Monday, May 24, 2021

Truest statement of the week

While the corporate media continue tales of phony equivalency and act as stenographers for the state, thousands of people ignored them and took to the streets in protest. It is true that Israel continues its stranglehold on politics in the U.S. and throughout the NATO imperialist alliance. While officials throughout these nations ignored the reality of deaths of Gazan civilians, including entire families, protests took place in Washington, London, Paris and other cities in defiance of political leadership.

What of Black political leadership in this country? Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) rose to the occasion with clear condemnation of Israel on the floor of congress. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Andre Carson and Cori Bush all made unequivocal statements decrying Israel’s actions. This development is an important one, as the hangover from the Israeli lobby targeting of CBC members is seeming to dissipate. These CBC members are like millions of people, appalled by scenes of the Israeli Defense Forces violating the sanctity of al-Aqsa and lynch mobs attacking Palestinians at will.


-- Margaret Kimberley's "Freedom Rider: The Palestine Litmus Test" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).






Truest statement of the week II

There is an extraordinary column in the Washington Post from Glenn Kessler on a key figure in past coverage on the removal of Confederate statues.  The Post ran a widely cited article on how Robert E. Lee’s own descendant wanted the general’s statues to be removed. The problem is that no one at the Post appears to have actually checked to see if Rev. Robert W. Lee was an actual descendant. It now appears that he is not, according to Kessler. While Kessler strangely does not believe this warrants his signature “Pinocchios,”  he should be credited for doing something that no one in the media seemed inclined to do: confirm the story, even belatedly. It was, as the old journalistic saying goes, “a fact too good to check.”

Kessler is rebounding from a controversy over what many viewed as a “hit job” that he wrote on Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) in which he suggested that Scott had lied about this family history. Despite an accusatory headline, Kessler actually found nothing that refuted Scott’s “from cotton to Congress” account.  This family claim by Rev. Lee may have been entirely fabricated and certainly was made without clear factual basis.


-- Jonathan Turley, "'A Fact Too Good To Check': The Post Admits That The Claimed Descendant Who Denounced Gen. Lee Was Not A Descendant" (JONATHANTURLEY.ORG).  

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: The wave of killings in Iraq


I am Iraqi Who Killed Me? 100 poster in the most roads of karbala city- Iraq. Protesters demand to reveal the killers of martyr IHAB AL-WAZNI


Graffiti reading in Arabic "Where's my killer?" and depicting renowned anti-government activist Ihab al-Wazni (Ehab al-Ouazni), who was shot dead in an ambush earlier this month, in the shrine city of Karbala, Iraq Credit: Mohammed Sawaf/AFP via Getty Images




Protest are called in Iraq for Tuesday, May 25th. They were called by Ihab al-Wazni -- before he became the latest activist to be assassinated in a wave of assassinations that has gripped Iraq for months now. Ihab's family reaffirmed last week that the protests to take place tomorrow after Ihab became yet another 'unsolved' mystery.

Sura Ali (RUDAW) reports this evening:

A human rights watchdog has warned against the use of violence against protesters, calling on the government to protect them ahead of a mass demonstration scheduled for Tuesday in Baghdad.
“The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights warns the government against using violence against demonstrators. Thousands prepare to demonstrate again in Baghdad. The government should protect them,” the observatory tweeted on Monday.
Huge crowds from the central and southern provinces will set out towards the capital, Baghdad, to the city’s Nisour and Firdos squares as headquarters for the protests. Activists said that there is high coordination between demonstrators in different provinces.
"We may go towards the Green Zone to pressure the government to reveal the killers of the demonstrators and activists and bring them to justice," activist Ridha Hajwel told Rudaw English.
The demonstrations were called for by prominent Karbala activist Ihab al-Wazni, days before his assassination earlier in May.

Why would they need protection?

For starters, Saturday saw the assassination of activist and political candidate Hashem al-Mashhadani.

The same day, activist Imad al-Aqili survived an assassination attempt.

Before that, journalist Ahmed Hassan survived an assassination attempt (and required brain surgery as a result of the attempt).

It is a wave of assassinations. Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reported a few weeks ago:

That moment did not last: Iraq’s human rights commission says it has registered 81 assassination attempts against anti- government activists and journalists since the protests began. At least 34 have been killed, almost a third of them after the appointment of a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power vowing justice for the slain activists.
Mounting threats are now being made against their friends and associates. Disillusionment and fear have forced many into exile. “They came to my father two weeks ago and told him my name was on their list” said one photographer, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of concern for his family’s safety in Baghdad.

To be very clear, THE WASHINGTON POST was the only US newspaper to report on Ihab's assassination.

Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights' Ali al-Bayati tells Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL), “Such ongoing killings are considered terrorist acts as they target the country’s national security, as well as impact the credibility of the coming elections. The state must end impunity by taking real steps to refer to security officials whose responsibility is to end the violence through investigation."


Last week, Belkis Willis (Human Rights Watch) observed :

Many of these killings and abductions have targeted the people who were leading voices during the demonstrations and journalists who covered the unfolding events in Baghdad and other centers of protest. Despite the gravity and scale of the ongoing assassination campaign, Kadhimi's government has failed to ensure any accountability or justice.
Soon after taking office, Kadhimi established a committee last May to investigate and hold accountable those behind the killings of protesters—but it has yet to publish any findings. There are few other signs that he has made any other progress. Armed groups have become so brazen that gunmen have no fear approaching someone in the middle of the street in a major Iraqi city and shooting them without consequence.
Perhaps the strongest message of impunity was sent by the killers of Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, a member of the political elite in Baghdad and a close ally and adviser of the prime minister, who was assassinated in July 2020. Despite Kadhimi's commitments to hold his murderers to account— "We promise the killers that we will go after them so they may be served their just punishment," he said—the crime went unpunished. It felt to me, and to many others, like a checkmate moment between these killers and the Iraqi government.

Over and over these crimes are not punished. These acts of terrorism are not punished. As noted this morning at THE COMMON ILLS:

Iraq's president Barham Salih gave a major televised address yesterday, he invoked terrorism and crime, but he never said a word about the real terrorism of targeting activists, the real crime of these continued assassinations. Barham made clear that his personal god is Greed and that he worships at the alter of avarice.

Who's behind these assassinations? Ihab's family is very clear that they believe he was killed by members of the militia (which are now a part of the Iraqi government forces). Alican Tekingunduz (TRT) notes, "Dr. Tallha Abdulrazaq, a security expert on the Middle East from the University of Exeter, told TRT World that the nature of the killing suggests that pro-Iranian Shia militia groups are behind the assassinations of both Al Wazni and several other prominent Iraqis. "

Where is the world's attention? Elsewhere. When it comes to Iraq, it's always attention elsewhere.




TV: How they can make you just not give a damn

WHO KILLED SARA? NETFLIX slipped in the second season offering about two months after they debuted season one. Is it worth watching?

3 JESS Probably so. The story continues and, as it does, you learn that you never really knew about Sara in season one. But, to be honest, we stopped streaming and realized we just didn't give a damn anymore who killed Sara.



Luis Roberto Guzman created a full bodied character with Lorenzo and you honestly gave a damn about him. He wasn't trying to break the law, he wasn't trying to hurt anyone and he wasn't after revenge. He was a good person who tried to do the right thing throughout season one. In season two, things got more complicated. When trashy Clara's hideous ex-boyfriend broke in, Lorenzo tried to reason with him. Chema instead stabbed him to death. Yet again, Lorenzo had to be the mature one. Yet again. He had to help Clara and Chema bury the body. And then, when a development was going to take place, Chema and he went to move the body, in the rain, and Chema gets a call and bails. Leaving in the only car they took. Lorenzo is left to clean up Chema's mess as usual. Then the brother of Clara's now dead ex-boyfriend shows up and kills Lorenzo in front of Chema. Lorenzo is killed because Chema murdered the guy's brother.

When Lorenzo died, we bailed.

There was no reason for the character to die.

We're reminded of the hideous Joss Whedon (we warned you Buffy fans years and years and years ago). Tara and Willow are a couple. There's finally a same-sex couple on BUFFY. And they're in love. And Tara is killed off. Because there were too many lesbian characters in the cast?

No, because killing off a gay character, putting them in an icebox, is a long standing trope.

WHO KILLED SARA? had two gay characters: Chema and Lorenzo -- two if you want to pretend. There was no need to kill off one. Twelve main characters, tons of supporting ones and the decision is made to kill of Lorenzo?

Years after Amber Benson's Tara was killed off, BUFFY producer Marti Noxon stated killing the character went too far, adding, "And I think that killing Tara was – in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?"


Killing Amber was a plot device and homophobic. We say the same of killing Lorenzo.

Reality, Eugenio Siller's Chema is not that interesting. Nor is he good looking. Nor is he sympathetic. He's also not 'gay.'

We realize that, right?

Lorenzo is in love with Chema and wants to make a life with him. Despite Chema wanting trashy Clara to carry their child as a surrogate -- despite the fact that Chema once fooled around with Clara. And, in season two, look who's screwing. No, not Kirstie Alley and John Travolta, Chema and Clara. Chema dresses in Lorenzo's clothes and paints on a mustache to seduce the pathetic Chema who does not defend his lover by telling her to take off Lorenzo's clothes. No, he makes out with Clara.

Chema's bi. The only gay character was Lorenzo and he gets killed off. Ridiculous and insulting.

We're back to tokenism. We're back to the days where we have our 'gay' Steven Carrington who's only gay sometimes. (Credit to Al Corely for publicly complaining -- in INTERVIEW with then lover Carly Simon -- about how Steven was being changed). We're back to the days of let's throw in a gay character for spice -- to show how 'progressive' we are -- but let's quickly kill him off so that he can't actualize any dreams or hopes or plans. Lorenzo was a full bodied character and that goes to the actor, not the writers.

There's a scene, for example, in season one, where Lorenzo is objecting to Clara being in their life and Clara's crazy ex and Chema won't grow the hell up and fight for the love he and Lorenzo share. Lorenzo tells him that he knows Chema needs a daddy (yes, Lorenzo was the Daddy in that relationship) but Chema still needs to grow up. With a stare and body language, Lorenzo got across everything the writers and producers had been afraid and too timid to address.

One thing NETFLIX can rightly point to is that it has been a leader on portrayals of sexual orientation (LGBTQ) as well as sex period (the challenged or disable, those with kinks or fetishes, etc -- all have been represented). So we're not going to blame NETFLIX for what took place. But, to be clear, what took place was outrageous and offensive. We will hold the show runners accountable and that especially includes Jose Ignacio Velenzuela.

It really is past time that gay characters stop being used as 'flavor' to spice up otherwise bland offerings and then, once they've spiced things up, be dropped so we can return to the dull and bland. Don't mistake rudimentary plotting for art.






Ty's Corner


Our most read feature? It may very well end up Ava and C.I.'s "Media: Gay Rights and Gay Wrongs" from last week. It's already huge.

And it should have been part of a theme edition. We were talking, Ava and C.I. and I, about e-mails two weeks ago. Miles Striker was an issue in the e-mails. They weren't familiar with him. I explained the complaints about him that had come in. They started talking about it and said they could do it, they could even bring in other fetish performers, they could do this and that. They planned to call three friends who are adult entertainers in the gay porn industry for feedback and suggestions. It was going to be a very interesting article.

And it was. This was truly an article about media as they covered videos, stories, etc.

But what the three of us came up with was much more ambitious.

At her site, Rebecca's been covering Twitter male stars. Who pose nude or semi. She's particularly fond of THE GAY GASTON. And what if, we came up with, the guys who work on THIRD evaluated these males? Could we see, for example, why ten men were considered hot?

The ten would be decided by the women of the site.

Marcia and I -- as LGBTQs -- might end up left out and we discussed that with Marcia who was more than okay with that because she loved the idea. Then we were going to do a roundtable on sexuality. For the editorial, Ava and C.I. planned one that would touch on the LGBTQ community in Iraq and on the Iraq sex trade industry which would note the documentary available currently on AMAZON.

It was pretty intricate and involved and there were other components.

I have a piece this edition about KINDLE that was going to run the same edition and Ava, C.I. and I did a book discussion on that. (This ran last week in HILDA'S MIX instead.)

When Sunday ended, only Ava and C.I.'s piece was written (they wrote it from five a.m. to ten a.m. Sunday). We had recorded the discussion and needed to transcribe that. The women had picked 10 men that they considered hot.

The stumbling block?

The men looking at the photos of the ten guys. Jim joked and joked. He can do a Jim's World feature if he wants to address whether this was his usual silliness (which it may have been) or if this was because he was uncomfortable? Mike, Jess and Stan weren't uncomfortable and were all for doing this. Wally wasn't participating because he had a family event and was sitting the whole edition out. Cedric appeared game but got tired of the stalling and the joking and ended up bailing. (I don't blame him.)

This should have been a really easy edition.

Why did it fall apart?

I don't know. I know this happens on other topics as well so it would be simplistic just to say it was because of the LGBTQ topic.

But, whatever the reason, I found it personally disappointing.


Bob Dylan's 80 best songs

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan turned 80 today.  For that reason, we offer our pick of his 80 best songs.

1) "Subterranean Homesick Blues"

2) "Blowing in the Wind"

3) "Knocking On Heaven's Door"

4) "Murder Most Foul"

5) "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"

6) "Like a Rolling Stone"

7) "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

8) "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall"

9) "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"

10) "Just Like A Woman"

11) "I Want You"

12) "Mr. Tambourine Man"

13) "Shelter From The Storm"

14) "Not Dark Yet"

15) "Hurricane"

16) "Jokerman"

17) "Queen Jane Approximately"

18) "Driftin' Too Far From Shore"

19) "Boots of Spanish Leather"

20) "Tangled Up In Blue"

21) "Band of the Hand"

22) "Masters of War"

23) "It Ain't Me Babe"

24) "Brownsville Girl"

25) "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

26) "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)"

27) "With God On Our Side"

28) "Maybe Someday"

29) "License To Kill"

30) "Dreamin' Of You"

31) "Girl from the North Country"

32) "I Contain Multitudes"

33) "All I Really Want To Do"

34) "Ballad of a Thin Man"

35) "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You"

36) "Most of the Time"

37) "Motorpsycho Nitemare"

38) "Ballad in Plain D"

39) "Gotta Serve Somebody"

40) "Tight Connection To My Heart"

41) "Stuck Inside of Mobil with the Memphis Blues Again"

42) "Under Your Spell"

43) "Can't Wait"

44) "If You Ever Go To Houston"

45) "I Contain Multitudes"

46) "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"

47) "Changing of the Guards"

48) "Forever Young"

49) "I Threw It All Away"

50) "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"

51) "My Back Pages"

52) "Watching The River Flow"

53) "All Along The Watchtower"

54) "Maggie's Farm"

55) "I've Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You"

56) "Visions of Johanna"

57) "Early Roman Kings"

58) "When The Deal Goes Down"

59) "Went To See The Gypsy"

60) "Crossing the Rubicon"

61) "Dear Landlord"

62) "Mother of Muses"

63) "Isis"

64) "False Prophet"

65) "Sweetheart Like You"

66) "Buckets of Rain"

67) "It takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry"

68) "The Man In Me"

69) "My Own Version Of You"

70) "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"

72) "Seeing The Real You At Last"

73) "Cat's In The Well"

74) "Highlands"

75) "Goodbye Jimmy Reed"

76) "Delia"

77) "High Water (For Charley Patton)"

78) "Emotionally Yours"

79) "I Feel A Change Coming On"

80) "Dark Eyes"

KINDLE UNLIMITED's gay erotica (Ty)

 Gay erotica?  Just a fancy word for porn?

Maybe so, maybe so.  I visit sites like NIFTY.ORG and GAY SPIRAL STORIES for reads as does my husband.  

What do we think about KINDLE UNLIMITED with regards to erotic stories?

Free reading -- if you pay your monthly fee?  That sounds about right.  The bulk of the gay erotica is just not worth paying for.  There's not much creativity that goes into it.  Some stories are poorly rewritten hetero erotica -- so badly rewritten that they will get names wrong in a paragraph or genders.  

We've probably read 60 offerings this year.  Only ten are worth recommending:



2) Jack Wolfman's MPREG THE ALPHA MALE



5) M Stonehouse's PLEASING PATRICK

6) Jack Brighton's ENSLAVING JAKE





10) Harry Hawkings' SPANKING THE BAD BOY




In 2018, community sites took turns covering a book every week.  You can see "In 2018, we read books" to review that coverage.  We didn't want to repeat ourselves in 2019 or 2020.  So when Marcia came up with a way to cover books but with a twist, we were all for it.  Marcia's idea was for us to digital books -- we're largely a printed text crowd -- and to use AMAZON's KINDLE UNLIMITED.  So for 2021, we'll be doing a book a week and trying to just use KINDLE UNLIMITED. This week, we're talking with Kat about her "ERROL FLYNN: THE QUEST FOR AN OSCAR."


 Okay, so you liked the book by James Turiello?


Kat: I did.  I would recommend it.  However . . .


Yeah, we sensed a however in your coverage.


Kat: Not about the book.  But about AMAZON's choices.  I'm about to start a Janis Joplin book.  After that, I may be done.  The offerings?  There's just not enough to interest me.  


Not enough offered?  Not enough changes and updating?


Kat: All of it.  These are the same books that were offered when I started paying at the end of December.  Actually, at the end of January.  I got the first month for free.  I need more choices and I'm just not getting them from AMAZON.


So at this point, you'd recommend the service or not?


Kat: Big thumbs down from me.  That could change if the selections are updated before the end of the year.  If not, I'm a one year only subscriber to KINDLE UNLIMITED.




"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Kat, Ava and C.I.)"


"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Betty, Ava and C.I.)

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Stan, Ava and C.I.)


"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Betty, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Elaine, Dona, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Mike, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Trina, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Stan, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Kat, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)"









Tweet of the week

From Nora Barrows-Friedman:



“Israel’s latest violent onslaught against Palestinians underscores the importance of advocacy for Palestinian human rights. By standing up against this illegal antiBDS law, Abby Martin ensures that all Americans have the freedom to stand up for Palestine"







In 2021, we'll be covering digital books.  So far this year, the coverage includes:




Ty's "KINDLE UNLIMITED's gay erotica (Ty)"







Betty's ""Kim Berry and Andrea Williams' DIAMONDS AND CURLZ""

Isaiah's "Marco Bonafede's WORDLESS COMICS"



Rebecca's "the mommie dearest diary: carol ann tells all"

Kat's "How Mabel Normand's many scandals (at least five) destroyed her career"


Marcia's "Paul Jay's bad Gore Vidal 'book'"


Stan's "Adrienne Barbeau's bad book THERE ARE WORSE THINGS I COULD DO"


Trina's "Mexican Casserole and a book in the Kitchen"









This edition's playlist





1) Nick Jonas' SPACEMAN.




3) Aretha Franklin's WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO?




4) Aretha Franklin's YOUNG, GIFTED & BLACK.

5) Harry Style's FINE LINE.  

6) Cher's STARS.




8)  Ashford & Simpson's HIGH RISE.





10) Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.



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