Monday, November 20, 2017

Biggest flop of the season?

I think it would have to be LBJ.

This film stars Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, C. Thomas Howell, etc.

In 17 days, it's made nearly $2.5 million.

It's a bomb.


Well LBJ isn't a ticket buying prompter the way JFK is.

That's true.

Equally true, the country's sick of the director -- Rob Reiner.

If I were a studio, I wouldn't waste money green lighting a Reiner film.

He's rude and nasty.

That's not how you sell tickets.

I'd go for Blake Ordinary over Reiner even if Blake Ordianary was a mediocre director.

Blake's not going to piss off the potential audience.

They're not going to see her/him on TV and think, "Oh, I'm not going to see that movie now."

LBJ is a flop and it's really Reiner's fault.

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

Monday, December 20, 2017.  The push to lower the age of marriage for girls in Iraq to nine continues, few Americans seem aware of how many Americans have died in Iraq in the last seven or so weeks, Hayder's getting praised for doing less than Nouri, and much more.


Link to headline article

Last night, Diana Ross was awarded The American Music Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award.

As Kat noted last night in "Kat's Korner: Diana Ross -- a lifetime of great music (DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION)," Diana has had 87 different songs in the top 40 of BILLBOARD's various US charts -- pop, soul, adult contemporary and soul.

Her latest album is DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION (link takes you to purchasing options) and it was released last Friday -- it will be out on CD in January.

Various community websites have noted their favorite Diana Ross songs and e-mails have asked me to weigh in.  I couldn't do a top fifty, let alone pick one favorite song.  What I will do as we wrap up our coverage of Diana and her well deserved honor is recommend one song to listen to.

Some of Diana's best work was with Ashford & Simpson and that includes "The Boss."  But I'm recommending the above for Diana's vocals which were highlighted and pushed to the front in this remix from 1994's DIANA EXTENDED: THE REMIXES.

We've covered Diana throughout this month.  We've also covered one story in Iraq throughout this month, the push to lower the age of marriage to nine-years-old -- for girls only.  This is slavery and don't pretend it isn't.

Dropping back to last Thursday's snapshot:

For the earlier attempt, please refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

We first noted the new push for the measure in the  November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported on it, Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue and Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) has covered it.

THE WASHINGTON POST becomes the first US news outlet to give the issue serious attention with Zahra Ali's report today:

The amendments apply to Iraq’s personal status code, which is a legal framework addressing family law that gathers most of women’s legal rights in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody, alimony or inheritance. One of the proposed amendments could allow child marriages of girls at age nine.
If approved, the amendments will affect marriage inside the civil court that provides legal protection for women from polygamy and different forms of abuse. It also weakens the power of the state appointed judge in granting power to sectarian religious authorities instead of a cross-sectarian reading of the law that decides whether cross-sectarian marriages are possible.

Iraqi women’s rights and civil society activists consider this proposal to fundamentally question the basis of women’s legal rights in Iraq along conservative and sectarian lines. Activists from different platforms, like the Iraqi Women Network, Iraqi Women Journalist’s Forum and Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, have pushed for progressive reforms of the personal status code rather than its questioning along regressive lines. An international campaign — launched by academics, activists and individuals (including this author) — started a petition demanding the parliament speaker and Iraqi MPs reject these changes.

Will Zahra's report be the start of many more from US outlets or will the others continue to remain silent?

Repeating, around the world, a global community has embraced the women and men in the US who have stepped forward in the last weeks to detail the assaults and abuse they experienced.  That needs to work both ways.  We, in the US, need to be supportive of those outside the US who need international support to avoid being abused.

Right now, girls in Iraq could use some support.

In other news, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Militia leaders will be banned from running in Iraq’s parliamentary and provincial elections next year, prime minister Haider Al Abadi said.
His comments come as Iran-backed Shiite armed groups have been emboldened by their role in defeating ISIL and as fears grow of Tehran’s increasing influence in the country.
“There must be a clear separation between political and armed groups,” Mr Al Abadi said during a visit to a voter registration centre in Baghdad on Saturday.

The prime minister also confirmed the election would be held on May 15. He urged all Iraqis to cast their votes, vowing that Baghdad’s central government would provide a safe environment for the elections.

That's neither progress nor news worth applauding.  We'll get to it.  The NEW ARAB notes:

"There must be a clear separation between political and armed groups," the prime minister warned on the weekend.

"It's vital that people choose the politicians that they want... The government's anti-corruption campaign requires unity of all Iraqis in order to combat this issue, just like our defeat against IS."

Abadi came to power in 2014, promising to rein in the rampant corruption that thrived under his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki.

With little progress made in stamping out graft, Iraqis took to the streets to protest against frequent power cuts.

Anybody getting the problem yet?

Iraq's already been through this.

Under Nouri.

But he didn't just say that militia leaders couldn't run for office, he made the parties divest themselves of their militias.

Have we forgotten that?

Are we so desperate to delude ourselves about 'success' in Iraq that we refuse to remember even the most recent of events?

Recent events we delude ourselves on?

Let's also include the number of US troops that have died in Iraq since October 1st.  It's up to three:
Alex Missildine of Tyler, Texas; Lee M. Smith of Arlington, Texas; and Hughton Brown of Brooklyn, New York.

New content at THIRD:

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Friday, November 17, 2017



Justice would be a full refund for the cost of the tickets.

I can't stand this movie.

I knew it was getting bad word of mouth but I was hoping it was wrong.


This is awful.

The 'league' is rarely all together.

When members are together (paired with another or with all but Superman), it's as though all they can do is squabble.

There's no plot here.

There's no script.

And I'm sick of this one woman with multiple men.

Wonder Woman's the only female superhero?

They couldn't have Black Canary or Hawkgirl?

The Flash (Ezra Miller)?

He's good but has nothing to do.  He grins a lot.

I'm glad Superman's back.

But the movie is a waste of time.

I feel bad for Wonder Woman fans because she's not in this as much as she should be.

This isn't a good film.

I liked LOGAN and the new Spider-Man this year.  But I really, really hated JUSTICE LEAGUE.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017.

"Love Hangover" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on (and it's the theme to her hist film MAHOGANY).   November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th (today!)  to note this monumental achievement.  That's this Sunday and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH, GIRLFRIENDS) will be hosting the broadcast.

Turning to Iraq . . .

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE this coming Sunday will feature a cover story by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal "The Uncounted:"

   Around midnight, Basim heard a thump from the second floor. He peeked out of his office and saw a sliver of light under the door to the bedroom of his daughter, Tuqa. He called out for her to go to bed. At 21, Tuqa would often stay up late, and though Basim knew that he wasn’t a good example himself and that the current conditions afforded little reason to be up early, he believed in the calming power of an early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. He waited at the foot of the stairs, called out again, and the sliver went dark.
It was 1 a.m. when Basim finally shut down the computer and headed upstairs to bed. He settled in next to Mayada, who was fast asleep.
Some time later, he snapped awake. His shirt was drenched, and there was a strange taste — blood? — on his tongue. The air was thick and acrid. He looked up. He was in the bedroom, but the roof was nearly gone. He could see the night sky, the stars over Mosul. Basim reached out and found his legs pressed just inches from his face by what remained of his bed. He began to panic. He turned to his left, and there was a heap of rubble. “Mayada!” he screamed. “Mayada!” It was then that he noticed the silence. “Mayada!” he shouted. “Tuqa!” The bedroom walls were missing, leaving only the bare supports. He could see the dark outlines of treetops. He began to hear the faraway, unmistakable sound of a woman’s voice. He cried out, and the voice shouted back, “Where are you?” It was Azza, his sister-in-law, somewhere outside.
“Mayada’s gone!” he shouted.
“No, no, I’ll find her!”

“No, no, no, she’s gone,” he cried back. “They’re all gone!” 

Not only did the strike target his house and his brother's house, the US military posted a video of the strike insisting it was targeting an ISIS facility.

There are no precision strikes.  It's as big a lie as smart bombs.

But where has the left been since the fall of 2014 when Barack Obama began ordering daily strikes?  Strikes that have continued under Donald Trump?

Is the only true sign of a 'woke' person really just bad morning breath?

We certainly haven't seen one damn effort to stop the Iraq War and our 'Social Justice Warriors' can't be bothered with Iraq.

Nor can THE NATION or THE PROGRESSIVE or any of our so-called 'independent' outlets.

They've had nothing to say or do for over three years now as Iraq has endured daily bombings -- not by terrorists but by a US-led coalition.

Kahn and Gopal note:

Our own reporting, conducted over 18 months, shows that the air war has been significantly less precise than the coalition claims. Between April 2016 and June 2017, we visited the sites of nearly 150 airstrikes across northern Iraq, not long after ISIS was evicted from them. We toured the wreckage; we interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors, family members, intelligence informants and local officials; we photographed bomb fragments, scoured local news sources, identified ISIS targets in the vicinity and mapped the destruction through satellite imagery. We also visited the American air base in Qatar where the coalition directs the air campaign. There, we were given access to the main operations floor and interviewed senior commanders, intelligence officials, legal advisers and civilian-casualty assessment experts. We provided their analysts with the coordinates and date ranges of every airstrike — 103 in all — in three ISIS-controlled areas and examined their responses. The result is the first systematic, ground-based sample of airstrikes in Iraq since this latest military action began in 2014.

We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history. Our reporting, moreover, revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all. While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants. In this system, Iraqis are considered guilty until proved innocent. Those who survive the strikes, people like Basim Razzo, remain marked as possible ISIS sympathizers, with no discernible path to clear their names. 

This is Rawa, the lone survivor of an airstrike that killed her parents and siblings in Qaiyara, Iraq last year. The U.S. told us the coalition carried out an airstrike "10 meters away against a known ISIS weapons cache."

Murray Brewster (CBC) reports on one aspect of the US-led coalition:

Canada is sending 20 combat engineers to train Iraqi troops to dismantle roadside bombs and booby traps left behind by retreating ISIS fighters, the Canadian military announced Friday.

The undertaking unfolded this week even as the overall advise and assist mission involving 200 elite Canadian special forces troops, remains on hold because of tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the independence-minded Kurdish region.

The tensions are long standing.  ISIS provided a common enemy that briefly set various problems aside.  These problems include the lack of funding from the Baghdad-based government to the KRG.
They also include issues of oil and issues of territory.

September 25th a non-binding referendum was held in the KRG and over 92% of those voting expressed the wish for the semi-independent Kurdistan to become fully independent.

Today's Nervous Nancies and Terrified Terrances of the press trembled at the thought and did not report what was taking place but instead presented spin from the Baghdad-based government.

The notion of splitting Iraq into three areas under a system of federalism is not a new one.

And when Senator Joe Biden proposed it, it was treated as normal and rational.

In fact, we were among the few to oppose that.

Our reason for opposing it?

If the Iraqi people want to do it, let them do it.  But it should not be imposed upon them by a foreign government.

We got a lot of flack for that position.

And yet a few years later, when a section of the Iraqi people want to explore it, the press treats it as how-dare-they! and acts as if the notion is something that has never been raised before and certainly not by any right-thinking-person.

It was a non-binding referendum.

The press and various foreign leaders treated it as though the KRG had announced they were building nukes.

This allowed Iraq's latest prime minister and thug Hayder al-Abadi to start persecuting the Kurds.

The latest move?

RUDAW reports:

Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament left Thursday’s session, causing the legislature to postpone a vote on punishing Kurdish MPs for participating in the independence referendum.

Parliament has sought to have Kurdish MPs stripped of their parliamentary immunity and put on trial in retaliation for voting for Kurdistan independence in the September 25 referendum.

The Iraqi parliament was to discuss the matter on Thursday, but most of the Kurdish MP’s left the legislature when the subject came up. Their absence meant quorum for the session was not met and the meeting had to be delayed.

An MP with the State of Law Coalition condemned the Kurdish lawmakers’ action.

“The parliament brought yet another failure on the people of Iraq. It was meant to punish wrongdoers. Voting on a parliamentary committee formed to punish separatist MPs was on the parliament agenda. These MPs were part of a big plot to undermine the security and stability of Iraq,” said Kazim Sayadi.

Again, this is awful for the Kurds at present but it will ensure that they are resolved in leaving Baghdad behind.   Hayder doesn't know how to foster unity.

The following community sites -- plus THE GUARDIAN, DISSIDENT VOICE, LATINO USA, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and GORILLA RADIO -- updated:

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Did they really kill Tom?

    I watched THE BLACKLIST this evening.

    On Wednesdays, I watch EMPIRE. 


    It's a lot better since they returned.

    Demi Moore, however, better be back.  Two weeks from now will be even better because Jamal's 'boyfriend' is supposed to destroy him. 

    This week was all about Hakim losing custody of his daughter.

    Now for THE BLACKLIST.  This was the fall finale.

    They've killed Tom.

    For real?

    I hope not.

    If Tom really is dead, that's it for me and the show.

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

    Thursday, November 16, 2017.

    "Do You Know Where You're Going To" is one of the 19 number one pop songs (BILLBOARD US singles chart) that Diana Ross has sang on (and it's the theme to her hist film MAHOGANY).   November 19th, she'll be on the live broadcast (ABC) of The American Music Awards to perform and to receive the American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Motown Classic is issuing DIAMOND DIANA: THE LEGACY COLLECTION November 17th to note this monumental achievement.  That's this Sunday and her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross (BLACKISH, GIRLFRIENDS) will be hosting the broadcast.

    Moving to Iraq, it's been a slow process but the renewed attempt to lower the age of marriage for girls to 9-years-old is finally get press attention.

    Nine-year-old girls in Iraq could be forced to marry under new Muslim laws The bill includes provisions that would legalise marital rape and child marriage and ban Muslims from marrying non-Muslims.

    IBT's Isabelle Garratsen notes:

    Human rights activists are warning that a new Iraqi law could legalise marriage for children as young as nine and set women's rights back 50 years. 
    They are calling on Iraqi ministers to withdraw a draft of the Jafaari Personal Status Law which would allow Muslim clerics to have control over marriage contracts.

    For the earlier attempt, please refer to the April 17, 2014 snapshot.

    We first noted the new push for the measure in the  November 3rd  snapshot.  Last week,  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) reported on it, Chris Harris (EURONEWS) has reported on the issue and Karen McVeigh (GUARDIAN) has covered it.

    Middle East media has covered this issue throughout the month.  One example being Rosie Alfatlawi's report for AL-BAWABA:

    Child marriage may soon be legal in Iraq.
    Troops have only just liberated the final major ISIS stronghold, but now Iraq’s parliament is voting on changes opponents say are reminiscent of the extremist group.
    Baghdad’s House of Representatives voted “in principle” on Wednesday to approve amendments to the Personal Status Law that could allow girls as young as 9 marry.
    Currently 18 is the official marriage age, although a judge can allow individuals as young as 15 to wed.
    In addition, the amended law would facilitate polygamy, with men no longer needing a judge’s permission to marry multiple wives.

    Yet while Middle East outlets have covered the issue, western media has been largely silent.  This despite the fact that the US State Dept commented on this issue last week. As KURDISTAN 24 noted:

    State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert strongly criticized the Iraqi parliament’s approval, in principle, of a draft law that would allow the marriage of girls as young as nine-years old and restore the authority of religious courts in matters of personal status.
    “We are completely against and oppose the idea of children marrying adults,” Nauert said on Thursday, replying to a question from Kurdistan 24 at a Department press briefing.
    Nauert likened the pending Iraqi legislation to the practices of the Islamic State (IS.)
    “It was not that long ago,” she said, that we condemned “the depravity of [IS] for taking children as brides.
    “We remain firmly opposed to the idea that any adult would attempt to marry a child in that fashion.”

    Iraq’s current personal status law goes back to 1959. It was approved in the wake of the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy in a military coup led by Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim in July 1958.

    If you're in the west, especially if you're in the US, grasp this: Day after day, for weeks now, you are part of the daily outrage -- good, healthy outrage -- over the abusive behaviors of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, etc.  What is being proposed in Iraq right now is abuse.  And women and men in the west have benefited from global solidarity.

    To avoid looking self-involved and hypocritical, it would be good for numerous 'social justice warriors' in the US to try to take a moment or two to recognize proposed abuse even if doesn't involve a famous performer.

    Late yesterday, Bethan McKernan (INDEPENDENT) noted:

    [T]he UN and various women’s rights groups in the region have condemned the proposed legislation.
    “I call upon the Council of Representatives to seize this opportunity of the process to amend the Personal Status Law,“ the UN Secretary General’s special representative to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said in a statement. 

    The Council of Representatives must “conduct a wider consultation on the draft amendments in a participatory manner to recommit to and ensure the full respect, protection and fulfilment of women and girls’ rights in Iraq in relation to matrimonial and other matters,” he added.

    Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) explains:

    Iraq’s current personal status law, introduced in 1959, is considered to be one of the most protective of women’s rights in the region. It is applied to all Iraqis regardless of their religious beliefs and sets the legal age of marriage at 18. In "urgent" cases, however, a judge is allowed to permit girls as young as 15 to marry.
    The current personal status law bans forced marriages and restricts polygamy.
    Under the new amendments, however, Shiite girls would be allowed to marry from the age of nine in line with the teachings of the Jaafari school of Shiite religious jurisprudence. The school was established by the sixth Shiite imam, Jaafar Al Sadiq.
    Belikis Wille, Iraq and Qatar researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that the mooted changes — which were first proposed in an earlier, more extreme bill introduced in 2014 — were "catastrophic".
    “The fact that this is not the first time the proposal was introduced is deeply disturbing,” Ms Wille added.

    “It’s a step backwards for Iraq, a country where there are many initiatives to improve women’s rights. Now [after ISIL’s defeat] is the time to assert more clearly that everyone in Iraq has equal rights.”

    In 2014, the bill was approved by Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet of Ministers.  Yesterday,voting was halted on the measure by a committee in Parliament.  Mohamed Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

    SNG website quoted Lama al-Halfi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s women affairs committee, saying in a press statement on Wednesday that the “personal status” law had been withdrawn from voting and returned to the committee for further deliberation with the endowments committee.
    “This (draft) law permits girls between eight and nine to get married, while the Iraqi law 199/1959 sets a girl’s maturity age between 15 and 16,” Halfi said, asking to adopt that age range in the new amendments.

    In other disturbing news, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

    An investigative report by the BBC titled “Raqqa's dirty secret” has confirmed earlier charges by Iran, Russia and the Syrian government that the Pentagon has colluded with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the evacuation of ISIS fighters from cities and towns under US military siege.
    The BBC story, based on interviews with some of those who organized the evacuation along with truck drivers who were brought in to transport the fighters and others who observed it, describes a four-mile-long convoy that included “50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of the Islamic State group’s own vehicles. IS fighters, their faces covered, sat defiantly on top of some of the vehicles.”
    In total, the convoy, which set out on October 12, transported some 4,000 people—ISIS fighters and their families—along with tons of arms, ammunition and explosives. The US military and its proxy ground force, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, assured that reporters and cameramen were kept out of Raqqa to prevent images of the long column of trucks, with armed ISIS fighters on top of them from being broadcast around the world.

    The story has been largely ignored by the US media. It flies in the face of repeated statements by leading US officials vowing to “annihilate” ISIS to the last man in Iraq and Syria and debunks the greatest “fake news” story of the 21st century—the so-called US war on terror.

    ISIS was bussed.  Poor thug Hayder al-Abadi.  He's been taking victory laps as fast as his tiny legs could carry his portly body while screaming that he'd defeated ISIS.  Poor Hayder, always a fool on the western stage.

    This false claim has led to the mistaken assumption that the Iraqi forces have vastly improved when that is not the case.  The official desertion rate among the Iraqi forces remains as high today as it was in 2014.  They are still unable to move into a town unless they have at least 10 soldiers for every 1 suspected terrorist.  They have been trained and retrained.

    It's probably always going to be difficult to get them to fight for a government propped up by the United States as opposed to a true Iraqi government.

    That is only shocking to those who haven't paid attention to what has taken place repeatedly.  Of, for that matter, the 2011 brush off of the offer for more US training.  (Iraq's 'acting' Foreign Minister -- speaking on behalf of Nouri al-Maliki -- suggested that the US find a better way to spend their money.)

    The bussing was also outrageous when you grasp that the US is supposedly fighting ISIS.  For many in the Middle East who have long argued that the US created ISIS and did so intentionally, this latest news will only confirm their beliefs.

    The following community sites updated:

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