Saturday, April 19, 2014

Transcendence (where Johnny Depp becomes failed actor Harrison Ford)

I like Johnny Depp.

And I think it's criminal that he hasn't won an Academy Award yet.

"Ed Wood" contains his all time best performance and he didn't even get nominated (he did get nominated for a Golden Globe).  Not only has he never won an Academy Award, he's never even been nominated for one.  (He won the Golden Globe for "Sweeney Todd.")

Other outstanding performances which should have garnered awards include his work in "Edward Scissorhands," "Blow," "The Rum Diary," "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas," "From Hell," "Sleepy Hollow," "Alice In Wonderland," "Dark Shadows," "Nick of Time"  and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Some of those films were good or even great.  Some were so-so.  But Depp delivered in every one of them.  Maybe the problem is that he's often given great performances in flawed films?

"Transcendence" continues Depp's too often pattern of excelling in a so-so film.  He's not just 'the best thing in a bad film,' he's really something in this film.  If the film were worthy of him, he'd still be the best thing in it.  This is a really strong performance as Dr. Will Caster.

Will and Evelyn are married (she's played by Rebecca Hall -- and she's not very good, she's shaky throughout and could have used some help shaping her performance) and are like the Bill & Melinda Gates of tech.  They're working on a new computer program which has some people afraid that the society is going soul-less and that this program will be the final step.

Remember the Terminator films and how, when Skynet becomes self-aware, it's a war?  It's kind of that fear but Will and Evelyn's program isn't self-aware.

Will gets shot by a person fearing for society (I'm not doing spoilers -- this is all the fist ten or so minutes set up) and Evelyn thinks he can be saved by putting him into the program.

You're probably asking, since it's only a part of him that would be saved, why someone's not offering Evelyn grief counseling instead?

And that's just one of the pot holes in the plot.

There are many.  Oh, so many.

For a scientist, she's awfully unaware.  (And part of her performance problems have to do with a script that requires Evelyn to come off dumb repeatedly.)

The special effects are good.  In 10 years, we may not think so.

The first time I saw "Brainstorm" was in college.  It was part of a science sci-fi week.  And I can't remember which hall did the movies now.  (Maybe it was just upstairs in the UC?)  But the film was a little over 10 years old at the time.  And yet I really loved the special effects.  (This was on laser disc, by the way.)


The special effects look cheesy.

The only thing that really remains is Natalie Wood.

In the end, a real actor is the best 'special effect.'

Cheesy and cartoonish are how much of the sci fi effects look as the years pass.  Take "Barbarella" but grasp that Roger Vadim appears to have been aware of that and that's why the film's a send-up to begin with (and a very funny one -- "Barbarella" would rank as a film classic on my list -- and one of Jane Fonda's best 60s comedies performance).

Johnny Depp's Natalie Wood here.

He's connecting with the audience when the effects struggle.

But the script's awful and it's as though four movies are going on at once and only one will have an ending.

I'm not going to give away plot points but I will note that there is no sure tone throughout and that the film makers seems unwilling to commit -- even to something as basic as whether the program is worthwhile or not.  Having refused to explore that, they then rush to an ending (in the last 25 or so minutes) which seems forced.

And let's talk about 31 year-old Rebecca Hall because people were talking as we filed out of the theater.  Johnny's now 50.  Everyone talking thought Hall was too young for Depp.

I agree.

Part of his coolness factor has been that he's not aping every other man in Hollywood.  He needs to watch it real close because the audience turned on Harrison Ford quickly and in part because he was with too-young-women on the screen (his last hit was co-starring with Michelle Pfeiffer who was closer to his own age than the women in the bombs he was right before or right after).

This too-young became an issue even more so because he left his screenwriting wife and ended up with Calista Flockhart who is 31-years-younger than him.

This was not seen as 'cool' or 'authentic' and Harrison Ford went from being seen as someone with integrity to just another middle-aged (to elderly) man in a midlife crisis.

And now that Depp's dumped his longterm partner for a 27-year-old, he may be entering Harrison Hell.

If so, that's on him.

Writers have long noted he needs to work with Winona Ryder, that the two had chemistry onscreen and that most of the women he's been paired with have provided no heat.

He needs to work with women his own age or close to it.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's War Crimes continue (and are called out by a Sheikh), Tehran officials are told a third term for Nouri is unacceptable, Robert Beecroft is also informed of that, election campaigning heats up, KRB gets some bad news, Nouri's baby thug gets some media attention, and much more.

We're not campaign central.  We will look at Hillary Clinton's run in terms of Iraq.  The former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady is a press favorite for a 2016 presidential run.  She herself hasn't made up her mind yet and protests and thrown shoes may be indicating a level of hostility to her again running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  I've already stated I have no intention of voting for her, I'm not campaigning for her. But let's look at her record.  Ann McFeatters (Gulf Today) explores it and offers:

Hillary says she still has to figure out why she’d run. She has said nothing yet about what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean for the country. Being first woman president would be cool but probably isn’t reason enough to elect her.
She ran in 2008 defending the war in Iraq, a war that just about everyone except Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney agrees was a bad mistake. There’s a general consensus that capturing Saddam Hussein was not worth thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. 

That's the real surprise that no one wants to talk about.  She ran in 2008, she failed to stake out ground on Iraq that would carry her to the nomination.  Even if you believe the nomination was stolen from her (I do believe that, that's part of the reason Nancy Pelosi stopped the floor vote -- it would have revealed how close Hillary and Barack were in delegates).  But she was part of a divisive primary season.

How does that go away now?  Or are people at various left websites now confessing that their endless smears of Hillary as racist or wanting Barack Obama dead were lies -- lies they knew they were telling in real time?

The reality is, it was a bitter primary.  How do you, eight years later, pretend that didn't happen?

I have no idea but I have no idea why Hillary couldn't get over her pride and admit her Iraq War vote was wrong.  It was a 2008 mistake and it's six years after that run and she's still associated with the Iraq War. The only thing to her credit as a senator was opposing the surge but, as we now know from former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Hillary only opposed it for political reasons/posturing.  (The same is true of Barack, read Gates' book, but we're not talking about Barack running in 2016.)  (The 'surge' was when Bully Boy Bush sent more US troops into Iraq in 2007 to secure the country -- primarily Baghdad -- to allow Nouri to work on the White House benchmarks that he promised to implement but never, ever did.  Excuses were made in 2007 and outlets rushed to give him partial grades and pretend that in 2008 he'd achieve -- he didn't 2008, he didn't since.  It was more broken promises from Nouri.)

While Hillary attempts to figure out whether or not to run and what her big achievement as Secretary of State was, Roger Aranoff (Western Journalism) notes Hillary travels with a bit more than carry-on luggage:

But the legacy of Hillary Clinton is turning out to be one of incompetence, bungled efforts, chicanery, and outright scandal. Her most famous words have become, “What difference at this point does it make?” referring to how the four brave Americans died in Benghazi in September of 2012. And a number of other scandals have followed her, both from before and during her tenure as Secretary of State. The latest is about $6 billion in contract dollars that the State Department lost track of over the last six years.
According to the Inspector General report:
  •   There was a lack of paperwork: of 115 contracts sampled from the U.S. Mission in Iraq, 33 could not be produced.
  •   There was missing documentation: the Bureau of African Affairs couldn’t provide complete files for any of the eight contracts requested.
  •   There were conflicts of interest: a $52 million contract was awarded to a “company owned by the spouse of a contractor employee performing as a Contract Specialist for the contract.”
  •   Payments were sent when they weren’t supposed to be: $792,782 was sent to a contractor, “even though the contract file did not contain documents to support the payment.”
  •   Contracts were even hidden: “The related contract file was not properly maintained and for a period of time was hidden…This contract was valued at $100 million.”
All in all, this creates “conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” according to the IG report.

In 12 days, parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in Iraq.

Where's the State Dept?

They would say they are working (feedback they're receiving from the public says otherwise).  Whatever they're doing, they're not communicating with their ultimate boss: the US public.

Iraq last held parliamentary elections in 2010, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. February 17, 2010, then-US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill delivered "Briefing On Upcoming Iraqi Elections and U.S.-Iraqi Relations" -- a bad briefing, Hill's an idiot, but it was a briefing.  It took place in DC.  It took place 18 days before the elections.  This go round, nothing from the State Dept and yet the elections are only 12 days away.

Maybe if John Kerry stopped bullying other countries, the State Dept would have addressed the elections by now?

And the day of the election and after the elections, Hillary issued multiple statements so someone better inform John Kerry that he needs to up his game because with regards to keeping Americans informed on key points with regards to the State Dept's mission in Iraq, Hillary did a better job than Kerry's doing.

On the elections, Fareed Zakaria (Global Public Square, CNN) offers a list of readings, including Ned Parker's latest:

“On the surface, the speed with which Iraq’s new political order has fallen apart is a puzzle. Although bombings never stopped, there had been relative stability since the spring of 2008, when Maliki, emboldened by the successful U.S.-backed Sunni revolt against al Qaeda, known as the Awakening, set out to disband the Shiite militias endangering law and order in Basra and Baghdad,” argues Ned Parker in the New York Review of Books.
“The campaign, supported by the Americans, produced a surge of patriotism among both Shiites and Sunnis. By 2010, when the country was preparing to stage its second national elections for a four-year government, Iraq seemed poised to cast off its divisions. Maliki, running for reelection, had learned to present himself as both staunchly Shiite and a leader for all Iraqis. Resisting pressure from other Shiite religious parties and Iran, he ran his own list of candidates, including Sunni tribesmen and secular politicians…Yet Maliki and his Shiite Islamist supporters were unable to shed their deep mistrust of those they believed had fought them in the past. Rather than being integrated into the political system, several dozen leaders of the Awakening ended up dead or in jail, or forced into exile.”

Alice Fordham has a report for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio) that wants to insist Nouri's trying to bring the Sahwa into the military -- while ignoring what Ned Parker's outlined above and what's taken place for the entire second term of Nouri al-Maliki until right before these elections.

She's providing a wrong impression to listeners.

She's also wrong in the following, "But fighting still rages and it's been announced that national elections planned to the end of the month will not happen in Anbar. Alice Fordham, NPR News."  She got her name right.  You can dispute the "NPR News" label -- NPR doesn't really do much news anymore, it's all feature stories. But she's wrong about an announcement regarding Anbar.

How did that make it on air?

Well, like I said, NPR really doesn't do news anymore so there's no one to fact check.

April 8th, the IHEC declared not all areas of Anbar would have polling stations.  Today Tasnim News Agency reports:

“In Anbar Province, all necessary arrangements have been made to ensure the security of the election, which is to be held on April 30,” Faleh Al-Eisawi, the head of the council of the province said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
[. . .]
He also emphasized that the police forces in cooperation with Anbar Operations Command are to implement an extensive security plan to provide the security of the elections.

Again, Alice Fordham's claim (""But fighting still rages and it's been announced that national elections planned to the end of the month will not happen in Anbar.") does not hold up.

Iraq last held parliamentary elections in March of 2010.  In those elections, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.  Though Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate, loser Nouri threw an eight month long tantrum and the White House indulged him.  They did more than that, they also worked to find a way to let the loser have a second term as prime minister.  Since he lost the vote, they went to the leaders of the political blocs and pointed out Nouri could hold out for 8 more months (Parliament wasn't able to meet during Nouri's tantrum, he brought government to a standstill) and got them to sign a contract (The Erbil Agreement) which Nouri used to grab a second term.

As Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazai pointed out earlier this year in [PDF format warning] "Iraq in Crisis:"

US officials applauded the 2010 Erbil agreement, and said they were hopeful that such cooperative arrangement would provide a political breakthrough among Iraq’s leadership, and allow them to address the country’s problems. They pointed to the influence the US had in pushing for the outcome, including the adoption of an American suggestion that Allawi head a new, “National Council for Security Policy”.

And let's note  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported in real time:

Vice President Biden made numerous calls to senior Iraqi leaders over the past several months and U.S. officials directly participated in top-level negotiating sessions that lasted until just moments before the Iraqi parliament finally convened to approve a new power-sharing government Thursday, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. 

The contract didn't just have the leaders say, "Second term for Nouri!"  In exchange for that second term, the contract outlined actions Nouri would have to take.  But then he refused to honor his promises.  It's among the reasons he's so loathed today.

We've note many press whores over the years.  When there's a member of the press that tells the truth, we also try to note that.  On The Erbil Agreement, we're going to drop back to November 13, 2010 when one reporter had the guts to tell the truth.  Michael Jansen (Gulf Today) stated the obvious, "The deal making that produced last Thursday’s session of parliament is nothing to boast about." She then continued:

It is not clear why Iraqiya thought Maliki -- a sectarian Shiite whose Dawa party was a bitter enemy of the Baath -- would implement this pledge. Maliki has also failed to carry out solemn promises to recruit into the security forces or find civil service jobs for fighters of the Sunni Awakening Councils -- or Sons of Iraq movement -- who helped US and government forces curb Al Qaeda in 2007-08. Maliki has shown himself to have absolutely no intention of sharing power with Sunnis and certainly not with secular politicians like Allawi who represents the "old Iraq" where politics was non-sectarian.
In spite of Obama's declaration that an "inclusive" government formula had been found after months of wrangling, Maliki is not interested in including Sunnis, secularists, former Baathists and others who do not subscribe to the ethno-sectarian system imposed on Iraq by the previous Bush administration.

She said that days after The Erbil Agreement was signed.  She had been proven correct by the events that followed.  Credit to Michael Jansen for offering reality and perspective when few others were able or willing to.   Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) reports:

With the vote only days away, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s prospects for re-election look dim, and the country’s Shia parties, which together are poised to win the most seats in parliament, have started looking for a challenger to the incumbent leader.
Al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term in office, is in trouble as Iraq is teeming with problems. Many blame him for the country’s sectarian violence, political turmoil and economic deadlock and are eager to see a new prime minister in place.
For the time being, there is no frontrunner in Iraq’s elections, scheduled for 30 April, as several Shia politicians have been vying for the powerful position which also includes the key post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Iraq Times reports the Independent High Electoral Commission announced Thursday that they have fined 61 political bodies and candidates so far for campaign violations.  The IHEC is a ruling body but the Iraqi people are the ultimate ruling body (unless the White House steps in as it did in 2006 when it installed Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister and as it did in 2010 when it demanded he be given a second term).  And the people are defining their own issues right now.  For example, Rekar Aziz and Alexander Whitcomb (Rudaw) report that, in the Kurdistan Region, where campaign posters, leaflets and other printed materials are made is becoming an issue with voters and local businesses since much of the campaign material is coming "from Turkey, Lebanon and as far away as China" harming the KRG's local economy.

Let's stay with the Kurds for a moment, Ilnur Cevik (Daily Sabah) reports:

Iraqi Kurdish leaders feel that if the current impasse in relations with the Iraqi central government continues after the April 30 elections they will have no other option but to gradually weaken their ties with Baghdad and eventually declare a separate state. Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani was in Ankara to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan Wednesday night to feel the pulse of Ankara if the Kurds eventually move away from Baghdad. A source close to Barzani told Daily Sabah on Thursday that Barzani returned home late Wednesday night "satisfied."
The central government of Iraq led by Nouri el-Maliki has been at odds with the Kurds over an array of issues stemming from an oil and gas dispute. Baghdad has thus been slow in sending the KRG's share of Iraqi oil revenues and therefore pushed the Kurds into a financial bottleneck with serious delays in even the payment of civil servant salaries in the KRG.

And Nouri continues to alienate the Kurds. Adnan Jassem (Anadolu Agency) notes, "Iraq's main Shiite bloc led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will endorse a 'moderate Sunni Arab' candidate to succeed incumbent President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, a leading bloc member has said."

On the election, All Iraq News reports:

Ahrar bloc of Sadr Trend described granting a 3rd term for the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, as "Dreams."
MP, Hussien al-Shireifi, of Ahrar bloc stated to AIN "The majority of the political blocs object renewing a 3rd term for Maliki due to his policies that caused crises and problems for the country."

In addition, Iraq Times quotes another Sadr bloc MP, Bahaa al-Araji stating that Nouri will not receive a third term as prime minister.  In another report, the outlet quotes al-Araji stating Nouri has no achievements to speak of, not when security has deteriorated and the economy is not improved and . . .  Dar Addustour reports that both cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim went to Tehran to make clear that a third term for Nouri is unacceptable and that this follows KRG President Massoud Barzani told officials in Tehran that a third term for Nouri would cause the Kurds to secede.  As Ann noted last night, Ayad Allawi declared this week that Nouri shouldn't have a third term as prime minister.  Iraq Times reports the State Dept's Brett McGurk is advocating for a third term for Nouri and that Ahmed Chalabi is speaking with the White House about why this is not a good idea and spoke to US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Beecroft about this on Monday.

Not all Iraqis who vote will be voting in Iraq.  There are many Iraqis who have had to flee the country due to violence.  NINA reports, "A leading member of Rafidain parliamentary bloc MP, Imad Youkhana called on Iraqi communities abroad to broad participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections."  All Iraq News reports:

The member of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Imad Yokhana, called the Iraqis abroad for wide participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
He stated to AIN "The Iraqis abroad can determine the future of Iraq for the next 4 years via their participation in the elections."

Two days before the election, Iraq's security forces will take part in early voting.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) explores the military vote and we'll note this section:

It is also possible that the situation they are facing in Anbar may be turning the Iraqi military against al-Maliki. When problems first started in Anbar, al-Maliki seemed to be very popular with the military, observers say. However over recent months this has changed.

“Al-Maliki’s popularity is decreasing,” says one senior member of the military in Basra province, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions. “Because the army is having huge difficulties in Anbar.”

According to this soldier, the Iraqi government has allegedly played down the number of military casualties it’s had in the fight against insurgents in Anbar. Videos being posted on YouTube and other social media indicate many more are being captured and killed.

“Previously regiments in the south of the country were fairly safe on their bases,” the military source says. “Then al-Maliki decided to bring them to Anbar and it’s led to many deaths. This has increased ill will towards the government.”

“The government has forced the Iraqi military into a battle it cannot win,” says Yassin al-Rubaie, a former member of the Iraqi army’s Seventh Division, which is currently deployed in Anbar. “We don’t have any experience fighting a guerrilla war on the streets and we don’t know the area at all. The militias fighting us know the area very well, they’re better coordinated than the army and they have had this kind of combat experience before,” he says.

Nouri al-Maliki continues killing civilians in Anbar.  Alsumaria reports a military shelling of a residential neighborhood in Ramadi left 3 people dead "including a child."  Iraqi Spring MC notes Nouri's three murders here. Iraqi Spring MC also notes people demonstrated in Ramadi calling on Nouri to pulls his forces out of the city and the military 'responded' by firing randomly.  Meanwhile Nouri's forces continued their bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods.  Alsumaria reports 1 civilian was killed and ten more were injured in the latest assault from Nouri's military.  Suleiman al-Qubeisi (Anadolu Agency) also reports on the Falluja assault.   NINA quotes Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad stating, "Friday sermons in Fallujah focused on demands to stop the indiscriminate shelling of the city if the government rely want to develop a solution to the crisis , the abolition of the provincial government and members of the board because of their frustrated stands as they escaped to the northern provinces or out of Iraq and stealing by some of them aid, food and funds allocated by many local and international agencies for the displaced people of Anbar moreover of exploited the stolen funds and material to serve them in the propaganda of electoral campaign."  Kitabat notes the Sheikh called out the "genocide" taking place as Nouri attacks the civilians of Falluja and Ramadi.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports security sources state they killed 3 suspects to the northeast of Baquba  an attack on a Ramadi checkpoint left 3 Sahwa dead and four more inured, 2 Tuz Khurmatu bombings left eight people injured, and a corpse was discovered in South al-Hay (the man had been "kidnapped a few days ago").  Alsumaria reports 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk, west of Mosul a former Iraqi soldier was shot dead, and a southern Baghdad bombing left a police member and 2 of his kids deadMahmoud al-Jabouri (Anadolu Agency) reports, "Twelve people were killed on Friday in clashes between Sunni villagers and suspected Shiite militants in Iraq's northern Diyala province, a military official said."  Press TV notes, "A bomb explosion has ripped through a crowded shopping street in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, leaving three people dead and five others wounded."

For the last few weeks, Nouri's been moving prisoners out of Abu Ghraib prison.  Iraq Times noted Tuesday that Baghdad Operations Command has repeatedly denied this was happening although the Ministry of Justice confirmed it on Tuesday when the prison was shut down.  From Tuesday's snapshot:

World Bulletin notes that "the prison was also used as a torture facility by Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime."  AFP adds, "In 2004, then under control by U.S. troops, Abu Ghraib was at the center of a scandal over detainee abuse."   AP also offers a brief sentence about the Abu Ghraib War Crimes, "Under U.S. troops, Abu Ghraib was at the center of a 2004 scandal over detainee abuse."   The Saudi Gazette elaborates:
From late 2003 to early 2004, during the Iraq War, military police personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed human rights violations against prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison. They physically and sexually abused, tortured, raped, sodomized, and killed prisoners. It came to public attention in early 2004, beginning with United States Department of Defense announcements.  As revealed in the Taguba Report (2004), an initial criminal investigation by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command had already been underway, in which soldiers of the 320th Military Police Battalion had been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with prisoner abuse.
In April 2004, articles describing the abuse, including pictures showing military personnel appearing to abuse prisoners, came to wide public attention when a 60 Minutes II news report (April 28) and an article by Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker magazine (posted online on April 30 and published days later in the May 10 issue) reported the story.  The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery.

This morning, only France24 could note, "Fresh abuse claims surfaced in 2013 after the facility became known as Baghdad Central Prison."  Ed Adamczyk (UPI) later noted the continuous history of abuse, "The prison has a long history of abuse, under Saddam Hussein, during the occupation of Iraq by U.S. troops, and, human rights advocates say, under the present leadership. Critics accuse Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki with filling prisons, including Abu Ghraib, with young Sunni men -- many, advocates claim, are innocent of insurgency."

Today, on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is text and audio), Kelly McEvers discussed the closure with Reuter's Baghdad bureau chief Ned Parker.  Excerpt.

MCEVERS: First, we know what American jailers did to Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But give us an update - what kind of place was Abu Ghraib after American troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011?

PARKER: For Sunni Iraqis, Abu Ghraib prison was a symbol of the Shiite-led government's discriminatory policies. They believed many of their relatives were being held unjustly inside Abu Ghraib Prison after being held and sometimes tried - other times not - on terrorism charges in cases where they felt abuses were committed by the security forces.

So under the Americans Abu Ghraib was nefarious. Before that under Saddam it was nefarious and after the Americans it also remained sinister.

Some day, Nouri's son may be sitting in an Iraqi prison, behind bars. Dropping back to November 1, 2013:

Live Leak posted that video of the new Little Uday Hussein, Nouri's son Ahmed, zipping around London and the Ferrari.  They note:

In this short video, Ahmed, the gangster son of one of the world's most corrupt leaders Nuri Al-Maliki, drives his Ferrari around central London, while he was on a �200 million property spending spree with Iraq's money.
Ahmed was of course cleared of all charges in a huge corruption case involving Iraqi Government procurement of Russian arms in 2012. 
Nuri Al-Maliki is known to own numerous several properties and a hotel in the UK, and has long been rumoured to be planning to live here when his time as the chief bribe taker in Iraq is over.
He also owns the Seyedeh Zainab Ambassador hotel in Damascus.
London is the natural home of blood soaked African warlords, Russian gangsters/Oligarchs, and of corrupt Middle Eastern despots, and their offspring.
Iraqi puppet leader Nuri Al-Maliki's gangster son Ahmed is spending the Iraqi people's money very wisely
Iraqi puppet leader Nuri Al-Maliki's gangster son Ahmed is spending the Iraqi people's money very wisely
Iraqi puppet leader Nuri Al-Maliki's gangster son Ahmed is spending the Iraqi people's money very wisely
Iraq,Corruption,Bribery,,London,London,C­ity of,United Kingdom (UK/GB)

[. . .]

Here's a picture of mini-tyrant Ahmed al-Maliki.

Posted Image

As you can see, he gets his ugly from his father.  Here he is trying to look cleaned up.

Here's CNN  on Ahmed last year:

Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party’s official newspaper, Khebat, revealed that Nouri Maliki’s son has expensed over $150 million of the Iraqi people’s assets purchasing castles and hotels in foreign countries. The newspaper wrote quoting a source: After his father became Chairman of the Dawa Party, Ahmed Nouri al-Maliki purchased the Marry Anderson Castle in London for a price of £40 million. In addition, he purchased the Seyedeh Zainab Ambassador Hotel in Damascus at a price of $35 million, and is now purchasing the Ajmon Ambassador Hotel at a price of $75 million.
The source added that Ahmed Nouri al-Maliki has purchased an 85 thousand square meter land in front of the Zainab Hotel for $52 million.
Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party’s official newspaper, Khebat, added: Iraqis who live with power outages and no public services, and while a day doesn’t go by that a number of people don’t lose their lives as a result of explosions, ask the Maliki government: Where does Maliki’s son bring all this money from?

Today, in "Is Maliki's son the new Uday?," Paul Crompton and Hind Mustafa explore Ahmed al-Maliki:

Ahmed’s role as security chief enables him to control exactly who goes in and out of the Green Zone, by controlling the issuing of security badges needed to access the area.
However, his activities in the Green Zone are a sideshow compared to Ahmed’s wider business interests in the county, said a former high-level official, who knew Ahmed personally and had worked with Nouri Al-Maliki for eight years.
“Two years ahead, he will lead the corruption not only in the [prime minister’s office],” but in the military, the security, construction and investment, as well as the investment commission.”
“Hamoudi” is also involved in military activities, including heading up a new force operating directly under the premier’s orders — separate from the command of the army or defense minister, the source said.

Moving over to the US, Fatima Hansia (CorpWatch Blog) notes, "KBR and Halliburton – two major U.S. military contractors – can be sued for the health impacts of trash incineration on U.S. soldiers who served in the war in Iraq, according to a new court decision that allows a series of 57 lawsuits against the companies to go forward."

In the April 10th snapshot, I stated the following:

This is it at its most basic.  Everyone who can speak on a campus should.  Campuses should be a forum for free expression.  Because I speak on a campus doesn't mean everyone's required to attend.  If they oppose me, they're more than welcome to protest.  One of the scariest protests would be my arriving to find no one (or just a tiny handful) of people in the room waiting to hear me.
To put this in terms of Condi Rice.  She has every right to speak on any campus.  And people have every right to attend or not to attend.  They have every right to protest.  They even have the right to heckle.  That's free speech.

The University of Minnesota is an institution that values and utilizes free speech.  They proved it by allowing Condi Rice to speak.  They proved it by allowing those who take offense at the War Hawk to protest.  And students made their case and made it strongly.  Chris Getowicz (Fight Back News) reports:

Hundreds of students and community members gathered outside of Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota (U of M), on the evening of April 17, to protest an appearance by Bush White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Rice was speaking as an invited guest of the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The crowd of over 250 protesters, led by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), heard speakers including professors David Pellow and August Nimtz, AFSCME 3800 President Cherenne Horazuk, Welfare Rights Committee member Deb Howze, Anti-War Committee member Sabri Wazwaz and representatives from other student groups such as Whose Diversity and Students for Justice in Palestine.
Speakers condemned Rice as a war criminal whose misconduct during the Bush administration included direct responsibility for the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ This torture was systematically implemented by the CIA and used at Black Sites around the world as well as prisons like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.


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