Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Big Wedding

Before we get to the movie, this is from Hillary is 44;s "Barack Obama Gangster Government:"

Last week the Friday news dump, which is the news Barack Obama’s Gangster Government most wanted to hide, was that the scam known as ObamaCare would not bother to follow the letter of the law. No corruption will be left behind. Lies will be encouraged as a matter of policy in order to make the failed policy “work”.
Earlier last week the Obama Gangster Government issued a diktat that contrary to black letter law the “employer mandate” is a nullity until Obama breathes life back into it. Obama mouthpiece henchman Clown Carney defended the lawlessness and attacked the honest among us who see no legal authority to do what is being done:
“This was the law. How can they change the law?” asked Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), an author of the health law and the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, according to The New York Times.”
Today we have a new street level variety of Gangster Government. Judicial Watch FOIA docs show DoJ facilitated Zimmerman protests in Florida. Blind Justice has been murdered, with malice of forethought, by Barack Obama Gangster Government:
“A division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was deployed to Sanford, Florida in 2012 to provide assistance for anti-George Zimmerman protests, including a rally headlined by activist Al Sharpton, according to newly released documents.
The Community Relations Service (CRS), a unit of DOJ, reported expenses related to its deployment in Sanford to help manage protests between March and April 2012, according to documents obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.”
Tawana Brawley was the earlier Trayvon Martin but she did not have Gangster Barack Obama providing security for her scam. Perhaps Rachel Jentelle will smear feces on herself, crawl into a garbage bag and Barack Obama’s Gangster Government will declare her a new black saint like Gangster Barack Obama’s neverland son Saint Skittles.  

I had an e-mail from Rodney who missed "The Big Wedding" and wondered if I saw it and why it did so poorly at the box office.

I'll give you my guess, but I didn't see it either.

I knew "The Big Wedding" came out in April.

For me, the reason I didn't see it was I thought it was "big wedding" and wasn't interested in the topic.

Big Wedding was a codename for the 9-11 attack.

Why the hell did the producers do that?

If I'd known this was a film with Diane Keaton -- let alone a comedy with her -- I would've bought a ticket the night it came out.

They chose the wrong title for a lot of us.  We hear "big wedding" and we think it's a movie about 9-11 and we've seen those movies already.

So I'd argue that a lot of us saw the title and thought it was something else.

While I like Robin Williams, Katherine Heigel and even DeNero (I love Diane Keaton), I'm not crazy about Susan Sarandon.

Her role's not enough to keep me from seeing the film but she's really gotten a lot of people's nerves and I would argue that producers need to stop casting her because it's clear now that she has no following.

It's been 15 films for Sarandon since she had a hit ("Enchanted" which she didn't carry as third lead).

You have to drop back 29 live action films to find a film she carried ("Stepmom" -- the film she and Julia Roberts starred in).

So I wouldn't cast Sarandon.  She drives away too many moviegoers and she's really not that good of an actress and she's nothing to look at.

Ava and C.I. warned about this repeatedly.  Usually with regards to Ellen Barkin.  From September 2nd, here they are writing about Ellen:

And maybe Ellen Barkin's on to something there?  Maybe being so hateful on her Twitter feed allows her to access the hatred she exudes as Jane on NBC's The New Normal (debuts September 11th)?  Or maybe she's just tapping into her own ugliness?

We don't know but we did confirm that no one at NBC, not one executive, is happy with Ellen's current public persona.   So if The New Normal flops, it's on Ellen.  She's pissed off everyone with her attacks. 

There's talk of new clauses in contracts at NBC, new clauses that would require actors and actresses not to attack potential viewers, new clauses that would require actors and actresses to be goodwill ambassadors for their programs.  It's akin to the morality clauses that existed back in the studio days.  And if that happens, there's going to be a lot more anger at Ellen Barkin from within the industry.

For those who don't know,  Ellen Barkin's decided that interviews and Twitter are where you release your hatred for your fellow Americans.  You go there and you demonize whole sections of people.  She also seems to feel that this behavior is the best way for an untried TV actress to get publicity and viewers for a brand new show.

It's this sort of thinking that led her to the career nadir that was the direct-to-video Operation: Endgame of only two years ago.  Few actors and actresses ever recover from a film and a role so bad.  But fate smiled on Ellen and she chose to answer fate by squatting and urinating over half the country. 

Somewhere along the line, she's decided she is Voice Of America and that the world really needs her every utterance -- especially the hateful ones where she aims hate at groups of people.

CAA is in a panic mode over Barkin's antics and  NBC's asking if there's a way to continue the sitcom without the character of Jane?

Ourselves, we're just wondering who the hell Ellen thinks she reaches by spitting on people?  If her show was going to make a difference -- it revolves around a same-sex couple who decide to have a baby -- that meant it was going to have to reach out.  And maybe people would become comfortable?  Maybe it was like the conversation that Mitch and Cam's fathers had last season on Modern Family, where they talked about how things change and
you're constantly going to re-adjust?

 But people you've insulted don't usually watch your program.

And the studios saw how Jamie Foxx's attacks may have kept ticket buyers away from "White House Down."  Now you've got Jim Carey issuing apologies for his insults towards gun owners because there's fear that he's tanked the film by doing that.

And if he is seen as running off the audience, that multi-million dollar salary takes a hit.

I like Jim Carey.

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept can't be bothered with Iraq (see today's yawner of a briefing), Bradley Manning is a threat to Barack because his revelations immediately document Barack getting cozy with a War Criminal (Kissinger would have been put in prison had his own actions been exposed while he was in the government), Barack continues spying on the American people, Oliver Stone speaks out against it again, and more.

Why has the US State Dept been getting so many complaints in surveys on Iraq recently?  (They've been getting a ton of poor surveys for approximately six weeks according to a State Dept friend.)  Maybe the answer can be found in today's State Dept press briefing by Jen Psaki.  Iraq finally comes up because yesterday the United Nations' Francesco Motta told AFP, "Iraq is really at a crossroads.  I wouldn't say we're at a civil war yet, but the figures are not looking good."


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Yesterday, a United Nations spokesman warned that Iraq is sliding fast into a civil war. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve spoken pretty consistently about any concerns of violence that have happened in Iraq. They’ve been through a long transition, as we know. We continue to work with them and work with all parties there. We urge and consistently urge all leaders to maintain a spirit of reconciliation and unity to overcome the threats that are happening there, and we remain in close touch with all parties. I don’t have any specific update for you on it, though.
QUESTION: But you do concur that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated markedly since the beginning of June.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen obviously incidents of violence, which we’ve raised concerns about as they’ve come up.
All right. Quiet day today. Do we have one more?

We've raised concerns.  That's the most the spokesperson can answer?  When you grasp how much money, how many billions the State Dept has been allocated for Iraq, the reluctance to speak in any concrete form on Iraq is a display of arrogance. 

But arrogance is all the administration can display -- other than guilt.  Yesterday, Bradley Manning's defense concluded their presentation.

Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor."  February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks.  And why.

Bradley Manning:   In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

2010.  Not 2008.  Not 2007.  2010.  Barack's in office, that's one of the key reasons that date is important.  There's another there.  This is Thomas Gaist (WSWS) report on Monday's proceedings:

While Manning’s defense team made arguments Monday presenting his decision to leak classified documents as motivated by concern for the well-being of the United States, its military, and the Iraqi people, Lind’s ruling prevents the defense from basing their case on the defendant’s principled opposition to US policies.
On Monday, the defense called Lauren McNamara, a woman who corresponded with Manning during the period when he made the leaks. She testified that he was “concerned with saving the lives of families in foreign countries” and that he “considered human life to be valuable above all.” McNamara quoted from her correspondence with Manning, reading his statement that was “concerned about making sure that everyone, soldiers, marines, contractors, even the local nationals, get home to their families.”
US Army sergeant David Sadtler, who oversaw Manning’s intelligence work, testified that Manning was angered by the jailing of 15 Iraqi civilians, with US approval, for distributing written material criticizing the government. “He was upset at the situation,” Sadtler said. Previously, Manning stated before the court that the Iraqis involved had no ties to the armed resistance against the US occupation, and that their materials contained a “scholarly critique” of the current regime.

2010.  The Reuters video got attention. That was really it from our 'alternative' media in the US (The Nation, Democracy Now, etc.). 

The issue wasn't the video.  The video was from Bully Boy Bush's time in the White House.

What worried and bothered the White House was what Brad did that people might notice at any point.  They didn't notice (and I only noticed it yesterday after hearing for the third time this month from a White House friend that the Reuters video didn't really matter).  There were many Iraq revelations (and others but our focus is Iraq)  from Brad's leaks.  And we covered them here.  Unlike 'live blogger' Gregg Mitchell who had no interest until Julian Assange encountered legal problems.

Ned Parker is a journalist with the Los Angeles Times.  He's done great reporting in Iraq.  And it's that reporting that has a lot to do with 2010.  We've repeatedly asked, "Why did the administration back Nouri after Parker had repeatedly exposed Nouri's use of secret prisons?"

Brad angered the White House by ripping away the final veil.

2010.  In February 2010, Brad begins leaking to WikiLeaks in part because of fear of the way the Iraqi people are being treated, especially those whose only 'crime' is speaking out against Nouri.

But if Brad knows these things, then so does our US government.  Brad didn't share his notebook spiral of poetry with WikiLeaks, he shared government documents.

He began sharing government documents on Iraq in February 2010 and was clearly done sharing by May 2010 (at the end of May is when he was arrested).  This isn't minor, this goes to why he needs to be silenced.

Nouri didn't win re-election to a second term as prime minister.  A month after Brad began leaking, March 2010, is when Iraq holds parliamentary elections.  Nouri disputes the results so the intimidated IHEC (Independent High Electoral Commission) tosses a few votes he didn't earn his way in the recounts but can't toss enough his way to allow his State of Law to come in first.

Iraqiya came in first.  What followed was Nouri stomping his feet like a spoiled child and throwing a tantrum, refusing to step down and bringing the country to a political halt -- a political stalemate that lasted over eight months.  How did he get away with it?  The White House backed him.

The White House didn't back democracy, didn't back the Iraqi people, didn't back the Iraqi Constitution, it backed Nouri.

And we've decried that here in real time and since.  We've pointed out that Ned Parker was doing exposes on secret prisons Nouri was running and the torture taking place there.

(And credit to the Guardian who, by the summer of 2010 was also noting the White House involvement.  For the longest time, we were the only ones noting it.) 

But until repeated hints from a White House friend this month, I wasn't connecting Brad to this time period.

Brad's revelations are even more important than Ned Parker's excellent reporting.  Brad's revelations go to the fact that Barack and his underlings were not learning from the press of Nouri's corruption, of Nouri's targeting people because they criticized him.  They knew it from their own US government reports.

In 2006, we began noting here that the US State Dept was noting how paranoid Nouri was.  Brad's 2010 release included State Dept cables and that included Nouri and his paranoia.  There wasn't a great deal about Iraq in the WikiLeaks publications that surprised us in terms of Iraq because we'd already noted a number of things as they happened.  And that may be why the obvious escaped me or maybe just because I can be a real idiot sometimes.

But that is why the White House was furious about the leaks in terms of Iraq.

Let's again note John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

The White House decision to back Nouri is why he could bring the country to a halt for over eight months after the elections and refuse to step down as prime minister.  It was Barack that ordered the US-brokered contract (The Erbil Agreement).  As the Constitution outlined things, Nouri couldn't be prime minister.  So the White House had to do something extra-Constitutional to go around it.  The Erbil Agreement is a contract among leaders of the various political blocs.  Nouri signed it as leader of State of Law and agreeing to various terms, conditions and concessions if he could have a second term.  The other leaders came up with their wish-list in exchange for giving Nouri a second term.

The US government knew the score.  That's what Brad's leaks make clear.  So they likely knew that Nouri would use The Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then trash it and refuse to honor it.  But while they likely knew that, they absolutely knew he was a tyrant.

And yet they backed him.

Let's go back to Thomas Gaist (WSWS):

While Manning’s defense team made arguments Monday presenting his decision to leak classified documents as motivated by concern for the well-being of the United States, its military, and the Iraqi people, Lind’s ruling prevents the defense from basing their case on the defendant’s principled opposition to US policies.
On Monday, the defense called Lauren McNamara, a woman who corresponded with Manning during the period when he made the leaks. She testified that he was “concerned with saving the lives of families in foreign countries” and that he “considered human life to be valuable above all.” McNamara quoted from her correspondence with Manning, reading his statement that was “concerned about making sure that everyone, soldiers, marines, contractors, even the local nationals, get home to their families.”
US Army sergeant David Sadtler, who oversaw Manning’s intelligence work, testified that Manning was angered by the jailing of 15 Iraqi civilians, with US approval, for distributing written material criticizing the government. “He was upset at the situation,” Sadtler said. Previously, Manning stated before the court that the Iraqis involved had no ties to the armed resistance against the US occupation, and that their materials contained a “scholarly critique” of the current regime.
Manning’s pre-trial statement shows that he was motivated by a growing consciousness of the criminal character of US foreign policy. In the statement, delivered to the military judge in February, the soldier asserted that his actions were intended to initiate a process of “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”
Referring to politically motivated roundups carried out with full US support by the Iraqi regime, Manning said, “I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time, if ever.”

 Brad knew that and so did the US government, so did the White House.  So what you have with the 2010 elections is no longer just a crime against democracy, it's a partnership in torture and abuse.  The White House was not surprised by how awful Nouri is, they knew more than anyone, more than Ned Parker, just what he was doing and that's in the documents that Brad released.

They overrode the will of the people to give a tyrant who tortures a second term and they did that not out of political naivete, they did it with their eyes wide open and fully aware of what a second term would mean for the Iraqi people.

Brad's Iraq revelations -- poorly covered in real time -- strip away the illusions and reveal a White House aware of how vindictive and cruel Nouri was, how torture was his immediate answer for everything, and despite this (or because of this) the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki for a second term when even the Iraqi people had rejected him.

This is the fraud who won the Nobel Peace Prize being exposed as a liar and Tricky Dick Nixon willing to destroy an entire people. No wonder Barack declared Brad guilty

Here's the Bradley Manning Support Network's transcript of Barack declaring Brad guilty:

Logan Price: [Shaking hand] Mr. President, why didn’t you talk about Bradley Manning?

Obama: Look, there are better ways and more appropriate ways to bring this up than interrupting and causing a scene…
LP: I understand. That’s why I am asking you now. I wasn’t singing or chanting and I want to know. I am really concerned because I think he is the most important whistle-blower of my generation. Why is he being prosecuted?
Obama: Well, what he did was irresponsible and risked the lives of service-members abroad… he did a lot of damage… [begin video] so people can have philosophical views on…
LP: But I haven’t seen any evidence of that, and how can you say that the leaks did more harm than good? What about their effect on the democratic revolutions in the Arab world? …and isn’t this going to help the war on terror?
Obama: No, no, no, but look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source… That’s not how the world works. And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law. We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate…No he’s being fine. He is being courteous and asking questions. [ This was because the Secret Service was tugging on my shirt sleeve by this point]
LP: But didn’t he have a responsibility to expose.. [war crimes]
Obama: He broke the law!
LP: Well, you can make the law harder to break, but what he did was tell us the truth.
Obama: What he did was he dumped…
LP: But Nixon tried to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg for the same thing and he is a … [hero]
Obama: No it isn’t the same thing…What Ellsberg released wasn’t classified in the same way.

As the transcript (or video) makes clear, Barack was becoming a little unhinged on the topic.  Why?  Because the leaks do more than anything else to reveal how little Barack cares about human rights, how little value he placed on the safety of the Iraqi people, how eager to get in bed with despots and tyrants he was.  This isn't 'change,' or a Nobel Peace Prize.  This is actually criminal behavior.  Interfering with a country's election and electoral process to ensure that the tyrant the people just deposed will not be leaving office.

October 22nd 2010, WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs.  They'd had them for months and it's a shame they weren't able to publish them before October 22nd.  The Erbil Agreement was already being negotiated and, November 10, 2010, would be finalized. From the November 11, 2010 snapshot:

Today the KRG website announces:

Baghdad, Iraq ( - Iraq's political leaders yesterday agreed to hold the parliamentary session as scheduled on Thursday and to name an individual for the post of Speaker of the the parliament (Council of Representatives). The Speaker post will go to the Al-Iraqiya bloc, which is headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
During the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of all the winning blocs at President Masoud Barzani's Baghdad headquarters, agreement was reached on two other points: to create a council for strategic policy and to address issues regarding national reconciliation.
President Barzani, who sponsored the three days' round of meetings, stated that today's agreement was a big achievement for Iraqis. He expressed optimism that the next government will be formed soon and that it will be inclusive and representative of all of Iraq's communities.

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call." 
What Brad revealed was the Barack Obama administration got into bed with a man they knew was a tyrant.  Even though the Iraqi people wanted him out of office, the White House fought to keep him.  And since they knew exactly how vindictive, paranoid and violent he was, that makes the US government culpable in the violence that's followed in Nouri's second term.  Brad's revelations destroyed their attempt to have plausible deniability on this issue.

Violence slammed Iraq today.  Xinhua observes,  "At least 62 people were killed and 139 others wounded in a wave of violent attacks across Iraq on Thursday, police sources said."  Since the start of the Iraq War, violence (measured by death tolls) reached its lowest point in 2010.  After that it began a slow climb upward.  By the end of  June, you had more deaths in 2013 already than in all of 2010.  The last months have taken Iraq back to the levels of the violence in 2008.

Let's note some of the reported violence today.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 2 Ramadi bombings left three police officers injured, 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul,  a hand grenade attack on Council Member Hamam al-Alil left al-Alil injured, 2 Kirkuk car bombings left twelve people injured, 3 suicide bombers attacked a Ramadi police station leaving 2 police officers dead and four more injured, and a Tuz Khurmatu bombing UPI reports 6 dead and twenty-eight wounded. EFE reports it's 6 dead but 29 injured.

On the Tuz Khurmatu bombing, Alsumaria reports that Turkmen leader Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati is declaring the Kurds are responsible.  All Iraq News notes he's insisting the attacks are political and a means to apply Article 140.  That's Article 140 of the Constitution.  It was supposed to have been implemented, per the Constitution, no later than the end of 2007.  Nouri has refused to implement it.  It calls for a census and referendum on Kirkuk to determine whether or not the oil-rich area becomes part of the Kurdistan Regional Government or part of the central government out of Baghdad.

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) provides an update on the two Kirkuk bombings, "Also, two people were killed and 14 wounded when two car bombs exploded in the disputed city of Kirkuk, police said."  Press TV adds, "On the road between Haditha and Baiji, northwest of Baghdad, unidentified gunmen opened fire on security personnel charged with protecting the country's vital oil infrastructure, killing 11 of them and injuring several others. Three other members of the security forces were also killed in the attack.AFP reports a funeral bombing, "The car bomb exploded in a funeral tent in Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad, where family members were receiving condolences, and a suicide bomber then detonated explosives after emergency personnel arrived."    Kareem Raheem, Zaid al-Sinjary, Ghazwan Hassan, Mustafa Mahmoud, Isabel Coles and Michael Roddy (Reuters) quote Kadhim Hassan (a teacher who was wounded in the Muqdadiyah bombings) stating, "I was sitting inside the tent...when I heard a huge explosion. I rushed out (and) saw a car burning. While we were busy evacuating the injured, a suicide bomber took us by surprise."

Xinhua notes, "In the afternoon, insurgents carried out another coordinated attack on a compound of a police headquarters in the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, killing at least six policemen and wounding 13 others and a civilian.  Also, six mortar rounds landed on the compound, while some 40 gunmen apparently trying to take control of the police headquarters fought fierce clashes with the guarding policemen, the source said."   Al Jazeera adds, "Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said the attack took place at the main gate of the Fallujah police directorate."

In addition, Press TV reports 14 security forces were killed last night in Barwana.  AP reports on it here. BBC News notes, "Eleven of the dead were special police assigned to protect a nearby oil pipeline - they were attacked as they sat down in a trailer to break their Ramadan fast at sundown, a local official told the Associated Press." Deutsche Welle adds, "The victims had reportedly served as security guards of an oil pipeline near the town of Haditha, which lies about 220 kilometers (140 miles) outside of the capital."   All Iraq News notes a Tikrit bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer.  Through Wednesday, Iraq Body Count counts 226 violent deaths for month so far -- which averages out to 22.6 deaths a day so far this month.  Al Rafidayn has a disturbing story on Tuesday's violence in Baghdad which included attacks on a shop owner but, most disturbing, assailants killed a baby and put the corpse on the roof of a house.

You'll note the above are all Iraqi outlets or wire services.  On the coverage of the Iraq War, 
Abraham Moussako (CJR) reports on a gathering of US journalists last night at the Brooklyn Brewery -- Steve Hindy (covered Iraq for AP), Michael Kamber (NYT), Todd Heisler (NYT and Rocky Mountain News) and Carolyn Cole (Los Angeles Times) -- and Moussako offers a number of takeaways from the discussion including:

 The media, as a whole, lost interest rapidly. The kickoff of the Iraq war in 2003 was essentially a “circus,” in Kamber’s words, with over a thousand journalists there in the early months. Once the going got tough, especially in 2004 post-Fallujah, many outlets—major outlets, he stressed, simply up and left, or left only a reporter and a translator.

On PRI's The World today,  Marco Werman noted "the focus on Iraq has slipped" since 2011.  He was speaking with Reuters reporter Samia Nakhoul who was in Baghdad's Palestine Hotel April 8, 2003 when the US military attacked it:

Samia Nakhoul:  And while I was reporting, I saw an orange glow [. . .] and that was the tank shell that hit our hotel.

Marco Werman:  And what happened next?

Samia Nakhoul:  All I can remember is that I was -- my face was burning.  I couldn't see.  I was in such pain.  And our colleagues were trying to pull us inside and to rescue us and there was no electricity because they were calling and asking the hotel to put on the generator and while we were going to the hospital, there was still bombardment.  They took us to the first hospital and, you know, they couldn't help us except clean our wounds.  And I kept on telling my colleague, "I can't see -- I lost my -- maybe I became blind."  And the doctor said, "Just hold on, maybe you will be able to see, there's a lot of blood on your head, on your face."  And they took us to a second hospital.  And this is where I found out that my colleague Tares Protsyuk was killed because I heard a doctor saying he didn't make it and that was -- that was very upsetting.

Marco Werman:  It turns out that an Iraqi surgeon removed shrapnel and bone fragments from your brain.  I mean, he saved your life, right?

Samia Nakhoul:  Yes, and this was at the third hospital.  They took me to this neurological hospital where I said, "I just need to have the operation here."  

 Why did the US military attack?  Samia (who is back in Iraq for Reuters) doesn't know.  May 13, 2008, some answers were supplied by veteran Adrienne Kinne when she appeared on Democracy Now!:

Adrienne Kinne:  One of the instances was the fact that we were listening to journalists who were staying in the Palestine Hotel. And I remember that, specifically because during the buildup to Shock and Awe, which people in my unit were really disturbingly excited about, we were given a list of potential targets in Baghdad, and the Palestine Hotel was listed as a potential target. And I remember this specifically, because, putting one and one together, that there were journalists staying at the Palestine Hotel and this hotel was listed as a potential target, I went to my officer in charge, and I told him that there are journalists staying at this hotel who think they’re safe, and yet we have this hotel listed as a potential target, and somehow the dots are not being connected here, and shouldn’t we make an effort to make sure that the right people know the situation?
And unfortunately, my officer in charge, similarly to any time I raised concerns about things that we were collecting or intelligence that we were reporting, basically told me that it was not my job to analyze. It was my job to collect and pass on information and that someone somewhere higher up the chain knew what they were doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Who was the officer in charge? Who did you tell?
ADRIENNE KINNE: My officer in charge for the duration of my mobilization was Warrant Officer John Berry.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, when you saw this list that you say, a list of targets, and Hotel Palestine was on it, why would you see this? Where were you? How did you pick up this piece of paper? 

ADRIENNE KINNE: It was actually an email. And I worked in a secure building, and we were given updates about what was going on. I actually am not sure why we were emailed this list of potential targets, and I’m not even sure in what context it was mailed — emailed to us. I would assume it was just an effort to let people know what was going on in the area, considering our mission. But the only reason now that I really remember that specific email is because I knew, having listened to journalists staying at the Palestine Hotel, talking with their families and loved ones and talking about whether or not they were safe and trying to reassure their family and co-workers and loved ones that they were safe, when I saw that hotel listed, I thought there was something that was going terribly wrong.
 It's amazing how that repeatedly gets ignored when people are supposedly discussing the attack on the Palestine Hotel.

Gypsies, tramps and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us gypsies, tramps and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down 
-- Cher's number one hit "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" written by Bob Stone

Murtada Taleb (Niqash) reports on the gypsy population in Iraq:

Just as they do in other countries, Iraq’s gypsies face discrimination and harassment. And despite miserable living conditions in Basra, the gypsy community there is growing.  

About 20 kilometres west of Basra, on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi city of Basra, there is a slum where ramshackle houses are built out of wrecked, rusting cars, stones, clay and buildings destroyed in war. If the inhabitants of these homes are lucky, they might have some mattresses for furniture, a stove and on rare occasions, even a television.

Local woman Hijaz lives here with her four children; she is a Hawasem, or gypsy. Hawasem means “decisive” in Arabic and is the word that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein used to use to describe the war he said he would fight against the US military. Now it’s used in an ironic way, to describe the gypsies, their slums and a variety of other illegal acts.

Hijaz was one of the first people to leave the province of Diwaniya after 2003 and the US-led invasion that toppled the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. She left because religious militias began to deliberately target gypsies in this area. She and other gypsies gathered here in this haphazardly built neighbourhood, a fair distance from the centre of the comparatively prosperous city of Basra and far from the eyes of officialdom.

Turning to the US, Oliver Stone is famous for many things including directing JFK, Salvador, Platoon, Savages, U-Turn, Wall Street and more.   Last week, Robert Redford disgraced himself for something than that bad rug.  A number of friends contacted me to say just how awful they thought the piece at Third ("TV: MSNBC Exposed") was.  Why would we pick on Robert!!!! The better question to ask is, "Why the hell haven't I picked on all of you yet?"  Let's see, one example, you're closing in on eighty and you present yourself as an activist and as left and you're so damn busy avoiding what's going on in this country yet so determined to be Jenna in 30 Rock's "Black Light Attack!"  that it's so embarrassing.    Be glad we only called out Redford.  So Robert Redford disgraced himself, spat on the only movie he's got of any real social importance (All The President's Men) by ignoring the Barack's spying on the American people to praise him for cheap words on the environment that even if implemented fully will not benefit the environment in any real way.  Click here for Jill Stein calling out Barack's 'plan.'  Redford never looked more feeble and more impotent than he did last week.  By contrast, Oliver Stone wasn't afraid to speak out.  From last Friday's snapshot:

Xan Brooks (Guardian) reports that film director Oliver Stone spoke out in support of Ed Snowden "at the Karlovy Vary international film festival in the Czech Republic" stating, "It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques."

Now Oliver Stone's recorded a video for the ACLU.  

Oliver Stone: Let me ask you a very simple question: Does it concern you that the government is spying on you?  Thirty years ago to even ask this question would have been a scandal.  If you lived through Watergate, if you read the Church Committee reports, you know the costs of unchecked government surveillance. The government is exploiting our amnesia.  We did not pass the Fourth Amendment in order to protect those with something to hide.  We passed that amendment -- which prohibts general warrants or limitless surveillance because we know all too well the cost of an unaccountable government.  The question is not: Do you have something to hide?  The question is: Do we control government or does government control us?  Remember this struggle is part of who we are as a people.  This country was born in rebellion because the British government was exerting too much control over American lives.  We broke free and began to create a system of government meant to protect liberty.  Our national history reveals a constant struggle to stay true to this value.  We face one of those moments of struggle right now.  Recent leaks have given us a glimpse into our government's gigantic surveillance machine. It's a machine that is eating our freedom.  If this concerns you -- and it should -- you need to contact your representatives in Congress now.  Ask them to end the tracking of Americans' domestic communications.  I won't stand idly by while our freedoms are eaten by the NSA's surveillance machine.  You shouldn't either.

Noa Yachot (ACLU Communications Strategist) notes:

Now is a critical time in our nation's history for all Americans to stand up for our civil liberties, Stone says – by asking representatives in Congress to roll back the surveillance state.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, have drastically eroded our Fourth Amendment rights. These statutes allow the government to access our most sensitive information without meaningful judicial oversight.
"I won't stand idly by while our civil liberties are eaten by the NSA surveillance machine," Stone says. "You shouldn't either." You can join Stone and the ACLU in demanding an end to the surveillance state, by signing a petition calling on Congress to repeal these problematic sections of the Patriot Act and the FAA. The time to act is now.

And you can see this morning's "Can someone drive NPR's Carrie Johnson to the free clinic?" for one of the elderly fools who made it to the FISA court and is so dumb he doesn't believe government would ever lie.  On that awful report on the judge Johnson did, a few have e-mailed, "It aired July 3rd."  Well it also aired this morning, I was listening to NPR for an hour as I was running.   And here's the complete run-down for today's Morning Edition -- you'll see the story listed there because it was broadcast today.  I have no idea if it was broadcast on July 3rd or not or if it was posted as an online piece July 3rd but it was part of today's Morning Edition.  In fact, we'll copy and paste the segments up to the one after Johnson's:

Alberto Balsalm Aphex Twin


D'evils Jay-Z


A Walk Tycho


Blues for RQ Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio


Ebb and Flow Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio



50 Years Ago, Raid Seals Mandela's Fate And His Fame


So it was fifth out of the first six reports on Morning Edition today.

sam dagher
ben lando


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