Saturday, March 25, 2017

POWER RANGERS and LIFE disappoints

LOGAN was a great movie.

There have not been many in 2017.

POWER RANGERS?

Not worth seeing.

And this from a fan of the TV show.

I set there trying to think if I'd be this disappointed if I was still a kid?

I think so.


The only thing more disappointing was LIFE.

I had hopes for this film.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.

Neither did that much in the preview but they're both solid actors -- Jake more than solid, he's probably one of the 10 best male actors under fifty today -- and with both of them in the film, it should have felt like something.

Instead, it kind of slides on by.

A weak ALIEN rip-off with no real roles for either Jake or Ryan (or anyone else in the film).

Worse, LIFE doesn't even provide casual moments for Ryan to shine.

That's where Ryan has it on Jake.

Both are genuine movie stars.

But while Jake has the stronger acting chops, Ryan has the stronger movie star dazzle.

And a film that can't even find a moment to let Ryan be Ryan is a film that's a waste of time.

(Ryan comes closest when he's communicating with a little girl on earth.)

One nice moment, just a breather, not pushing a plot point would have made the film so much better.

The plot and the pacing are predictable.

LIFE has a really strong cast and wastes everyone of them.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 
Friday, March 24, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, Moqtad al-Sadr stages a huge rally, AP misreports and much more.


Baghdad today?


: Thousands of people flood 's Tahrir Square, demonstration called by 's powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
 
 
 




Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for today's protest last Saturday:




Muqtada Al-Sadr has called for "million man march" on Friday in Tahrir Square central , Sadr will attend to give "important" speech.









His power to turn out a crowd remains -- visual evidence  of the power he continues to hold in Iraq.


He's never held elected office.

He's never been part of the Cabinet.

The power is internal based solely upon Moqtada himself.

There were times, during the first years of the war, when his power ebbed and flowed.


But the US government always played the wrong hand and would attack or insult him leading supporters to rally around him yet again.

As Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki couldn't command a crowd that size.

As former prime minister, Nouri's lucky to turn out 25 or so people when he visits their towns -- and some of those boo and throw things.

Who is the leader in Iraq?

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is one.

Moqtada al-Sadr is another.


Smoking a cigarette on top of one of bridges and thought about this.
 
 





Please note, Moqtada also has a huge amount of supporters in Basra as well.



Anadolu Agency reports:

In an address delivered to tens of thousands of supporters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, al-Sadr said he had received numerous death threats -- he did not say by whom -- due to his loud and frequent calls for government reform.
“Continue on the path of revolution and reform… even in the event of my death,” he asserted, while urging followers to keep their protests peaceful.
“If Iraq’s official election commission and electoral law remain as they are, we will be forced to boycott the polls,” he declared.
He writes about the protests that erupted in 2014 -- except they didn't.
Those protests erupted near the end of 2012, picked up steam in 2013 and were eventually stopped by Nouri al-Maliki.
Facts, he leaves out of his AP report.
But the his AP report also manages to mention changes -- undefined -- that Moqtada wants to a 'committee' (unnamed.)
The title of the body is the Independent High Electoral Commission.
Dropping back to February 4, 2017:

Hundreds of Iraqis did useful things yesterday including the hundred who rallied in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.  ALSUMARIA reports they rallied to call for reforms in the government (corruption) and reforms in the election law and the Independent High Electoral Commission.  ALSUMARIA reports hundred also protested in Karbala with the same demands.



To the February 8th snapshot:



Due to the protest, ALSUMARIA reports, the Election Commission has closed shop and gone home for the day to avoid "friction" with the protesters.

And ALSUMARIA is reporting that the protest has started with thousands turning out to demand changes in the electoral commission and in the voting law.


Sadrist respond to link the demonstrations on the anniversary of the Baath coup




ALL IRAQ NEWS carries the above photo in their report on today's protest in Baghdad.




Not only has Moqtada been protesting this for some time, UNAMI's also expressed concerns.


It's day 158 of The Mosul Slog -- and how's that working out?




|i regime digs mass grave for 200+ bodies killed by in Mosul. CNN will tell the world later they found an Yazidi mass grave
 
 




Their lives seem to have no worth.
 
 


Horrific Video from West of Mosul bombardment by US Coalition air crafts. 230 have died there in just 2 days.
 
 
~500 civilians (mostly displaced women and children) were massacred in less than 24-hours in and by the & its allies..
 
 



Dozens killed, buried in rubble after Mosul air raid - Iraqi officials, residents
 
 



Oh, silly, idiot Elise of CNN, it is a slog.

It always was.


It's also a tragedy.


"People in West are trapped in the situation of penury & panic." Our representative in Iraq explains the latest developments
Mosul situation deteriorating as fighting rages
Around 400,000 people thought to be trapped in the Old City lack food, clean water and fuel to keep themselves warm.
 
 




Yesterday, we noted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments explaining the US military would not be leaving Iraq even if the Islamic State was defeated.  Jordan Shilton covers it for WSWS:


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Washington’s intention to keep troops deployed more or less indefinitely in the territories now occupied by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in remarks delivered at the beginning of a two-day meeting of the US-organized anti-ISIS coalition in Washington.
“The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS,” he told an audience that included Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He gave no indication of when, if ever, US troops could be withdrawn from a war zone extending across Iraq and Syria, where there has been fighting of greater or lesser intensity throughout the 14 years since the US first invaded Iraq.

Tillerson also called for the establishment of “interim zones of stability” in Syria to which refugees from the US-instigated civil war that has raged throughout that country for the past six years could be forcibly returned. Areas will be deemed “safe” if they have been initially cleared of ISIS, an absurdly low standard given the deadly conflicts which continue to rage between different factions in the Syrian civil war.


At some point, we'll get around to Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford's comments this week that the US military will be in Iraq for "years to come."


The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated:


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    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Snooze-Pire?

    EMPIRE finally showed up with a new episode last night.

    Why?

    This has been the worst season ever.

    Dre's wife is killed and we're not even focusing on the killer (who's now married to Lucious).

    We just walk on and forget.

    And Cookie's been given a story that makes her come off like an airhead.

    I'm just tired of it.

    Add in that Jamal's got a sexless life this season.

    I'm still pissed at the way they walked away from Jamal's same-sex relationships.

    So I gave the show about five minutes last night.

    That's more than it deserved.

    We've got some woman -- we've never seen her before -- being smart with Cookie.

    Nonsense ensues.

    Then we find out she's Jamal's friend at the rehab.

    Then it's family session at the rehab and it's yell and yell between Lucious and Cookie and I just don't give a damn.

    This is how they return after all these weeks off?

    My problem isn't the actors, it's the bad writing.

    I may try again next Wednesday but I'm sick of so many bad episodes and I'm just not in the mood to spend an hour mining for gold -- this one half way decent scene an episode isn't cutting it.



    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

     
    Thursday, March 23, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admits the US military isn't leaving Iraq even if the Islamic State is defeated, Hayder al-Abadi lies about democracy and the militias, reports of mass civilians deaths in Iraq, and much more.




    Yesterday, at the US State Dept, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stood side-by-side with Iraq's Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi.  In one key moment, Tillerson declared:


    At this moment, we are still in a phase characterized by major military operations. The expansion of ISIS has necessitated a large-scale military response, and our offensive measures are reclaiming areas in Iraq and Syria in which ISIS has had a large and destructive footprint. Our end goal in this phase is the regional elimination of ISIS through military force. The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS. Under President Trump’s leadership and with the strength of this historic coalition, our common enemy will remain under intense pressure.


    Did you catch that?

    The US military is not leaving Iraq.

    The Iraq War is not ending.

    Not even if/when ISIS is defeated.

    Still happy to stay silent about the Iraq War?

    (See yesterday's snapshot.)



    Here are some of Tillerson's remarks, read them closely:


    We know military strength will stop ISIS on a battlefield, but it is the combined strength of our coalition that will be the final blow to ISIS. In order to stay ahead of a global outbreak, we must all adopt the following countermeasures: First, continue to persist with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations. All of us must maintain pressure on ISIS’s networks within our own countries and take decisive law enforcement action to stop its growth. ISIS is connected across every continent, and we must work to break every link in its chain. INTERPOL is the newest member of our coalition and is critical to closing all routes through which ISIS terrorists seek to travel and threaten our homelands.
    Second, we need greater intelligence and information sharing within our own domestic intelligence agencies and among our nations. Our information sharing as a coalition has prevented a number of attacks, and this must expand and accelerate regardless of departmental or international rivalries. One example of this is West African nations who have put aside national differences to combat Boko Haram. Let us build on this good example.
    We also must look this enemy’s ideology in the eyes for what it is: a warped interpretation of Islam that threatens all of our people. As His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordon, has recently said, and I quote, “Everything they are, everything they do, is a blatant violation… of my faith.” ISIS fighters are not all from poor or impoverished communities. Many come from middle class or even upper class backgrounds, drawn to a radical and false utopian vision that purports to be based upon the Quran. Muslim partners and leaders of their faith must combat this perverse ideological message. And we are grateful that so many have and are ready to take up this responsibility.
    Lastly, in tandem with our aggressive push-back on the ground in multiple countries, we must break ISIS’s ability to spread its message and recruit new followers online.
    A “digital caliphate” must not flourish in the place of a physical one.
    As we have seen from attacks in Nice, Berlin, Orlando, and San Bernardino, the internet is ISIS’s best weapon for turning a recruit into a self-radicalized attacker. As traveling to Iraq and Syria as a fighter has become more difficult, ISIS’s new call has become, and I quote, “Stay where you are…wage war in [ISIS]’s name wherever you live.”
    ISIS’s handlers around the world spend their days at keyboards communicating with a would-be terrorist, methodically feeding a recruit’s deranged desire to develop local networks or carry out attacks in their own countries.
    We are making progress, but we need to do more to attack this threat. Our Coalition’s 24/7 counter-messaging hubs in the UAE, the UK, and Malaysia are having an impact, and these types of efforts should be replicated and expanded elsewhere.
    Counter-messaging efforts should continue both in the online arena and on the ground in countries where religious leaders have opportunities to speak out against radicalization. Our Muslim partners, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have important roles to play in combatting the message of ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups.
    We all should deepen cooperation with the tech industry to prevent encrypted technologies from serving as tools that enable extremist collaboration.
    We need the global tech industry to develop new advancements in the fight, and we thank those companies which are already responding to this challenge. We must capitalize on the extraordinary advancements in data analytics and algorithmic technologies to build tools that discover ISIS’s propaganda and identify imminent attacks.
    Researchers in the United States are already developing tools for sweeping the dark corners of the internet for ISIS material, but they need help to get to their destination even faster. Later on, we will hear at lunch from Ali Jaber, who will speak in great detail on how to achieve victory in this arena.
    But let me be clear: we must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground.
    In closing, ISIS presents an ongoing challenge to our collective security, but as we have seen, it is not more powerful than we are when we stand together. We must thwart ISIS as it tries to maintain a presence on the ground and in cyberspace. We must enhance cooperation and border security, aviation security, law enforcement, financial sanctions, counter-messaging, and intelligence sharing. And we must keep making the investment in liberated areas in Iraq and Syria to help innocent people rebuild and stabilize their communities.





    I'm getting really tired of the US government's continued use of the royal family in Jordan.  Last month's events and remarks by the Queen were worthy of applause -- and certainly noted in the Arab community (if not by the west) -- but at what cost?

    It is as though the kingdom of Jordan is carrying all the burden and all the risk.

    Second, there's no effort to end ISIS.

    They just want to contain it.

    And yet both Tillerson and Hayder rejected that notion.

    You want to defeat ISIS?

    You defeat the reasons for its existence.

    In Iraq?

    That's the persecution of the Sunni people.

    Iraq's little tyrant Hayder declared yesterday:

     I can’t pretend that we have resolved all of our issues, but these problems go back to many years in the past when Saddam and the Baath regime oppressed the Iraqi people and fought many wars in the region, and destroyed the means of the Iraqi people until 2003, and the heinous terrorist attacks by the terrorists on Iraq who came from around 100 countries from all over the world. We have to cooperate to contain these and destroy this terrorism, these terrorists, and prevent them from expanding their efforts. And again, not containing ISIS, but destroy and decimate [ISIS].


    No, these problems don't go back many years.

    Hayder's problems go back many years.

    A number of Shi'ite cowards who fled Iraq in the 70s and 80s and came back after the US invasion in 2003 -- those men?  They have problems that go back many years.

    The US government should never have put these exiles in charge.

    But that's what happened.

    The Sunnis were made criminals and denied various jobs and offices.

    And the revenge these exiles are pursuing is not in the past.

    Hayder lied repeatedly, such as here:

    Here are some more lies from Hayder:

    In Iraq for the past 20 years, we have daily demonstrations by the citizens that are calling for their rights and expressing their views, and we respect that. We respect democracy in Iraq. Democracy today in Iraq respects the will of the people, and our security forces provide protection to these citizens who are expressing their views freely as long as they are doing it within the boundaries of the law and not attacking people’s properties and so forth.


    Is democracy respected in Iraq?

    How?

    By killing peaceful demonstrators participating in a sit-in?

    By killing children?

    The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri al-Maliki's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).


    2013?

    Saddam's long dead and gone.

    That was Nouri al-Maliki -- and it was the federal forces.

    And it took place over the objection of the governor of the province and over the objection of Parliament.

    But that's what Nouri did.

    And though Hayder hasn't come that close yet, he's not respecting democracy or freedom of speech.

    He has been closing roads and bridges in Baghdad ahead of every planned protest in Tahrir Square.

    In fact, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has called for a protest tomorrow.


    Will the world see respect for democracy or will Hayder and his cronies again try to subvert the protest?

    The US is staying in Iraq.  There's another official, we'll note him tomorrow.

    Instead, we're going to go where I don't want to.

    Here's Hayder:


    Also, we had the law on the PMF, the law on the PMF, based on the – how it was adopted by the parliament. The PMF accordingly is under the general commander of the armed forces, and that is the prime minister. The PMF is within the system of the Iraqi Government, is under the Iraqi discipline and the – we cannot consider it as a security apparatus, cannot only be involved in security and military scopes, because we have the elections coming up. It must not – it – also, other political groups who hold up weapons must not also enter into the elections. We must separate the weapon from the political effort and the political track, and no weapon must be outside the scope of the government. The constitution of the Iraq state is very clear on that. No weapon that is outside the umbrella of the government, and those who will do so are doing so against the law. We consider them outlawed, and we will fight them accordingly.



    Again, I don't want to go here.

    But reality is reality.

    The PMF can now participate in the elections.  They can run for office.

    I am opposed to them -- check the archives -- and that's putting it mildly.

    What the Constitution of Iraq says no longer matters.

    The militias are no longer militias.

    Hayder even said so above, "The PMF accordingly is under the general commander of the armed forces, and that is the prime minister. The PMF is within the system of the Iraqi Government, is under the Iraqi discipline [. . .]."


    Hayder went on to say, "The constitution of the Iraq state is very clear on that. No weapon that is outside the umbrella of the government, and those who will do so are doing so against the law. "


    He's such a stupid idiot.  He should put down the fork and pick up a book.

    The PFM is part of the system now.

    As such it is no longer outside the government.

    As such, the Constitution does not apply to it.

    We don't have to pull up the Constitution again to point this out, we only have to use Hayder's own words.

    He's an idiot who's too stupid to grasp what he's just said.

    They are now officially part of the government.

    Before he (and the Parliament) made that move, they were militias and all political parties wanting to run had to divest themselves of their militias.

    But they're not outside the government anymore.

    They're part of it now and, as such, they're place in running is, in fact, Constitutionally protected.

    I don't want to go there.

    But we need to because Iraqi politics are such that surprises always come along.

    Usually from former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki.

    No surprise, he has the support of the militias.

    So it wouldn't be at all surprising if, four to six weeks ahead of the upcoming election, it was suddenly announced that militias would be running and maybe Nouri already had another court verdict on that (as prime minister, he was fond of secret verdicts that he'd pull out of his pocket when people objected).

    Think it can't happen?

    Have we forgotten the 2010 election?

    Hundreds of Sunnis running for office were informed weeks ahead of the election that they would not be on the ballot.  That they'd been screened out.

    Nouri's full of surprises.


    And full of a lot of things -- last  week, for example, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was said to have called Nouri "disgusting corrupt." But surely the most interesting report has to be this:

    And he desperately wants to be back in power.

    So let's note reality now and not wait until right before the elections to consider the law.

    And why do you think Moqtada al-Sadr's calling for the militias to be disbanded?

    Jonathan Steele (MEM) reported two days ago:

    In his first interview with a foreign journalist for three years, the man who created a Shia militia which fought the Americans and the British for several years of their occupation, told Middle East Eye that he wants all militias, including his own, to be disbanded.
    He also said he favours urgent dialogue with Iraq's Sunni politicians so as to prevent clashes between Sunni and Shia, as well as Arabs and Kurds, once the country no longer has an enemy to unite against.


    Since the US military will be remaining in Iraq and we're talking about the militias that are now part of the security forces, let's note Paul Antonopoulos's report for ALMASDAR NEWS from earlier this week:

    Jafar al-Hosseini, a spokesman and senior commander of Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group, has said that it will target US forces after ISIS are defeated if they do not leave Iraq.
    “If the US forces refrain from leaving the Iraqi territories after annihilation of the ISIL terrorist group, the Islamic resistance of Iraq will target them,” al-Hosseini told the Islamic republic news agency on Tuesday.





    That's all FRONTLINE's posted to YOUTUBE thus far from this week's report.


    You can use this link to view Ramita Navai's FRONTLINE (PBS) report, Ramita Navai's investigative report on Iraq -- and "the war's hidden fronts" -- aired.  And you can find a PRI audio report here.


    From her PBS report:


    RAMITA NAVAI: [voice-over] The defense minister has since left his position. He doesn’t reply to my request to talk to him. I ask Vice President Allawi about the militia prisons.
    [on camera] Does the government know about the secret prisons run by the Shia militias?

    AYAD ALLAWI, Vice President, Iraq: Definitely. But they don’t want to confront these secret prisons because they held and controlled by strong militias.

    RAMITA NAVAI: Like Jurf al Sakhar prison?

    AYAD ALLAWI: For example.

    RAMITA NAVAI: Over 2,000 men and boys who were taken at Razaza checkpoint?

    AYAD ALLAWI: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So nobody knows why they are remaining in prison. The issue here, which really is frightening, there is no attention being paid by the government to tackle this problem of the arrests, intimidation and tortures of the─ of people.

    RAMITA NAVAI: [voice-over] The government has not said anything publicly about the disappearances from Razaza checkpoint or the prisons. But according to human rights groups, only 65 of the men have been seen again. They were held at a prison run by the Hezbollah Brigades in Jurf al Sakhar.
    [on camera] One of the men released from Jurf al Sakhar prison has finally agreed to talk to us, but only on condition of anonymity. When he was released, the militia’s parting words to him were that if he spoke about his experience, they’d hunt him down and kill him.

    FORMER PRISONER: [subtitles] They stripped us to our underwear and said,“We will kill you.” So we prepared ourselves for death.

    RAMITA NAVAI: [voice-over] Instead of execution, he says the torture started.


    FORMER PRISONER: [subtitles] They would beat us with iron bars and electric cables. We would be beaten from 4:00 PM until 3:00 AM. There was sign in the prison saying, “Your confession is your life. Your silence is your death.”



    The Iraqi people didn't want this division.

    Nouri fostered it throughout his first term.

    That's why he lost in 2010.

    Ayad Allawi won the election running as the head of Iraqiya on a platform of inclusion with a political slate that was diverse and included all (Allawi is a Shi'ite)

    But Nouri refused to step down.

    And the White House backed him as he brought the government to a halt (the political stalemate) for eight months.

    Then the White House negotiated The Erbil Agreement which gave Nouri a second term in exchange for political concessions on Nouri's part (he never honored his part of the agreement).

    Iraq would be a lot different today if Barack Obama had stood with Iraqi voters instead of betraying them.


    And today, reports of more deaths.


    BREAKING: Unconfirmed reports that 200+ civilians were killed/wounded by airstrikes inside this morning. Waiting for further details.
     
     




    The following community sites  -- plus BLACK AGENDA REPORT and Jody Watley -- updated:


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