Friday, August 1, 2014


Last week, we did a theme post on ABC's "Revenge" in which we picked the character we'd like to be on the show in the first season:

 "Victoria Grayson," "Jack Porter," "character i would be on abc's revenge," "Faux-manda," "Ashley Davenport," "Conrad Grayson," "I choose Lydia," "Victoria," "Mason," and "Nolan Ross"

An e-mail asked who I wouldn't wan to be in the first season "and is there anyone you'd want to see die?"


But in season two.


I hated her.

I felt Nolan belonged with Marco.

I feel people are still confused.

They'll say, for example, Marco spilled the beans on carriann (however you spell it) or something else.

They'll forget that it was learned Padma was the spy who was spilling things.

I just hated her.

Her video recording falsely accusing Nolan didn't change that.

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, confirmation of CIA law breaking emerges, the White House meets with people concerned about the fate of Iraqi Christians, and much more.

In the United States, more abuses of power as the CIA's tactics and lies get called out.  Senator Mark Udall's office issued the following today:

Following a classified briefing on an inspector general report detailing the CIA's unauthorized intrusion into U.S. Senate staffers' computers, Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement calling for CIA Director John Brennan's resignation:
"After being briefed on the CIA Inspector General report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan. The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. This grave misconduct not only is illegal, but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers. These offenses, along with other errors in judgment by some at the CIA, demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership, and there must be consequences.
"The CIA needs to acknowledge its wrongdoing and correct the public record in a timely, forthright manner — and that simply hasn't occurred under John Brennan's leadership. Such an acknowledgment is necessary, whether we're talking about spying on Senate computers or about correcting misleading and inaccurate information about the CIA's detention and interrogation program. An internal CIA accountability board review isn't enough."

While Mark Udall came out strongly for the Constitution he took an oath to uphold, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee seemed far less concerned about the abuse and law breaking and far more interested in trumpeting "I was right!"  This is the press release Senator Dianne Feinstein's office issued:

Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement:

“I was briefed Tuesday by CIA Inspector General David Buckley on the results of an IG investigation. The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March—CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers.

“Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board. These are positive first steps. This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly.”


Thursday, July 31, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today issued the following statement after the Central Intelligence Agency issued a statement confirming the agency’s search of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence computer files:

“The CIA Inspector General has confirmed what Senators have been saying all along: The CIA conducted an unauthorized search of Senate files, and attempted to have Senate staff prosecuted for doing their jobs,” Wyden said. “Director Brennan’s claims to the contrary were simply not true.

“What’s needed now is a public apology from Director Brennan to staff and the committee, a full accounting of how this occurred and a commitment there will be no further attempts to undermine Congressional oversight of CIA activities.”

Audio of Senator Wyden's statement here

What needs to happen now is criminal charges.

This is not a joke.  It also goes beyond just separation of powers.  It goes to what the CIA's purpose is supposed to be.  If this doesn't result in prosecution on the part of the Justice Dept then the CIA is not bound by the laws the way every other person in the United States is.  If this doesn't result in prosecution, Attorney General Eric Holder's footnote in history will note he was nothing but a glorified court jester in the Court of St. Barack.

In Iraq, the targeting of Christians continue.  Gerald Butt (UK Church Times) reports:

The most senior Christian cleric in Iraq, the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon and Archbishop of Baghdad, the Most Revd Louis Raphael Sako, has written to the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, asking him to put pressure on the international community to provide more assistance to Christians and other minorities in Iraq who have been targeted by Islamic militants. "The instability in Iraq threatens the entire region," the Patriarch writes. "The instability in the region is worrisome because of the increasing attacks mounted on Christians and minorities."

The Iraqi Christian community, Patriarch Sako continues, has suffered a "disproportionate share of hardship caused by sectarian conflicts, terrorist attacks, migration, and now even ethnic cleansing: the militants want to wipe out the Christian community."

As we noted in yesterday's snapshot, the White House has done next to nothing on this issue.  Today?

The White House issued the following:

Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, D.C.
July 31, 2014

Readout of Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes’ Meeting with Iraqi Chaldean and Assyrian Community Leaders
Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes today met with Iraqi Chaldean and Assyrian community leaders to discuss the security situation in Iraq and its effect on Christian and other minority populations. Mr. Rhodes appreciated hearing the vital perspectives of these important communities regarding the difficulties facing Iraq’s Christians. He condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) ongoing attacks on the Christian and minority communities in northern Iraq and the group’s systematic destruction of religious sites. He emphasized that the United States continues to urge Iraq’s leaders to form an inclusive government that can address the rights and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s diverse communities, including Iraq’s Christians – only then can Iraq successfully and sustainably confront the security and humanitarian challenges all of its citizens face in the common fight against ISIL. He noted that we encourage government officials in Baghdad and Erbil to take all possible measures to assist Iraq’s vulnerable populations, and agreed that this issue demands the continued attention of the international community. The United States remains committed to helping all of Iraq’s diverse communities, including Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, Shabak, and Yezidis.
 This is the sort of thing the White House needs to be doing.  
We'll note it, gladly.  But one meeting isn't going to rectify anything.  And it wasn't even as personal as a White House beer summit, was it?

That can be seen as a first step; however, it cannot be seen as the full journey.  Should that happen, Barack will fall even further in the polls. The latest AP-GfK poll finds many trouble spots for Barack, including, "38 per cent find the situation in Iraq of pressing importance; 57 per cent disapprove of Obama's handling of it."

The targeting in Iraq is not just of Christians, others are being targeted as Nawzat Shamdeen (Niqash) points out:

Local journalist Amir Qassim believes the most recent announcement by the UNSC is about pressure brought to bear on it by aid organizations and non-governmental organizations. “Many of these organizations have Christian backgrounds so they sympathize with the Christians of Mosul,” he explains. “And they pressure their own often-Christian governments to do something within the United Nations. But they shouldn’t focus on one sector of Iraqi society at the expense of others.”
Qassim believes there are other reasons that diverse minorities don’t get as much attention as the province’s Christians. The local and federal authorities have often ignored these minorities, he says. And local aid organizations have also been unable to assist them, especially if the members of the minority groups remain inside Mosul.
“The civil society organizations that are still active are busy working with internally displaced people inside various camps,” he maintains. “It’s hard for them to help those inside Mosul, or to know what is going with them there.”
Five years after a story was published by NIQASH about the fact that minorities were fleeing Mosul, nothing much has changed. And there are similar arguments to what is being heard today: That the international community neglects other minorities in Iraq and focuses mainly on the country’s Christians.

At today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Marie Harf, the topic of Iraq was briefly touched on.

QUESTION: Marie, I just have one question about Kurdistan, and I’m sorry I must go because I have an emergency situation. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Okay. Okay.

QUESTION: So on July 28th, Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that all Kurdish oil exports need to go through the central government. You’ve repeated that as well. Yet on July 30 – like yesterday – Brett McGurk, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of Iraq policy tweeted that questions about Iraq’s oil exports must be resolved, quote-unquote, “in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution.” And that quote again: “There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq.”

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: I’m now thoroughly confused really. What is the U.S. policy vis-a-vis oil from Kurdistan and Iraq? On the one hand, Jen Psaki says it has to go through the central government.

MS. HARF: There’s no – there’s no disconnect here.

QUESTION: On the other hand, Brett McGurk says there is no U.S. ban on oil from any part of Iraq to be sold.

MS. HARF: Right. Those two things aren’t inconsistent here. So our policy on this issue has been clear and consistent. Iraq’s energy resources belong to all of the Iraqi people. These questions should be resolved in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution. There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq. As in many cases involving legal disputes, however, the U.S. recommends the parties make their own decisions with advice of counsel. We’ve told them there could be legal consequences. And I would emphasize that the – particularly the situation we’ve seen recently demonstrates why it’s really incumbent on Baghdad and Erbil to come together and find a negotiated resolution to this issue so you don’t see more legal issues like have arisen.

QUESTION: So are you saying that there is no U.S. ban on oil from Kurdistan --

MS. HARF: From any part of Iraq.

QUESTION: From any part of Kurdistan. For example, Kurdistan.

MS. HARF: There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.

QUESTION: Okay, but there should – but on the other hand, there must be approval of the central
government for any oil export or sale. That’s what you are saying, right?

MS. HARF: As we have said, these – this issue – Iraq’s oil belongs to all of the people of Iraq.


MS. HARF: Which is why these decisions need to be made in a manner consistent with Iraq’s constitution and why Baghdad and Erbil need to come to a decision on how they’re going to work this out.

QUESTION: But just – my question was, should Kurdistan get the approval from the central government before exporting it or not? Must – are, like --

MS. HARF: So Erbil and Baghdad need to find a resolution to this situation, period.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: There is no ban.

QUESTION: If the oil has been taken out by the Kurds to help them towards independence and stuff like that, and they sell it to the U.S. or to people in the U.S., is that not illegal?

MS. HARF: Well, illegal under U.S. law?

QUESTION: Well, you’re taking – I mean, the money’s being – the oil is being sold then illegally, because it’s not, as he said, not going through the central government.

MS. HARF: Right. We --

QUESTION: It’s going through --

MS. HARF: This isn’t a legal issue. This is a policy issue. We have told different parties in Iraq that if they attempt to do things like we’ve seen recently, there could be legal ramifications, that we believe the oil of Iraq belongs to all of the people of Iraq.

Oh, how Marie loves to split hairs.  The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following statement:

Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq ( – The KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, commented today on the Iraqi federal government’s petition to a US court to seize crude oil produced in the Kurdistan Region.
“The KRG’s lawyers sent a letter to a court in Texas to explain the misrepresentations of the Iraqi federal government. The Iraqi federal government has petitioned a Texas court for an order to seize crude oil legally produced, exported, and sold by the KRG in accordance with the Iraqi constitution and law. The letter indicates the possibility of massive counterclaims against the federal government,” said Minister Hawrami.
“The federal government of Iraq is trying to achieve in foreign courts and in the Iraqi supreme court what is denied to the federal government by the Iraqi constitution. The federal government cannot win, because our crude is legally produced, shipped, exported, and sold in accordance with the rights of the Kurdistan Region as set forth in the Iraqi constitution,” continued Minister Hawrami. “Our claims for unpaid compensation, which must be paid as provided in the Iraqi constitution and the law, will also be before any foreign court in which the federal government is seeking to attack us,” Minister Hawrami continued.

  Click here to view the letter sent to the federal court in Texas.

The latest court verdict in Iraq backed up the Kurds.  The US courts have no business in this issue. But the US government had no business invading Iraq and that was of no big concern either.

While the US government tries to control Iraqi oil, they have little interest in protecting the Iraqi citizens.  UNAMI notes the increase in violence and how it's preventing the delivery of aid and care:

ERBIL, 31 July 2014 – The United Nations has expressed concern over rising levels of violence and instability across Iraq and its impact on the lives of everyday citizens.
“Immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is now needed,” Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (DSRSG), and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, said. “We urgently need to deliver lifesaving assistance and restore basic services to conflict-affected communities, as well as new and existing IDPs and refugees, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or affiliation.”
More than 500,000 people have been displaced since June, bringing the total this year to 1.4 million, including more than 230,000 Syrian refugees. Between January and June this year, 5,500 people have been killed and 12,000 injured. Almost 900 people have been killed in July alone.
Many of the newly displaced have fled to Kurdish-controlled areas or the south, while others remain trapped in active conflict zones and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
In many cases, basic services have been targeted, including health facilities, water supplies and power grids, creating additional, unnecessary suffering to the civilian population.
“Civilians must be guaranteed that they can leave areas affected by the violence in dignity and safety with their right to access humanitarian assistance respected,” Ms. Badcock said.
“The UN and humanitarian partners are ready to assist, but to do so all parties to the conflict must agree to stop the hostilities and guarantee the safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian staff and goods to communities in need,” she said.

The violence never ends in Iraq.  And when the killer is Nouri al-Maliki, they just look away.

Targeting civilian populations in a war zone is a crime in and of itself.  Using collective punishment is a legally defined War Crime recognized by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Spain . . . The list is endless.

Collective punishment is a War Crime and it's what Nouri's done and is doing.

For example, NINA reports, "A medical source said to the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / Golan, Alshohadaa, Jubail, al-Sinaii neighborhoods subjected to indiscriminate bombing, causing the death of four civilians and wounding eleven others including women and children."  NINA also notes Nouri's "warplanes bombed the village of Deira of Hawija" leaving 1 civilian dead and seven more inured.  And NINA quotes a hospital worker explaining, "Iraqi warplanes bombed the village of Deira of Hawija, west of Kirkuk, which led to kill one civilian and wounding seven others, in addition to material damage to a number of homes "

How many civilians will Nouri be allowed to kill? 

At what point is verbal outrage going to be expressed?

If he doesn't kill you from the air, Nouri hopes to kill you on the streets.  Human Rights Watch notes:

Government-backed militias have been kidnapping and killing Sunni civilians throughout Iraq’s Baghdad, Diyala, and Hilla provinces over the past five months. The killings and abductions mark a serious escalation in sectarian violence at a time when the armed conflict between government forces and Sunni insurgents is intensifying.
Human Rights Watch documented the killings of 61 Sunni men between June 1 and July 9, 2014, and the killing of at least 48 Sunni men in March and April in villages and towns around Baghdad, an area known as the “Baghdad Belt.” Witnesses and medical and government sources said that militias were responsible in each case. In many cases, witnesses identified the militia as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (League of the Righteous), commonly referred to as Asa’ib
“The government seems to think that if people blame militias for killings it can wash its hands of the matter,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “In fact, the government needs to rein in these militias and call a halt to killing people just because of their sect.”
As the government has lost control over large portions of the country in the wake of an offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, now renamed the Islamic State) and allied Sunni insurgents, Prime Minister al-Maliki has been forming new security forces made up of militias and is taking little or no action as they kill people, Human Rights Watch found. The government should hold those responsible for these killings to account.
In March, media reports said that Prime Minister al-Maliki had met with senior security advisers and told them that he would form a new security force consisting of three militias to police Baghdad – Asa’ib, Kita’ib Hezbollah, and the Badr Brigades, which is run by Transport Minister Hadi al-Ameri. A government official who provides national security advice to the prime minister’s office told Human Rights Watch in June that while Asa’ib fighters “take orders” from the militia’s military leader, Qais al-Khalazy, “ultimately they’re loyal to Maliki, who gives Qais orders.”
In four of the killings documented by Human Rights Watch in Baghdad, in June and July, witnesses said that men in civilian clothing driving military vehicles without license plates kidnapped the victims, who were all Sunni males ranging in age from their early 20s to late 50s, from the Sha`ab, Baya`a, Za`afraniyya, and Ghazaliyya neighborhoods. In each instance, their bodies were found a few hours or days later with bullet wounds to their heads. In another instance in June, two men in civilian clothing, with their faces loosely covered, drove up to a well-known café in the Sha`ab neighborhood and shot the two Sunni owners in the head in front of café customers and in view of a military checkpoint 10 meters away, a witness told Human Rights Watch.

Lastly, the following community sites updated:

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