I watch "Modern Family" and "Revenge" -- full season -- right now. And "Family Guy," I think you get all the seasons.
But this is that time of year when you really realize how useless Hulu -- forget Hulu Plus -- is. There's so little new content.
What they're trying to temp those of us who are Hulu Plus-ers with this summer is 100 films from Criterion Classics -- or however you spell it.
"Seance On A Wet Afternoon" is probably the best of the best least known classics they're offering.
In it, Kim Stanley is a 'medium' -- a fake one. She convinces her husband to kidnap a little girl so that she can 'find' her and prove that she's a psychic.
A lot happens a long the way. It's not comedy.
It's powerhouse acting. Everyone's good in it but it's Kim Stanley's film.
She's an actress who, I discovered in reading a few books last summer, was considered one of the major theater actresses The Method (Lee Strasberg) produced. The other was Julie Harris (who I bet everyone knows but everyone knows her for a different reason). Julie Harris had film success with "East of Eden" with James Dean. But Frankie in "A Member of the Wedding" is what she's known for. (She also originated the role on Broadway.)
So Harris and Stanley were the equivalents of Brando and Dean (two male Method stars).
But stardom in films really didn't come to them.
For Kim Stanley, her looks could be unconventional and her weight varied greatly. That's not a problem unless you're talking about a film like "The Goddess" where Stanley plays an actress that's really just Marilyn Monroe. (After she became a star, Marilyn studied The Method. She used it to great effect on "Some Like It Hot.")
For this film, Stanley received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. She'd also get nominated -- but for Best Supporting Actress -- many years later when she played Jessica Lange's mother in "Frances."
This is Criterion which is so applauded for its excellent remastering, etc. So I was surprised at a climatic moment in the film to see these dark lines across the screen. I've actually had this on DVD from Netflix -- about three years ago -- and the Netflix disc was a better version of the film then the praised Criterion version.
Okay, so that's our Friday movie post. Now I've got a lot more to write.
Do you ever listen to someone but not really hear them?
Last week, C.I. wrote this.
She dubbed it an online scream. And if you read between the lines, it is.
She's going through a lot including needing to get rid of two homes. Needing to not for money. It's not her Bay Area home or her DC home or even two homes she stays in. One she's selling and needs to carve out time -- when? -- to clear out some personal things. The other she doesn't want to clear out anything, she just wants to unload it. She's tried to get her kids to take it.
There's nothing wrong with the home. It's paid for and it's a really a beautiful home. But it was her late husband's and she's never gone back to it since he passed away. She's had a caretaker in the place all these years as she's tried to work up the strength to go into it and go through her late husband's items. At the end of last month, she said she was going to start simplifying her life and taking some of the stress out. That's why she's unloading the two homes (both are attached, in her mind, to her late husband). The one she sold, she had no problem selling, there were no memories there and she doesn't visit that state very often. The other, the one in New England, is the problem one.
And she asked her kids to take it. They don't want to because of the memories. She contacted his family and said, "If anyone wants a free house . . ." Nope. A week ago, she was asking some of us if we wanted it. (She's already given Mike some of her land in Hawaii. That's where Mike and Elaine will be moving.) You've got people who love their homes.
And you've got people like me that just blow it off.
I didn't realize how serious she was. Reading the post, I realized how serious it was. She doesn't want to go through her husband's stuff. She doesn't want to sell the home off to a stranger.
I texted her right away (she was in a hearing) asking her to call me this evening. Which she did.
I told her thank you for her gracious offer and that I would be accepting it if it was still there.
Yes, it was. (And she thanked me, but she didn't need to.)
She had a migraine when she got on the phone (she was taking the Excedrin migrane pill and apologized if she sounded rude -- that was her greeting, no she didn't sound rude). After I told her I'd take the house, her migraine was gone.
I'm getting a wonderful home and getting it for free. I'll pay taxes on it next year, she's already got this year's taken care of.
I'm the lucky one here.
And I'm happy but a little nervous. I'll be moving and looking for a new job but that's fine I've really had it with this job.
I like most of the people I work with but I'm tired of working for the government. I'll blog about that at length after I move. If you think I've shared horror stories, you just don't know what's coming.
But what I want to write about tonight is just a thank you.
C.I. agreed to stay online originally because she and Ava had promised a friend with Fringe that they'd review the show mid-season (when some problems with the show were supposed to be fixed) and they noted that at Third. They weren't thinking about how they were supposed to go dark. They don't have time to think that far ahead -- they do too much. And then I wanted to start my site but told C.I. that I didn't want to start it up if, in a few weeks, everyone else was going dark.
So she agreed to stay on for six more months. That's why I started the site.
So I want to say thanks for that.
As a Common Ills community member, I want to say thanks for the fact that she covered so many important issues and stories that few others did. I want to say thanks for the Congressional reporting that she's done. As Trina's noted many times, that Congressional reporting is original reporting. It's important and we are all thrilled that C.I. does it.
I appreciate the analysis and thank her for that as well.
I thank her for agreeing to translate because she didn't want to do that. I think the first thing was a French article on Judith Miller and the New York Times and she noted how it was saying different things than what the New York Times was telling its American audience. But we wouldn't have the Iraq coverage we do from her today if she hadn't gotten over not wanting to translate. (She didn't want the e-mails coming in saying, "I can't read whatever language but you're wrong!")
I thank her and Ava for their amazing TV coverage at Third. That's what hooked me, actually. I'm big on TV. Marcia (my cousin) was a Common Ills community member from the start -- so I knew about it and she was always sending me stuff from it. But it was Ava and C.I.'s TV reporting that really hooked me.
For example, if you ever suffered through an episode of "7th Heaven," go do yourself a favor right now and read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell." It's one of their creative pieces. Sometimes, they do straight reporting. Other times, they'll write themselves into a show. In this piece, Ava and C.I. take on the show by pretending that they've been cast as the new bad girls for the Camden home.
They did that in 2005 with "TV review: Law & Order: Trial by Jury" which is also hilarious. And they managed to work in the Iraq War in that. They did that with "TV: Hidden Yawns" in 2007, put themselves in the show Hidden Palms and also worked in the Iraq War. And with "TV: Persons Unknown, Plots Pretty Standard."
One of my favorite of their TV pieces is "TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste." That's of "Jericho."
And I could do that over and over and on and on.
They've really got this outstanding body of work that they've built up over the last 8 years. Dona always says that when people ask her what she would save from Third, it would be Ava and C.I.'s TV pieces.
So I thank both of them for that. And I thank them both for their debate coverage in 2012.
That was an end run around Jim.
Jim wanted them to cover the debates. The debates took place on Tuesday. They'd show up ready to work the following Sunday and Jim would expect them to be covering Tuesday's debates. So Ava and C.I. did their coverage Wednesday mornings at The Common Ills. And it was the finest debate coverage of any outlet.
So I say thank you for all of that and a lot more.
I gave my landlord notice, by the way.
So I'll be moving. And I'm saying the above as part of the thank you for the free home, yes. But also because we may be going dark. C.I. is under so much pressure right now that I think there's a chance that we'll go dark -- I've never felt it as strongly before. If she goes dark, Elaine does and Third does and Mike does. So pretty much all of us do. But Elaine and Ava have wanted to shut down for years. So they will go dark.
If she renews, that's great. I'll be glad to stick around. But on that, readers, this site will change a little bit. I'll do politics the way I'm doing it now, when it matters to me. Otherwise, I'll just be blogging about TV and movies because those are topics I love. I used to feel bad about that. I'd be doing my site and Marcia would be covering something really important and I'd think, "What do I add to the community?" But that's what holds my interest and at least I copy and paste C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"s in. That provides added weight.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Let's start with the elections because I'm so tired of the garbage from the press.
Anbar and Nineveh, they tell us, weren't allowed to vote in April because it was too violent. They leave out that that was Nouri's claims or that Nouri offered two other excuses for calling off the vote after it was pointed out that Baghdad was just as violent.
Oh how the whores love to whore.
Yesterday, Anbar Province and Diyala province were finally allowed to vote (after being prevented by Nouri al-Maliki from voting in April). Today we get outlets telling us that 'good for Anbar' but Nineveh's below the national average. No, no, no. Quit being a liar, quit making false comparisons. Baghdad is the only comparison due to levels of violence. From yesterday's snapshot:
Despite all of that and much more, it appears the voting in Anbar and Nineveh was successful today. Alsumaria reports that the Independent High Electoral Commission states 37.5% of registered voters turned out in Nineveh and that 49.5% turned out in Anbar. Alsumaria notes that UNHCR assisted with the elections and were at polling places. At five o'clock, when voting was scheduled to end, UNHCR checked to make sure that all voters were out of the polling stations and then locked the doors and, with IHEC, secured the ballot boxes. All Iraq News notes that IHEC's Electoral Office head Muqdad al-Shiriefi declared in a Baghdad press conference this evening, "There are no violations in the PCs elections of the provinces." NINA reports that the Mottahidoon Coalition issued a statement declaring the high rate of turnout in the two provinces was an indication that the protesters, who "have suffered various severe conditions in order to get their demands and recover their usurped rights," believe in their democratic rights.
No violations, no accusations. How different it is in Anbar and Nineveh -- another detail the 'working' press forgot to note. Now what was the turnout in the province of Baghdad -- the only comparable province in terms of violence? After the elections in April, Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) reported:
Only slightly more than 50% of eligible Iraqi voters participated in provincial elections on Saturday, a far cry from the 72% turnout for the latest such elections, in 2009, according to Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission. In Iraq's capital, turnout slipped to 33%, the commission said.
Only 33% of voters turned out in Baghdad. I don't know -- problem with the official numbers -- what's going on but just FYI, we're sticking to percentages and will stay with that. What's the problem? IHEC's statements don't add up. Not when they're dealing with solid numbers of voters. Run the numbers, I just did after I stopped and thought about what IHEC said of the 12 provinces total for the April 20th election. (That was 50% so double it.) When you add that, the KRG population (I'm using CIA population figures -- which are estimates and I'm even using the 2012 which is lower than this year's) and include the numbers for Anbar and Nineveh and then add estimates for Kirkuk (CIA), the CIA population in Iraq is not matching IHEC numbers, IHEC is grossly undercounting or the CIA has been wildly off the mark for years now. So we're sticking to percentages but if someone ever adds the numbers (supplied by IHEC) and tries to figure out the population, don't complain to me, I just ran the numbers and I see the problem too.
So Baghdad had 33% turnout. But let's explain that further because the press didn't use Baghad or bother to explain April 20th turnout. Again, from yesterday's snapshot:
Apparently there was no concern over refugees who fled the provinces being able to vote. When the 12 provinces were allowed to vote in April, there were polling stations set up in Anbar and Nineveh -- but just for refugees from the 12 provinces who had moved in to Anbar and Nineveh to vote. The Independent High Electoral Commission announced that there were "special polling centers" set up for displaced persons from Nineveh and Anbar . . . if they were in the KRG. Only, if they were in the KRG. Now if you were a member of the armed services and resided in Anbar or Nineveh in your downtime but were deployed to other provinces, IHED had 266 polling stations in 15 of the other provinces for you to vote. But if you were a resident of Anbar or Nineveh who had been displaced and went to any province other than the three in the KRG, you were out of luck on voting.
So, for example, Sunni refugees who fled Baghdad (due to violence) and went to Anbar were able to vote April 20th at an Anbar polling center and their voted counted -- because they are IDPs -- as being a Baghdad vote. By the same token, Iraqi Christians who fled to the KRG due to violence were able to vote April 20th at polling stations as residents of Baghdad.
Baghdad's April vote includes all Baghdad Province residents in Iraq -- anywhere in Iraq. On April 20th, they even had polling centers in Kirkuk which was real middle finger if you think about since official residents of Kirkuk never get to vote in provincial elections. But in April, Baghdad residents -- whether in Baghdad, deployed outside of Baghdad in the security forces or IDPs who fled Baghdad Province due to violence -- were all able to vote if they wanted to. And only 33% wanted to.
Anbar and Nineveh didn't get that. Their residents who are in the security forces and out of Anbar and Nineveh were able to vote. In addition, their IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) were able to vote . . . if they were in the KRG (three provinces). If they were anywhere else, they weren't allowed to vote. While Anbar's 95% Sunni, Nineveh is more mixed demographically. Why would you assume, for example, that Turkmen would choose to go to the KRG?
Baghdad had better weather in April while Anbar and Nineveh were both over 100 degrees yesterday when voting took place. Baghdad residents (in Baghdad or IDPs) could vote across Iraq. That wasn't the case for Anbar and Nineveh. But a larger percentage of voters in Anbar turned out than in Baghdad and a larger percentage of voters in Nineveh turned out than in Baghdad.
This isn't noted in the nonsense that's being passed off today as 'reporting.'
As an Iraqi community member who voted in yesterday's elections notes of today's western media coverage, "They will not give us credit for anything." No, they certainly will not.
Since December 21st, Anbar and Nineveh have been the leading provinces when it came to protests. But if the press can't portray the protesters as 'out of control,' they're just not interested in them. Some reporters need it so badly that they lie about it -- as one US outlet did today: "Often violent protests in the Sunni-majority provinces of Anbar and Ninevah are motivated as much by low unemployment and spotty electricity during the sweltering summer months as they are by sectarian grievances." Want to explain that one?
Didn't think so.
No, the protests have not been violent in Anbar and Nineveh and to suggest that they have really makes you a questionable reporter. If protests -- which have taken place since December 21st -- were violent, we'd be seeing mass deaths and destroyed property and all these things that just don't exist. Seems like the reporter feel for Kelly McEvers' propaganda that we called out earlier this week (here). That's too bad because the rest of the article (which is on another topic) looks very strong. But how can anyone trust you when you falsely characterize six months of peaceful protests as "violent." If they were violent -- even in just those two provinces -- I'd assume they'd have a body count of 30 dead per month. They don't even have a body count of 1 dead per month by protesters.
Now Nouri's forces have killed protesters during this time. Most infamously, the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija when Nouri's federal forces stormed it. 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 increased to 53. UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).
It is the six months today, by the way, six months since the ongoing protests started. Another detail the media 'forgot.'
Today is the sixth month anniversary of the ongoing, peaceful protests that kicked off December 21st. In February, Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) wrote:
Protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following :
- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.
The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature i.e unarmed 3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad.
In six months of ongoing protests, most western outlets have never offered as much on it as Layla Anwar did that day (and the above's an excerpt, click on the link to read her full post). And when the western media has bothered to note it, they've ignored so much.
With the exception of the Guardian, no one's wanted to touch the issue of women and girls raped and tortured in Iraqi prisons. When Jane Arraf 'touched' on it, she did so by nothing that this was happening -- per Amnesty International [see this March 11th entry aptly titled "Iraqi women and girls (and the silence on this topic)" and snapshots for March 11th, March 12th, and March 13th] -- and then went on to share a report about the abuse of . . . a male prisoner.
Only the Guardian -- among western media -- has shown any bravery. AFP won't even acknowledge that this is the underpinning of the protests. Haifa Zangana (Guardian) was one of the people covering reality:
The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.
[. . .]
No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing [. . .]
Another person able to cover reality was Dahr Jamail (Al Jazeera) who reported:
Heba al-Shamary (name changed for security reasons) was released last week from an Iraqi prison where she spent the last four years.
“I was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Iraqi security forces,” she told Al Jazeera. “I want to tell the world what I and other Iraqi women in prison have had to go through these last years. It has been a hell.”
Heba was charged with terrorism, as so many Iraqis who are detained by the Iraqi security apparatus are charged.
“I now want to explain to people what is occurring in the prisons that [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki and his gangs are running,” Heba added. “I was raped over and over again, I was kicked and beaten and insulted and spit upon.”
Heba’s story, horrific as it is, unfortunately is but one example of what a recent report from Amnesty International refers to as “a grim cycle of human rights abuses” in Iraq today.
Six months worth of protests and what has the bulk of the western media done with it? Nothing.
Protests continued today. Demonstrators turned out in Jalawla, in Falluja, in Ramadi, in Kirkuk and in Baghdad. They're declaring Monday "The Day of the Detainee." In the Iraq 'legal' system, people charged with crimes but not convicted disappear for years in jail as do people who have never been charged with a crime but were rounded up and tossed in a prison. National Iraqi News Agency notes that the security was beefed up throughout Anbar Province around sit-in areas. They did this in Diyala Province as well and "Shahab-Badri, Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Religious Scholars of Iraq, demanded security forces to take responsibility by ensuring access to worshipers to prayers yards , calling on the Iraqi government to meet the constitutional and legitimate usurped rights that the demonstrators claimed since more than six months."
NINA also reports, "A security source in Kirkuk province, said that rapid intervention special forces of Dijlah Operations Command arrested the coordinator of the Popular Committees for the mass movement in the province Sheikh Khaled Mafraji." Alsumaria notes that the Kurdish movement -- both in Kirkuk and nationally -- is calling for the Sheikh's immediate release.
He was not the only one arrested. Al Mada reports that "SWAT" forces arrested him and that activists were also arrested in Ramadi and Kirkuk. Rafie al-Issawi declares that Nouri al-Maliki is underestimating the strength and the will of the protesters. al-Issawi is identified as that outgoing Minister of Finance. (December 20th, his staff and bodyguards were seized by Nouri's force. One of the things that has prompted the ongoing protests. He announced he was resigning. I have no idea where that stands. Where it stands with Ayad Allawi is that al-Issawi has resigned. Both are members of Iraqiya -- Allawi is the head of Iraqiya -- and Allawi considers al-Issawi out of the Cabinet.)
Turning to a different protest, Alsumaria notes "hundreds" (probably thousands) have turned out in Kut today to protest. This is not a part of the ongoing protests. This is a protest that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called yesterday and they are demonstrating against the proposed conference in Qatar that the Taliban will be attending. Judging by the photo with that Alsumaria report and the photo with this report on Kufa, a lot more followers of Moqtada al-Sadr turned out in Kufa to protest the Taliban being included on the Qatar Conference.
All Iraq News notes a Baghdad bombing has claimed 1 life and left seven more people injured. NINA reports the Khour Bridge near Qa'im has been blown up and that armed clashes are taking place around it with "military helicopters . . . providing support to the military forces" -- at least 3 Iraqi soldiers are dead and two more injured. On the topic of violence, Ian Johnston (NBC News) offers a very strong examination of violence in Iraq. Brookings Institution's Kenneth Pollack states, "By any defintion, what's going on in Iraq is a civil war." From the report:
Hamit Dardagan, principal analyst with Iraq Body Count, which has been documenting civilian casualties since the war began, said the death toll was alarming, but still some way off the mass slaughter of 2006-07 when several thousand people died on a monthly basis.
He said the death toll had dropped dramatically from mid-2008 to a plateau of a few hundred a month.
“This year is the first time we’ve seen a really steady trend that’s reversed the direction on 2008,” Dardagan said. “It’s been a steady, low-level war. It’s just that recently … it’s actually started to worsen in a way that’s not just a single-month blip. It seems to be a continuous trend."
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 354 violent deaths so far this month.
Today, Iraqi News reports, "The Presidential Staff of Iraq congratulated the citizens of Anbar and Nineveh Provicnes for holding local elections." Why the presidential staff and not the president? Last December, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently. The fact that a statement wasn't issued in his name will lead some to question (or more loudly question) whether or not Jalal can even speak -- despite the optimistic 'reports' by his doctors. He's now missed an eight of his term due to the stroke.
On other rumors, will Iraq ever hold a census? Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports that Nouri al-Maliki has been making noises about it -- but those noises were when he visited Erbil this month to try to sway Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani over to his side. As with so many of Nouri's promises, there just aren't any facts that back them up. He's claiming that a census will be held this year. From Habib's report:
However al-Allaq didn’t think a census would be held in 2013. "The federal government didn’t allocate any funds to hold a census in this year’s budget so we won’t be holding one until next year,” he explained.
There are other reasons why holding a census may not be the most desirable step at present. Many of Iraq’s political and economic problems are very connected with demographic issues like ethnicity and sectarianism. A census would impact on things like the distribution of resources to different parts of the country and accurate electoral rolls.
There has also been plenty of criticism of the electoral process in Iraq. After all, because there’s been no census it is hard to know exactly how many voters there should be or how old they are.
As Faraj al-Haydari, former head of Iraq's all important Independent High Electoral Commission, or IHEC, told NIQASH, “a census is fundamental for the success of any election. Unfortunately the lack of census has disadvantaged the democratic system in this country. Since 2004, IHEC has used the Ministry of Commerce’s figures which are obviously not accurate.”
The lack of accurate figures has also meant that it’s not been possible to hold district elections – after all, nobody knows how many people are living in each district.
Guillaume Decamme (AFP) reports on the sense that, in the KRG, things are moving along at a good pace:
Abdul-Karim is not the only one who feels that way – the economy of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, with Irbil as its capital, is growing faster than the rest of the country and sees none of the violence that has raged across Arab areas. In Irbil, crowded cafes overflow onto sidewalks, customers pack out restaurants with no fear of attack and, perhaps most importantly for the three-province region’s future prospects, foreign investors appear keen to plant their flag.
“It is really easy to set up shop here,” said Jorge Restrepo, an American of Colombian origin who runs a consultancy business in Kurdistan targeting Spanish and Canadian energy companies.
“The government of Kurdistan is very open to foreigners,” he said.
Turning to the topic of Iraq, Chevron and Abednego. As UPI noted earlier this week, "Iraq's Kurds have consolidated their growing energy sector with Chevron Corp. securing a third exploration block in the semiautonomous northern region and France's Total buying a majority stake in another." At the Christian Science Monitor, Jen Alec wonders "Can Baghdad stop exports of Kurdish oil?" and concludes:
The Kurds have the advantage, even more so not that the rest of Iraq is engulfed in a sectarian conflict as it becomes the definitive second front in the war in Syria. Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki flew to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, to hold high-level talks. This hasn’t happened since 2003, and it indicates that the talks were on the Kurds’ terms, as well as their terrain.
Will Baghdad be able to stop the Kurdish oil and gas momentum? Not at this point. Once the pipeline is up and running, the game is over and Baghdad doesn’t have the resources to turn it into a conflict.
Jen Alec also writes at Oil Price. It's also true that, despite Nouri al-Maliki promising to deliver one in 2007 (the White House benchmarks for 'progress' in Iraq), Iraq still has no national gas and oil law. When that happens, provinces can do what they like -- especially if they are the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.
Nerdun Hacıoglu (Hurriyet Daily News) notes that KRG President Massoud Barzani met with Turkey's Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz in Russia yesterday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and they discussed the proposed pipeline further. On oil in general, Peg Mackey and Alex Lawler (Reuters) explain, "Iraq's oil output target for 2013 is still within reach, even with flows stuck at 3 million barrels a day during the first half of the year, but a lofty goal for 2014 will be far more difficult to meet, oil executives and officials say." What's the big stand out this month? That exports "have fallen by about 200,000 barrels per day."
From oil to another divisive topic, cultural artifacts. Last month (May 16th), the National Archives (in the US) issued the following:
Washington, DC…On Friday, October 11, 2013, the National Archives will unveil a new exhibition, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community in Iraq from a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives’ ongoing work in support of U.S. Government efforts to preserve these materials. Located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, “Discovery and Recovery” is free and open to the public and runs through January 5, 2014.
In both English and Arabic, the 2,000 square foot exhibit features 24 recovered items and a “behind the scenes” video of the fascinating yet painstaking preservation process. This exhibit marks the first time these items have been on public display.
BackgroundOn May 6, 2003, just days after the Coalition forces took over Baghdad, 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered Saddam Hussein’s flooded intelligence building. In the basement, under four feet of water, they found thousands of books and documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq – materials that had belonged to synagogues and Jewish organizations in Baghdad.
The water-logged materials quickly became moldy in Baghdad’s intense heat and humidity. Seeking guidance, the Coalition Provisional Authority placed an urgent call to the nation’s foremost conservation experts at the National Archives. Just a week later, National Archives Director of Preservation Programs Doris Hamburg and Conservation Chief Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad via military transport to assess the damage and make recommendations for preservation of the materials. Both experts share this extraordinary story and take you “behind the scenes” in this brief video [http://tinyurl.com/IraqiJA]. This video is in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages its use and free distribution.
Given limited treatment options in Baghdad, and with the agreement of Iraqi representatives, the materials were shipped to the United States for preservation and exhibition. Since then, these materials have been vacuum freeze-dried, preserved and photographed under the direction of the National Archives. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s. A special website to launch this fall will make these historic materials freely available to all online as they are digitized and catalogued. This work was made possible through the assistance of the Department of State, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Center for Jewish History.
The Jews of Iraq have a rich past, extending back to Babylonia. These materials provide a tangible link to this community that flourished there, but in the second half of the twentieth century dispersed throughout the world. Today, fewer than five Jews remain.
Display highlights include:
- A Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568 – one of the oldest books in the trove;
- A Babylonian Talmud from 1793;
- A Torah scroll fragment from Genesis - one of the 48 Torah scroll fragments found;
- A Zohar from 1815 – a text for the mystical and spiritual Jewish movement known as “Kabbalah”;
- An official 1918 letter to the Chief Rabbi regarding the allotment of sheep for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year);
- Materials from Jewish schools in Baghdad, including exam grades and a letter to the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton regarding SAT scores;
- A Haggadah (Passover script) from 1902, hand lettered and decorated by an Iraqi Jewish youth ; and
- A lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic from the Jewish year 5732 (1972-1973) - one of the last examples of Hebrew printed items produced in Baghdad.
Discovery: The dramatic story of how these materials were found, rescued and preserved is one worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. A short film captures these heroic efforts. The section includes actual metal foot lockers used to ship the documents to the United States.
Text and Heritage: This section explores Iraqi Jewish history and tradition through recovered texts, including a Torah scroll fragment, a Hebrew Bible with Commentaries from 1568, and a Babylonian Talmud from 1793.
Iraqi Jewish Life: Constancy and Change: Using recovered texts, this section explores the pattern of Jewish life in Iraq. Highlights include a Haggadah (Passover script), siddur (prayer book) and an illustrated lunar calendar in both Hebrew and Arabic (one of about 20 found, dating from 1959-1973).
Personal and Communal Life: Selected correspondence and publications illustrate the range and complexity of Iraqi Jewish life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Original documents and facsimiles in flipbooks range from school primers to international business correspondence from the Sassoon family.
After the Millennia: Iraqi Jewish life unraveled in the mid-20th century, with the rise of Nazism and proliferation of anti-Jewish propaganda. In June 1941, 180 Jews were killed and hundreds injured in an anti-Jewish attack in Baghdad. Persecution increased when Iraq entered the war against the new State of Israel in 1948. In 1950 and 1951, many Iraqi Jews were stripped of their citizenship and assets and the community fled the county en masse. This section includes the 1951 law freezing assets of Iraqi Jews.
Preserving the Past: It is not surprising that the Coalition Forces turned to National Archives conservators for help. Learn about transformation of these materials from moldy, water-logged masses to a carefully preserved, enduring historic legacy. View the National Archives’ state-of-the-art treatment, preservation, and digitization of these materials.
The Fall issue of Prologue Magazine, the Archives’ flagship publication, will feature two articles on “Discovery and Recovery.” Prologue is available in the Archives Shop.
National Archives Preservation and ConservationThe Conservation Department cares for the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents, as well as billions of other records. In state-of-the-art preservation labs, staff assess the condition of records and identify their composition. Experts stabilize and treat documents to prepare them for digitization, exhibition, and use by researchers. A “conservator-on-call” team is ready to provide guidance for any records emergency at National Archives facilities nationwide. National Archives conservation experts also serve as “first preservers” and provide aid to other agencies and offices following disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
- View the conservation and re-encasement of the original Declaration of Independence [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9ovu0a6pL8]
- See astounding conservation work on the 1297 Magna Carta as staff use ultra-violet photography to reveal previously illegible writing, remove old repairs, fill areas of loss with conservation paper, and humidify and flatten the document [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqQVY1Zn0oM]
- Go behind-the-scenes to see the state-of-the-art preservation lab at the new National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. A fire in the former facility in 1973 destroyed millions of military personnel files. Watch preservation technicians arduously treat records for damage and mold, piece together burnt paper fragments, and see how text seemingly lost to fire damage can be restored to legibility [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xNvAudiRwU]
# # #For more information on or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, call the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.
Connect with Us on: Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@USNatArchives Facebook: USNationalArchives Tumblr: http://usnatarchives.tumblr.com
There is no Jewish community in Iraq anymore. What the illegal Iraq War unleashed destroyed it. I fully support the artifacts being handed over to the government of Israel -- Israel is where most Iraqi Jews have gone in the last decades. Cultural artifacts belong to the people, not to a land. If tomorrow all the Yazidis or Shabaks or Armenians were out of Iraq and a week later a discovery was made about their cultural artificats? Those would belong to the people of that culture.
While I support the Jewish people in Israel being over these historical Jewish records, I do not support them being shown in the United States as described above. For those who don't know, this is a very big issue to some in Iraq. Some in Iraq are very vocal in their belief that these Jewish records and artifacts belong to Iraq. They want them returned. I'm not really grasping how disputed artifacts belong on display in the United States. I'm failing to see how this helpful to anyone -- especially since the United States government started the illegal war. To me this plays as taunting, as insulting and as humiliating to the people of Iraq -- and it plays like the US government meant for it to cause ill will. (I personally don't believe that but it does play out as if the US government is attempting to humiliate Iraq and I have no idea what US government idiot gave approval for a US exhibition.)
Iraq was briefly mentioned in today's US State Dept press briefing:
QUESTION: At a time when Iraq is really suffering a great deal of turmoil, it seems that volunteers or militias are crossing the borders into Syria to aid the Syrian regime. Are you having any kind of special talks with the Iraqi Government to stop them from doing that or to prevent people from going to answer the calls of the Sunni jihadist side?
MR. VENTRELL: So we do – we have seen reports of a limited number of Iraqi Shia and Sunni militants fighting in Syria. These movements stoke the violence in Syria and contribute to the suffering of the Syrian people. So we continue to call on all of Syria’s neighbors to take all possible steps to prevent the flow of militant fighters into Syria in order to prevent exacerbating the sectarian aspects of the conflict. And so I would also note that the Iraqi Foreign Minister himself has made a statement – going back, I believe this is a week or so ago, June 11th -- discouraging Iraqis from joining the fight in Syria. So it’s something that we’ve discussed with the Iraqis in the past and they’ve made public statements about.
Iraq War reporter Michael Hastings passed away this week, as we've already noted. I just want to make a few quick comments. I do not and did not know his widow Elise Jordan. I was appalled to read that she was rebuffed when she attempted to have a correction made to the obituary of her husband (the online one was wrong, she contacted Jill Abramson to ask that the error not appear in the print). There's no excuse for that in the world. There is a thing called professional courtesy that at the very least should have kicked in. Jill should remember that and I think she will, this sort of thing is not forgotten or unnoticed and it has a way of coming back.
It's called payback, Jill. You should have heeded the request of Elise Jordan, the request of a grieving widow who just wanted to make sure her husband was remembered correctly. Think about that, Jill, Elise Jordan was crying over her fresh loss that felt so raw and all it would have required for you to have helped her in her pain was removing one damn sentence. It wouldn't have hurt you in the least but that's the kind of woman you really are, Jill, just a dirty piece of trash. And, yeah, as Isaiah noted in his comic, you do have a mustache and it's very unattractive, Jill.
Michael Hastings was an investigative reporter. In my remarks here earlier this week, I said his luck ran out. I was not referring to anything other than he had gone into difficult areas (war zones) and managed to survive when others didn't. Since that went up, there are two rumors circulating. One that he was targeted by the FBI and two that he was pursuing the Petraeus affair-ouster. Either may be true, both may be true, both may be false. We don't traffic in rumors about how someone died here because I'm just not interested in adding to anyone's grief. If Elise Jordan wants to weigh in on those things, we will cover them. Until then, the following is all I have to say on the matter. The FBI denied they were investigating Michael Hastings.
Attorney General Eric Holder is over the Justice Dept (that includes the FBI). I saw him testify to Congress about targeting reporters only weeks ago. It was just AP, he explained. And then, a few days later, it was learned that James Rosen of Fox News had also been targeted. I have no idea if Michael Hastings was targeted by anyone but a denial doesn't really mean anything with that track record. Also true, we have an alphabet soup of agencies operating in the US. Anyone of those could have been tracking Michael Hastings (and might have even led him to believe they were FBI -- especially true if they were military intelligence which loved to pose as FBI during Vietnam). I have no idea how or why he died. What I do know is he was an important reporter, a credit to his profession and he will be missed by those who knew him and by those who just knew his work.
Finally, tomorrow in NYC, there will be an action against Barack's ongoing Drone War:
THE DRONE ZONE: CODE PINK SIMULATION OF LIFE UNDER 24-HOUR DRONE SURVEILLANCE
when: Saturday, June 22, 11 to 1:00 p.m.
where: the Cube at Astor Place
contact: Jill Godmilow (212) 226-2462, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jonathan Langer (716) 544-8237, email@example.com
(video documentation available)
On Saturday, June 22, at Astor Place, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a group of men and women will create a Drone Zone similar to those where the U.S. is terrorizing small villages in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc.
"Crossing Guards", 15 or so (women and men), each with a white, crossing guard diagonal sash, will be staged about 10 paces apart around a small area of Astor Place at Lafayette, next to The Cube... to produce "the zone." They stand silent, as cautionary figures... looking much like crossing guards might if so instructed. The guards are holding upright and steady 8 foot PVC poles. On each pole is a sign that reads: "DRONE ALERT! YOU HAVE ENTERED A DRONE ZONE. PLEASE BE PREPARED TO TAKE SHELTER QUICKLY." On top of each pole is mounted a mini-speaker emitting a low audio track of a drone continuously buzzing (as drones do flying over a Pakistani village), sourced from iPods or smart phones in their pockets.
If questioned by citizens, each crossing guard will have pink 4 x 6 cards to hand out. On one side is a brief description of life in Yemeni, Pakistani, Somali, Afghani village that suffers the tremendous stress and trauma from 24-hour drone surveillance, as well as potential strikes or crashes. On the other side of the card is a brief description of the CODE PINK Drone Theatre Project itself. Also, a list of on-line sites for more information about armed drone surveillance, targeted killings, and drone proliferation.
This action will be repeated again and again in New York City and elsewhere throughout the summer
NB: There will be video documentation of the project for use for television and online sites and other press locations..
Joan Wile, leader of Grandmothers Against the War, has stated "This project – silent street theatre – asks passersby to reflect on the condition of drone tormented and threatened populations. Perhaps it will also project the blowback of drones ultimately aimed at us."
when: Saturday, June 22, 11 to 1:00 p.m.
where: the Cube at Astor Place
contact: Jill Godmilow (212) 226-2462, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jonathan Langer (716) 544-8237, email@example.com
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