People often reach out to me seeking relationship advice. They remark on photographs they've seen of me and Barack together—laughing, or sharing a look, appearing content to be side by side. They ask how we have managed to stay both married and unmiserable for 30 years now. I want to say, Yes, truly, it's a surprise to us, too, sometimes! And really, I'm not joking. We have our issues, of course, but I love the man, and he loves me, now, still, and seemingly forever.
Our love is not perfect, but it's real and we're committed to it. This particular certainty sits parked like a grand piano in the middle of every room we enter. We are, in many ways, very different people. He's a night owl who enjoys solitary pursuits. I'm an early bird who loves a crowded room. In my opinion, he spends too much time golfing. In his opinion, I watch too much lowbrow TV. But between us, there's a loving assuredness that's as simple as knowing the other person is there to stay, no matter what. This is what I think people pick up on in those photos: that tiny triumph we feel, knowing that neither one of us has walked away. We remain.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Support for the constitutional amendment exceeded the vote for the incumbent and reelected Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, with 2,240,961 Michiganders voting in favor of Proposal 3 compared to 2,221,539 who voted for Whitmer.
Michiganders also voted in favor of proposals to expand early voting and increase financial disclosures by candidates running for office.
Amendments enshrining the right to an abortion also passed by large majorities in Vermont and California.
In Kentucky, where Republicans appear to have expanded their majority in the state’s General Assembly, voters rejected an amendment to the Kentucky constitution stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” As of this writing, the measure has failed by a margin of nearly 60,000 votes.
After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, a previously enacted “trigger law” banning abortion, which had been passed by the Republican-dominated Kentucky legislature, went into effect. The law prohibits abortions under virtually all circumstances and is currently being challenged in court, with the Kentucky State Supreme Court set to begin hearing the case on November 15.
Nationwide polling conducted by the Associated Press indicates that roughly two-thirds of the population agrees that “abortion should be legal in most or all cases,” while only one in 10 supports a complete ban on the medical procedure.
He said that he would “continue to work across the aisle” and boasted that he had signed more than 200 bipartisan laws since he became president. “Regardless of the final tally,” he said, “I’m prepared to work with my Republican colleagues. The American people have made clear that they expect Republicans to work with me.”
In other words, Biden has turned from warning that “the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country,” as he said in a speech in September, to declaring that the highest objective of his administration is to collaborate with this same Republican Party.
A bipartisan agreement with the Republicans will be based on a common foreign policy of confrontation directed against both Russia and China, Biden indicated. He said that he was leaving on a trip to the Middle East and Asia, which would include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Singapore. On his return, he said, he would invite both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to the White House for a briefing.
Biden dismissed a question from one reporter about McCarthy’s remark that there would be “no blank check” for Ukraine going forward, in the war with Russia. There would be bipartisan support for Ukraine, he said. There was no blank check for the Ukraine war under his administration, he said, citing the US refusal to send US warplanes to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, in order to avoid “World War III,” despite pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In addition to the ongoing US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, both parties support the escalation of aggression directed at China, which is seen by US military strategists as the principal threat to US global economic domination.
Whatever the exact trajectory of American foreign policy, any bipartisan agreement with the Republicans would be based on a common determination to make the American working class pay the massive costs of imperialist militarism and war. While Biden made a show of rejecting the proposals by several Republican senators to cut spending on Medicare and Social Security, there is no question that the Democrats and Republicans will be united on the basis of cutting social spending and cracking down on struggles of the working class.
The immediate battleground is the impending eruption of a nationwide rail workers strike, as more than 100,000 workers are voting on a sellout deal accepted by the unions after it was imposed by a Presidential Emergency Board appointed by Biden. Workers in several unions have already voted down the deal, while the two largest groups of rail workers, engineers and conductors, are expected to follow suit this month.
Biden telegraphed his hostility to the working class in response to a reporter who pointed out that 75 percent of voters, interviewed in exit polls, think the country is going in the wrong direction. “What are you going to change?” he asked. Biden responded, “Nothing.” Later, in response to a similar question about what impact popular hostility would have on a decision to run for reelection in 2024, Biden responded again, “Nothing.”
This arrogant response gives voice to the class hostility of the millionaires and billionaires for whom the Democrats and Republicans speak. They hate the working class and fear any intervention from below into the political crisis in the United States.
Over the past year, the real wage of a typical worker fell by three percent, as the prices of food and fuel surged by more than 10 percent. In the past 12 months, 100,000 Americans lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile corporate profitability soared to the highest level on record.
By declaring that “nothing” will change, Biden is making clear that his administration’s policies of war, austerity and mass infection will continue.
Last week, Biden delivered a speech in Florida: mixing up representative and senator, claiming the United States has among the lowest inflation in the world and saying his son Beau died in Iraq.
The president was campaigning in three different locations across the state and intended to trumpet his triumphs.
Instead, he baffled listeners with a bizarre series of claims.
Speaking alongside Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is hoping to get re-elected in Florida's 23rd district, in greater Miami, Biden mistakenly referred to her as a senator.
'I don't have a greater friend in the United States Senate,' he said.
'And I didn't have a greater friend as vice president, nor as president.
'So Debbie, thank you, kiddo.'
In Hallandale Beach, a Miami suburb 20 miles north of downtown, he claimed that the United States has low inflation - and managed to say once again that his son Beau died in Iraq.
Beau Biden, who served as Delaware's attorney general and in the Delaware Army National Guard in the Iraq War, died at age 46 in 2015 from brain cancer.
He passed away at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
An Australian engineer jailed in Baghdad has been issued with legal papers in his cell claiming he owes the Iraqi government US$50 million, the man’s wife says.
Robert Pether has been detained in Iraq since April last year and his mental and physical health are deteriorating fast behind bars, according to his wife, Desree Pether.
She told Crikey she spoke to her husband twice in the past three days and was told he may be in for another legal battle in an Iraqi court.
According to Desree, whose claims are yet to be verified by the Iraqi embassy or DFAT, her husband was served with papers written in Arabic this week, which he was asked to sign and mark with his thumbprint.
Though Pether doesn’t understand Arabic well enough to read the documents himself, he was told by a cellmate the papers made a claim he owed US$50 million.
The cellmate, Pether’s colleague Khalid Radwan, an Egyptian national, was asked to sign the papers as well.
“They were given it for like two minutes and told ‘sign here’, that’s it,” Desree said.
“They weren’t allowed to keep a copy of it or anything like that.”
Australian Robert Pether, jailed in Baghdad last year over a business dispute, has penned an emotional letter warning his prognosis is “bleak”, his human rights are being violated, and he is facing a potential “death sentence”.
In the letter to his family, released to Guardian Australia, Pether also reveals his daily torment about how he should break it to his children that he might not be coming home.
“How do you tell a little girl who loves unicorns and cats that her daddy will not be coming home? How do you tell your children that you are proud of them, but will not be sharing the accolades (and pitfalls) of their lives with them?,” Pether wrote.
“And toughest of all, how do you tell your wife, who is very much the other half of you, that you will not be keeping the promise you made to grow old together?
“These are the questions that I am currently grappling with every day – from the moment I wake up and the sit on the cell floor for the first head count of the day, until the last thing at night, when I look at the photos of my family on the wall next to my bed.”
Pether was arbitrarily detained in Iraq in April last year over a business dispute between his architecture firm and the Iraqi government. Pether was working on a new headquarters for Iraq’s central bank, and had returned to Iraq to resolve a contract dispute at the request of the Iraqi government.
The 47-year-old previously survived skin cancer in 2005, and before his arrest had attended regular screenings to monitor his health status.
But Pether warned in the letter that prison authorities, including a dermatologist brought in for consultations, have ignored the growth of a new lesion on his ear — the same location of a previous melanoma.
In June, he started to notice rapid changes in the lesion and alerted prison officials. But a dermatologist only prescribed Pether topical cream, which failed to arrive.
Professor Noam Chomsky, a well-known American linguist, philosopher and political activist, said in an interview with the Medya Haber news website that an independent organization should conduct a serious investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces in northern Iraq.
In October the pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency (ANF) published a video showing two members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, apparently under the influence of a chemical agent.
“The Turkish government has committed many atrocities. … Every imaginable form of torture was used during the 1990s against Kurds in Turkey,” Chomsky said. “Therefore, although there is no direct evidence of chemical weapons use by the Turkish government, the allegations provide a legitimate basis for a serious investigation by an independent team in northern Iraq.”
Chomsky also pointed out that the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) could be a highly reliable institution to undertake the investigation as a continuation of a probe they conducted in September with support from the United Nations or one of its member states.