Thursday, April 28, 2016

How important was Marisa Tomei?

I like Marisa Tomei.

She's a good actress.

But these days, it seems like she's far more important than I ever knew.

EMPIRE is in a rut.

And has been since her character, Mimi, disappeared.

She shocked everyone when she turned on Lucious and did so because it turned out her wife was Naomi Campbell -- whom Lucious had run off when she was having an affair with his son.

EMPIRE just can't get its groove back.

And the death of Mimi (basically off screen) hasn't helped.

The show seems to be limping along.

There's no real push or movement.

Mimi was someone who rallied the show in a lot of ways.

We always knew she had a secret.

And with her gone, there's really not a lot going on.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, AL JAZEERA is shut down in Iraq, the Defense Dept -- wanting more money -- cites 'progress' in Iraq, the US State Dept suddenly loves protests, and much more.

In 'free' Iraq, where the US-installed Haider al-Abadi still rules as prime minister (for now), AL JAZEERA has been shut down.  The network explains:

The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission has shut down the Baghdad bureau of Al Jazeera Media Network and banned its journalists from reporting in the country.
In a letter to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, the CMC said it was withdrawing the license that allowed Al Jazeera to operate in Iraq due to "violations of the official codes of conduct and broadcasting rules and regulations."

DW notes:

 "We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world and across the world," the broadcaster said.
The controversial news network has been banned in Iraq for the third time now. The last time was in 2013, when it reported on a violent military crackdown on Sunni Muslim protestors.

This is 'free' Iraq.

Where thug Haider rules.

Where the US government props up thug Haider and pretends he's not another Nouri al-Maliki.

Despite the fact that he encouraged threats against journalist Ned Parker and that when the REUTERS correspondent had to leave Iraq for the safety of his team and himself, Haider dared to turn it into a joke while visiting the United States.

Haider's a hateful man with a cruel streak even bigger than his rotund belly.

He's hateful and he's not to be trusted.

But so many whores in the press pretend like he's done something or is somehow not Nouri -- as if that's enough?

Pol Pot wasn't Hitler.

But as the people of Cambodia can attest, that didn't mean Pol Pot was Ghandi.

Haider's a thug and a threat.

And the US government has disgraced itself even further in its desperate attempts to prop Haider up.

Why is the US still in Iraq?.

Matt Purple (NATIONAL INTEREST) observes:

The United States is back in Iraq. Actually, it never really left.
President Obama supposedly withdrew all American forces in 2011, except for a few hundred Marines, defense contractors, and military advisors. But it wasn’t long before he began ramping up our presence again, through temporary deployments and other means. This only accelerated after the Islamic State’s blitz through Iraq in 2014. Today, the government has blown through even its self-imposed cap of 3,870 troops, with an acknowledged five thousandAmerican military personnel now on the ground in Iraq. It’s another lazy half-measure—like the disjointed attempt to combat the Taliban—from a president who’s never once laid out a coherent strategy for fighting terrorism.

Why is it still in Iraq?

To 'combat' the Islamic State?

Doesn't seem like it.

Seems like the military still remains in Iraq to prop up  puppet government which still does not represent the Iraqi people.

Maybe when Iraqi politicians are forced to represent the Iraqi people, they'll stop stealing from Iraq?

Maybe when you're puppets installed by a foreign government, you don't give a second though to fleecing the people you supposedly represent?

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter appeared before the US Senate Appropriations Committee today.


To plead for money, of course.

To also insist that talk in the House of insisting the next US presidnet make a request in the spring of 2017 for what is needed.

The Defense Dept -- and the current White House and president -- want a blank check and want it written now so that they can cash it whenever they choose to.

They don't want oversight.

They don't want to be responsive to the people's representatives.

That is the Congress.

And they're given control of the purse -- of spending -- for a reason.

A blank check would defeat that control.

Secretary Ash Carter:  There with our support Iraqi security forces retook Ramadi, have been reclaiming further ground in Anbar Province, most recently the city of Hit and along with Iraqi Kurdish forces have begun operations to capture and isolate Mosul with the intent of collapsing ISIL's control over that city.

We keep hearing all of these claims.

Most of which can't be verified.

Like Brett McGurk's endless pimping of the claim that foreign fighters going into Iraq are decreasing.

It's a nice claim but is it really verifiable?


Like so much this White House has offered on Iraq, it's not verifiable.

Carter wanted to talk about success and Anbar.

And he wanted to do so in the same week that Tim Arango (NEW YORK TIMES) offered a look at Anbar which included:

The situation in Anbar has grown increasingly muddled as the Obama administration has stepped up its military support to Iraq, announcing that it will deploy Apache helicopters and position more troops closer to the front lines. It has touted victories in Anbar as an important step toward liberating the country from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and as a prelude to a campaign, possibly this year, to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
But Iran’s proxies are undercutting efforts to unite the civilian population, a necessity if Iraq is to eventually extinguish extremism. In the siege of Falluja, a Sunni city, the Shiite militias have prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city. Sunni Arab civilians in the province are increasingly reporting kidnappings and murders by the militias, accounts that American and Iraqi officials say are credible.
In some cases, after civilians have disappeared, their families have received ransom demands. Abu Abdulrahman, a resident of Amiriyat al-Falluja, a city in Anbar under the control of the government, said three of his cousins vanished last year after being stopped at a militia checkpoint.
“We haven’t heard anything about them since then,” he said, although a man approached the family and demanded a ransom of $8,000, which was paid. “He disappeared with the money,” he said.
Conditions are so dire in Falluja for the tens of thousands of civilians trapped there that dozens of people have starved to death, civilians and activists say. Food prices have skyrocketed, with a bag of flour that would cost $15 in Baghdad going for $750, Human Rights Watch has reported.

Back to the hearing for a moment.

Secretary Ash Carter: As we've made this progress with momentum in this campaign clearly on our side, last week in Baghdad, I announced a number of key actions we're taking to continue accelerating our campaign against ISIL.  We'll be placing advisors with the ISF, that is the Iraqi Security Forces, down to the brigade and battalion level to help enhance decision making and responsiveness.  We'll be leveraging Apache attach helicopters to support the ISF's ongoing efforts to envelop and retake Mosul [. . .]

Mosul was seized in June of 2014.

How much longer is it going to be before the city is 'retaken'?

US President Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' has been enacted since August of 2014.

Mosul's still not liberated.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced/claimed:

Strikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, ground attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 23 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL tunnel systems, an ISIL tunnel entrance, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL recoilless rifle and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Beiji, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

--- Near Fallujah, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed two ISIL mortar systems and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL machine gun and an ISIL anti-air artillery piece.

-- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar system.

-- Near Mosul, five strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL rocket rails, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Qayyarah, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL assembly area and an ISIL supply cache.

-- Near Tal Afar, three strikes destroyed two ISIL tunnel systems and an ISIL front-end loader and denied ISIL access to terrain.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

Day after day, that nonsense takes place.

Over and over since August of 2014.

There is no progress.

Isn't it past time questions about Iraq were asked?

Let's switch to Tuesday's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner.


MR TONER: Yeah. Sure, Michel. Iraq it is.

QUESTION: Do you have any (inaudible) the partial cabinet reshuffle today and the demonstrations by the followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

MR TONER: Well, I’ll start with the protests. And we obviously – we support the Iraqi people’s freedom of expression and assembly, just so long as these are peaceful protests. Peaceful protests are an integral part of a functioning democracy, and it is our understanding that, up till now, these protests have been, in fact, peaceful. Moving forward, the security for the international zone is the Government’s of Iraq’s responsibility, so they can probably answer best any further questions about security around these protests. But we obviously support the Iraqi people’s right to express themselves nonviolently.
In terms of the cabinet reshuffle, I’d obviously refer you to the Government of Iraq to comment on the specifics. But Secretary Kerry said when he was in Baghdad just a few weeks ago that it’s important to have political stability, to have a unified and functioning government as rapidly as possible, in order to move forward so that Iraq’s efforts to combat and defeat ISIL are not affected and not interrupted. So we urge all parties to work in tandem and work together to move the political process forward in ways that advance the interests and the aspirations of the Iraqi people and in accordance with the Iraqi constitution.

Oh, goody, political stability.

That's the argument that let Nouri al-Maliki get a second term (the Iraqi people did not elect him) and that let him stay on throughout his second term.

Even though he was overseeing the beating and raping of Iraqi girls and women in jails and prisons -- often illegally imprisoned.

Even though he targeted Iraq's LGBT community, unleashed the Shi'ite militias on them, sent his Interior Ministry into the schools to demonize them and call for their deaths, etc.

Even though he used both terms to actively encourage the persecution of Iraqi Christians to the point that his two terms saw a great reshuffling of Iraqi Christians from Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq to the Kurdish north instead -- because the Kurds could and would do what Nouri wouldn't: try to protect Iraqi Christians.

Even though he terrorized and killed civilians for the 'crime' of protesting.

Even though he had reporters kidnapped and tortured for the 'crime' of reporting on the protests.

Nouri al-Maliki's rap sheet is never ending.

But he was kept in place for 'political stability.'

He provided no stability to Iraq.

But the US government felt he was 'their man' and that if they propped him up long enough, at some point he was going to get that hydrocarbons law passed.

It's still not passed.

So today finds Barack and company putting their faith in Haider.

By the way, it's cute that the State Dept can now support protests.

During the year-plus of non-stop protests, the State Dept could never find a way to defend the protesters.

Not even following the Hawija massacre.

But today, they're all on board with protests.

Because they aren't protests.

They're support rallies for Haider.

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has released his zombies on the streets of Baghdad to rally for Haider and create the appearance of support.

Back to the State Dept's struggle with truth on Tuesday.

QUESTION: About – thanks, Mark. Regarding Muqtada al-Sadr --


QUESTION: -- is there any concern at this point in this building about his influence in Iraq? On multiple occasions in the last three months, he’s been able to swiftly get well over 100,000 people into the streets of Baghdad. He’s also overseeing one of the more influential and successful Shia militias in the country in the fight against the Islamic State. He seems to have reemerged as a major player there. I wonder if you can comment on that and whether that’s a good thing or are there concerns here.

MR TONER: Well, I think, just answering your last question first, I mean, it’s a perfectly fine thing, as long as he wants to be a part of the political process and not work against it. I would just – you’re certainly right that he is able to still wield tremendous influence within Iraq. That’s clear by these current protests. And again, as we often say about these kinds of environments is that, if you’re willing to quote/unquote “play by the rules” and be a voice for positive change within a society, then that is part of the democratic process and we support that. So certainly we, again, recognize his influence. We recognize that he’s still an influential figure in Iraq, but we just encourage that his influence remain, as I said, positive and peaceful.

QUESTION: Is there some indication that it’s not at this point?

MR TONER: No, I just – I mean, look – I mean, just in the past we’ve had concerns. And going forward --

QUESTION: We actually had a target on his head for a few years.

MR TONER: Well --

QUESTION: And he was – I don't know if he was ever indicted --

MR TONER: I’m not sure about that either. But all I’m saying is --

QUESTION: But his forces at one time were at war with U.S. forces occupying Iraq.

MR TONER: That’s correct.

QUESTION: I know that was a long time ago.

MR TONER: No, I understand that. That’s why – and partly – that’s part of my caveat. I mean, that’s why I say what I say, is that I think as Iraq evolves politically there is, in many countries that are evolving politically, an opportunity for some of these individuals to transition, if you will. But we view always this transition with caution.

His caveat?

That's cute.

"Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

The US government came up with that billing for Moqtada.

And they didn't mean it as a compliment.

But these days, Moqtada dances for Haider so the US is all prepared to stick dollars in Moqtada's g-string as well.

There is no coherent policy for Iraq because there's no concern for Iraq or the Iraqi people.

It's still about getting hands on Iraq's natural resources.

All this time later.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I had to drive forever to see NINA.

Have you read Ann's "Don't believe the reviews, Nina is a great film"?

You should.

I was going to blow off the movie.

Then I read Ann's rave and also her points about why some people are hating on the film.

Nina Simone is played by Zoe Saldana and she is amazing in the role.

It doesn't matter that her skin is lighter and she has to wear make up.

It certainly doesn't matter that she wears a fake nose.

Nicole Kidman wore a fake nose in THE HOURS and won an Academy Award for it.

There's a purity test that Zoe's being put to that others are not.

And part of that is because Nina Simone's daughter's a real jerk.

A real jerk.

She's lied about the movie.

For ever and a day.

The movie does not present Nina having sex with a gay man.

That's just a lie from a whiny brat who wants money for the film.

The film is better than that recent documentary.

It doesn't tame Nina or destroy her.

But it puts a person behind the rage.

And Nina had every reason to be angry.

I love this movie and you probably will too.

We need strong roles for people of color to play.

Zoe Saldana is so good she could be Academy Award nominated.

She should be.

But this petty nonsense could stop that.

If she's not nominated, don't protest the Oscars, protest the haters that are trying to destroy this movie.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider presents his 'reform' ministers to Parliament, he semi succeeds, he also gets water bottles 'handed' to him, cracks in the lie that the US bombings of Iraq only target 'terrorists' continue to emerge, and much more.

As if Iraq doesn't have enough drama all by itself, THE WASHINGTON POST attempts to create some.  Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim insist, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi desperately tried to steer his country out of political turmoil on Tuesday, partially reshuffling his cabinet amid stepped-up pressure as thousands of protesters threatened to storm parliament."

We'll get to the 'protesters,' first "Haider al-Abadi desperately tried to steer his country out of political turmoil"?

The 'turmoil' is created by Haider.

The US-installed prime minister is not following the Iraqi Constitution.

Why is that so damn hard for reporters at THE WASHINGTON POST to be honest about?

Oh, that's right, for US press outlets, the State Dept line becomes 'fact.'

At least it does for the immediate time.

But let there be no mistake five years from now, when Americans all know the truth, that the truth was known then but these reporters and press outlets didn't convey it and let them be forced to explain why that was.

Haider has created any 'turmoil' by insisting that he needs a new Cabinet.

He's done at the bidding of the US government.

Let's move over to 'protesters.'

Threaten to storm the Parliament, did they?

The Parliament's in the Green Zone.

That would be the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Where Iraq's politicians hide out from the people.

It was almost breached shortly after Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006.  That was very scary for those hiding out in the Green Zone (which included US officials).

This caused anxiety and a flurry of measures being added to further fortify the Green Zone.

To storm the Parliament, these 'protesters' would first have to storm the Green Zone -- something no group has managed to do in over a decade of the Green Zone's existence.

Let's say that they managed to breach the Green Zone.

And then let's forget for a moment that the orders in place would be warning shots and then firing at those civilians trying to get into the Green Zone.

Let's just say that they managed to breach the Green Zone.

They then just waltz into the Parliament?


The Parliament has its own set of security.

The notion that anyone was going to breach the Green Zone today and make it into the Parliament was never a genuine possibility.

Anyone saying otherwise is lying.

Again, Iraq has enough drama, there's no need to lie in order to create more.

The 'protesters' were followers of Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr who have repeatedly responded to his call to turn out to show support for Haider al-Abadi's proposals.

Iraq: Sadr supporters in mass protest for political reform

They rally, they don't protest.

We've said it all along.

Look at the photo above.

They were their to rally.

Moqtada's actions have been to provide cover for Haider, to try to silence Shi'ite critics.

BBC NEWS words it delicately:

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of Mr Sadr's supporters heeded his call to "frighten" MPs from the main political parties, which rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds, and "compel" them to agree to the prime minister's reforms.

While Moqtada's zombies were no real threats, there were a few actual ones.

Speaker escorted by his bodyguards to enter the Parliament earlier today.This is how a failed state looks like

The US has sent Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Cater and Gen Joseph Dunford (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) to Iraq in recent weeks to convey the White House position (Barack himself is apparently afraid to visit Iraq as president): We stand with our puppet.

Haider proposed the current Cabinet of Ministers to Parliament back in the fall of 2014 and Parliament voted them into office.

Now he just can't work with them, he insists.

And he wants a do-over.

That doesn't exist in the Iraqi Constitution.

Nor does the way Haider's attempting to go about replacing them.

But it's what the US government wants so it's what gets shoved ahead.

And since it's what's the US government wants, western reporters don't feel the need to ever point out that Haider's attempts go against the country's constitution.

The protesters that the Speaker of Parliament had to worry about?

Those protesters are inside the Parliament, they are Members of Parliament.

Recent sessions have resulted in screaming matches, threats of violence and more -- and that's just between the MPs.


  1. Video of water bottles being thrown at Iraqi PM as he enters Parliament Hall today. Hanan Fatlawi throws one too

  • Protests inside Iraqi Parliament now shouting "Betrayal! Betrayal!" Speaker replies: "Sit down so we can talk. Iraqis are waiting for us"

  • Dissenting MP shouts "I will not leave until I die." Speaker replies: "Die then."

  • There are demonstration inside Iraqi Parliament right now shouting "Baghdad will be free. Reforms are just & valid" Speaker mocking them

  • Iraqi Parliament right now looks like a clown show. MPs shouting at Speaker. Security forces and army personnel inside in huge numbers

    VIDEO: Water bottles thrown at Iraqi PM by MPs as he entered Parliament today -

    Oh, Haider.

    And all this time later, he still wasn't able to pull it off.

    He got six ministers approved today.


    RUDAW notes:

    Hasan Janabi as Minister for Water, Wafa Mahdawi as Minister for Labour, Alaa Ghani as Minister for Health, Abdulrazaq al-Eisa as Minister for Higher Education, Alaa Dishr as Minister for Electricity and Aqeel Mahdi as Minister for Culture.


    RUDAW explains, "The remaining ministerial posts to be voted on are: Education, Communications, Foreign, Finance, Justice, Youth, Industry, Planning, Housing, Transport and Oil."

     In more signs that nothing changes, the US Defense Dept announced more bombings of Iraq today:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Bomber, ground-attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Rutbah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Beiji, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Fallujah, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units; destroyed 11 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL-used bridges, an ISIL bunker and two ISIL heavy machine guns; and damaged a separate ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Hit, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

    -- Near Kirkuk, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL command and control node, an ISIL assembly area and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL assembly area.

    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL weapons storage facility and destroyed an ISIL supply cache.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    The western media's been very good about either ignoring these bombings completely or else insisting that they only kill 'terrorists.'

    Nicholas J S Davies (CONSORTIUM NEWS) offers an important new report which opens:

    USA Today reported on April 19 that U.S. air forces bombing Syria and Iraq have been operating under new, looser rules of engagement since last fall. The war commander, Lt Gen Sean McFarland, now orders air strikes that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians without prior approval from U.S. Central Command, and U.S. officials made it clear to USA Today that U.S. air strikes are killing more civilians as a result of the new rules.
    Under these new rules of engagement, the U.S. has conducted a major escalation of its bombing campaign against Mosul, an Iraqi city of about 1.5 million people, which has been occupied by Islamic State since 2014. Reports of hundreds of civilians killed in U.S. air strikes reveal some of the human cost of the U.S. air war and the new rules of engagement.
    Previous statements by U.S. officials have absurdly claimed that over 40,000 U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria have killed as few as 26 civilians. Speaking to USA Today, a senior Pentagon official who is briefed daily on the air war dismissed such claims, noting that heavier civilian casualties were inevitable in an air war that has destroyed 6,000 buildings with over 40,000 bombs and missiles.