Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Beatles movie put on hold

Bad news for Beatles fans. Andrea Wiseman (DEADLINE) reports:


The biopic of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Midas Man, has shut down mid-shoot with director Jonas Akerlund unlikely to continue, we can reveal.
Filming on the project began in Liverpool last month with cast including The Queen’s Gambit star Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Epstein, Emily Watson, Eddie Marsan, Lukas Gage, Rosie Day and Bill Milner.
The production has issued us with the following statement: “The director of Midas Man Jonas Akerlund is taking a break from the film. Until some matters become clearer we are not able to add any further comment to this statement. In the meantime we can confirm that filming of Midas Man will continue in London in November before breaking for Christmas. Filming will restart in early January in Los Angeles.”

Some are probably happy -- some Beatles fans. Brian probably had an affair with John Lennon.

I first learned of the Beatles in 1988. Albert Goodman had published a book on John that had the Bonos of the world in a state of high drama. Among other things, he wrote about John and Brian's relationship. It outraged Bono and others who thought, in 1988, they could sport homophobia and would get away with it forever. Doesn't look so good on them now, does it?

I wasn't shocked. I thought it made him more interesting. I was taken aback by the outrage so many were expressing and I didn't consider myself left. (I am but wasn't thinking of labels back then.)

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Despite being convicted of two murders in an Iraqi court, the Iraqi government does not want you to know the name Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani .

Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani know the name.  It's a name the Iraqi government doesn't want you to know.  From yesterday's snapshot:

NRT has an interesting report.  We'll note it in full:

 Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced on Monday (November 1) that the Basra Criminal Court has handed down a death sentence for a suspect accused of killing two journalists last year.

Dijlah TV reporter Ahmed Abdul Samad and camera operator Safaa Ghali were shot and killed while they were covering a protest in Basra on January 10, 2020.

The Council said in a statement that the defendant confessed to all the details of the crime, the aim of which was to destabilize security and stability and spread terror.

The verdict was issued in accordance with the provisions of Article 4/1 of Counterterrorism Law No. 13 of 2005, it added.

Samad was formerly a reporter for NRT.

If true, it's great that the murderer of a journalist is finally being held accountable.

But what's most interesting to me is the one convicted.  


We've long noted -- and decried -- Iraq's televising of confessions (which most likely are forced).  Why is the convicted not named?

A court found someone guilty.  Who?  And what are his or her affiliations?  This should all be part of the public record.  Instead, we're being told that some unnamed person has been found guilty of murdering two journalists.  And that's supposed to pass for informing the public?

Who?  Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani.  We now have a name.  

But the Iraqi government isn't providing that.  They have refused to name the convicted.

We know the name only because the ASSOCIATED PRESS spoke with the the brother of Ahmed Abdul Samad:

The court provided no details about the man’s identity or affiliation with any militant or other groups. The case is now with a higher court, which can either confirm the death penalty, hand down a lesser sentence or call for a retrial.

Mohammed Samad, the brother of the slain reporter, told The Associated Press over the phone that he blames four people for the killing “but only one was brought to court."

He identified the convicted killer as Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani, "a police officer who had worked at the same court that sentenced him today.”

“Our happiness will be complete when their leader is brought to trial as he is currently on the run,” he added.

By the way, we give writers credit here.  I'm saying "AP" because the outlet -- in twelve different versions of this story -- has not provided a byline.  I'm assuming that's intentional.  For example, RUDAW doesn't do individual bylines on some articles that will come off controversial to the Iraqi government.  Bylines can mean that you're targeted.  You can be killed for the 'crime' of covering a protest.  

It is laughable that the sitting prime minister Mustafa al-Kahdimi wants to pretend he's helped the protesters and other victims when he's done nothing and, when a killed is convicted, he doesn't even ensure that the guilty person's name is released to the public.

This is Iraq which still airs forced confessions on TV.  And they won't identify someone convicted in court of two murders?

Sally Bachori Tweets:

The assassin, Hamza Kadhim Khdheir, confessed that the head of Kata'ib Hezbollah, Ahmed Tuwaissa ordered him to assassinate journalist Ahmed Abdulsamad and photographer Safaa Ghali after a “fatwa” from Khamenei. Y’all still wonder why Iraqis want Iran out?! #فرقة_الموت

Jojo (Siwa) Jabbari Tweets:

Hamza Kadhim Khdheir, who just received the death sentence, confessed in court that Kataib Hezbollah leader Ahmed Tuwaissa ordered him to assassinate journalist Ahmed AbdulSamad based on Khamenei's fatwa. Ahmad's brother recounts the court proceeding here:

Ruba Ali al-Hassani Tweets:

The man charged w/ murdering Ahmed Abdul Samad, Reham Yaqoub, et al confessed during trial to the murders upon decree from Ali Khamenei. The judge recorded the testimony as "a cleric". The hashtag says "Murder decree from beyond the borders." #Iraq #فتوى_القتل_من_خارج_الحدود

Ali al-Mikdam did the following Twitter thread:

Up-pointing red triangleInformation about the assassinations in Basra. Armed militia leaders issued orders to kill protesters, journalists and officers of the security forces and convince their followers that these acts and orders are legitimate fatwas issued directly from the Supreme Leader..1/15

And exploit the work sites of their members within the state institutions for the purpose of completing operations, especially since one of the members of the death squads works in the Judicial Police Department. 2/15

Shocking confessions rocked the Iraqi street after the trial of those accused of the case of assassination of journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safa Ghali. The accused explicitly admitted that the person who directed them directly in the assassinations is Ahmed Tuwaisa. 3/15

Ahmed belongs to Hezbollah Brigades (Kata'ib Hezbollah) in Basra. This group carried out several operations in addition to the assassination of Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali. 4/15

Targeting the governor's house, targeting the house of Hatem Al-Daradji, targeting the governor's brother's house, killing Mujtaba Ahmed Jassim, attempted assassinating Lieutenant Colonel Muthanna Adnan Abdul Karim, assassinating Jenan Madhi,..5/15

throwing Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa's house with an explosive device. These factions were able to convince their members and their collaborators that these operations are the execution of legitimate fatwas issued directly from Supreme Leader of the…6/15

Islamic Revolution in Iran ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Members of these militias, some of whom work in government institutions through which they can delay trials and postpone procedures, taking advantage of their positions. 7/15

The accused who made confessions.   Born in 1983, he works as a commissioner in the Basra Police Directorate-Judicial Police Department. In 2014, he joined the Popular Mobilization Forces,..8/15

He worked as a soldier in PMF for a year and a half, after which he returned to work in the police. During this period, get to know each of: Haidar Shan Shabosa - works as Hezbollah coordinator in the Popular Mobilization Forces. 9/15

Ahmed Tuwaissa - one of Hezbollah members in Basra Abbas Al-Haris - works in the university pool. Akil Abu Fatima - employee of Basra Oil Company (government company) Haidar Abu Janat - Managing Director of Naseem Iraq Company. 10/15

Ahmed Al-Abd (formerly working in Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq AAH) Bashir Abdul Karim. He admitted his work within the assassination squad that carried out assassinations in Basra governorate against protesters and security forces officers. 11/15

Ahmed Tuwaissa told them that these operations are carried out by a fatwa from the Wilayat al-Faqih(Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) on the assassination of the above people as they are against the state. (Ahmed Tuwaisa) was directed to assassinate Ahmed Abdel Samad.. 12/15

For publishing video clips criticizing the name of Khomeini Street in Basra as well as criticizing loyalists of Iran. The assassination of Ahmed Abdel-Samad was carried out by a pickup:- The assassination took place after pursuing the wheel that Ahmed Abdel Samad And… 13/15

Safaa Ghaly were riding (a white Kia Sportage), where Ahmed Abdel Samad was in the front right seat and wearing a blue suit, with Safaa Ghaly driving the wheel on a road behind the Charter Flour Mill. The operation was carried out near the Al-Shamsona area Specifically.. 14/15

near the Oxford English Language Center. The car of the victims was shot, and the culprit who carried out the assassination got out of the car and shot again at Ahmed Abdel Samad and the photographer Safaa Ghaly, who was driving the vehicle.  15/15

This is a major story and would be one just for the conviction of Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani.  It's an even bigger story because the court refused to publicly identify the convicted and because the court edited the transcript to remove the person the convicted identified as ultimately responsible -- remove that name from the official transcript.

Layal Shakir (RUDAW) notes:

Press right groups and international organizations have described Iraq as one of the “most dangerous” countries for journalists.

Prominent activist Ihab al-Wazni was killed in Karbala in May of this year. The murder sparked outrage among activists, with many blaming Iran-backed militias for his death.

Activist and journalist Ali al-Mikdam was kidnapped and tortured in July. He was later freed.

Iran-backed militias, including factions of the Popular Mobilization forces (PMF or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic), are widely blamed for the assassination attacks.

Last week on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, Ari Shapiro spoke with Ruth Sherlock about Iraq:

SHAPIRO: So the election was earlier this month, and now the parties are in negotiations to see who will control various ministries and how the coalitions will take shape. As somebody who's covered Iraq and the region for years, what are you thinking watching this process unfold, about the country's future, about the U.S. role there, particularly given what we just saw in Afghanistan?

SHERLOCK: One stark takeaway for me has been the real gap between what the U.S. and other international powers want and what most Iraqis we spoke to want. The U.S. seems to prioritize trying to maintain basic stability and countering Iran, like we just said. Meanwhile, Iraqis want better public services and an end to corruption and actual representation by their government. And the thing is, many Iraqis, especially young people, nowadays see that changing the sectarian structure of government, the underlying foundations, and weakening the main political parties as kind of the only way to achieve this, even if it means risking some stability.

At a recent anti-government protest, I spoke with Ali Hadid. You heard from him a little earlier. He was campaigning to boycott the election.

HADID: There's no democracy in Iraq.


HADID: There is no democracy.

SHERLOCK: So this political system...

HADID: It's a Mafia. We are ruled by a Mafia (ph). That's all.

SHERLOCK: Do you think this is, basically, what the Americans brought to Iraq?

HADID: Yeah. It's not just America; it's also the Iranian and also the international. All of them, they participate in this problem.

SHERLOCK: And, you know, what's also striking is speaking to people who were born around the time of the U.S. invasion and seeing how their whole lives have been shaped by that decision. For example, I spoke with one young man, and his first memory is hiding in the shower of his home with his family as U.S. troops fight a militia, and the house gets destroyed around them. Now the poor economy and state corruption means that even as a university graduate, he can't find a job, and he's had friends killed by militias. Look; of course, you can't blame all of Iraq's problems on the U.S. involvement there. It's much more complicated than that. But certainly, the decision to invade Iraq set off a kind of chain reaction of events that continue to shape the broken Iraq you have today.

Iraq held elections October 10th.  There is still not an official final tally.  In fact, Layal Shakir (RUDAW) reports:

Iraq’s electoral commission on Tuesday announced that it has begun accepting evidence again in support of alleged election result errors or violations, state media reported as most of the submitted appeals of the October 10 results have been found to be groundless.

“Whoever has new evidence about the submitted appeals can file them within three days,” the commission’s director of media and public communications Hassan Salman said.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) started the manual recount of votes from certain polling stations where complaints were filed last week

Meanwhile, Firas Adnan (ALMADA) writes that the expectation currently is that a new government in Iraq will be formed in . . . nine months.  Firas notes that dialogues continue and that the prime minister post will be dependent upon an agreement on who will get control over which ministries.   The Arab Center Tweets:

State of Law, the party led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, made a resounding comeback, winning 35 seats.

At The Middle East Institute, Omar al-Nidawi offersL

Despite Sadr’s party winning 74 seats in the 329-seat legislature, twice as many as the next party, Baghdad is likely heading toward another government formation process dictated by the usual rules of power-sharing: that all parties powerful enough to cause trouble may win a seat at the table and a share of government positions commensurate with its weight in parliament. Despite headlines to the contrary, there are no kingmakers in Iraqi politics.

For example, Sadr’s gain vis-à-vis Fatah is somewhat offset by the gains achieved by Fatah’s ally, Nouri al-Maliki. The former prime minister’s State of Law bloc has seen its seats increase from 25 to 37 and is working to build a coalition to compete with Sadr for the designation of “largest bloc.” As negotiations proceed, the extreme options that are the rivals’ first choices for prime minister will likely be excluded in favor of less contentious “compromise candidates.” Some will be rejected for being too Sadrist, others for being too friendly to Washington, too close to Iran, or for being Nouri al-Maliki, with all the baggage that entails.

The immediate post-election shock and euphoria for Fatah and Sadr, respectively, created a fog that may soon begin to lift. Triumphant remarks about a purely Sadrist prime minister, and counter threats by the militia rivals will give way to compromises. After all, from Ibrahim al-Jafari’s 2005 premiership to that of Adil Abdul-Mahdi in 2018, Sadr steadily accumulated power from being part of the government while still able to attack it when it suits his purposes. Sadr may begrudgingly recognize that a Sadrist prime minister may not be a good thing. Against the backdrop of Iraq’s ongoing economic crisis, failing to deliver better services and living conditions when the prime minister is a Sadrist would be much harder to defend or spin than if the premier was from another party, or a weak compromise candidate. As for Fatah’s factions, going to war promises no economic returns and jeopardizes the interests of their allies in Tehran. Ultimately, the Fatah factions will have to accept a slightly reduced status in the next government and settle for a share of positions proportionate to their seats, and perhaps guarantees for some of the PMF budget.

In other news, Black Alliance For Peace has issued the following:

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Tunde Osazua
(404) 771-2844

Black Alliance for Peace & the U.S. Out of Africa Network Stand with the People of Sudan

October 25, 2021 — We are clear that the training of African police and military by the US and its NATO allies, in counter insurgency measures to confront the mass uprisings against repression, as taking place  right now in Sudan using violent suppression, is right out of the imperialist playbook. For decades the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, the E.U., and Israel have assisted in the training, financing, and arming of the militias and forces within Sudan. We must call for an end to the training of African defense and security forces by imperialists and neo-colonial entities and for the demilitarization of the African continent.

The Black Alliance for Peace and the U.S. Out of Africa Network express solidarity with over a million Sudanese people who have taken to the streets in cities and towns across Sudan to resist the military coup that took place the morning of October 25, 2021. Trade unions and people’s movements have called for international solidarity, strikes, and mass protests in response to the coup by the Sudanese military. The coup takes place as Sudan was nearing a transition to civilian rule from the joint military and civilian government that was installed following the deposition of Omar al-Bashir.

The U.S. did not directly come out in support of the military government. We believe that this is so they can more easily manipulate the situation like they did with Tigray. In a recent tweet, U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman lays the blame for the coup squarely on the shoulders of Sudan. His statement fails to mention the role of the U.S. in fueling conflict in Sudan to control its energy resources, cement access to the Red Sea which links the Mediterranean to Asia and is one of the world’s busiest waterways, and take advantage in the struggle against China and Russia’s geopolitical ascendancy. 

The Black Alliance for Peace and the U.S. Out of Africa Network, calls for return to Sudan’s popular process of transition.

No compromise! No retreat!

The U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) is a network of volunteers committed to strategizing around creative and radical tactics for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa, the demilitarization of the African continent, the closure of U.S. military bases throughout the world, pressuring the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to unequivocally oppose AFRICOM and conduct hearings on its impact on the African continent. The USOAN is the driving force for the U.S. Out of Africa! Shutdown AFRICOM! campaign of the Black Alliance for Peace.

Sign up to join the U.S. Out of Africa Network.

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