Thursday, July 6, 2017


Even with an often scratchy print, THE WHITE SISTER is an amazing film.

TCM aired it tonight.

It was not my first choice for entertainment.

But when nothing else looked of value, I put it on intending it to be little more than background noise while I finished a work project.

Instead, I quickly got caught up in it.

First to cath me were the strong visuals and the textures in this black & white film.

Lillian Gish is in love but is basically Cindrella.

Her father dies and her half-sister burns his will so that it will not go to Lillian's character (Angela).

Thinking the love of her life is dead, she becomes a nun.

The love of her life tries to get her to then leave but she speaks of her promise to God.

"Do you think it scosts me nothing to keep my word to God?" reads the title.  "No earthly power can release me from my vows!"

She sees him and clutches her hand to her mouth. 

"This was the only possible way I could see you alone," he explains of his ruse.

But as this is taking place, a volcano is getting ready to explode (hey, I didn't include the big attack, that takes place as well).

Her evil sister is attempting to flee but instead she ends up confessing to what she has done.

There's a lot going on.

The film, directed by Henry King, is visually stunning.

It's also one of the few films I've seen of Lillian Gish (she's the star in this one) that she actually looks pretty and comes off well.

I've seen about 15 of her silents.  So don't think I'm trying to compare her in this film to Robert Altman's 70s film A WEDDING, for example.

This really was an impressive film.

It was originally released in 1923.

That means the film is six years shy of it's 100th anniversary.

Again, it's a really impressive film.

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, John Chilcot weighs in on War Criminal Tony Blair, Hobby Lobby gets caught in criminal conduct, and much more.

War Hawk Tony Blair is forever tied to the illegal Iraq War.

He's back in the news as the British judicial system examines whether or not he can be sued for his actions.

Stepping forward to add his thoughts today is John Chilcot.


Bowing to pressure -- and seeing writing on the wall that others ignored -- prime minister Gordon Brown agreed to an inquiry into the Iraq War.

Had other Labour politicians recognized the same reality, Gordon Brown might not be the last Labour member to be prime minister thus far.

But instead of recognizing reality, others dug in and made Labour (actually New Labour) the apologist party for Tony Blair instead of a political party for the people.

John Chilcot headed the Iraq Inquiry which issued their findings a year ago.

Today, he sat down with the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg.

Tony Blair was not straight with the nation & the inquiry about his decisions in the run up to Iraq War - Sir John Chilcot tells .

From the transcript the BBC posted:

LK: And they were, particularly the sessions with Tony Blair, they were extraordinarily tense.

JC: Yes.

LK: You say he always tried to make the most persuasive case, the advocate's case.

JC: Yes.

LK: Do you feel he was as straight with you as he ought to have been?

JC: I think I'd have to take us back into the body of the report itself, and the critique that we made. There is, I argued, you know, including in the launch statement, the responsibility on the leading politician, of a government, both to make the case for the policy decision taken but also to balance that with realism about risks, downsides, counter-arguments. If you act simply as a one-sided advocate you risk losing that. And I think that risk did come - come about.

LK: And indeed, your report would say, says, for example on the intelligence.

JC: Yes.

LK: He gave it a certainty that wasn't justified. I mean that's another way of saying it was exaggerated.

JC: He found - I don't know whether consciously or not - a verbal formula in the dossier and his foreword to it. He said - and used it again later. 'I believe the assessed intelligence shows beyond doubt.' Pinning it on 'my belief'. Not on the fact, what the assessed intelligence said. You can make an argument around that, both ethical and - well, there is an ethical argument I think.

LK: Do you think it was ethical to do that?

JC: We criticised it and said it shouldn't have been done.

LK: But was it ethical?

JC: I don't know that I - I'm not an ethicist. (laugh)

LK: But you spent years studying this -

JC: Yes.

LK: Intelligence. The way you put it in the report and what you've just said would suggest that's somebody who's spent their life in government, in public service.

JC: Yes.

LK: That you feel he manipulated the evidence to make his own case.

JC: Again I'm declining the word 'manipulate'. Using as best he could. But it's only fair to him to say that on the very eve of the invasion he asked the then chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, can you tell me beyond any reasonable doubt that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. To which the answer was, yes I can. He was entitled to rely on that. But would it have been wise to rely on it?

LK: And when it came to his evidence to you -

JC: Yes.

LK: Do you feel he gave you the fullest version of events?

JC: I think he gave an - what was - I hesitate to say this, rather, but I think it was, from his perspective and standpoint, emotionally truthful and I think that came out also in his press conference after the launch statement. I think he was under - as you said just now - very great emotional pressure during those sessions. Far more than the committee were. He was suffering. He was deeply engaged. Now in that state of mind and mood you fall back on your instinctive skills and reactions, I think.
LK: But he was relying, you suggest, therefore on emotion, not fact?

JC: Both. I mean fact, insofar as there are facts particularly in the intelligence sphere. Nobody should be allowed to become a senior minister reading intelligence without undergoing a training course. That was a diversion, but it's also true.

LK: But just having been part of those incredibly intense sessions and then having studied that version of events along with the enormous array of documentary evidence that you had, just in the most simple terms, do you believe that Tony Blair was as straight with you and the public as he ought to have been?
(long pause)

JC: Can I slightly reword that to say I think any prime minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as possible, with him or her. I don't believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.   

'Tony Blair was not 'Straight' with the British public? Why don't you just say it, Chilcot, he LIED!! End of.

Meanwhile . . .

"Hobby Lobby May Have Been Paying Off ISIS For Stolen Iraqi Antiquities" is a Coen brothers movie

Yesterday, the US Attorney's office for the  Eastern  District New York  issued the following:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby

Cuneiform Tablets Were Falsely Labeled as Product “Samples” and Shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Two Corporate Affiliates

Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (“Hobby Lobby”), a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”
The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.
The complaint and stipulation of settlement were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.
“American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “If they do not, and shippers use false declarations to try to clandestinely enter property into the United States, this Office and our law enforcement partners will discover the deceit and seize the property.” Ms. Rohde thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its role in intercepting shipments and safeguarding the seized antiquities.
“The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that HSI and its partner U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.
According to the complaint and stipulated statement of facts filed with the court, in or around 2009, Hobby Lobby began to assemble a collection of historically significant manuscripts, antiquities and other cultural materials. In connection with this effort, Hobby Lobby’s president and a consultant traveled to the UAE in July 2010 to inspect a large number of cuneiform tablets and other antiquities being offered for sale (the “Artifacts”). Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.
In October 2010, an expert on cultural property law retained by Hobby Lobby warned the company that the acquisition of cultural property likely from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. The expert also advised Hobby Lobby to review its collection of antiquities for any objects of Iraqi origin and to verify that their country of origin was properly declared at the time of importation into the United States. The expert warned Hobby Lobby that an improper declaration of country of origin for cultural property could lead to seizure and forfeiture of the artifacts by CBP.
Notwithstanding these warnings, in December 2010, Hobby Lobby executed an agreement to purchase over 5,500 Artifacts, comprised of cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals, for $1.6 million. The acquisition of the Artifacts was fraught with red flags. For example, Hobby Lobby received conflicting information where the Artifacts had been stored prior to the inspection in the UAE. Further, when the Artifacts were presented for inspection to Hobby Lobby’s president and consultant in July 2010, they were displayed informally. In addition, Hobby Lobby representatives had not met or communicated with the dealer who purportedly owned the Artifacts, nor did they pay him for the Artifacts. Rather, following instructions from another dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payment for the Artifacts to seven personal bank accounts held in the names of other individuals.
With Hobby Lobby’s consent, a UAE-based dealer shipped packages containing the Artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between one and three shipments arrived at a time, without the required customs entry documentation being filed with CBP, and bore shipping labels that falsely and misleadingly described their contents as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample).” . After approximately 10 packages shipped in this manner were received by Hobby Lobby and its affiliates, CBP intercepted five shipments. All of the intercepted packages bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the Artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey. No further shipments were received until September 2011, when a package containing approximately 1,000 clay bullae from the same purchase was received by Hobby Lobby. It was shipped by an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that the bullae’s country of origin was Israel.
In executing the stipulation of settlement, Hobby Lobby has accepted responsibility for its past conduct and agreed to take steps to remedy the deficiencies that resulted in its unlawful importation of the Artifacts. Hobby Lobby has agreed to the forfeiture of all of the Artifacts shipped to the United States.
The government’s case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Karin Orenstein and Ameet B. Kabrawala.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CV-3980 (LDH) (VMS)

Exhibit A
Sample Images of the Defendants in Rem
Cuneiform Tablet
Cuneiform Tablets
Clay Bullae
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323

Derek Hawkins (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

Arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3 million fine for illegally smuggling thousands of ancient clay artifacts into the United States from Iraq, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Under a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Hobby Lobby will forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets, clay bullae and cylinder seals it falsely labeled as “samples” and shipped through the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The Oklahoma-based company brought more than 5,500 artifacts for $1.6 million in December 2010 from an unidentified dealer in an acquisition prosecutors said was “fraught with red flags.” Hobby Lobby got conflicting information about where the artifacts had been stored and never met or communicated with the dealer selling them, according to court documents. When it came time to pay, the company wired money to seven separate bank accounts.

How does a three million dollar fine cover this?

What they did was illegal.

A fine is not enough.

A civil complaint is not enough.

This requires criminal charges because this was criminal activity.

Thousands of civilians may be trapped in Mosul as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces make a final push to reclaim the city from ISIS:

Day **262** of The Mosul Slog.

In June of 2014, the Islamic State seized control of Mosul.

The Iraqi government did nothing in 2014.

The Iraqi government did nothing in 2015.

Finally, in October of 2016, they initiated an operation to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul.

That is the ongoing Mosul Slog.

Jessica Durando (USA TODAY) notes:

But a humanitarian crisis looms for survivors, many of them children, who are suffering from dehydration and malnutrition in northern Iraq. U.S-backed forces have entered the final stages of the Mosul offensive to retake the second-largest city. 
The fight for Mosul is having a “devastating” impact on residents, Doctors Without Borders said in a statement on Wednesday. Only a “fraction … who require medical attention are receiving it, and many are dying on the battlefield,” the organization said.

Thought for the day:

By using our voices we stopped the war in Vietnam. By not using them we acquiesced to war in Iraq. Learn facts. Say prayers. Use your voice.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, DISSIDENT VOICE, BLACK AGENDA REPORT and GORILLA RADIO --   updated:

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