Monday, December 10, 2018

Jodie Foster


Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster will direct, co-produce and star in an English-language remake of Woman at War, the spirited and eccentric eco-thriller that Iceland has officially submitted for the Foreign Language competition at the upcoming 91st Academy Awards.
Foster will reinterpret the role of Halla (played in the original film by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), a genial middle-aged music teacher hiding a secret life as an outlaw environmental activist with a grudge against the local aluminum industry that is despoiling the pristine Highlands of Iceland. Halla is escalating her one-woman campaign of sabotage when an unexpected letter arrives with news: her adoption application has been approved and a baby girl is awaiting her in the Ukraine.

That sounds like an interesting idea for a film.

I've noted before that I really like Jodie Foster.  She's one of my favorites.  This weekend, I was watching BUGSY MALONE and CANDLESHOE (two of her early films).  I'm really glad she's making another film.

HOTEL ARTEMIS is a solid movie and will be more appreciated in years to come but it's not a film I want her to conclude her acting with.

My top ten favorite Jodie Foster films?











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

Monday, December 10, 2018.  Iraqi officials celebrate -- what exactly?

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports, "Iraq on Monday celebrated the anniversary of its costly victory over the Islamic State group, which has lost virtually all the territory it once held but still carries out sporadic attacks."  Celebration?

ISIS has not been defeated.

After Islamic State fighters were driven out of much of Iraq, members of the terrorist group went back to collaborating out of plain sight and a conventional war there turned into a search for their bases.

It was a terrorist group and it remains one.  It was active in Iraq and it remains active in Iraq.  Things in Iraq got so bad that the terrorist organization was able to seize territory.  Now "virtually all" of that territory has been lost by ISIS.  Virtually all -- not all.

AFP points out:

Much of the country remains in ruins, including large swathes of the north.
More than 1.8 million Iraqis are still displaced, many languishing in camps, and 8 million require humanitarian aid, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

And while IS no longer holds large chunks of territory, it can still wage hit-and-run attacks that chip away at the sense of security many hoped would return.

By all means, celebrate that.  (That was sarcasm.)


The Arabic-language al-Ma’aloumah news website quoted Ali Qavi, an Iraqi parliamentarian, as disclosing that the US-led coalition forces have opened a safe passageway to move the [ISIS}  terrorists from Syria to the depth of Iraq.

Qavi further told the news website that the Iraqi Parliament intends to give a serious review of a strategic agreement with Washington that has thus far not brought about any military or security results for Baghdad.

The website went on to say that the agreement will be called off once Iraq’s new cabinet of ministers is completely formed.

It said that the Iraqi forces and popular forces of Hashd al-Shaabi are capable of guarding the borders without the partnership of the US-led coalition forces.

So if the Iraqi government ever gets its act together, it's going to add to its call for US forces to leave (Parliament made that request last month) by reviewing and calling off "a strategic agreement with Washington"?  Would that be the Memorandum of Understanding which is what the US military has been operating under in Iraq since 2012?

Dropping back to the April 30, 2013 Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

From the December 11, 2012 snapshot:


In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.

This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."

This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."

So when the memo announces counterterrorism activies, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.

There is the Myth of St. Barack and there is the reality of Obama.  Between the two, you will find the contrasts.

Somewhere between 
All the red rouge 
And the subterfuge 
Somewhere close 
To the loose screws 
And the taboos 
And the peek-a-boos 
You might find 
The good news 
And the bad news
How does it happen? 
I don't know 
It's so hard 
To understand 
Now you see it 
Now you don't 
Is this a case 
Of sleight of hand 
Sleight of hand 
Sleight of hand
-- "Sleight of Hand," written by Carly Simon and Don Sebesky, first appears on the "Gimmie All Night" single and, thirty yeas later, shows up as a bonus track on Carly's remastered COMING AROUND AGAIN album

Reason Wafawarova (Zimbabwe's HERALD) offers this take on history, "From the nineties the United States started on a campaign to reorder the world, and at the turn of the millennium we saw George W. Bush embarking on war invasions targeted at the six 'Axis of Evil', namely Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and North Korea. During his tenure he invaded Iraq, and Afghanistan, and his successor Barack Obama invaded Libya, and sponsored ISIS to cause havoc in Syria; before the outfit turned itself into a murderous enemy of the West."

Barack "sponsored ISIS to cause havoc in Syria; before the outfit turned itself into a murderous enemy of the West"?

True?  False?  It's the opinion that's taken hold across the world so maybe the media might want to address that?

As we pointed out last week:

As he rushes to dash through press releases from a terrorist group (in the cradle, did he teethe on missives from the Symbionese Liberation Army?), he and many others ignore the more important issue of ISIS.  Right or wrong, a number of people in the Middle East believe the US government created ISIS -- intentionally, not by blowback -- and that they funded and continue to fund it.  Is that true?  I have no idea.  But if you're writing lengthy ATLANTIC articles, you might try focusing on a topic that actually matters and that one matters because it goes to how the nation is perceived in the Middle East.  Writers who reduce it, however, to trading baseball cards?  Their work really doesn't have any impact outside their own private circle jerk.

As the Iraqi government celebrates today, Iraq remains in disarray.  Michael Jansen (GULF TODAY) observes:

Successive governments’ neglect in the Shia bastion of the south erupted into furious protests last summer, spurred by demonstrations in Basra against electricity cuts and the lack of clean water. Last week, Basrawi protesters donned yellow neon vests, the uniform of France’s “yellow jackets” protesting a hike in fuel prices. Iraqi “yellow jackets” renewed their demands for water and electricity and stormed the office of the provincial governor. While the French “yellow jackets,” have made headlines round the world, Iraqis took up this garment during 2015 protests.

Sunnis in equally – and they argue intentionally – neglected areas have so far refrained from mounting demonstrations as they suffered harsh crackdowns, arrests, and jailing under former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki whenever they dared complain or challenge Baghdad.

The government has also neglected the countryside where, due to the lack of security, Daesh has regrouped and is making a comeback. Last week, Daesh fighters kidnapped and killed Shaikh Raghib Abid al-Hadi al-Badrani, the mayor of al-Amirini village, 20 kilometres south of Mosul. The Badrani tribe fought alongside the Iraqi army against Daesh during the Mosul offensive. Daesh, which retains a presence in mountainous areas in northern Ieaq, claims it carries out an average of 78 attacks a month.

Rampant corruption comes next to neglect as a cardinal sin of all governments since the US occupation. Corrupt politicians, officials, militia commanders and bureaucrats are pocketing revenues earned by Iraqi oil exports. Little or nothing trickles down to the restive populace. Corruption was managed during the reign of Saddam Hussein but ballooned after the US invasion. Until there is a strong prime minister and a government determined to root out corruption, there is no hope for Iraq.

After five months of wrangling, leaders of the two largest parties in parliament agreed on a compromise candidate for prime minister who was supposed to head a technocrat cabinet. He is Adel Abdul Mahdi, an economist trained in France and former Communist who became a member of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, formed by Iran. He had served as vice president and finance and oil minister. Fourteen members of his 22-member cabinet have been chosen and approved by parliament, but further appointments remain stalled by a rift between cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, 44, and militia commander, Hadi al-Amiri, 64. The issue in dispute is the appointment of an interior minister.

Celebrate?  Celebrate what.  And as we've noted Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is not getting any younger.

As David Rieff observed in 2005:

First, a little proportion about Iraq. Even those who view the country's progress from the most optimistic perspective tend to unite in crediting Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's majority Shiites, with having held the country together and used his commanding authority to legitimize January's democratic elections. Ayatollah Sistani's own medieval views on subjects ranging from Sharia law to the status of women are presented as being of little concern. "You can't get to Thomas Jefferson without first having Martin Luther," is the way the conservative Middle Eastern specialist, Reuel Marc Gerecht, once put it to me.

What happens when al-Sistani's influence is gone?

These are issues to address but they get ignored so much gets ignored.

As we noted repeatedly from 2014 forward, ISIS was the outside threat that allowed a show of temporary unity for Iraqi officials.  Instead of bombing Iraq or sending more US troops in, Barack should have been using the time for to work on diplomacy.  He failed just as Bully Boy Bush failed before him with the so-called 'surge.'  In both cases, US military numbers were increased in Iraq but no efforts at diplomacy were made and both periods were followed with Iraqi officials endlessly bickering.

AFP offers this assessment:

- 'Little to celebrate' -
In October, Abdel Mahdi managed to fill 14 of the cabinet's 22 posts, but repeated efforts to hold a parliamentary vote on the remaining eight, including the key interior and defence ministries, have failed. "The distribution of power, the race to acquire as many government positions as possible under the guise of real competition between parties -- that is at the root of the problem," Iraqi political analyst Jassem Hanoun told AFP.

"Iraq is still living in a transition period, without political stability or a clear administrative vision for the country." As the process drags on, observers have wondered whether Abdel Mahdi could step down, further destabilising a country just getting back on its feet. "Withdrawal is an option," a source close to the government said, adding that Abdel Mahdi "has his resignation letter in his back pocket".
"Only if the political situation gets significantly worse can I see him taking it out of his pocket and using it," the source said. But the thorny issues facing Iraq extend beyond the capital. Much of the country remains in ruins after three years of ferocious fighting, including large swathes of one-time IS capital Mosul and the northern Sinjar region.

An international summit in Kuwait in February gathered around $30 billion in pledges for Iraq's reconstruction -- less than a third of what Baghdad hoped to receive. More than 1.8 million Iraqis are still displaced, many languishing in camps, and 8 million require humanitarian aid, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. "If this is what 'victory' looks like, then there is little to celebrate for millions of Iraqis still haunted by the crimes of the IS and the long war to eliminate it," said NRC's head Jan Egeland.

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