Thursday, January 25, 2018

Best actress?

Hiram Lee (WSWS) offers his thoughts on the Oscar nominations so check that out.

Larry wondered in an e-mail if I had any thoughts on Best Actress?

Sally Hawkins is nominated for IN THE SHAPE OF WATER.  That was an interesting film but a bit of a let down.  She gave a strong performance, however.

Margot Robbie is amazing in I, TONYA and if the Academy wants to award a full bodied comedic performance, this is the way to go.

Saoirse Ronan is very good in LADY BIRD -- but LADY BIRD plays like a TV movie.  But, she's gotten a lot of praise and some awards.  So they may draw a line between the material and Ronan's performance.

Meryl Streep.  Grandma got nominated for the hideous THE POST.  It was a sympathy vote.  She won't win.  She's hideous in the film and the film's bad itself.

Then there's Frances McDormand for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.  Frances won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award already for this.  I just saw the movie tonight.  A friend wanted to see it and I said I hadn't so we teamed up for a Thursday night movie.

This is a good movie.

And I may be still reeling from the power of the film and her performance but I would argue if it was based on talent alone, Frances would pull ahead of Sally, Margot and Saoirse.

And please see the movie.

Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are both up for Best Supporting Actor for the film.  They could cancel each other out and they're both good.  But, to pick between the two, I'd give it to Woody.  Both are great but he's just a little bit better.

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018.  Hayder al-Abadi's apparently arranging a perp walk for the former Trade Minister as part of his election propaganda and much more.

Abd al-Falah al-Sudani is said to be in Iraqi custody.   al-Sudani served in Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet of Ministers from 2006 through 2009.  He was brought down by corruption charges.  As Minister of Trade, he first tried to pin the corruption in the ministry on underlings.  When that wasn't good enough and after the Parliament gave him a vote of no-confidence (stripping him of his immunity) he tried to flee the country in May of 2009.

May 30, 2009, Mohammad Tafeeq (CNN) reported:

Abdul Falah al-Sudani was aboard a flight to Dubai from Baghdad International Airport when police contacted the pilot and told him to fly back to the airport, Sabah al-Saedi, chairman of Iraq's parliamentary integrity committee told CNN. Al-Sudani -- arrested on a warrant issued in Samawa on Saturday -- was seized after the plane landed, al-Saedi said.

AP reports, "The fight against corruption is emerging as a major issue in Iraq, with many Iraqis convinced that graft and government mismanagement are nearly as a great a threat to the country as armed insurgency."

Excuse me, AP reported -- reported that back in May of 2009.

It's a cute little game the Iraqi government plays -- regardless of who heads it -- this interest in preventing corruption.

al-Sudani is a member of Dawa, the political party of both former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and the current prime minister Hayder al-Abadi.  Whenever an election is approaching, suddenly Iraq's prime ministers care about corruption.  In May of 2009, elections were supposed to take place later that fall.  They were pushed back when the election law could not be approved in time -- this was due to then-Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi using his power to veto the bill due to the vast number of Sunni refugees that would not be allowed to vote under the proposal.  Sunni refugees will again be denied the vote if elections are held this May but apparently no one wants to stand up and defend them.

The arrest of al-Sudani received a great deal of press attention.

Dropping back to May 30, 2009's "al-Sudani arrested:"

Questioning the minister of trade was a real big and new event for Iraqis who used to see the corrupt officials always abroad. During the last two week, the story of corruption was the main story of all Iraqis. The corruption in the Iraqi governmental departments dominated the conversations of all Iraqis. Some Iraqis started giving suggestions and solutions about fighting corruption.

Writes an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers in "One good but small step" (Inside Iraq).

Abed Falah al-Sudani

The Trade Minister Abed Falah al-Sudani resigned earlier this week in order to avoid charges brought by Parliament. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports that didn't quite work out the way he planned as al-Sudani attempted to leave Iraq by plane but the plane was ordered back "mid-flight":

When the plane landed at Baghdad's airport, Abdul Falah Sudani, the country's trade minister until he was forced to resign last week, was promptly arrested.
Sudani is charged with procuring substandard foodstuffs for Iraq's food-ration program, but the allegations against his ministry go beyond that. Omar Abdul Sattar, a member of the Iraqi parliament's anti-corruption committee, said the sums stolen could amount to "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Sly notes that in 2006, the Electricity Minister made it out of Iraq, from a jail cell in fact, and moved on to Chicago. Rather amazing when you consider how difficult it is and was for Iraqi refugees to make it to the US. BBC adds of today's arrest: "Officials said Abdul Falah Sudani had been on a flight to the United Arab Emirates which was asked to turn back to Baghdad so he could be arrested." Nada Barkri (Washington Post) reports:

The arrest warrant accuses Sudani, a 62-year-old dual British-Iraqi national, of stealing public money and mismanaging the ministry by importing expired foods and employing his relatives, including two brothers.
Authorities have issued hundreds of arrest warrants this year, 51 of which are against senior officials, as disenchantment grows over widespread and brazen corruption thought to run into the billions of dollars. Sabah al-Sudani, the minister's brother, was arrested this month in southern Iraq after being caught with $150,000, $50,000 of which he tried to use to bribe a policeman to let him go. The other brother, Majid al-Sudani, remains at large.
Sudani's resignation came two days before he appeared before parliament to answer questions about corruption in his ministry. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki waited until after the questioning to accept the resignation.

Strangely, or really not so strange, when he escaped from the country later, it received far less attention.  Just as the Minister of Electricity had 'escaped' in 2006 (following the 2005 elections), al-Sudani 'escaped' following the 2010 elections.

It's a big pretense, this fakery.

Hayder al-Abadi has had years to address corruption and has nothing to show for it but, elections are coming up, so he puts on a show.

Does that sound cynical?

Well Hayder's now in campaign mode.

But he wasn't in September.

And it was September 10, 2017 when al-Sudani was apprehended in Beirut.

A return then would have been lost while ISIS held major areas in Iraq.

But now, with elections due to be held in less than four months, al-Sudani's return to Iraqi custody is news and news that Hayder will attempt to use as evidence that he fights corruption.

Today, ALSUMARIA notes that Iraqi authorities went to Beirut and retrieved him this week.

Again, for show.

Circles and circles
Got to stop spinning
Circles and circles and circles again
Thought I was over the bridge now
-- "Cloud On My Tongue," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her UNDER THE PINK

U.S. has spent $2 trillion on war in Iraq and $60 billion on reconstruction in Iraq.

Circles and circles and circles again.

Conflicts have simmered between Baghdad and Erbil for years but, in the last months of 2017, it boiled over.  The Baghdad-based government and the KRG have been at odds but, elections are coming up, so both sides want to look like leaders.

Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan region are closer to ending their bitter dispute after Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi met with Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani in Davos.
The officials held talks late Wednesday for the second time since the Kurdistan Regional Government held an independence vote condemned by Baghdad .
Talks in Davos reiterated the conclusion of Mr Al Abadi’s first meeting with Kurdish officials, the prime minister's office said. Earlier this month, the two sides reached an initial agreement to lift an international flight ban imposed on the autonomous Kurdish region by Baghdad.

That was not the only Iraqi meeting taking place on the sidelines of Davos.  RUDAW notes:

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is meeting with US State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson on Thursday in Switzerland.

Tillerson and Barzani are meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

After a government impasse, the United States approved its 2018 budget that includes $365 for Kurdish Peshmerga on Wednesday, which the KRG "welcomed."

Meanwhile, Mohamed Mostafa (IRAQI NEWS) reports:

The ceasefire truce agreed between Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga troops remains prone to collapsing, a senior Peshmerga commander was quoted saying on Thursday.
Sirwan Barzani, a commander of the Makhmur zone in Peshmerga, told London-based Alhayat that “ceasefire truce between Baghdad and Erbil remains fragile, and Peshmerga remain on alert”.
Explaining his statement, Barzani said “there are no guarantees from Baghdad or the Popular Mobilization Forces (for sustaining the truce)”.

No guarantees.

Earlier this month, Javion Sullivan became the 22nd US service member to die in Iraq since August 2014.  Brandon Smith (WJZY) speaks with his widow Rayven Sullivan:

“We started dating in 2005. He was very persistent, he would not leave me alone until I communicated with him on a daily basis," she said. 
Her husband died on Jan. 8 while on a mission in Iraq. She had just spoken to him the day before. 
“I asked who it was and the only thing I heard was Fort Hood and instantly my heart dropped. Our last conversation was about my gradation party and him coming home and about his new car he wanted," she said. 
He leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.  

 “I haven’t had the conversation with her yet and when we do visitation on Thursday it will be her first time seeing what's going on,” she said. 

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and LATINO USA --  updated:

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