Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Truest statement of the week

If the state reserves the right to commit mass murder no one should be surprised that the people follow suit.

“No one should be surprised when a well-armed population makes use of their personal arsenals.”

Mass shootings happen with appalling regularity in the United States. It is bad enough that recent shootings took place in Atlanta, Boulder, and Indianapolis, but the horror is always followed by the same useless faux debates. Half the population wants to limit gun ownership, the other half doesn’t and continues a gun buying spree to prove their point. Politicians pretend to take action, victims are mourned, thoughts and prayers are uttered, and the cycle repeats itself with the next awful event.

What very few people dare to discuss is how these acts are connected with U.S. history and with the state in its current form. This country exists as a result of genocides and terrorism. The indigenous inhabitants were attacked with wars and disease and the survivors were driven from their ancestral lands. Africans were enslaved and treated like chattel, all Black people were deprived of their legal rights, and Jim Crow lasted for 100 years. Lynch law prevailed and the torture and killing of black people was a spectator sport across the land. The fits and starts of anything resembling justice have been far outweighed by institutional resistance which maintains the status quo.


-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: Gun Violence Starts at the Top" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).




A note to our readers


Hey -- 


Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,\

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?




-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.









Editorial: It was an injustice


Saturday saw an explosion at  Ibn al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad.  BBC NEWS reports, "Reports say an accident had caused an oxygen tank to explode, sparking the blaze.  Videos on social media show firefighters scrambling to extinguish the flames as people flee the building."  Outlets -- including THE CONVERSATION -- note that at least 82 have died with another 110 injured.  Those two numbers, by the way, are the official numbers published by the Iraqi government.  The death toll could rise.  Last night and early this morning, the published death toll was 23.  AP Tweets:

Anxious relatives are searching for those missing after a blaze set off by an exploding oxygen cylinder killed 82 in a Baghdad coronavirus ward. The blaze described by a nurse as "volcanoes of fire" swept through the hospital's ICU unit. By


Baghdad: ICU ward catches fire, 82 patients dead, 110 injured

AFP observes, "Iraq's hospitals have been worn down by decades of conflict and poor investment, with shortages in medicines and hospital beds." 

  CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq speaks with an eye witness:

Murtadha Riyadh's grandmother and aunt were both on the hospital's second floor ICU ward when the fire erupted. 

 He was nearby picking up medicine for his grandmother when he suddenly heard explosions, he told CNN. "I ran back to the hospital. I called them to check on them. They told me, 'Don't come up, we are being evacuated,' but they could not make it."

"I rushed to the first floor (of the hospital) to help but I could not, I was suffocating. Then fire broke out," Riyadh said.
Minutes later health workers and neighborhood volunteers started carrying out charred bodies.

Samya Kullab (AP) also incorporates an eye witness:

Nurse Maher Ahmed was called to the scene late Saturday to help evacuate patients.

“I could not have imagined it would be a massive blaze like that,” he said. The flames overwhelmed the hospital’s second floor isolation hall within three to four minutes of the oxygen cylinder exploding, he said. “Volcanoes of fire.”

Also speaking to eye witnesses?  ALSUMARIA TV.

On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers for the victims and survivors.  The Martin Luther King Jr. Center Tweeted:

 Tragedy in Baghdad. We are praying for the families and communities mourning loved ones who died in this hospital fire.

KURDISTAN 24 Tweets:

People light candles in front of Erbil Citadel in the Kurdistan Region in solidarity with the victims of the deadly Ibn al-Khatib hospital fire in Baghdad.
Camera with flash
Safin Hamed / AFP - April 25, 2021

Condolences were express by many countries and many leaders,  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:


Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it was deeply saddened over a fire that broke out at a hospital in the Iraqi capital, leaving more than 80 people dead.

“The Kingdom expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to Iraq, the leadership, government and people,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

THE TEHRAN TIMES notes, "Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Sunday expressed his deepest condolences to Iraq, especially the families of the victims of the fire at the Ibn Khatib hospital in Baghdad."  THE TIMES OF OMAN reports Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al Said "has sent a cable of condolences to President Dr Barham Salih of the Republic of Iraq on victims of the fire that broke out in Ibn Al Khatib Hospital in Baghdad.  In the cable, His Majesty the Sultan expressed his sincere condolences and sympathy to President Dr Barham Salih, families of the victims, and the Iraqi brotherly people."  Halgurd Sherwani (KURDISTAN 24) notes the reaction from the Kurdish Regional Government with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani statting that the KRG intends to "offer all the necessary assistance for the victims of the blast, particularly medical aid and receiving the injured ones." ANHA notes Mazloum Abdi, who leads the US-backed militia or terrorist group the Syrin Democratic Forces, weighed in:


The Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) expressed his solidarity with Iraq in the "tragedy of Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital" in Baghdad and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

Commenting on the fire incident of the "Ibn Al-Khatib" hospital in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, which has claimed more than 82 deaths and 110 injuries so far, the SDF's Commander-in-Chief, tweeted: "We have received with great sadness and sorrow the news. The painful tragedy at Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad. We are in solidarity with Iraq in this ordeal. Condolences, patience and solace to the families of the martyrs, and we wish the wounded a speedy recovery."

The White House issued a statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan:

We mourn the loss of life in the fire at Ibn al-Khatib hospital in Baghdad. We are in touch with Iraqi officials and have offered assistance. Our strategic partnership with Iraq is first and foremost a partnership between our two peoples. We are prepared to support the Government of Iraq and its people at this tragic moment. 

The hospital treats COVID patients and one would assume that they would be a more secure facility as a result.  While an oxygen cannister may have exploded that doesn't allow for 'accidents' when the hsopital was not equipped with the basics such as a fire sprinkler system.  As political theorist Judith N. Shklar noted in THE FACES OF INJUSTICE, there is a difference between a tragedy and an injustice -- an injustice could have been prevented.  The number of deaths could have been prevented had basic safety guidelines been in place at the hospital.


Q: What do the Baghdad hospital fire (82 dead) & the Beirut port explosion (215 dead) have in common? A: They were caused by criminal levels of neglect, corruption & mismanagement. The hospital had no sprinklers or fire hoses & a flammable ceiling.

Jean Shaoul (WSWS) explains:

On Sunday, amid fears that riots would break out, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an emergency meeting at the headquarters of the Baghdad Operations Command, which coordinates Iraqi security forces. He declared three days of mourning after ordering an investigation into the fire and later firing several hospital officials and suspending the health minister pending investigations. However, Kadhimi’s pledge to carry out an inquiry and bring those responsible to justice are just empty words. The Iraqi people are still waiting for his promised investigation into those responsible for the deaths of more than 600 protesters in October 2019 to be named, let alone tried and punished.

Kadhimi is sitting atop a social powder keg, and he knows it. Unemployment, already high before the pandemic, has worsened, with at least 36 percent of the people and almost 50 percent of young people officially reported as unemployed. The average 18 year old has had just 6.2 years of schooling, although only four years in terms of actual educational achievement due to the disastrous state of the country’s education system, once one of the best in the Arab world. Some 3.2 million school-aged children are out of school. In conflict-affected areas, almost all school-aged children are missing out on an education.

Basic services, such as a regular electricity supply in the world’s third largest oil exporter and clean water, are a chimera. Poverty rates are soaring, with 16 million people living below the poverty line, as food prices soar. Cooking oil has risen to 2,500 dinars a bottle, up from 1,500 dinars, while imported foodstuffs have become more expensive because of the recent currency devaluation.


Iraqis Blame Mismanagement, Corruption For Baghdad Hospital Fire

THE CONVERSATION offers  lengthy analysis which includes:

However, probably the biggest cause of the recent hospital tragedy is widespread corruption. It has emptied state coffers and crippled investment in important public infrastructure like hospitals.

Iraq is one of the most resource rich countries in the world, producing billions of dollars of oil each year. But, especially since 2003, much of this wealth has been siphoned out of the public pocket.

However, the state has been too weak to properly prosecute corruption, and for ordinary people this has affected everything from education to electricity provision, health services to not having potable water in your home.

This has relevant flow-on effects. Fire safety in a hospital is under resourced and comes very low on the list of problems to solve. You get hospitals with insufficient capacity to deal not only with COVID but an unexpected event like a fire. There may be insufficient training or systems in place to reduce fire risk or cope when one occurs. It’s not as though one instance of corruption caused this horrible fire but it’s easy to see how the broader problems of corruption can allow a situation like this to happen.

The United Nations News Center notes:

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert offered her deepest condolences to the families of the scores of people who lost their lives during a blaze that erupted at the Ibn Khatib hospital on Saturday night and wished the 100-plus injured a full and speedy recovery.

According to reports, the accident was caused by the explosion of an oxygen tank.

Iraq's Civil Defence said that by the early hours of Sunday morning the fire was under control. 

Media reports said that the government's human rights commission issued a statement calling the incident “a crime against patients exhausted by Covid-19”. 

And emergency service officials said that many patients died when they were taken off oxygen machines to be evacuated, while others were suffocated by smoke, according to news sources. 

Future disasters must be stemmed before they start, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert  said, calling for “stronger protection measures to ensure that such a disaster cannot reoccur”. 

Meanwhile, the UN continues to provide critical support to Iraq's health sector amid the pandemic and surging infections and stands ready to further assist the health authorities in combating the disease.  

On Sunday morning, Twitter was awash with concern over the tragic accident, including the UN Children’s Fund, which tweeted: “UNICEF extends its deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and those injured due to the fire that occurred at Ibn Al-Khatib Hospital in Baghdad”. 

MEMO reports;

In the aftermath of a deadly fire which took the lives of over 80 COVID-19 patients, Iraq's health minister and the governor of Baghdad have both been suspended, Anadolu Agency reported.

At a special Sunday Cabinet session, Health Minister Hassan Al-Tamimi and Baghdad Governor Muhammad Jaber were suspended and referred for investigations, said a statement by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's media office.

It added that a commission chaired by Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanimi was set up to investigate the deadly fire at Ibn Al-Khatib hospital and hold those responsible accountable.

Again, there is a difference between a tragedy and an injustice..  AFP's reporting may be the strongest when it comes to backing up that this was an injustice:

“It’s mismanagement that killed these people,” the doctor added, who, on condition of anonymity, angrily listed the hospital’s many shortcomings.

“Managers walk around smoking in the hospital where oxygen cylinders are stored,” he said. “Even in intensive care, there are always two or three friends or relatives at a patient’s bedside.”

And, he added, “this doesn’t just happen at Ibn al-Khatib, it’s like this in all the public hospitals.”

“When equipment breaks down, our director tells us not to report it,” said a nurse, in another hospital in Baghdad. “He says it would give a bad image of his establishment, but in reality, we have nothing that works.”

These institutions — which until the 1980s were the pride of Iraq, known across the Arab world for its free, high quality public health services — are now seen as an embarrassment by many.

This was an injustice.  Enough care was not taken for the patients to be safe.  The Iraqi people grasp that.  Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) explains:

The tragedy sparked outrage on social media and the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) called for the dismissal of the minister of health, Hassan al-Tamimi.

“We ask the prime minister to dismiss the minister of health and his agents and to refer them to investigation,” read a statement from IHCHR, calling for Kadhimi to personally run the health ministry “with an advisory team of Iraqi medical universities and colleges to manage this vital ministry in this difficult situation.”

On Sunday afternoon, Kadhimi’s office announced he had suspended Health Minister Tamimi, Baghdad Governor Mohammad Jabir al-Atta, and the health director, Abdel Ghani al-Saadi, in Baghdad’s Rasafa district where Ibn Khatib hospital is located.  

The three officials are under investigation and Kadhimi has demanded results within five days. 

And the same outlet, Sura Ali and Yasmine Mosimann report:

Protests erupted in several Iraqi cities on Sunday evening in response to a massive hospital fire in Baghdad the previous night that many see as a result of the state’s corruption and mismanagement. 

Demonstrations took place in the provinces of Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Wasit, Babil, Karbala, Najaf, Muthanna and Basra in solidarity with the victims of the fire that ripped through Ibn al-Khatib Hospital on Saturday night. The incident, which has killed at least 82 people and injured another 110, has been widely blamed on the facility’s storage of oxygen cylinders.

 "What happened yesterday was a massacre, and it can happen in any hospital in any governorate in Iraq due to the dilapidated health system, so corrupt local governments must be dismissed first,” Najaf activist Saif al-Mansoori told Rudaw English on Sunday.


The above is from C.I.'s Monday "Iraq snapshot."




TV: Types

Types. Stereotypes is how some confuse the process. In the early days of film types took hold. A similar process had existed with stage plays but due to the distance -- the physical distance -- of the audience from the stage, typing was nothing like what it became in the film world. The physical distance from a screen didn't matter the way that it did from the stage. This was because the projection on the screen created people larger than life and because one of the elements in film is the close up which enlarges the actor even more.


Types are not stereotypes but types can be used to create stereotypes. For example, we've long pointed out that the film studios created a gay stereotype and did so to protect actors that they had under contract (to protect their investment) by creating a stereotype of what it meant to be gay. If that was gay, then William Haines couldn't be gay or Ramon Novarro or . . . Those playing the swish stereotype often weren't gay. They read gay (in part because of the stereotype that the studio created). Read. That's what typing was about.

Jean Harlow? She was never going to come across as genteel and to the manor born, for example. Yes, she did come across as the dumb blond type but that types was stretched and expanded over the years. Marilyn Monroe, for example, offered a compassion that really wasn't present in Jean Harlow. Goldie Hawn offered a sweetness that expanded the type. Typing did not mean you were good in a role, for example. It just meant that it was thought the audience would accept you. For example, onscreen Jayne Mansfield did little acting to praise and onscreen she didn't expand the type. Offscreen? You could make a different argument. But in terms of film, she really didn't offer a great deal. Sheree North is another one that studios poured their hopes into and she didn't deliver. Two decades later, when she had a lived in quality, she would and did deliver but she was typed differently by then. (Her role on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, for example, was not a dumb blond role).

Types were most often imposed upon supporting actors. Was Thelma Ritter really a great actress? Was Walter Brennan? Or did they deliver so strongly onscreen due being cast according to type? Leading performers? They frequently had the power to be cast against type and to show real acting (or what was considered real acting). Some failed, some succeeded. But in terms of becoming a true film star, even now, you need typing. Meryl Streep, for example, avoided typing. Some idiot wrongly convinced her she could play anything. And she can play anything . . . badly.

It's why she's a known actress but why she never became a film star. Meryl does not sell tickets as the box office for her many (too many?) films has made clear. Compare her with, for example, Julia Roberta and you'll see what movie stardom really means. Jessica Lange, by contrast, is a versatile actress but, even so, it was being cast according to type that made her a film star.

A film star, unlike a character actor is not a long running role. At best, you're looking at a ten year run in most cases. The desire for the new and the over familiarity that typing breeds in the audience tends to ends starring roles for men and women. We'll come back to the women aspect of that in a minute.

But what got us thinking about typing to begin with was HBO's MADE FOR LOVE series. The series revolves around Hazel Green-Gogol, played by Cristin Milioti, who is married to a tech wizard and escaping the confined experience he has put her in, especially after he's had a chip implanted in her that will meld her mind to his. Cristin is wonderful in the role. But we do wonder how she got cast in it. We wonder that especially because she was a guest star on one of the best episodes of 30 ROCK, "TGS Hates Women." In that episode, she plays Abby Flynn, a popular comedian that Liz wants to hire for TGS. Jack says no until he sees a photo of her. Her act is that she's a "sexy baby." Liz is offended and finds her to be a throwback and an insult to women while Jenna is jealous and wants Abby destroyed. Liz finds out that Abby Flynn is really Abby Grossman and outs her online and in a meeting. Now Abby can be true herself. Problem, she created Abby Flynn to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend who is a stalker and threatens her.

Again, Cristen is a great in MADE FOR LOVE and was great in that episode of 30 ROCK but, we wonder, what is it that casting reads in her as "woman abused"?

The eight episode season moves quickly. And it establishes quickly that Hazel is not an innocent. She stole a dress from her best friend that resulted in the friend failing her design class. She ran scams on college campuses. When she married a billionaire, she did not bother with her father (played by Ray Romano). And the cruelty isn't in the past.

She's cruel to her husband Byron (Billy Magnussen). Now he's abusive in that he's locked her away and prevented her from having any freedom of movement -- she's locked in one of his cubes where people do visit but she's not able to leave. He doesn't like to leave himself and is scared of the outside world. His fears do not excuse his abuse. And we're not bothered by any of her efforts to tell him off or gross him out (due to the chip he implanted, he can see through Hazel's eyes). But there was a moment that was true cruelty.

In episode eight, he's in the real world solely to try to convince her to return to him and the cube.

They meet up in a diner. Hazel gets him to talk about how he needs her. In talking about this, he gets worked up, as she can tell. And he orgasms as the table. At first, her reaction appears to be ihappy but that switches to cruelty. Throughout their ten year marriage, she has never seen that. While he's sexually satisfied her, he's never satisfied himself in her presence. This was a very vulnerable moment for him and she is gleefully mocking him.

After all he's done, she may have every right to be gleeful. But we were shocked. She will return to the cube with him -- because her father is sick and only Byron's technology can save him.

She's a complex character and we applaud that. We'd also enjoy seeing a second season (no determination has been made on that yet).

Types. We're back to women older than Cristen. And we're dealing with how a film star is sent packing specifically a film actress. We were looking at Lucy Flores' Twitter feed and we saw a Tweet we agreed with politically but not artistically.r

She had reTweeted Renee Bracey Sherman's response to US House Rep Carolyn Maloney.


Maloney had tweeted about a NEW YORK TIMES list of the highest paid chief executives and wondered why no women were on the list? Renee had noted that that was really not the issue, meaning the outrageous pay was outrageous however you broke it down -- by gender, by race, etc.

And, again, we agree with that politically. Where we have the problem is artistically.

Women get phased out as film stars at a certain age. And that's for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is the lack of real life precedence. PATTON is about a general, for example. We are completely opposed to the Iraq War but we do realize that it provides the chance for actresses to play a wider range of roles in film. The chance. May or may not happen. How many films in the 70s and onward featured women in roles of power in the media? There's WATERGATE but that was based on a true story. Dorothy Schiff was the owner and publisher of THE NEW YORK POST from 1939 until 1976. From 1969 to 1979, Katharine Graham held the title of publisher at THE WASHINGTON POST. So from 1960 through 1976, two of the country's biggest papers had female publishers. But that really wasn't reflected in films about journalism. Film doesn't progress at a rapid pace. And it has a very narrow view of what types of films that they will make about women over the age of fifty. Hopefully, the transition women have made into various roles will allow studios to care about actresses over the age of fifty. Hopefully.

We don't know. But we do know one thing for sure, Ashli Babbitt was a woman. "Was" because she was shot dead. She was part of the DC riot back in January. Is it because she was part of the riot that so few seem to care about her death? Is it because she was a Trump supporter? Apparently, typing goes beyond films. There appears to be a "type" that the media will choose to lament and a type they won't. Ashli was unarmed when was shot dead by a police officer. Why did he choose to shoot and why to shoot her when others were around? Those are questions that should be explored but if you don't fit the media's 'type' apparently they will ask questions about you and your beliefs but never ask why you were shot or debate what the point was in shooting you to begin with?



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