Thursday, November 29, 2012


"Why is your vendetta more valid than mine?  We're the same you and I," Helena told Oliver on last night's "Arrow."

"Arrow" airs on the CW each Wednesday.  I like the CW and would like to support it but, on Hulu, you have to wait 7 days after a show airs to stream it.  I boycott Fox here for that reason.  I watch "Raising Hope" online, for example, and think Melanie Griffith's the best thing of the season, but I'm not going to blog about it when Fox screws everyone over (except cable and dish subscribers) by making us wait 7 days to see an episode.

But "Arrow" doesn't make you wait 7 days.

If you go to the CW website for the show, you can steam the latest show the very next day.

Since I found that out recently, I've decided to cover "Arrow."

Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen.  For five years, he was assumed dead.  He, his father, employees on the yacht and his girlfriend were all assumed dead after the yacht sunk.  Oliver survived. He lived on an island for five years and learned various survival skills.  He's now got increased strength and speed.  And he's returned to Starling City where the rest of his family lives.

Last night's episode kicked off with Oliver saving his mother (Moira Queen).  She was about to be shot and he saw it from the street and yelled for her to get down.  Instead, the mobster she was with was shot dead.  And Moira?  Probably a bad person.  She's already secretly had Oliver kidnapped since he returned.  Why?  She wanted to find out what her husband (Oliver's father) told Ollie before he died?

The shooter was a person on a motorcycle.  Oliver ran after and almost caught the assailant.

That failed.

Since the mob was killed in the shooting, Oliver wants to look into Frank Bertinelli who is a mobster and a mob boss.  He visits his home and pretends that he wants his family to be in business with him.  Instead, he's set off with Helena Bertinelli, Frank's daughter.  She's not thrilled but is forced into it.

He's not thrilled either.

But they end up having a nice meal and who knows where things might have gone had Diggle not called Oliver.  Diggle was hired by Moira to protect Oliver.  He became more than a bodyguard when Oliver took him into his confidence and revealed that he's really Green Arrow.

Oliver makes an excuse to leave, saying his mother needs him.

No sooner is he outside and on the phone with Diggle than he learns the problem is at the place he and Helena were having dinner.

In Green Arrow clothes, he rushes back in just as people show up to attack Helena.  In the conflict, the shooter -- still in motorcycle helmet and outfit, reappears.  The shooter is fighting the bad guys.  But Oliver can be one track and he goes after the shooter because of what happened earlier.  The shooter holds their own with Oliver until Oliver smashes the shield over the helmet.  The shooter?

It's Helena.

If you know your DC history, that's not a surprise.  Helena's The Huntress in the comic books.

Helena splits.

Later on, Helena is at her fiancee's grave when Oliver finds her.  They talk but are interrupted when mobsters come along to kidnap them.  They're getting ready to kill Helena.  The henchman's telling her that her fiancee was nosing around and that's what got him killed.  She tells him he's wrong, she's the one who was getting computer data and supplying it to the feds.

He prepares to shoot her but Oliver breaks free and is able to take the bad guys out. He splits and so does Helena.

Later he shows up to talk to her.  She knows he's Green Arrow because of his fighting skills.

Though he sees them as different, she sees the two of them as very similar.

Subplots included Ollie's sister whining that he kept secrets and Moira telling her to be patient and accept who he is now and not who he was when he disappeared five years ago and Tommy (Ollie's pal) finding out his father had cut off his trust fund and stocks and more.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's management skills take
another hit, more death sentence are handed out by the government, Nouri's disprespect for the Constitution is noted, Nouri claims his own commanders are shutting him out of the process, a fight breaks out in the halls of Parliament, Martin Kobler testifies to the UN Security Council, and more.
Today Martin Kobler addressed the United Nations Security Council in New York.  Kobler is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy in Iraq and heads United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).  As usual when we note the report on Iraq to the Security Council, we do it in two snapshots.  It was a presentation that lasted over 20 minutes.  It is important enough -- how the UN officially views Iraq for public consumption -- to be included in full.  So we spread it out over two snapshots.
Martin Kobler:  Mr. President, as 2012 draws to a close, it is pertinent to take stock of progress Iraq has made during the last twelve months.  During that time, Iraq has made committed efforts to enforce law and order following the withdrawal of United States forces.  Reclaiming its rightful place at the diplomatic table, it successfully hosted the 23rd Arab Summit in Baghdad in April, and, in May, it hosted talks between Iran and the permanent members of the [Security] Council plus Germany.  In terms of strengthening state institutions, the Human Rights Commission was established in April  and a new board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission was elected in September.   The latter resulted in an agreement on the date for government council elections in April next year.  This progress, however, is in danger by two factors.  First, the stalemate between Iraq's political leaders and, second, developments in the region.  Mr. President, I regret to report to the Council that estranged relations between Iraq's political leaders have endured throughout the year.   One manifestation of this is the Arab-Kurdish rift.  The lack of trust stems from a number of pending issues of contention, including power-sharing, security and tense relations between the central government and the region of Kurdistan.  The resulting political deadlock is preventing the progress and reform necessary to consolidate Iraq's transition.  Attempts to defuse the stalemate have most recently focused on a package of political reforms which appears stalled.  The government of Iraq's decision to establish the Tigris Command Operations Command responsible for overall security in Kirkuk, Salahuddin and the Diyala Govern-ates has been highly criticized by members of the Kurdistan Regional Government.  A military stand-off ensued, incorporating the armed forces of the respective governments.  The militarization of the situation has resulted in the regrettable death of one civilian.  I should like to take this opportunity to call on the parties to exercise all due restraint at this time of increased tensions.  I count on the leadership of the politicians of Iraq to resolve their differences through political dialog in accordance with the Constitution.  In that regard, I welcome the recent efforts of Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and I also welcome the convening of a meeting between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga at the technical level earlier this week in Baghdad.  It is a step in the right direction.  And I do encourage both sides to keep the door open -- of dialog open -- and implement the understandings reached.  UNAMI stands ready to implement any possible agreement reached that would de-escalate the situation and promote confidence among the various communities.  Over the past few days, Mr. President, dozens of Iraqi security personnel and civilians -- including worshipers -- have been killed and many other dozens injured in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Karbala and Falluja.  Extremists use the political differences of the leaders to ignite either sectarian or ethnic violence and tensions in Iraq.  Immediate resolutions and compromise by all political leaders should be the response to these attempts.  The tense political standoff is thus testing Iraq's internal fault-lines.  August and September were the deadliest months in the last two years.  A particular atrocious series of attacks on October 27th targeted pilgrims during holy Eid al-Adha observance.  Left unaddressed, the political impasse will leave Iraq vulnerable to the sectarists of Iraq's ability, mainly from the spillover of violence in the wider region.  Mr. President, Iraq finds itself in an increasingly unstable region environment generated by the Syrian Civil War.  The Syrian conflict has exposed a complex web on interconnected and conflicting interests that threatens to engulf the region in violent conflict.  With no immediate solution to the crisis in sight, there are real risks of spillover, violence and destabilization.  At the domestic level, the conflict across Iraq's borders has had a significant humanitarian impact on Iraq.  The crisis also impacts on Iraq's relations with her neighbors. Iraq's relationship with Turkey has also grown increasingly tense in recent months with an escalation in the rhetoric exchanged on both sides. The divergent positions between Iraq and other states in the region on how to address the Syrian crisis have also further strained their relations.  Within this challenging context, however, it is possible to identify opportunities for UNAMI to continue to assist Iraq's transition process. Indeed, not withstanding the lack of progress between Iraq's political leaders, in resolving their differences, Iraq's expectations on UNAMI continues to grow.  UNAMI's assistance, pursuant to its Council mandate, is focusing on two priority tracks:  First, advancing national reconciliation and dialog and, second, tackling regional issues.  Since my last briefing to the Council, UNAMI has continued to encourage political leaders to engage in inclusive dialog to resolve their differences in the spirit and framework of the Constitution.  I've continued to conduct frequent visits to Erbil and Sulamaniyah to promote such a dialog.  I've also conducted intensive discussions both in Baghdad and in Kirkuk focusing on the holding of the long overdue governate council elections in Kirkuk.  UNAMI's support to the Council of Representatives on the basis of sustained facilitation and technical advice contributed to the selection of the IHEC's new board of commissioners in September -- a proficient and a genuinely and truly independent IHEC board is essential at this juncture as Iraq prepares for nationwide governor council elections on 20th of April next year and legislative elections in 2014.
Factually, we should note that the Arab League Summit was March 29th and not in April. and that it was a failure as judged by who attended. From that day's snapshot:
Who were the notable no-shows?  Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) report that the no-shows included rulers from "Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well as Morocco and Jordan -- all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran." The Belfast Telegraph notes, "The only ruler from the Gulf to attend was the Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah."
With regards to IHEC . . .
I like Chris Hedges.  He is someone who tries to tell his truth and I'm always willing to consider what he says.  So let's drop back to election night in the US.  There's Hedges on a really bad program that he really shouldn't have been on but was.  Ava and I debated whether or not to cover this in real time but decided not to.  Hedges offered his belief that the world itself was in danger and that the world was being destroyed, to the point that it would be uninhabitable.  He said that in the face of that, other issues were less important.  Other issues identified by him?  He immediately went to women's rights.  Isn't that the knee jerk for lefty males every time?
And Ava and I were watching and giving him consideration because it is true that planet going down in flames might trump other things.  However, Chris Hedges then remained silent as a dumb ass with a stupid organization then piped in that he agreed and, by the way, what was really important and what needed to be focused on was all the enthusiasm it was building among people of color.
We waited for Hedges to object.
There was no objection and we felt Punk'd.
You want us to set aside women's rights -- the basic rights of over half the planet and a group that represents every race and ethnicity known to humankind -- and yet you're okay with some crap about the 'importance' of happy thoughts  for a certain segment of people?  That trumps whether or not human life can be supported by the planet?  An abstract feeling trumps the basic legal rights of over half the population?
Does Heges believe that happy thoughts trump the survival of the planet?  I doubt it.  But he wasn't willing to object.  These conversations happen over and over.  In the US, it's usually a bunch of male Democrats saying the party could get more votes if they dropped their support for abortion.  (That would of course drive women voters away but the 'brains' making that proposal don't consider women 'real voters' anyway.)  On the left (I'll let the right talk about itself), in the abstract, the disabled and challenged are treated with respect, men of color are treated with respect, men of certain ethnicites are treated with respect, all these groupings get respect and no one's asking that their rights be ignored or chipped away at.  But time and again, women -- who don't even make up half the Senate in our 'advanced' United States -- are asked to sacrifice.  It's past time for the left to get honest about what it really thinks about women and how little women are valued.  These continual attacks on women, these continual slights would not repeatedly happen were women not so devalued.  And hats off to Ruth for her great catch last night where she noted George Mitrovich reduced a strong Senator to arm candy because of his own sexism and that he did so while trying to pretend he's appalled by sexism.  to decry sexism. Let's also note that his crap appeared at The Huffington Post.  Time and again, certain women sell all women out so that they can advance on their own.  (The term is "queen bee.")
And time and again, women have to sacrifice and we're so damn sick of it.  Women's rights, their basic rights, Hedges was willing to toss aside for survival of the planet but not a feel-good mood about an election.  That was important and valid.  But the right to self-determination, to control one's own body, to own property, etc, these were unimportant.
What does this have to do with the above?
Kobler's bragging and boasting about IHEC -- Independent High Electoral Commission -- was embarrassing.
There is only one woman on the Commission.  The law requires women to be a third of the Commission.  The woman was added days after the others and probably wouldn't have been if even the Iraqi judges weren't publicly calling out the lack of women on the Commission.
Time and again, women are made to wait.  We're made to wait by Chris Hedges because it's all about survival, we're made to wait some other reason at some other time.  If Iraq, as it stands currently, cannot follow the law and cannot appoint three women to IHEC (appoint, not elect, what a joke that was from Kobler), then exactly when the hell will the law be followed?
Nouri al-Maliki has one female minister in his Cabinet.  All the rest -- even the so-called 'acting' ministers -- are men.  Women continues to be eliminated from positions of power, women continue to not be seated at the table.  Iraq's female politicians -- especially female members of Iraqiya -- loudly and publicly decried the IHEC board for not having the three women required by law.  But Kobler can't even note that.  Kobler happy stamps it and we're all supposed to accept that?
At what point is Nouri's government held accountable for its failure to follow the law?  At what point does the United Nations finally find the guts to call out the disenfranchisement of women?  Oh, yes, women were mentioned -- much later in the speech -- and we'll get to that tomorrow.  As their own little island.  As though they're not also Iraqis, as though Iraq is not also their country, as though they don't have a right to participate and as though 'success' in Iraq can be judged without considering what's happened to Iraq women.
How very sad.
Today Iraq was slammed with multiple bombings and shootings leading to dub it a "bloodbath."  Margaret Gtiffis ( counts 54 dead and 237 injured in the day's cycle of violence.  RT notes, "Two roadside bombs in the city of Hilla blew up a group of Shiite pilgrims, leaving at least 26 people dead and several dozen wounded. The bombs struck a commercial area of the city during a busy period.  Another attack happened in the shrine city of Karbala, 90 kilometers to the south of Baghdad. A car bomb killed 6 civilians and wounded 20, some of them police officers.­"  And RT has three Reuters photos of the aftermath of those two bombings.  Today's violence continues the week's trend of attacks.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes, "Attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday left at least 38 people dead and more than 130 wounded."

In Hilla, AFP notes, "Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area of the blasts and set up checkpoints in the city to search cars, an AFP correspondent said, adding that shops near the site were shuttered after the attack."  Ali al-Rubaie (Reuters) quotes teacher Ihsan al-Khalidi explaining, "We started to stop civilian cars asking them to take the wounded to hospital since there were not enough ambulances to transfer them."   Sinan Salaheddin (AP) provides these details on the Hilla aftermath, "Twisted and charred remains of vehicles were seen outside damaged shops as shop owners collected their strewn merchandise from the bloodstained pavement, littered with debris."  On the Karbala attack, Al Jazeera explains,  "In the shrine city of Karbala, a car bomb killed four and left another 16 people wounded. The bomber parked the vehicle near the entrance of the Imam Abbas shrine. Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghad, said the holy site made for a 'very daring' attack in Karbala."  Xinhua adds, "Iraqi security forces blocked the roads to central Karbala which leads to the shrine of Imam Hussein, one of the 12 most Shiite revered Imams."   Al Bawaba notes that Shi'ites were the targets in the attacks on those two cities while other bombs today were targeting security forces.

The above is getting most of the focus from the western media; however, those are not the only attacks carried out in Iraq today. All Iraq News notes a Falluja suicide car bombing targeting a checkpoint which left 2 security forces dead (five more injured and two civilians injured as well).  Xinhua has the attacker on foot in an explosive vest.  Alsumaria adds that a double bombing in Kirkuk's Hawija left one Iraqi soldier injured and  1 person was shot dead outside his Baghdad home (machine gun).   All Iraq News notes a bombing just outside Baghdad targeting a Sahwa restaurant which left 2 people dead and eleven injured.  Among the other violence Margaret Griffis ( notes is, "Gunmen blew up two homes in Kirkuk.  One belonged to a doctor, the other to a businessman."

In addition, the Voice of Russia notes that Turkish warplanes bombed northern Iraq: "A fleet of F-16 bombers with Turkey's Second Tactical Air Force based in southeastern Diyarbakir province raided Iraq's Avashin, Zap, Haftanin and Metina regions, Dogan news agency reports."  The war planes were targeting the PKK.  Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." Trend News Agency adds, "The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has lasted for over 25 years." 
On the continued violence, Duraid Adnan (New York Times) wisely observes, "Each time a period of calm sets in, it is shattered by more violence." 
 Violence didn't just happen out in the streets of Iraq and during home invasions today. 

All Iraq News reports an "altercation" took place in Parliament today between several deputies and led Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi to immediately adjourn the session and postpone the next session until Saturday.  Thrown fists have not been uncommon in the Iraqi Parliament in the last seven years but it has been some time since there were any reports of physical violence among MPs.  Whatever happened, All Iraq News notes it took place in the hallway.  Alsumaria also terms it an "altercation" and notes that prior to that, the Parliament had read six bills and was discussing the allegations of torture in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  Though no one has yet to take responsibility for the altercation, you can be sure State of Law will insist it was caused by 'Ba'athists' who've been hiding out in Syria (since that is the group they tend to blame for everything).

The Ministry of the Interior (headed by Nouri since he never nominated anyone to be Minister of Interior -- in violation of the Constitution) issued a statement today.  Dar Addustour reports that statement strongly denies that any women are being held illegally or tortured in detention centers.  That is the wording of the statement.  I point that out because the accusation is women are being tortured in detention centers and prisons and the statement issued only covers detention centers.  Kitabat notes that before the altercation, the Parliament was discussing the denial by the Ministry of the Interior.  Lending credence to the belief that the altercation was about women prisoners being tortured, Alsumaria reports that the National Alliance is up in arms and saying that what happened today is Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's fault as a result of his 'bias' by allowing this issue to be addressed. 

Nouri had hoped for a different image to be projected today.  All Iraq News notes that the prime minister visited the International Book Fair in Baghdad today and posed for photos.  Not only did the bombings and shootings and whatever happened in the hallways of Parliament overwhelm that photo op, the Russian arms deal just will not go away.

October 9th, with much fanfare, Nouri signed a $4.2 billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.  After taking his bows on the world stage and with Parliament and others raising objections, Nouri quickly announced the deal was off.  It's not going away.

The deal has been rife with rumors of corruption from the moment that it was announced.  Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh has twice had to publicly issue statements insisting he was not involved in the deal.  In addition, there are allegations that Nouri's son received a kickback from the deal.

Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) notes that al-Dabbagh has left Baghdad and arrived in the UAE and that someone is whispering Russian President Vladimir Putin personally provided Nouri with proof that al-Dabbagh was involved in backroom deals to benefit from the contract.  If the point of that rumor is to create sympathy for Nouri, it doesn't.  It just makes him look incompetent if it's true.  True or not, it's very hard to believe that Putin (or any leader) would provide evidence of corruption knowing it would tank a multi-billion dollar deal.

Al Rafidayn notes that Parliament's Integrity Commission is said to have the names of 14 officials who were to profit from the corrupt deal.  Kitabat explains one of the names is Ali al-Dabbagh and the Parliament was attempting to call on him to appear before them.  That's now in doubt since he's fled to the UAE.   Kitabat notes the other names are said to be those who accompanied Nouri to Russia.

Adding to the view of Nouri as an incompetent on the world stage are the issues emerging over another big contract.  Dar Addustour reports that Rotana Arabia, a cell phone company, signed a contract with Iraq woth as much as $30 million.  The contract was brokered by Saadoun al-Dulaimi who is the Minister of Culture.  Nouri's calling for the contract to be cancelled, citing corruption.  He wants the Ministry to cancel the contract.  Not the Minister.  He can't ask Minister of Culture Saadoun al-Dulaimi to do anything because no one can find him and he's reportedly fled the country. 

Tensions continue between the KRG and the Baghdad-based central government over Nouri sending in the Tigris Operation Command forces into disputed regions, as Martin Kobler noted today when addressing the UN Security Council.  In an interesting development, Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Nouri is said to be angry because his generals are not providing him with details and summeries of the ongoing negotiations with the Kurdish Peshmerga officials.  If Nouri is really being kept out of the loop, that says a great deal about how much his power has faded in the last weeks.  Even more surprising since the Peshmerga has published the main points the two sides agreed upon:
1. Forming an operational mechanism, principles of cooperation and joint committees in the disputed regions. The joint operations in the disputed regions of Kurdistan will remain unchanged but the mechanism of operation will be revitalized between the federal forces and the forces of the Kurdistan Region.
2. The meetings of all the joint operations committees will be rescheduled to once a month. This will be increased if deemed necessary, especially for meetings of the SAC.
3. The location of the meetings and coordination for the meetings will be organized by the command of the Iraqi Armed Forces who will work as a coordinator for the work of the committees, especially the SAC.
4. A follow-up procedure will be conducted for the work and the decisions of the joint committees and punitive measures will be taken against any defaulting party or individual.
5. Any party or individual will be punished in case of reporting misleading information to their superiors in order to create problems and crisis at any level.
6. The SAC must be immediately informed about any problems that arise in the disputed areas in order to immediately work on solving them.
7. The agreements must be honored and the commanders, officials and individuals who violate the terms of the agreements will be punished.
8. Forming a quick mechanism to pull out all the forces of both sides that were mobilized to the region after Nov. 16, 2012. Pulling out these forces must be transparent, truthful and supervised by the supreme committee members after the consent of the SMC.
9. Reconsidering the decision of forming operations command in the region, especially the Tigris Operations Command, and giving back the authority of security in Kirkuk to the police, Asayish and internal forces.
Alsumaria reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani met today with a Kurdish deglation that had been engaged with negotiations over the Operation Tigris forces and they told him that Nouri al-Maliki will not agree to withdraw the forces.
To explain what's going on, Nouri al-Maliki was installed by the US in 2006 as prime minister of Iraq.  (The Parliament's choice had been Ibrahim al-Jaafari whom the Bush White House felt was too close to Iran.)  The 2005 Constitution of Iraq called for Article 140 to be implemented by the end of 2007.  Article 140 outlines how disputed regions will be resolved: census and referendum.  Kirkuk is the most well known disputed area because it is oil-rich.  The Kurds claim it as does the central-government out of Baghdad.  How do you resolve the dispute?
You implement Article 140.  Nouri refused to do so throughout his first term.  To get a second term after his political slate came in second in the March 2010 elections, the US government brokered a contract known as the Erbil Agreement.  If Nouri made certain concessions (including that he would finally implement Article 140 -- implementation that he's required to do -- this isn't optional, this is Iraq's Constitution), then he could have a second term as prime minister despite the results of the election. 
That should have settled it.  It didn't.  All this time later, he's still not implemented Article 140.  But he has now sent in security forces he controls into these disputed areas.  The Kurds see this as an attempt by Nouri to grab the areas for Baghdad in violation of the Iraqi Constitution.
And that's only one of the Constitutional issues Nouri's in violation of.  The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is the political party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.  PUK's Adnan Mufti tells Rudaw:
As the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani is responsible for overseeing the constitution. He will warn anybody who violates the constitution. On Nov. 19, Ali Ghedan, the commander of the Iraqi infantry units, sent a letter to certain units and ordered their mobilization. Talabani, acting in his constitutional powers, sent a letter to Ghedan right away. Talabani told Ghedan that his orders were unconstitutional, because Article 67 says the army is not allowed to interfere in political matters.
Talabani also told Ghedan that he had been unconstitutionally appointed to command the infantry units, because the commanders of all of such units have to be appointed by parliament. In the case of Ghedan, this was not done. Therefore, Ghedan does not hold any constitutional powers. Talabani asked Ghedan to annul his orders right away, otherwise he would be taken to court.
Under the Iraqi Constituion, Prime Minister Maliki is the Commander in Chief and enjoys the right to create and deploy such a force, of course.  The Constitution also requires him, via Article 61, to get the approval of parliament for the appointment of any high-ranking military commanders, such as Lieutenant General Abdul-amir Zaidi.  I doubt anyone in Iraq can remember the last time Maliki sought parliamentary approval for such appointments, of course.  Perhaps referring to the Constitution has become passe and quaint, as Prime Minister ignores more provisions of Iraq's highest law than I can adequately list here.  I'll still go ahead and cite a few of Mr. Maliki's constitutional transgressions, perhaps out of nostalgia for the document: Refusing provinces their constitutional right to become regions (Article 119), denying Kurdistan's right to exploit new oil fields in its Region (Articles 112 and 115), failing to create a Federacy Council (Articles 48 and 65), compromising the independence of Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights, Independent Electoral Commission, and Commission on Public Integrity (Article 102), and reneging on promise after promise to finally allow a census and referendum to settle the fate of the disputed territories (Article 140). 
Haider Hassan Jalil Rahim, an MP from Mr. Maliki's ironically named State of Law Coalition, seems to think that the likes of the Dijla forces should even occupy Kurdistan and to hell with the federal system that was agreed to in 2005.  Recently he told Rudaw that "The government should impose its prestige and authority over the entire Iraqi territory, but the conflict will not reach that stage of intensity."  Iraq's Constitution requires that the Kurdistan Region's Parliament give its permission before any Iraqi federal army units enter its territory, but I won't even bother to look up the number of the article in question.  The country seems to be quickly moving past the stage of promises on a piece of paper actually mattering, you see.  Instead, Iraq increasingly slides back to the old pattern of confrontation between a leader in Baghdad's personal army units and the Kurds' peshmerga, all amred to the teeth.  Although the conflict may "not reach that stage of intensity" this month, the pressure seems to build every year.  With American military forces now out of the country, the chances of an unfortunate explosion between the Kurds and Mr. Maliki's Republican Guards (whatever he actually calls each unit) grow everyday.
In related news, a political rival of Nouri's visited the KRG.   Al Mada reports that the head of the Supreme Council, Adel Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki, went to Erbil yesterday and met with Massoud Barzani to discuss how to resolve the issues and how to achieve constructive dialogue between all parties.  He is a former vice president.  He and Tareq al-Hashemi became the vice presidents of Iraq in 2005 and Adel continued in that role until the protests of 2011 against government corruption, lack of jobs, lack of basic public services and more.  After Nouri stalled for his infamous '100 days' (promising to solve the issue if Iraqis would give him 100 days and then, at the end of those 100 days, doing nothing), Adel announced he was stepping down as vice president in protest of the ongoing corruption.    Tareq al-Hashemi remains a Vice President.  He's currently in Qatar, having left Turkey recently.  As soon as the bulk of US forces left Iraq in December 2011, Nouri targeted Sunnis and members of his political rival group Iraqiya.  He declared Tareq, the vice president of the country, to be a terrorist.  Even before the for-show trial took place, the Baghdad judges Nouri controls had already held a press conference to announce Tareq was guilty.  That's not how it works under the Iraqi Constitution, no.  That is how it works under Nouri's oppresive thumb.  Tareq was found guilty in absentia. 
He is the only known sitting vice president of a country to be convicted of terrorism.  He is also the only known sitting vice president of a country to be sentenced to execution (three sentences).   Today AFP reports, "Four of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards were sentenced to death on Thursday for killing a civil defense officer and his wife, judicial spokesman Abdelsattar Bayraqdar said." Xinhua quotes Abdul-Sattar al-Biraqdar, Supreme Judicial Council spokesperson, stating, "The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) on Thursday issued verdicts of penalties by hanging against four bodyguards of Hashimi for their involvement in the killing of an Iraqi civil defense major and his wife along with wounding their son in al- Jamia district (in western Baghdad) in 2011."

In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Yesterday her office issued the following:

Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Hearing Schedule
Update: November 28, 2012
Wednesday December 12, 2012 10:00am
Hearing: Nomination of Keith Kelly to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training.
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk / System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

The plan for tomorrow's snapshot is to finish up Kobler's speech to the Security Council (with more criticism than what we offered today) and to cover a Wednesday Congressional hearing that there's not room for today (and that I wasn't willing to cover yesterday -- associating it with the morning vomitting made me unwilling to cover it Thursday, sorry -- that's not a reflection on the hearing).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's time to fire Ellen Barkin

NBC's "The New Normal" is a sitcom that had a lot of promise.  It still does.  The funniest think is probably the little girl who plays Shania.  But the actors playing David, Bryan and Goldie are really great too.

Last night was the best episode of the sitcom so far.  How come?

The Shannen Doherty cameo was cute.

But what really made it work was no Ellen Barkin.

Goldie and Bryan helped Shania with her project of saluting an important woman.  They went with Cher.  Shania did a wonderful Cher.  It's write up there with her Little Edie from "Grey Gardens."

But the show really worked because Ellen Barkin wasn't on.

I don't dislike the actress.  She's very talented and I'm pretty sure I've seen every movie she's done.  I think she's very talented and I had the hugest crush on her for years, by the way.

So why do I say she needs to leave the show?

She plays Jane, Goldie's mother, Shania's grandmother.

That should be interesting and funny.

It's not.

I don't have a problem with her being a Republican.  I do have a problem with Barkin and the writers writing ridiculous crap.

I'm a Black man so let me explain to Ryan Murphy that I don't find Jane's racism cute or funny.  I also don't find it realistic which is the bigger problem.

One of my favorite characters on the show has become Rocky.  NeNe Leakes plays Bryan's assistant and she's really great.  And I was really hoping she and Jane could become friends.  Now Rocky, like a lot of us Black people, is strong enough to put a racist in her or his place.  And to do so in a strong way that also doesn't reduce everyone to screaming fits.

But she shouldn't have to.  Now that Rocky's helped Jane, Jane should drop the crap.  It's not funny, it's not cute and it's so offensive.  As a Black man, I have a really hard time watching this show when Jane comes on.

And they can't just make her a Republican, they have to make her a vile racist.  I really don't get why, when she meets Rocky's brother, she is surprised that 'there really are'  Black Republicans.  She yammers away about how she's heard of them but . . .

Excuse me?

Jane's a Republican, she should know her own party.  Condi Rice, Herman Cain, Allen West, Mia Love and those are just the first names that come to mind.

It's not funny.

And it doesn't make me think, "Jane is a racist!"

It makes me wonder about Ellen Barkin and Ryan Murphy.  How they think these are entertaining comments?

To me, they're really risking popularizing Jane's racist remarks.  And I think they both need to think about that.  I also think NBC needs to ditch Ellen Barkin.

(Barring that, kill Jane and bring Ellen on as her twin sister that Jane hated.)

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue,  in another international embarrassment for Nouri Iraq loses their football coach, oil production dips, some fools rush to defend Thomas E. Ricks, Senator Patty Murray calls for a suicide prevention plan for veterans, and more.
As is too often the case, Howard Kurtz misses the point.  It's a long drop from the Washington Post to the Daily Beast and apparently he injured himself in the fall.   All together now . . .
And it's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way down to the place
Where we started from
-- "Ice Cream," written by Sarah McLachlan, first appears on her Fumbling Towards Ecstacy
It's a long way down.  Which would explain his idiotic column today on the overweight and sexist Thomas E. Ricks appearing on Happening Now.  Yes, Howie, the program has a name.  The fact that everyone wants to keep ranting "Fox News!" goes to just how turgid and for-show the nonsense has been.  Jon Scott and Jenna Lee host Happening Now on the Fox News Channel.  See there, unlike Howie, I did the actual work.  But Howie's a 'media critic.'  He wastes 27 paragraphs in a ridiculous column at CNN and he can't even name the show but let's all pretend Howie's doing out of sight work these days.  In fact, let's all pretend that going from the Washington Post to the Daily Beast is a step-up as long as we're fantasizing.
In a telling and whorish moment, Howie 'forgets' to mention the program's name but works in a plug for Thomas E. Ricks' latest military porn -- what is it this time?  On My Knees In The Steamroom With The Generals, Wrapping My Mouth Around That?
Howie Cut 'Em Off Kurtz feels that Snow shouldn't have wrapped up the interview the minute that Ricks criticized Fox News.
But Snow didn't do that.  And Kurtz lies to make it seem as if he did.  You can stream the video at Erik Wemple's Washington Post blog post.  This is what sends Ricks packing:
Jon Scott: When you -- When you have four people dead -- including the first US Ambassador in more than 30 years -- how do you call that 'hype'?

Thomas E. Ricks:  How many security contractors died in Iraq?  Do you know?

Jon Scott:  I don't.

Thomas E. Ricks:  No.  Nobody does.  Because nobody cared.  We know that several hundred died but there was never an official count done -- of security contractors in Iraq.  So when I see this focus on [. . .]
To be clear, Scott let him go on and finish his 'thoughts' on contractors.  I'm not including his garbage here.  Thomas E. Ricks' statements were innaccurate and offensive and it's very telling that Howie Kurtz choose to whore instead of report.  That is what ended Ricks' segment.  Kurtz pretends it never happened. 
But then Howie is among the many in the press who's written and said "Chris Stevens and three others . . ."  That is so offensive. And the press doesn't care.  They don't care that it's offensive to the memories of Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty.  They don't care that it's offensive to the families and friends of those three people.  They don't care that it exposes their so called love for the troops as hollow and bulls**t.   Let's quote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

Today, we also recognize the two security personnel who died helping protect their colleagues. Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty were both decorated military veterans who served our country with honor and distinction. Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest gratitude are with their families and friends. Our embassies could not carry on our critical work around the world without the service and sacrifice of brave people like Tyrone and Glen. Tyrone's friends and colleagues called him "Rone," and they relied on his courage and skill, honed over two decades as a Navy SEAL. In uniform, he served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior, earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. All our hearts go out to Tyrone's wife Dorothy and his three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter, and Kai, who was born just a few months ago.
We also grieve for Glen Doherty, called Bub, and his family: his father Bernard, his mother Barbara, his brother Gregory, and his sister Kathleen. Glen was also a former Navy SEAL and an experienced paramedic. And he put his life on the line many times, protecting Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots. In the end, he died the way he lived – with selfless honor and unstinting valor.
Now pretend you give a damn about troops, pretend all you want.  But if you're writing or stating "Chris Stevens and three others," you are making very clear that you just don't give a f**k.
As soon as all four names were released publicly, Marcia and I both began using all four.  It's not difficult to do.  But don't expect anyone to take your crap seriously when you want to 'talk' Benghazi but you don't have the decency to list all four names.  Of course, it was important for the media to vanish these three because their parents refuse to play along with photo ops the way Chris Stevens' parents did.  These three parents want answers.
I applauded the Jersey Girls in real time (and applaud them today).  I applaud any American who takes on the system to find out why their loved one died (or where their loved one is in the case of the MIAs).
Howie Kurtz has proven himself to be an idiot and any words about caring about the troops or anything else are flat out lies from him because he refused to note the rude treatment of two Americans who died in an attack that took place because they were American and he refused to call out Thomas E. Ricks' bulls**t. 
He had time to plug the latest bad book from Thomas E. Ricks.  He just didn't have time to mention Iraq War veterans killed in an attack on Americans.  Whores make their priorities very clear and we hear you, Howie.  Though for how much longer is going to be the question.
Fat trash Ricks is quoted by Howie saying his apology to Fox News was not an apology "but rather an explanation of why I jumped a bit when the anchor began the segment with the assertion that pressure on the White House was building, which it most clearly was not."
As we've noted before, Thomas E. Ricks is no longer a reporter.  (Congratulations to the European community members who made sure that his billing was corrected when he went to Europe to pimp The Gamble.  He even got confronted to his face when he attempted to claim he was "just a reporter."  No, you're not.  You haven't been a reporter in years.)  Clearly was not?  Jay Carney made a ridiculous statement yesterday that the press refused to call out.  When you admit that the administration, 47 days after the attack, knows nothing, that's kind of desperate.  My opinion, that shows pressure on the White House.  But it's just my opinion, it's not fact and Thomas E. Ricks can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction which is why, on that segment, he announced that Susan Rice would be confirmed as Secretary of State.
While Thomas was digging through the hampers of various generals today and holding the pouches of boxers and briefs up to his nose, I was at two hearings.  The one in the afternoon?  Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  It was so the Committee could publicly vet two of Barack's nominees.  Susan Rice wasn't one of them.  You had Robert Godec who is nominated to be the US Ambassador to Kenya and Deborah Ann McCarthy who is nominated to be the US Ambassador to Lithuania.
You know who else was at that hearing?  Senator John Kerry because he's the Chair of that Committee.  And while Thomas E. Ricks rubs his nose against military officers' crotches, I actually speak to the people who will be voting in the Senate.  And today there was a surprising amount of sympathy for John Kerry who his Democratic peers feel would be a great Secretary of State and felt that this was in the bag after Kerry's endorsement of and work for Barack during the 2008 primaries.  There's a feeling that John's not just qualified, that he's not only put in his time, but that he's being snubbed in the most rude way possible.  As a Democratic Senator not on the Foreign Relations Committee said to me and another Democratic Senator today, 'John's being asked to just go along with this media circus and if Susan Rice is nominated, he'll be the one to preside over that hearing.  And you know it's tearing him apart but he's never said a word against Rice or against Obama.'
So Thomas E. Ricks lunatic idea that Susan Rice is beloved by Democratic Senators for the Secretary of State post?  He might want to get his nose out of the hairy crotches of generals, wash his face and try talking to actual Senators.  (Though I doubt too many would want to talk to him.)
Decades of service and public work is what John Kerry brings to the table.  But when it's not about qualifications, why should anyone have to wait their turn?  I'm not saying Susan Rice wouldn't get confirmed.  I believe Democrats will vote for her.  But while Barack has angered the nation by yet again picking fights when he should be focused on issues that matter, he's angered Republicans and the assumption that he will go with Rice over John Kerry is really doing damage to Barack's reputation in the Senate. 
This was not the fight to have and we made that point the minute Susan Rice's name was floated publicly.  It's shown Barack to be petty and bickering, it's hardened tensions between the White House and Republicans in Congress (House and Senate) and it's left Democrats in the Senate demoralized as one of their own, an immensely qualified candidate for Secretary of State, appears about to be passed over for a woman more infamous for snarls than for building ties.
Here's Gareth Porter (TruthOut) correcting some of the damaging lies Thomas E. Ricks has put into print over the years about his wet dream David Petraeus:
Petraeus has been credited by Ricks and other journalists with having abandoned violent "cordon and search" operations used everywhere else in Iraq that alienated the entire Sunni population, and having replaced them with "cordon and knock" operations. In the softer version of targeted raids, the targets' homes were surrounded and the targets were invited to give themselves up peacefully. But again, the NPS thesis, based on the actual documents and the testimony of officers in Petraeus's command, tells a rather different story.
It turns out that Petraeus did not end kill-or-capture raids in Mosul: he continued to use them to kill or capture those believed to be hardcore insurgents, according to the NPS study. The less violent sweeps were used to capture "less dangerous but potentially active members of insurgent groups without alienating entire neighborhoods," the authors wrote. And when insurgent attacks went over 100 for the month of November 2003, Petraeus ordered a major increase in the level of cordon-and-search raids in December, hitting 23 targets simultaneously in one night. The number of suspects detained in Mosul soared that month to 295 - nearly three times the average over the previous five months.
Those targeted raids on suspected insurgents depended on intelligence gathered by Petraeus' own command, Special Forces operating in the area and the CIA. But how reliable was that intelligence? It is widely acknowledged that, especially that early in the war, US intelligence on the insurgency was woefully weak. The International Red Cross disclosed in a February 2004 report on detainee abuse in Iraq that US military intelligence officers had estimated that 70 to 90 percent of Iraqis they had detained were innocent. Petraeus' operation, as elsewhere in Iraq, had to rely on Iraqis volunteering information as to who was an insurgent, and, as Ricks relates, Petraeus told him "there were so many phony tips passed by Iraqis feuding with each other that this softer approach helped sort those tips without unnecessarily insulting Iraqi dignity."
Unlike Thomas E. Ricks, Senator Patty Murray doesn't have time to waste obscuring reality.  As the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she's up to her neck with reality attempting to address the many concerns and issues of veterans each day.  Today, her office notes:
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Senator Murray Proposes Major Mental Health Care Expansion as Part of Defense Authorization Bill
Murray's amendment would make improvements to ensure that those who served have access to consistent, quality behavioral health care
Would require DoD to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program
(Washington, D.C.) – As it becomes increasingly clear that the Pentagon and VA are losing the battle on mental and behavioral health conditions that are confronting so many of our servicemembers and veterans, Senator Murray gave a speech on the Senate floor today to offer an amendment to the defense authorization bill that seeks to improve mental health and suicide prevention services. The amendment is derived from her servicemembers and veterans mental health legislation, the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012, which unanimously cleared the Veterans' Affairs Committee earlier this year. Senator Murray's amendment would require the Department of Defense to create a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program; expand eligibility for a variety of Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services to family members; strengthen oversight of DoD Mental Health Care and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System; improve training and education for our health care providers; create more peer-to-peer counseling opportunities; and require VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental health services.
Key excerpts from Senator Murray's speech:
"I think everyone in this body knows about, and is distressed by, the alarming rate of suicide and the mental health problems in our military and veterans populations. We know our servicemembers and veterans have faced unprecedented challenges: multiple deployments; difficulty finding a job here at home; and isolation in their communities. Some have faced tough times reintegrating into family life, with loved ones trying to relate but not knowing how. These are the challenges our servicemembers and veterans know all too well."
"We must have effective suicide prevention programs in place. It's often only on the brink of crisis that a servicemember or veteran seeks care. If they are told 'sorry, we are too busy to help you,' we have lost the opportunity to help, and that is not acceptable."
"While the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken important steps towards addressing this crisis, we know more must be done. We know that any solution depends upon reducing wait times and improving access to mental health care; ensuring proper diagnosis; and achieving true coordination of care and information between the Departments."

The full text of Senator Murray's speech:
"Mr. President, today I am offering an amendment to the defense authorization bill to improve mental health and suicide prevention services.
"This language is derived from my Mental Health ACCESS Act, which was unanimously approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
"This amendment is critical legislation that improves how DOD and VA provide mental health care.
"I think everyone in this body knows about, and is distressed by, the alarming rate of suicide and the mental health problems in our military and veterans populations.
"We know our servicemembers and veterans have faced unprecedented challenges: multiple deployments; difficulty finding a job here at home; and isolation in their communities.
"Some have faced tough times reintegrating into family life, with loved ones trying to relate but not knowing how.
"These are the challenges our servicemembers and veterans know all too well.
"But even as they turn to us for help, we're losing the battle. Time and time again, we've lost servicemembers and veterans to suicide.
"But while the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken important steps towards addressing this crisis, we know more must be done.
"We know that any solution depends upon reducing wait times and improving access to mental health care; ensuring proper diagnosis; and achieving true coordination of care and information between the Departments.
"This amendment would require a comprehensive, standardized suicide prevention program across the DoD.
"It would require the use of the best medical practices, in suicide prevention and behavioral health programs to address serious gaps in
the current programs.
"This amendment would expand eligibility for VA mental health services to family members of veterans.
"The amendment would also give servicemembers an opportunity to
serve as peer counselors to fellow Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and create a quality assurance program for the historically troubled disability evaluation system.
"It would require VA to offer peer support services at all medical centers and create opportunities to train more veterans to provide peer services.
"This bill will require VA to establish accurate and reliable measures for mental health services.
"We must have effective suicide prevention programs in place. It's often only on the brink of crisis that a servicemember or veteran seeks care.
"If they are told 'sorry, we are too busy to help you,' we have lost the opportunity to help, and that is not acceptable.
"I would like to thank Senator Levin and Senator McCain for their work
on the defense authorization bill, and for their help bringing this amendment to the floor today.
"Thank you Mr. President."
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
Meanwhile in Iraq, where Nouri's reputation really can't handle too many other hits, there's news of another loss.  Xinhua explains, "Brazil's soccer legend Artur Antunes Coimbra, beter known as Zico, resigned as coach of the Iraqi national team after he accused the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) of failing to meet his contract obligations." ESPN reports, "Iraq are currently in third place in Asia's Group B with five points from five matches behind Japan and Australia, but the Brazilian has quit his role after accusing the country's governing body of an unspecified breach of contract."  And Brian Homewood (Reuters) notes, "Zico made his debut as Iraq coach against Jordan in September last year.  He has been in charge for 21 games, with 10 wins and six draws."   The news comes as Nouri al-Maliki is in a war of words with ExxonMobil and other companies and as he's just broken a $4.2 billion weapons contract weeks after he signed it.  On top of that Platts reports, "Iraq's oil production fell sharply in October to 3.035 million b/d, a 200,000 b/d decline from September output of 3.235 million b/d although oil exports rose slightly to 2.624 million b/d, a new post-1990 record, oil ministry figures obtained Wednesday by Platts showed."  Al Mada reports political leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has declared that Nouri al-Maliki's escalation of forces is an attempt to distract from where the problems stem -- the one who holds the power.  He decried Nouri's recent efforts to cancel the ration card and noted the corruption allegations regarding the $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia.
Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with bombings.  UNAMI issued the following today:

Baghdad, 28 November 2012The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Martin Kobler, expresses his dismay following the series of attacks against innocent victims, including worshippers, in several locations throughout Iraq. كوردی
 "These inhuman acts only add to the senseless suffering of innocent people and their families," the SRSG said.
 Mr. Kobler also expresses his profound sympathy to the families of the victims, to whom he extends his sincere condolences, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.
And the violence continues today.  All Iraq News reports a Falluja sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 officer (a colonel) and the life of 1 of his bodyguards while a Baquba home invasion resulted in the death of 1 police officer and his son being left injured. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports a Tarmiyah home invasion (targeting a Sahwa family) resulted in the deaths of 1 Sahwa, 2 women and 4 children.   Xinhua adds, "In Baghdad, two roadside bombs went off outside a liquor store near the Nafaq al-Shurta area, in al-Jamia district in western the city, wounding five people, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua. In a separate incident, gunmen using silenced pistols wounded a police officer while he was driving on al-Qanat Street in eastern Baghdad, the source said."  Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that fisherman Taha Mahmoud Sabhan is set to be executed in Kuwait and the Basra government is calling on Kuwait to toss aside the death sentence.

In what's supposed to be good news, Al Rafidayn reports that 20 women who were employees of the Centeral Bank are being released.   Why isn't that good news?  In what world are bank employees held for over a month to be interrogated or 'interrogated'?  This is unacceptable and this is the sort of thing the US allowed when they put thug Nouri in charge in 2006 and when Barack demanded that thug Nouri stay in charge in 2010.

This is unacceptable.  20 women whose 'crime' was working for the Central Bank have been held imprisoned for over a month as Nouri's forces attempted to 'extract' information from them. About what?  Probably attempting to get testimony against Sinan al-Shabibi.  As the latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction noted at the end of last month:

On October 16, 2012, the Council of Ministers dismissed Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) Governor Sinan al-Shabibi, amid allegations of corruption leveled against him. This peremptory and constitutionally questionalbe move occured as an audit of the DBI's foreign currency auctions surfaced.
Nouri made a "constitutionally questionable move" and it's really looking like he doesn't have evidence -- not even enough circumstantial evidence to convict in the Baghdad courts he controls.

So it's a good guess that the time the women were imprisoned, they weren't doing arts and crafts.

On Iraqi prisons, we'll note this from the BRussels Tribunal:

Hamid Al-Mutlaq, Deputy Prime Minister and Member of the Defense and Security Committee alerted both Nouri Al-Maliki, Chief Commander of the Armed Forces,
and Sadoon Al-Dulaimi, Defense Minister, about the torture in Iraqi prisons, and
said that female prisoners are routinely raped by the prison guards. Al-Mutlaq said in a press conference held in the Parliament that there are many female prisoners who are tortured on a regular basis, and that Al-Maliki and Al-Dulaimi bear full responsibility. He also added that it's unacceptable that the perpetrating officers go unpunished for raping women, children and torturing them. He also mentioned the names of prisoners who died as a result of torture: Muhammad KhudairUbaid, Muhammad MoohiSharji, Ibrahim Adnan Salih, Mahmood Ubaid Jameel, Hamid Jameel, Fadil Abdullah, Omar Hisham, and Muhammad JasimMezhir.

Al-Mutlag said the Iraqi army and security forces carry out many raids and arbitrarily arrest citizens to blackmail them to be released on bail. He said that the government and the Iraqi Parliament are responsible for this situation of lawlessness.
A security source revealed in August that the officers in the detention centers in Baghdad practice all kinds of torture on the prisoners, and many of them died as a result.
MP Hamid al-Mutlaq holds Nouri al-Maliki and the Supreme Judicial responsible for violations perpetrated against Iraqi women in prisons and demandsthe release of these female victims and asked why such shameful practices go unpunished.
Al Mutlaq: "The security situation has deteriorated to a limit that can not be tolerated as violation of women honor during arrests is done by the security services.
Mutlag expressed his regret for arresting women and their daughters aged of 12 years on charges of terrorism.

This situation of lawlessness and rape of Iraqi female prisoners is becoming a big problem for Maliki, as more MP's, Civil Society organisations and the Iraqi people are denouncing the abuses of the Regime's security forces
Sheikh Sufian Omar al-Naimi,Emir of Naim tribes in Iraq, urged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi parliament speaker Osama Nujaifi to start an immediate investigation in the case of the Iraqi women detainees who are suffering of flagrant violations in the women prison in Baghdad.
He said in a press statement issued by his office on 25 November that "the appeals that we receive from Iraqi jailed women on charges of multiple crimes mostly of terrorism are subjected to torture and rape".
MP Khalid Abdullah al-Alwani called the Iraqi Government to open the women prisons for civil society organizations in order to provide the female inmates with services and to inspect their situations.
Alwanisaid "We condemn the government's silence towards the torture and rape crimes that are practiced inside the women prisons."
He urged the "officials to reveal the names of the perpetrators of these shameful acts, calling at the same time to give the guilty officers the maximum penalty", and added that "our women's honor is the honor of all Iraqis."
Hundreds of citizens demonstrated on 26 November in downtown Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, urging the government to proceed with the investigation of violation of human rights committed against women in detention centers.
Demonstrators waved banners calling on the government to open a serious investigation of those violations and the formation of a committee to examine the reality of female detainees situation in prisons and to distinguish between those who were arrested unjustly and terrorist elements.
A team of the Iraqi NGO Hammurabi Organization published on 21 Octoberits first report about the dreadful situation in the women's prison in Baghdad and its 31 prisoners sentenced to death on terrorism charges under Article 4. The report says women have been subjected to torture by electrocution, beatings, and rape by the investigators during interrogation. They had also been raped by the police and by the officers escorting them during the transfer from Tasfirat Jail to the women's prison in Baghdad. Two membersof the Hammurabi Organization, William Warda and Pascal Warda, former minister of environment,were authorized to visit the prison. They said that female prisoners in death rowsuffered from infectious diseases and scabies. "They receive no health care and are not allowed to bathe andcan change clothes only once a month, which aggravates their health situation". The NGO said that the children, imprisoned with their mothers,are "ticking time bombs that can explode any minute".
The organization also said in its report that there are 21 children, some of them infants, living inside the women's prison "suffering a punishment without committing any crime". A total of 414 detainees are being held in the jail, varying in age from 20 to 65. Among the inmates were 18 women sentenced to death, and they all complainedabout neglect and violence in various ways.
Pascal Warda who led the Hammurabi Organization team said that the conditions of prisoners, convicted as suicide bombers, live in miserabe and intolerable conditions.
The report quoted an unidentified judge as saying that there were "violations throughout the investigation process," recommending that female security officers escort women prisoners to reduce the chance of abuse.
International human rights groups have on several occasions complained of persistent torture at Iraqi prisons being used to extract confessions from detainees, and also of the continued use of secret jails.
Journalist Serene Assir, member of the BRussells Tribunal, accurately described on 08 March 2012 in Iraqi Women: Resilience Amid Horror( the situation of female prisoners and women in general in today's Iraq.
Thousands of women are currently in prison under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior or the US and UK-trained military. Others, according to veteran Iraqi activist Asma al-Haidari, languish in "secret prisons, headed by militias loyal to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."
The use of torture and sexual abuse in prisons has become systematic in Iraq, al-Haidari said, thanks to training not only by the US and the UK, but also Israel and Iran.
While in detention, many women suffer rape and become mothers to children they never wanted. Some are raped in front of their husbands and children, as a way to humiliate the family and extract "confessions" from men suspected of resisting against a criminal regime. Some of the women are arrested and behind bars instead of their husbands.
The degradation of secularism in Iraqi society, under the weight of Iranian-trained and backed militias, has also given rise to new social dynamics, for which women paid the heaviest price.
It is hard to imagine just how the effects of a decade of oppression can be undone. For one, the dismantling of Iraq's state institutions in 2003 put hundreds of thousands of women out of work. A 2007 BRussells Tribunal dossier on women estimated that until 2003, 72 percent of public sector workers, including teachers, were women.
In spite of the damage, many Iraqi women have continued to take an active, even heroic role. "Iraqi women have been very resilient," said Zangana. "Since 2003, and increasingly since February 2011, women have been at the forefront of protests denouncing the occupation and the regime."
Violations of women rights and torture and rape of women has been introduced by the US Occupying Forces. In June 2010 the General Secretary of the Union of Political Prisoners and Detainees in Iraq, Muhammad Adham al-Hamd declared that the US occupation administration in Iraq relied on systematic rape, torture, and sadistic treatment of Iraqi women prisoners in its prison camps in the country. Al-Hamd said that the enormous crimes being committed against women in the prison camps in occupied Iraq had the support and blessings of the US military, for whom the practices served as a means to bring psychological pressure on men engaged in the Resistance, in an attempt to break their spirit and fighting will.
Muhammad Adham al-Hamd made the comments in a statement regarding reports that confirmed the presence of large numbers of women in the American-run prison camps – women who are detained solely to be raped and abused in order to bring pressure upon their husbands, brothers, sons or fathers.
Years of US/UK occupation of Iraq have affected Iraq's social fabric and contributed to a serious deterioration of Iraqi women's rights. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Government of Iraq (GoI) should urgently take the necessary measures to improve gender equality and women's rights.
The US and UK must be held accountable for thisdeterioration, for the destruction of Iraq'ssocial fabric and for all other crimes against humanity they have inflicted upon the people of Iraq.

Al Mada reports political leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has declared that Nouri al-Maliki's escalation of forces is an attempt to distract from where the problems stem -- the one who holds the power.  He decried Nouri's recent efforts to cancel the ration card and noted the corruption allegations regarding the $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia.