Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bid The Good Wife farewell?

That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Now We Bomb Oklahoma" from yesterday and I hope you also checked out Kat's "Kat's Korner: Rhino does Carly on the cheap."

I think I'm checking out on "The Good Wife."

I've covered that show since the first season.

I'm feeling so over it.

I see Alicia as a pampered out of touch bitch.


I will never get over their NSA spying story which was 'fixed' by Alicia's husband calling Senator Bill Nelson.

Wish we all had that power.

And I've never gotten over the glorification of domestic abuse (Kalinda being turned on when her husband would beat her).

And Michael J. Fox isn't worth watching.

He's a one trick pony.

I get it.  It's Michael and his character's bad so I'm supposed to be impressed.

Except he plays him the same way he does any other character.

And, no, his disease hasn't limited his acting ability, Michael was always a one-note actor.

I was reading Ava and C.I.'s brilliant take down of "Madam Secretary" ("") and thinking, "Why am I still bothering with 'The Good Wife'?"

I've always hated Diane.

Alicia's been a bitch for how long to Kalinda?  I never liked that to begin with.

And I'm just bored with all the nonsense.

Taye Diggs is joining the cast and I'm supposed to be happy about that.

And overlook the fact that for 3 seasons now the only African-American male regular was a drug dealer. 

"Flash" is coming on this season and I'm probably going to have to cover that as well.

So I'm thinking seriously of ditching "The Good Wife."

When it was on last night, I flipped over to "Revenge" which was so much more interesting.

So weigh in if you have an opinion and I'll decide by the end of the week whether to ditch the failing show or not.

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

Monday, September 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'plan' loses its shock value, the Islamic State is said to be closer to Baghdad, Barack pleads intel failure, and much more.

Who was it that claimed Barack Obama played three dimensional chess?

Whomever started that lie should step forward and take accountability for that outlandish claim.

Iraq?  His 'plan' is falling apart for anyone who wants to pay attention.

Lizzie Dearden (Irish Indpendent) reports:

According to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Isil was approaching the Iraqi capital yesterday morning.
"The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad," a spokesperson said.
"They said it could never happen and now it almost has. President Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be here a very short while to know they can do very very little."

B-b-b-ut the plan!  The plan to bomb from the air!  That plan was foolproof, right?

Wrong.  We noted it would become normalized and it has.

The effectiveness would never last for weeks.  It only had an element of surprise for so long.

Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports:

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants are adjusting to U.S. airstrikes, making it more difficult to target them, an Air Force general said Monday.
ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria had previously traveled in columns of vehicles with flags, Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, told reporters at a briefing Monday.
"They are now dispersing themselves to allow themselves situations to be more survivable, if you will, which requires us to work harder to locate them, and then develop the situation to appropriately target them," Harrigian said.

If only that could have been anticipated, if . . .

Wait.  We did anticipate it and we noted it here.

Is the US intelligence community really that stupid or is the person receiving the intel in daily briefings that struggles with comprehension?

Dearden noted that Barack admitted to faulty intel.

Wow.  So Barack might have overestimated the Iraqi military?

The Shi'ite militia is part of the Iraqi forces -- remains part.  Nouri brought them in -- Tim Arango broke that story in the fall of 2013.

There's been no effort by the new prime minister to address that even though these militias are seen as death squads -- by Sunnis, yes, but also by other Shi'ites.

Did Barack miss that fact in an briefing as well?

Realities like this matter.

They matter in terms of what any campaign or plan can accomplish, yes.

Ir matters for safety reasons, it also matters for financial reasons.  Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) was noting last week that "$7 million to $10 million a day" was being spent by the Pentagon on Barack's 'plan' and that the figure was likely to rise and increase the Defense Dept's 2015 fiscal budget.  And, as Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) explains, Operation No Name still has no name and the Pentagon gets a bit testy when asked about that fact.

When asked about facts, Barack Obama just gets confused.

On Sunday's 60 Minutes, US President Barack Obama repeatedly demonstrated how little he understood of Iraq.  We focused on this section of the interview:

President Barack Obama: Well, I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria. Essentially, what happened with ISIL was that you had al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a vicious group, but our Marines were able to quash with the help of Sunni tribes. They went back underground. But over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos, and attract foreign fighters who believed in their jihadist nonsense, and traveled everywhere from Europe to the United States to Australia to other parts of the Muslim world, converging on Syria. And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world. And they have been very savvy in terms of their social media. In some cases, you have old remnants of Saddam Hussein's military that had been expunged from the Iraqi military, which gave them some traditional military capacity, and not just terrorist capacity. And this is one of the challenges that we are going to have generally, is where you have got states that are failing or in the midst of civil war, these kinds of organizations thrive. That is why it's so important for us to recognize part of our solution here is going to be military. We just have to push them back and shrink their space and go after their command-and-control and their capacity and their weapons and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters. But what we also have to do is, we have to come up with political solutions in Iraq and Syria in particular, but in the Middle East generally, that arrives at an accommodation between Sunni and Shia populations that right now are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world.

In terms of facts, that's incorrect for a number of reasons including the Marines did not quash 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'
Sahwa/Awakenings/Sons Of Iraq and Daughters Of Iraq turned the tide and did so because they were paid to.  
Let's drop back to the April 8, 2008 snapshot.  And let's remember Barack had only been serving for three years as a US Senator at the time and had spent the previous year and 2008 campaigning so he missed a lot of hearings and the ones he showed up for in April of 2008?  He was late to them.  People like John Kerry and Joe Biden babied him, babied his little candy ass, let him show up late and immediately, even though it wasn't his turn and rules on seniority required he wait his term, would let him jump ahead of everyone so he could stumble through his questions -- with more unnatural pauses than Sandy Dennis managed in her entire acting career -- and then Barack would rush out of the hearing.  So he missed a lot, a whole lot.
From the April 8, 2008 snapshot:

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a proud moment for the country.
 I'm being kind right now and leaving it at that but we can quote people from Barack's administration and reveal not only how stupid and incorrect Barack's remarks were but how lunatic his supposed 'plan' is.  We'll probably save that for later this week.
The White House had to announce that Barack's remarks about Clapper were not meant to imply that he no longer had faith in James I Lied To Congress Clapper.

Let's stay with Clapper and intel because they've received attention today.
On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, audio only option and transcript) , anchor Judy Woodrfuff spoke with Frederick Kagan, brother-in-law of the State Dept's Victoria Nuland, about Barack's remarks.  Excerpt.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is the other part of this I want to ask you about, because the president also said that the — he said the intelligence community overestimated the ability and the will of the Iraqi army to fight. What is your take on that?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think that there were a lot of warning signs about weaknesses in the Iraqi security forces that good analysts at the Institute for the Study of War had been tracking in 2013 and laying out.
And there was a lot of desertions. There was a large amnesty that Prime Minister Maliki granted in 2013 which were indicative of morale problems. I’m sure the intelligence community was aware of those. I’m sure that it was aware of the risks.
I think what Director Clapper was saying was that, from the standpoint of putting a really fine point on it and saying, well, at this moment, ISIS has the capability to do this and the Iraqi security forces will fold, that, they didn’t estimate. But I suspect that in terms of generally understanding the state of play, again, I would be very surprised if the intelligence community had really missed that fundamentally.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So when the president went on — and I looked — I was just looking at his interview with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes.”  He said the U.S. left a democracy in Iraq that was intact. He said a well-equipped military with the ability to chart their own course. But he said it was squandered.
And we have heard this argument before from the administration, their belief, their view and the view of many that all this was squandered by the former Prime Minister Maliki.

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think the situation that we left behind in 2011 was squandered. I think it was squandered by Maliki and I think it was squandered by President Obama.
I think that the failure to maintain any kind of U.S. military support for the Iraqis was critical. Among other things, it’s misleading to say that the Iraqi army was actually properly equipped. It wasn’t. It hadn’t been designed to stand on its own. It hadn’t — it had no air support of its own. It had no ability to police its own airspace.
It had a variety of lax in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance that everyone had expected that the U.S. would continue to provide. So when we pulled out in 2011, it wasn’t just about pulling out our ground forces. It was about withdrawing from the Iraqi security forces enablers that they had thought they would continue to have and leaving them in a bad condition to deal with the fight that they faced.

Prime Minister Maliki is Nouri al-Maliki.  In 2006, the Bully Boy Bush White House insisted Nouri be made prime minister.  In 2010, Barack's White House insisted Nouri get a second term.  Tyrant Nouri had US backing until roughly late May of this year.

Kagan is also the husband of Kim Kagan, historian and head of the War Hawk foundation The Institute for the Study of War.  Jonah Goldberg is also on the right-wing.  In his Los Angeles Times column, he notes:

"That's true. That's absolutely true," Obama replied. "Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

Eli Lake of the Daily Beast contacted a "former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq," who was, in Lake's words, "flabbergasted" by the president's remarks. "Either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bulls—ing," the official said.

How does Barack repeatedly skirt accountability?

Blame it on lazy and useless press.

State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki gave a press briefing this afternoon, the first one the State Dept's done since September 19th.  Yes, we're referring to the 'daily' press breifing.  Despite it having been 10 days since the last press briefing, Iraq did not weigh heavy in the briefing.

Oh, so it was only the subject of three or four questions but surely --


It wasn't a minor issue in the press briefing, it was not an issue.  There were no questions specifically about Iraq.

Barack's 'plan' is falling apart but the useless and cowardly and cowed press had nothing to say.  They all asked their usual crap ass questions that mean nothing and that go nowhere and pretended they did their job.  They didn't do a damn thing.  I've called Jen and spokesperson Marie Harf for these briefings before.  Let's be really clear that the blame for today rests solely with the US press.

There is so much to ask about.  Or there should be.

Patrick Cockburn (Independent) notes today:

 The selection of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Nouri al-Maliki last month was supposed to introduce a more conciliatory government that would appeal to Iraq’s Sunni minority from which Isis draws its support.
Mr Abadi promised to end the random bombardment of Sunni civilians, but Fallujah has been shelled for six out of seven days, with 28 killed and 117 injured. Despite the military crisis, the government has still not been able to gets its choice for the two top security jobs, the Defence Minister and Interior Minister, through parliament.

Yeah, it takes him awhile to get there.  We've been there for weeks now but at least he noted it, right? (We'll come back to that.)

National Iraqi News Agency reports Sunday's continued bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left 4 civilians dead and fifteen more injured.

Yes, new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an end to these bombings three weeks ago.

No, these bombings have not ceased.

Yes, this is part of the reason his image has fallen so quickly.

Tomorrow, if Arabic social media efforts pan out, will see a protest in Baghdad against the new prime minister.

At Al Arabiya, Dr. Naser al-Tamimi notes the various political failures taking place:

It seems that the United States has limited the political reform to the issue of replacing the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with some small concessions to the Sunni politicians whose political influence is confined within the Green Zone only. To make matters worse, with the floundering Iraqi army and its weak performance, the influence of these militias has begun to grow and affect all vital organs of the Iraqi state. Even more worrying, the rule of the militias will be further enhanced as it will take time for the Iraqi government to organize the army, consequently exacerbate the fears of the Sunni Arabs more than ever.

Where are the accomplishments on the diplomatic side?

They don't exist.

Despite Barack insisting Iraq needs a political solution, the White House has poured their time and energy into military actions and military campaigns and they have nothing to show to demonstrate that a new prime minister meant a new Iraq, one for all Iraqis.

We've been noting that repeatedly.  I'll be nice and even say "applause for Patrick Cockburn for noting it today."

Patrick's trying to join the grown ups table and lest anyone make the mistake that I offered him an empty seat next to me, I didn't.  Patrick's Sunni bias is well documented and established.  I don't care for Patrick.  Tariq Ali is an old friend.  He's attempting a rescue on Patrick's image.  Tariq's fought many battles over the years, I can't recall one as futile.  But for laughs, click here, read Tariq attempting to lead Patrick down the road of rehabilitation.

He never can get it right, can he?

Not even with Tariq spoon feeding him throughout the interview.

The underpinning for the protests that kicked off in December 2012 which lasted over a year?  That was what was happening to women and girls in Iraqi prisons.

You'll note Cockburn avoids that topic.

While Patrick Cockburn stumbles blindly down the hall Norman Pollack (CounterPunch) captures the world we live in today:

America has become unrecognizable, World Conquest in the air we breathe, a POTUS Caligula-like who feigns the persona of Mother Theresa, utterly corrupt in his professions of peace as he rolls out what has become shock-and-awe demonstrations to which the world, under duress, is becoming accustomed. Nothing out of bounds: Tomahawk missiles from offshore, waves of airstrikes, business as usual. Not a drop of hesitation, as lawyers dust off 9/11-era authorization for what is proving a never-ending onslaught, today, terrorists, tomorrow, Russia, the next day, China, then perhaps day after, dissidents, such that remain, in America itself, a rapacious, devouring, demiurge of insatiable conquest-at-any-cost.
Would ISIS even exist, had not the US sought to control the Middle East ever since the deposition of Mossadegh in Iran, the military build-up and defense of Israel, the American military bases throughout the region, the invasion of Iraq (fill in the in-between blanks, and carry forward to today)? America has not learned that repression breeds resistance, that counterrevolution establishes interconnections among the oppressed, that occupations and spheres-of-influence cannot (thank goodness) be made permanent. In every sense of the word, the US has CREATED what it now calls terrorism, the fruit of unwanted intervention, power politics, installing regimes which do our bidding.

More truth tellers are needed but that's true in any time period.

We're a left site.  For those bothered that Pollack is the only left voice quoted -- while right wing Goldberg and Kagan also got quoted -- take it up with someone else.

I can't put words in the mouths of those who choose to be silent.

My side, the left, includes a lot of pathetic cowards who can't find their voice because there's a Democrat in the White House.

If you want to make a difference, look at the left outlets and notice who is staying silent (or the hacks like David Corn who are whoring for this ongoing war now that Barack's in charge of it).  Take notice and remember.  At some point, a Republican will be in the White House again.

When that happens, these cowards will suddenly find spines and they'll want to beg for money -- because none of them can get real jobs.  When they beg, don't give them a cent.

Remember how they were cowards or whores.

Don't support that.

Let them starve or find real jobs.

While our brave 'left' leaders can't speak a new poll shares what the US military is thinking.   Andrew Tilghman, Gina Harkins, David Larter, Stephen Losey, Hope Hodge Seck, Michelle Tan and Jeff Schogol (Military Times) report on their poll of service members:

On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.
The reader survey asked more than 2,200 active-duty troops this question: “In your opinion, do you think the U.S. military should send a substantial number of combat troops to Iraq to support the Iraqi security forces?” Slightly more than 70 percent responded: “No.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Denzel got old, maybe that's the real Equalizer?

"The Equalizer" is something.

I'm not sure what.

The film stars Denzel Washington who was the rare thing in film, a Black leading man.

We have had very few of those.

There is the kind of all Black leading men, Sidney Poitier.  His legacy is not just an Academy Award win but a string of films where he held his own and offered real chemistry.

After him?

Billy Dee Williams.

To pay bills, he's embarrassed himself and White people may forget his power, but he was a Black leading man and no one had chemistry onscreen in the 70s like Billy and Diana Ross in "Mahogany" and "Lady Sings The Blues."

He's also Lando in the Star Wars films.

And that's really it.

Eddie Murphy?  He's in the Richard Pryor tradition as is Will Smith.  Will wants to be a leading man but the audience repeatedly say no.  He is successful as a clown and action hero.  That's Pryor (and Murphy) territory.

Denzel was the first Black leading man (successful one) since Billy Dee Willaims.

As the '00s arrived, Denzel wanted to play crooked and did so repeatedly -- it got as old as Liam Neeson rescuing female relatives onscreen.

And now "The Equalizer" -- a remake of an old 80s TV show only worth remembering for Ashford & Simpson performing "Count Your Blessings" on it -- is Denzel's latest offering.

The script isn't worth filming.  Or recapping.

It's a Liam rip-off with Russia mixed in and other garbage.

And Denzel tries to pull off a role tha was supposed to star Russell Crowe.

Crowe couldn't have pulled off the script but he could have been believable as the character.

Denzel's not.

And it's partly bad acting choices on his part, failing to warm up the role, for instance.  He's bland when he turns off the natural charm.

It's also age.

Denzel is aging so poorly.

Morgan Freeman right now, at this moment, looks younger than Denzel and moves onscreen younger than Denzel.

And Morgan is about 17 years older than Denzel.

Cary Grant is probably the all time leading man of film.  He had his last big hit with "Charade" in 1963 which was also a critical hit.  He followed that with 1964's "Father Goose" which the critics hated but was one of the year's biggest films making it into the year's top ten.  The next film, "Walk Don't Run" was another critical failure and was the 23rd highest grossing film in America of 1966.

Grant didn't make another film.

He was offered roles but he realized he was a leading man and that he had aged out of that category.

He lived 20 more years but didn't make another film.

If "The Equalizer" is what Denzel plans to offer in the future, it may be time for him to consider retiring.

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, US bombing kills civilians in Iraq, Iraqi military continues to bomb residential areas in Falluja, Barack's 'plan' is a bust the same way the 'surge' was, England wants a piece of it and its not the only country that does, Haider al-Abadi's window of opportunity continues to close, and much more.

Jimmy Carter is the only US president since the start of the 20th century who can't seriously be accused of being anti-Arab.  In actions and words, Carter has done what Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, the George Bushes and so many more haven't.

So earlier this week, when he spoke publicly, we linked to the video and noted that at least he was raising the issue of civilian casualties which put him far ahead of so many observers of the latest wave of the Iraq War.   We also included his comment regarding boots on the ground with Carter supporting them.

I didn't try to mind read, didn't try to minimize, we just included them.

Jimmy Carter's thoughts still carry weight in the Arab world and anyone reading the snapshot could read them and interpret them for themselves.

There's now confusion over the statements.  But not in the Arab world.

The confusion comes in the United States.

In an unsigned 'report' at the Inquisitr (well, would you want to put your name to a pack of lies?), someone (and the outlet) argues (argue) that Carter did call for boots on the ground but he supports Barack's plan.

That is where the confusion always starts n the last six years -- when members of the press attempt to figure out how to sell disagreement with Barack as "agreement."

If Carter wants boots on the ground, and he stated he does, he is at odds with Barack's so-called 'plan.'

Carter is in agreement with some people.  Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, is publicly skeptical of the plan.

But he says he supports it!

Dempsey is one of the few speaking who has to speak in code and carefully.  The term is "insubordination."  His testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee -- in full, not pull quotes -- made clear he does not believe the 'plan' is satisfactory or will achieve.

Robert Gates and Leon Panetta served in the administration as civilians.  Both were Secretary of Defense.  Both disagree regarding boots on the ground.  Former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has publicly expressed his belief that the 'plan' requires boots on the ground.

I believe Carter's point is more along what Time's Bobby Ghosh was pointing out (on MSNBC) ahead of Barack calling for bombings -- without US troops there to verify, a lot of people could be hurt with US airstrikes and also some Iraqis could use the airstrikes to kill their political rivals and enemies.

That's what I believe Carter was thinking.


But I didn't try to decipher him when we noted his remarks.

We let them stand for themselves.

But The Inquistr has to bend them, has to reshape them, has to insist that Jimmy is backing Barack's 'plan.'

No, he's not.  If he's calling for boots on the ground -- and he is -- then he's not backing Barack's 'plan' which (publicly) calls for no boots on the ground.

The press repeatedly cannot deal with disagreement with Barack so they repeatedly misinform and outright lie to make it appear it's not taking place.

The press tends to do this to a degree with every president.

It has nothing to do with 'respect for the office' but everything to do with the press being made up of suck ups who quickly learn and instill what gets in print and what doesn't.  Fawning?  Outlets make time for that?  Challenging reporting?  Oh, it's less common than investigative journalism.

Let's hold on a second to describe the 'plan' for anyone not paying attention in the last weeks.  The US military will bomb all over Iraq (and now in Syria as well -- Syria is the new Laos) to 'defeat' the Islamic State -- a group of Sunni fundamentalists who have received some backing (in terms of concealment as well as in terms of aiding in violence) by some Iraqi Sunnis as a result of the oppression of the Sunni community in Iraq which includes but is not limited to, false imprisonment, arrests without warrants, arrests of known innocents (arrested because the police couldn't find the suspect so they arrested a mother, or a wife, or a child, or a . . .), torture and rape in Iraqi prisons, etc.

Barack has repeatedly stated in public that Iraq requires a political solution.

When he makes those statements, he's referring to the need for a government that is inclusive and represents all Iraqis.  He's basically trying to turn the clock back to 2010 when Iraqis had again (see the 2009 election results) expressed a growing belief in a national identity and a rejection of a country made up of warring sects.  Nouri al-Maliki (with the White House's backing) came close to destroying such a possibility.

Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen.

The whole point of that was so that Iraq could get a new prime minister, a new leader, so that people could have hope that maybe a new Iraq was possible.

A hope like that doesn't survive months.

It's either confirmed or it's a fleeting hope that quickly passes.

Sometimes I get that feeling and I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
I get that strong long and then I want to settle and raise a child up with somebody
But it passes like the summer
I'm a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me
-- "Let The Wind Carry Me," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on Joni's For The Roses

Passes like the summer.

And what's happened in Iraq.

Haider al-Abadi was named the new prime minister.

Despite not having a Minister of Interior (over the federal police) or a Minister of Defense (over the military) in his Cabinet.

Just like Nouri.

Who went four years without filling those slots.  Yes, Americans being asked to support bombings today, Nouri went his entire term without a Minister (Secretary) of Defense.

Unlike Nouri, Haider has nominated people for the posts.  The Parliament's just refused to confirm them.

What else has Haider done?

Well, since the start of this year, back in January, under Nouri's orders residential neighborhoods in Falluja have been bombed killing and wounding thousands of Iraqis.  (Falluja's a Sunni-dominated city.)

Near the start of this month, Haider announced that the bombings were over, he had ordered it.

But . . .

the next day the bombings continued and they continue every day.

So his words may be different than Nouri's words, but the results are the same.

He has retained Nouri in the government.

Even Barack didn't do that.  For all the (accurate) critiques of Barack failing to prosecute Bully Boy Bush and his cronies, Barack didn't make Bully Boy Bush Secretary of State, for example.

But tyrant Nouri serves in Haider's government as one of three Vice Presidents (the other two are former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi).

So Nouri's policies continue, the security ministries continue to remain leaderless and Nouri continues in the government.

Where's the change?

Hope's fleeing.  Joni sings "it passes like the summer."

There are a few new freckles on your shoulders
The hammock swings lower and touches the grass
The apples are ripe and the corn is past
Everyone says summer goes by so fast
And we just got here
-- "We Just Got Here," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Have You Seen Me Lately?

Joni sings it passes like summer, Carly sings summer goes by so fast.

Friday, NINA reported 3 civilians are dead and nine more injured.  In addition, Iraqi Spring MC noted  Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 2 children and eight more people who were injured from last night's bombings of the residential neighborhoods.

And how were Friday prayers in Anbar celebrated?  With more civilian bombings.

NINA reports:

Chairman of Anbar provincial Council Sabah Karhot called army troops to focus on the bombing of the IS sites and not targeting residential areas.
Head of the Council Karhot told the National Iraqi News Agency / Nina / that the city of Fallujah exposed to shelling of rockets and explosive barrels that claims the lives of many innocent civilians.
The city of Fallujah exposed, daily, to the bombing of the explosive barrels and mortar shells and rockets, and about 12 civilians were killed and injured in today's bombing, which targeted residential neighborhoods in Fallujah. 

And NINA notes a Friday Mosul bombing by US war planes killed 4 civilians.

So is Haider al-Abadi a liar or powerless?

A number of people are saying powerless and noting articles like this one at Kitabat which maintains that Nouri is refusing to leave the palace he's lived in since 2006, the housing of the prime minister.  And that even high ranking members of Dawa (Nouri's political party) attempting or persuade Nouri that he must leave and allow al-Abadi to move in have failed.

An image is taking hold.  I'm not surprised.

Right now there's a call on Arabic social media for a massive protest in Baghdad on September 30th against Haider al-Abadi.  If it is large, this will not help his image one bit.

The window for Haider to make a difference, to show he was different from Nouri, is closing.

Who will they look to
So innocent they don't know
Life, life isn't always fair
There's always someone who cares
Who will they look to
In whose hands will their future lie
Whose going to tell them stand up again
Why not, why not give them one more try
Who will they look to
-- "Who Will They Look To," written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, first appears on Ashford & Simpson's Street Opera

The White House spent all these weeks shoring up foreign support for bombings and they did nothing to push on the political scene.

So it's a failure in the same way Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' is a failure.

The 'surge' was an infusion of US forces into Iraq and they would address the violence and this would provide time and space for political reconciliations and progress.

The US military did what they were supposed to.  Their side of the 'surge' worked.  But the diplomatic side was a failure which means the 'surge' was a failure since it was created to address the political issues.

Likewise, Barack's bombings.

I never supported them and I don't support them now.  I didn't support the increase of US troops during the 'surge.'  I could have been wrong both times.

If so, I'd admit to it.

But the 'surge' failed because the US diplomatic effort failed.

And the 'bombings' fail in the end not because they're border-line War Crimes (which they are).  The bombings fail because they sucked up all the White House energy and attention and nothing was accomplished in Iraq on the political end.

Okay, well every day's a new day.  Yes, I know that Diana Ross song as well.

But if you're thinking the White House will get started tomorrow (which is a business day in Iraq) or even Monday, you might want to rethink that.

The Iraqi Parliament has just started a two week vacation.  It's the holy period of Eid.

Nothing's happening.

Or did the White House think that the whole world runs on their calendar?

It's apparently 'sexier' and more 'tough guy' to focus on sending troops and bombings but if you're not going to do the really hard work, what's the point?

That's a question which should have been put to Bully Boy Bush and a question which now needs to be put to Barack.

"Nouri wanted a third term and Barack (wisely, in my opinion) worked to ensure that it did not happen," I said above.

You support empire!

I don't support empire, I support the Iraqi people, I support the rule of law.

Nouri did not 'win' the 2014 elections.  He did not even 'win' by the definition of 'winning' he gave before the voting started.  To have become Prime Minister for a third term, he would have needed to form a coalition with others.  The National Alliance, the largest Shi'ite bloc, was filled with leaders who did not support a third term for Nouri -- including cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafarri who is now Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The western press thought the White House was in the bag for Nouri (as they were in 2010) so they didn't report the voting accurately.  You had to go to the Iraqi press, the Arab press and some European press (not AFP!) to learn what happened on the day of voting.

Nouri had already worked to suppress Sunni turnout -- which included bombing Falluja before the vote, during the vote, and after the vote.  But on voting day, Sunnis encountered one problem after another in voting.  They were turned away from outside voting centers by Shi'ite militias or Nouri's security forces (Shi'ite militias, at that point, had become a part of Nouri's security forces).  They arrived at other voting centers which were closed.

Many remained closed all day.

Some, if enough complaints went in to the UN and to the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, were opened mid-day.  While a half-open polling station is better than a non-open one, a half-day's worth of voters have been lost (more if they've shared with neighbors that they went to vote and a sign declared the polling station would not be opening).

It was not a fair vote by any means.

Even with all of that, Nouri did not manage to win as defined by the Iraqi Constitution.

He squeaked ahead of others just barely -- or his State of Law did -- but that was it.

Per the Constitution and per the Supreme Court decision he sought ahead of the 2010 elections but waited until after he came in second to Ayad Allawi to reveal it, Nouri did not win the 2014 elections.

In 2010, the White House demanded a second term for Nouri after the vote demonstrated the people rejected him.   And after Moqtada al-Sadr's April 2010 vote among Shi'ites demonstrated that even a large number of Shi'ites were rejecting him. (Moqtada's vote was open to all but those voting were mainly Shi'ites.  The turnout was such that it's also true that it was not just Moqtada's followers voting.  Slightly over a million Shi'ites not considered to be Moqtada's followers voted in that special April vote to determine who Moqtada should back for prime minister.)  The White House circumvented the Iraqi Constitution by giving Nouri a second term via a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement).

That was empire, what took place in 2010.

This time what Barack did was pull US support for tyrant Nouri -- a man known to run secret prisons where people were tortured -- this was documented -- Ned Parker reported on it at the Los Angeles Times (Ned's now with Reuters).  They shouldn't have supported him in 2010 but Barack was smart, in 2014, in pulling the support for Nouri.  I think it will eventually be seen as one of the smartest and most significant moments of foreign policy during Barack's two terms as US President.

There's always been a shortage of leaders in this world overrun with copy cats.  That point was made clear yesterday in England.  Matt Chorley (Daily Mail) reports:

Britain is to join air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq after MPs voted overwhelmingly by 524 to 43 to back military action.
Six RAF Tornados are expected to join war planes from the US, France and Arab nations after Parliament staged a six-hour emergency debate on UK intervention.
David Cameron insisted Britain cannot 'walk on by' in the face of the threat posed by 'psychopathic terrorists'.
But divisions emerged over expanding action into neighbouring Syria, with Labour leader Ed Miliband insisting a UN Security Council resolution should be sought first, even though Russia and China are certain to veto it.

Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) explains, "Parliament was recalled by Cameron for the vote on military action in Iraq, which was approved after lengthy debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Any proposal to expand the strikes to Syria would require additional action by Parliament, according to the motion."

And the vote came after various speeches and columns such as this from Simon Jenkins (Guardian): "Islam’s wars are not Britain’s business. We owe their human victims all the aid we can to relieve suffering. We do not owe them our incompetence in trying to recast their politics. That is a task for the Arabs and their neighbours, not for Britain’s soldiers and taxpayers."

Not all rushed to join Conservative leader David Cameron or centrist Labour leader Ed Miliband in supporting war.  The Scottish National Party refused to support the war.  Michael Settle (Scotland's Herald) reports:

However, during an impassioned eight-hour debate, the Moray MP yesterday told the Commons that because there was no coherent plan to "win the peace" in the Coalition's motion then SNP MPs would vote against it.
He said there was "deep scepticism for the potential of mission creep and a green light for a third Iraq war", given what had happened previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
He added: "The motion asks for a green light for military action which could last for years [but] there is no commitment in the motion for post-conflict resolution."

And it's not just England rushing to join in senseless bombing, Griff Witte and Rebecca Collard (Washington Post) note "Denmark and Belgium also opted to join the fight."

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports of yesterday's violence:

At least 102 people and 40 were wounded. Most of the dead were killed in today’s airstrikes, but some of them were killed during a concentrated attack on soldiers in Anbar province last week. Details about that multi-faceted attack have been slow to leak out.

New details have emerged concerning a weekend massacre of soldiers in Anbar Province. Although many questions remain, soldiers stationed at Albu Etha told a discouraging story about being unable to get any help from army commanders or Baghdad before abandoning their post. Fifteen were killed and 40 were wounded. The Anbar assaults also took place in Saqlawiya and Sijr. Both Sijr and Albu Etha have been reclaimed by Iraq forces.

Good thing Barack's got a 'plan,' right.

The 'plan' doesn't address the Iraqi military refusing to follow the prime minister's orders.

And it doesn't address the failure of Iraqi military commanders to provide support.

But it sure does blow up a lot of stuff and a lot of people.

So let's all pretend it's a 'plan' and we can also pretend, at least for a few more weeks, that it's a success.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ethan Hawkes a new movie

I used to be a big fan of Ethan Hawke's.  Then I saw more and more of his films.

See, Ethan was able to talk good about movies but most of his choices and most of his performances have been disappointing.

I like "Reality Bites," some people don't, and I do think his Troy is his best film performance.  After that, I'd toss out "Training Day" and then "Gattica."

"Great Expectations," however, is typical of his many bad films.

So he has a new film due out which is entitled "Good Kill" and is about The Drone War.

David Walsh does a roundtable discussion with Ethan and the director of the film Andrew Niccol

Here's an excerpt.

Ethan Hawke: What’s interesting to me is that this film is about something real. Perhaps the next movie Andrew and I will do together will be a video game. That’s where it’s going.
I’m always very interested in where movies are going, where they will be 30 years from now. And where warfare will be. Will all major countries have drones? Will Obama be scared to walk out of his house? Where is this game going?
No one is talking about these issues. I think it’s a very good moment when Zoe [Kravitz] says, ‘So, they’re handing out [Nobel] peace prizes for this now?’ A very good moment.

Hopefully, the film is actually interesting and this isn't another case of Ethan talking up a film and making it sound better than it is.

Some would argue his grandmother gave so much for him to have success.

Remember, she's the one who immediately told the press Lee Harvey Oswald was 'nuts' and that she knew that from teaching him (briefly) in grade school.

Kennedy was barely dead when Ethan's grandmother was giving interviews.

It's interesting that David Walsh never thought to ask Ethan about his grandmother.

We raised the issue at Third in 2013 with  "November 23, 1963 questions and hypocrisies."

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, September 25, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the issue of illegal and toxic weapons in Iraq is raised, a prime minister yells 'fire!' in New York and Paris subways, an activist is killed by the Islamic State, World Can't Wait stays strong, CodePink finally starts to find its voice, IVAW cowers in silence and much more.

Iraq is in the midst of being bombed yet again.  Who knows with what?  As we (re)learned during the early days of the current Iraq War, the US government was more than happy to use illegal weapons in Iraq.  Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following:

Depleted Uranium Coordinates Needed for Clean-Up of Dangerous Sites in Iraq
Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

September 25, 2014, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department on behalf of itself and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) seeking the firing coordinates of weapons used in Iraq that contained depleted uranium (DU). As the US launches new military actions in the Middle East, the groups say getting information about the military’s use of DU in weaponry and its long-term effects is as urgent as ever. According to “In a State of Uncertainty,” a report by the Netherlands-based organization PAX, Iraq has been subject to the largest use of DU munitions of all areas of conflict and test sites, conservatively estimated to be at least 440 metric tons, though the United Nations Environment Programme has estimated an amount up to five times that based on satellite imagery. Iraqi civilians thought to have been exposed to DU and remaining debris have suffered high rates of cancer and birth defects and U.S. veterans report unexplained illnesses.  
“DU is but one example of the toxic legacy left by our wars in Iraq,” said CCR Attorney Jeena Shah. “Veterans who served in Iraq are suffering side effects, while many Iraqis still live surrounded by piles of metal debris left over from the war and with soil and ground water potentially contaminated by DU. The only way to deal with its effects and to ensure it is cleaned up is to have a full accounting of where weapons containing DU were deployed.”
DU is a byproduct of enriched uranium and is used in armor-piercing weapons due to its high density. When DU hits a target, its fragments burn and vaporize into a fine dust. If a person inhales, ingests, or is exposed by radiation to DU, radioactive material can be absorbed into the lungs, bone, kidney, skeletal tissue, reproductive system, brain, and other organs. A report recently published by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons concluded after reviewing approximately fifty peer-reviewed studies on DU that it is clearly a genotoxic agent, known to be involved in the development of cancer and potentially responsible for genetic damage. Some of the wreckage left behind from the war has entered the unregulated trade in scrap metal, sometimes even made into cooking pots. No safe levels of exposure to DU have been established, and researchers advise that all exposure should be avoided. Iraq and other UN member states have called for the banning of DU and the issue will be before the United Nations in October.
Said Maggie Martin, Organizing Director of IVAW, “Veterans have been fighting for decades to have our injuries recognized by the U.S. government— from Agent Orange to Military Sexual Trauma. We were promised healthcare in return for our service, and we deserve to know if we've been exposed to depleted uranium. This is an important matter of health for over two million veterans and for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who are experiencing the worst of the toxic legacy of war.” 
Laid to Waste,” a report by Wim Zwijnenburg of PAX, details the difficulty of limiting civilian exposure to DU in the absence of reliable information about locations where it was used and the limited efforts to address the issue.
“In addition to regular bombardment, our country and our communities have been left with a toxic legacy from decades of U.S. war in Iraq,” said Yanar Mohammed, President of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. “If the U.S. is truly concerned about civilian well-being, it should assist in a full accounting of DU contamination and rigorous study of its health effects by making public the locations where weapons containing DU were deployed.”
CCR and IVAW are seeking this information as part of the Right to Heal Initiative, which they launched together with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq. Visit the website to learn more about the Right to Heal Initiative.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Is there a worse news outlet covering Iraq right now than AFP?

For years, AFP was the most sexist outlet.  Prashant Rao -- apparently aping the John F. Burns Iraq era of the New York Times -- demonstrated little to no interest in covering Iraqi women.

Prashant is gone (for now) but AFP is actually worse.

"US pressures IS with strikes and diplomatic drive."

That's the headline AFP offers.

This morning,  Aziz Alwan, Zaid Sabah and Khalid Al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) reported on the failure of the new Iraqi government thus far to produce a Sunni buy-in:

Iraq Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi assumed power earlier this month promising to build an inclusive government, and has promoted the idea of a national guard that could incorporate Sunni militias. So far, Shiite lawmakers have rebuffed Abadi’s proposed Sunni candidate for defense minister. The national guard plan has also yet to materialize.
“Significant doubts linger over whether Abadi has the political wherewithal to achieve genuine unity,” Jordan Perry, an analyst at U.K.-based risk forecasting company Maplecroft, said by e-mail. 

We discussed how the US government -- including the State Dept -- was too busy focused on bombing and bringing in more countries to bomb Iraq and Syria in yesterday's snapshot and how the clock was ticking down, that the time to show Iraqi people that the change in prime ministers meant a change.

AFP should be embarrassed to claim that a diplomatic drive is going on -- lining up partners to bomb is not diplomacy nor is it the 'diplomatic drive' that will provide a political solution for Iraq.

There is no political solution from bombing.

Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait) notes today:

Once again, from the most powerful military in world history, protecting the largest-ever economy, bombs.  As in 24 years of bombing Iraq, 13 of  Afghanistan, like Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Has this done anything to liberate anyone or save lives? These illegitimate, unjust immoral wars of aggression have not.
If by “we,” you mean the U.S. government and its military, NO.  The U.S. military cannot do anything to stop the violence of ISIS.  It can only continue creating the conditions on which it grows: 9/11's all over the region.
Obama owns this ultimate war crime — invasion of a sovereign nation that poses no imminent threat to the aggressor. “We” did not ask for or approve this war.  U.S. attacks always lead to civilian casualties and are fueling — not “degrading” — the spread of groups like ISIS.
NOTHING good can come from U.S. bombing, and we need to say so immediately and widely.  We began Tuesday in NYC, and Wednesday in Chicago and San Francisco.

Are you in?  Write me!

Good for Debra.

Sad for the United States that so few others can speak out.

Is there anything more pathetic than Iraq Veterans Against the War?

Does anyone remember those blustering boys and girls trying to push their way through the front of the peace movement?

Insisting they knew, they were there.

Reality, Jeremy Hinzman didn't need to go to Iraq to know the war was wrong.  Nor did Ehren Watada.

I'm not spitting on the notion of learning from your experiences.

I'm just noting that was IVAW's claim once upon a time.

And today those brave boys and girls say what?

You guessed it!

Not one damn thing.

Having shoved aside many (and a number of IVAW made rude remarks about Cindy Sheehan), they now have nothing to say.

The President of the United States has spoken about Iraq how many times in the last two months?

Yeah, constantly.

They last weighed in on Iraq June 19th?

Remember that when they beg for money.

Remember that when they boast about how important their work is.

What work?


That now qualifies as work?

"Against the War."  It's in their organization's name.

But the little kittens and puppies of IVAW can't stand up against Barack.

It's too hard for them, you understand.

So they cower in their own piss, scared of their own shadows, too cowed to speak up.

Meanwhile it's certainly taken CodePink long enough to get started but they're finally offering something of value.

Let's hope that's not a one time thing or empty talk.

Empty talk is all the White House offers, all the administration offers.

There is no military solution in Iraq, Barack insists publicly, only a political one.

Yet he and others in the administration refuse to pour even half the energy they've used building a 'coalition' of bombers into building up government institutions in Iraq.

If you want to know how poorly the US efforts at diplomacy are, you need look no further than press briefings.

The State Dept's "daily press briefing"?  They haven't done one since September 19th.

Q: Since the -- since the strikes began a few days ago in Syria, have you seen any evidence of Assad forces taking any ground that was previously held by ISIS? And the corollary to that, in Iraq, have -- to what extent has the Peshmerga or the Iraqi forces been able to retake territory because of American airstrikes? If you could just update us on that situation, as well.

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I haven't seen any movement by Assad regime forces to move into facilities or infrastructure that we've hit. We've also seen -- not seen a lot of -- to be quite honest, haven't seen much in terms of reaction by ISIL inside Syria as a result of these attacks. In other words, were not seeing a lot of movement or major muscle movement changes by them in just the last couple of days.

In Iraq, the -- I could point to the preservation of Haditha Dam. I could point to their ability to work with Kurds, to retake the Mosul Dam facility. I can point to the town of Amerli, which we prevented with them a humanitarian disaster. We could go on and on and on.

I would also note -- and this gets forgotten a little bit -- that Baghdad is still relatively secure. I mean, there's been a couple of minor IED attacks inside Baghdad, but the ISF, the Iraqi Security Forces, in and around the capital are still defending the capital. And it's not like ISIL hasn't posed a threat there. You may have noticed that some of the strikes that we've taken lately in the last week or so have been south and southwest of Baghdad, because we know they continue to threaten the capital.

That is from a press briefing today.  But it's the Pentagon's press briefing.  Even though the State Dept can't or won't do press briefings so far this week, the Pentagon can.

I guess when you do nothing, you have nothing to talk about?

Does it bother anyone?

And does anyone have a memory or have we all erased our brains?

The US government was supposed to go heavy on diplomacy before.

It was 2007.

Bully Boy Bush called for a 'surge' in the number of US troops.

Anyone remember why?

This was, the White House insisted, to give the Iraqi officials time to work on political solutions.  And the US was going to help.

But all the US government has ever done is supply weapons and utilize the weapons and stir up the violence.

And, just as back then, no one wanted to point out that while the military was doing their part of the surge, the US' diplomatic effort was half-hearted and a non-starter.

As it was then, so it is now.

It's not as if Iraq is dealing with only one political crisis, it's multiple crises.  On today's Fresh Air (NPR -- link is audio and text), Dexter Filkins discussed Iraq with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR and if you're just joining us, my guest is Dexter Filkins. He's a writer for The New Yorker. He covered the Iraq war for The New York Times, won several awards for doing that. He's covered the whole region for many years. He just went to Kurdistan in the north of Iraq from a period of June through August. He made two trips during that period for a total of about a month's time. And now he has a piece in The New Yorker called "The Fight Of Their Lives: The White House Wants The Kurds To Help Save Iraq From ISIS, The Kurds May Be More Interested In Breaking Away." That's the title and subtitle of the piece.
So why did you want to go to Kurdistan for this piece that you just wrote?

FILKINS: Well the - you know, the Kurds are - I mean, when everybody looks at Iraq including me and you just say Iraq, what do you think of? I mean, you think of chaos, and car bombs, and bloodshed, and political strife and stalemate and everything else. And when you go to Kurdistan, this small corner of Iraq, there's nothing - it's nothing like that. And it really struck me when I was there writing the piece earlier this year when I was there doing a piece on Maliki in Baghdad and I was in Baghdad and I wanted to go to Kurdistan. And I had been in Baghdad for about three weeks - and Baghdad in 2014 looks pretty much the way it did in 2004. It's - despite the fact that the Iraqi government is pumping enormous amounts of oil and making tons of money, they're the second-largest producer in OPEC. We're talking tens of billions of dollars, $85 billion a year. There's just not much evidence of that oil money being spent and I think frankly, it's because a lot of it's being stolen. But, it's not a happy story - but, Baghdad's a wreck. I mean, it looks pretty much the way it did during the war.
And then I got on a plane and I flew to Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan. And it's like - you know, you feel like Dorothy (laughter) and it's amazing. You know, there's a Jaguar dealership in Erbil and there's sushi restaurant and there's dance clubs. And I remember one night I'd been out of town and I drove back in at 3 a.m. and I found a liquor store open and bought a six-pack of beer at 3 o'clock in the morning in the Middle East. I mean, that's impossible anywhere for a thousand miles. So it's such a shock when you see it. You think, oh, my God, I can't believe I'm still in Iraq. And in a way - and really that's what the story's about - in a way, it's not part of Iraq, not anymore.

GROSS: And they don't want to be part of Iraq anymore.

FILKINS: No, I mean, sort of technically - technically they're part of Iraq, but, you know, they don't want to be and, you know, a de facto way, in a very real way, they're not, they're not part of Iraq. I mean, they're pulling away. And I think they want to make it official and I think probably - I mean, you can never foretell the future in that part of the world - but probably it will be independent, I think, sooner rather than later, although it's hard to tell exactly when.

There are so many problems in Iraq, so many crises, destroying unity and what's the new prime minister doing?

While he's unable to build political unity at this time,   Haider al-Abadi, is willing to make waves internationally.  Kristina Fernandez (China Topix) reports he declared today that Iraq had "credible intelligence" that the Islamic State was plotting an attack on the subway systems in Paris and NYC.

He insisted the information was reliable because it had come from suspects in Iraqi custody.


The Iraq interrogations are known as torture sessions -- they even killed a bodyguard of then-Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi during one of them.

So, at best, whatever al-Abadi thinks or thought he has was most likely the product of torture.

Terry Atlas and Angela Greiling Keane (Bloomberg News) quote White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden declaring, "We have not confirmed such a plot, and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations.  We take any threat seriously and always work to corroborate information we receive from our partners. We're obviously very focused on the issue of foreign fighters."  The State Dept's Marie Harf went on CNN and suggested maybe it was true.

But as night was coming, even the White House realized how damaging al-Abadi's claims were.  Ann Mercogliano (Pix 11) reported: 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, FBI and NYPD officials were at the Union Square Subway Station Thursday to show the subways are safe after Iraq’s Prime Minister reportedly said a plot had been uncovered to attack subways in New York City and in France.

As Haider attracted all the wrong attention, it was left to Anderson Cooper (CNN) to say what so many were thinking:

  • Why is Iraq's new Prime Minister in NY? Shouldn't he be in Baghdad with his sleeves rolled up trying to rebuild his army and country?

  • It's a great question.  And why was the President of Iraq also out of the country to attend the meeting at the UN?

    Do either of them do any work in Iraq?

    All Iraq News notes al-Abadi did repeat his claim -- from two Saturdays ago -- that he had ordered an end to bombings of civilian areas in Falluja.  Of course, the bombings have continued.

    So apparently the new prime minister is powerless over the Iraqi military despite the fact that he's commander in chief of the military.

    Lastly, UNAMI issued the following this morning:

    Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:09

    UN Envoy Condemns Public Execution of Human Rights Lawyer, Ms. Sameera Al-Nuaimy

    Baghdad, 25 September 2014 – “The public execution of well-known human rights lawyer and activist, Ms. Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy, in Mosul, is yet another of the innumerable sickening crimes committed against the people of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”, said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, on learning of the unspeakable way Ms. Al-Nuaimy was seized from her home, tortured and murdered. “My heartfelt condolences are extended to Ms. Al-Nuaimy’s family and to the thousands other victims of ISIL’s brutality,” he added. 

    UNAMI has learned that Ms. Al-Nuaimy was seized from her home by the ISIL group on 17 September 2014, reportedly following posts on her Facebook page that were critical of their destruction of places of religious and cultural significance. She was convicted by a so-called “Shari’a court” for apostasy. She was then held for a further five days during which she was subjected to torture in an attempt to force her to ‘repent’, before she was executed in public. 
    “By torturing and executing a female human rights’ lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul,  ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency”, Mr. Mladenov underlined. “ISIL has repeatedly targeted the weak and defenseless in acts of brutality and cowardice that are beyond description, bringing about unfathomable suffering to all Iraqis regardless of their gender, age, religion, faith or ethnicity”, the SRSG continued. 
    “I call on the Government of Iraq and the international community to resolutely face the life-threatening danger to peace, safety and security of Iraq and the Iraqis from the ISIL and to do all they can to ensure the perpetrators of such crimes are held to account”, Mr. Mladenov concluded. 

    debra sweet
    the world cant wait