underground in a lengthy article in the '00s.  I remember because we called that out.  But now they're publishing a screed by several members -- including Mark Rudd -- of the Weather Underground?

    Katrina vanden Heuvel, I know your position on Palestinians, you don't give a damn, you'll take money from any lobby.  But can you at least be coherent on where your rag stands on The Weather Underground?

    Katty van van is as out of touch as Joe Biden.  Alex Thompson (POLITICO) reports that the elderly on Joe's team are whining that they should hire Hawkfish, the company responsible for Michael Bloomberg's 'digital presence.'  The young on the campaign -- a small percenteage -- are saying that Hawkfish shouldn't be hired.

    Who's right?

    The young.

    Michael Bloomberg had no online presence.  His name -- while he was trying to buy the nomination -- was known because of the TV ads that he bought around the country -- especially during the airings of JUDGE JUDY -- especially the advertisements of Judy endorsing him.

    He had no digital presence.

    But the elderly on Joe's campaign -- the ones still asking where the floppy drive is -- insist Hawkfish is a one-stop and can do it all.

    And you wonder why Joe Biden has the worst campaign ever?

    Dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

    Turning to Iraq, where women are attacked as well while men are protected.  We've been covering the story of Malak Hayder al-Zubiedi -- a name Leonard Pitts never wrote about.  She was the second wife to a spoiled ass whose father is a colonel in the Iraqi military.  She was prevented from seeing her own family for over eight months.  Some have said she was 19, some have said she was 20 -- she would have been 20 this year at some point, whether she'd reached that milestone or not is not established.

    Per Malak's sister, her husband sent her to the hospital after he burned her alive.  He and his family immediately joined local authorities in a hush-up of the scandal -- one of those moments Leonard Pitts says where "principle may have become a luxury too costly to afford."  Remember, women's lives are nothing but 'luxuries.'  Our lives don't matter.

    Outrage prompted the province's governor to get involved and a real investigation -- or what passes for one in Iraq -- began.

    On Saturday, we noted the news her sister had posted on social media: Malak had died. 

    Today, Human Rights Watch issued the following:

    The death on April 18 of a 20-year-old woman in Najaf, possibly at the hands of her husband, should act as a wake-up call for Iraqi legislators to pass a law against domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraqi authorities should investigate and prosecute domestic violence, and ensure appropriate sentences for violence against women.
    “Domestic violence has always plagued Iraq,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “We see case upon case of women and girls dying at the hands of their families, but Iraq's lawmakers have not done enough to save those lives.”
    On April 12, a video surfaced on social media of the woman in a hospital with severe burn wounds. Her mother told Human Rights Watch that eight months ago her daughter married a police officer who had only allowed her to visit her parents once since then. On April 8, her mother said, the husband called to tell her that his wife had a “slight burn accident” and was in the hospital.
    The mother could hear her daughter screaming. She rushed to the hospital, where the husband’s mother blocked her from seeing her daughter. Police took the young woman’s statement while her mother was blocked from the room, the mother said. On April 11, when she was able to enter the hospital room, her daughter told her that her husband had beaten her so badly on April 8 that she poured gasoline on herself and warned him that unless he stopped, she would light herself on fire.
    “I still don’t know if he lit her on fire or she did it herself, but she told me she burned for three minutes while he just watched, and finally his father, also a policeman, came in and put out the fire,” the mother said. “She begged them to take her to the hospital but they waited for over an hour before doing so. Her father-in-law then pretended to the police that he was her father and said to them the fire had been an accident.”
    The young woman died on April 18. Najaf’s governor, Loai al-Yasiri, told Human Rights Watch on April 15 that the authorities had established an investigation committee and arrested the husband, father-in-law, and the husband’s uncle. Al-Yasiri said that this case would likely be resolved through a mediation in which the husband’ family’s ashira (clan) would negotiate with Samira’s family’s ashira to reach a non-judicial settlement.
    Domestic violence remains a serious problem in Iraq. The Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS) of 2006/7 found that one in five Iraqi women are subject to physical domestic violence. A 2012 Planning Ministry study found that at least 36 percent of married women reported experiencing some form of psychological abuse from their husbands, 23 percent verbal abuse, 6 percent physical violence, and 9 percent sexual violence.
    Thikra Sarsim, deputy director of Babel Tower, a Baghdad nongovernmental organization, told Human Rights Watch on the day that the young woman died: “She will not be the last one so long as the law does not protect women. My organization has documented many honor killings over the years, but the death certificates instead say ‘suicide.’”
    While the Iraqi constitution expressly prohibits “all forms of violence and abuse in the family,” only the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has a law on domestic violence. Iraq’s criminal code, applicable in both Baghdad-controlled territory and the Kurdistan Region, criminalizes physical assault but lacks explicit mention of domestic violence. Instead, article 41(1) gives a husband a legal right to “punish” his wife, and parents to discipline their children “within limits prescribed by law or custom.” The penal code provides for mitigated sentences for violent acts, including murder, for “honorable motives” or for catching one’s wife or female relative in the act of adultery or sex outside of marriage.
    Iraqi parliamentary efforts to pass a draft law against domestic violence stalled throughout 2019 and 2020. Wahda Jumaili, a member of the parliament’s human rights committee, told Human Rights Watch that some members blocked the law because they do not believe that the state should punish honor killings or parents’ corporal punishment of their children. Shatha Naji, head of the Women for Peace Organization, said one member of parliament told her, “Do you really want to make our society just like a Western one, where I cannot even punish my son if he comes home late?”
    The 2019 version of the draft anti-domestic violence law seen by Human Rights Watch includes provisions for services for domestic violence survivors, protection (restraining) orders, penalties for their breach, and the establishment of a cross-ministerial committee to combat domestic violence. However, the bill has several gaps and provisions that would undermine its effectiveness.
    One major problem is that the draft law prioritizes reconciliation over protection and justice for victims. Naji said that victims of domestic violence in Iraq rarely make criminal complaints via the police. Instead, the community police play a mediatory rather than a law enforcement role, and focus on reconciling victim and the abuser in line with community practices.
    Iraq has few working shelters and domestic violence victims are often temporarily housed in female prisons. The 2019 draft law would establish government shelters in coordination with local women’s rights organizations. In October 2019, Human Rights Watch interviewed five Iraqi women living in a shelter who said they had fled their homes because of years of domestic violence, including rape and forced prostitution, by family members or their husband.
    One 18-year-old woman told Human Rights Watch that her brother forced her to marry a friend of his at age 14. Her family, the police, and ultimately a local judge refused to help when she told them that her husband beat her and forced her into prostitution. She said that after she finally fled and went into hiding, her brother wanted to kill her. “[It is] normal in my family to kill someone - my grandfather killed his sister and my uncle killed his sister,” she said.
    Measures to combat domestic violence are all the more urgent in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. UN Women has warned that lockdowns can lead to higher rates of violence in the home, as evidenced by spikes in domestic violence around the world, including in BrazilChinaFranceKenyaKyrgyzstanSouth Africa, and the UK.
    Speaking of Iraq, Naji, of the Women for Peace Organization said, “Now you might have three families living together, 20 people, all in one small home, and we have no adequate system to be monitoring the potential escalation of domestic violence cases because they aren’t being reported.”
    In 2019, Human Rights Watch interviewed two migrant domestic workers who said that their employers routinely beat them and one said her employer raped her. Migrant domestic workers face particular risks, with police rarely protecting even those who try to make a criminal complaint.
    Measures around the lockdown should include ensuring that domestic violence victims are not arrested when seeking assistance or escaping abuse. The authorities should immediately communicate zero tolerance for domestic violence and ensure that hotlines and other assistance is available to survivors, their neighbors, or families to report abuse. The authorities should also set procedures to intervene, and assist survivors by ensuring refuge or protection orders to expel abusers from their homes, Human Rights Watch said.
    On April 9, President Barham Salih nominated Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate. Al-Kadhimi, is expected to present his cabinet to the parliament in late April. Iraq’s parliament, elected in September 2018, is still in office, though currently not meeting because of the pandemic.
    When parliament resumes its sessions, it should urgently revise the draft law against domestic violence to ensure that it meets international standards and then pass it without delay, Human Rights Watch said. The government should meanwhile consult with local women’s rights organizations to open more shelters for survivors of domestic violence, and donor governments should fund private shelters for victims of domestic violence.

    “It should not take a global pandemic for Iraqi legislators to address the other deadly pandemic of domestic violence, but failure to do so will cost more lives” Wille said.

    The following sites updated: