Friday, October 21, 2022


The new Julia Roberts' film is a reverse parent trap.  This time, it's the parents trying to break up the child's marriage.

It's really not funny.

Could it have been?

If they'd cast Richard Gere opposite Julia instead of George Clooney, it could have worked.

But Clooney's no Gere.  Whatever you think of Richard Gere's acting ability, he comes across onscreen with Julia -- PRETTY WOMAN and RUNAWAY BRIDE.  

George has never really been a movie star.  There's a reason for that: He doesn't seem like a man.  He thinks he can be a glib smart ass in this film and it doesn't work for him because he's not believable as a man.

All the films he's made, he's never sizzled with a woman.  

And he's never carried a blockbuster.

A PERFECT STORM?  Mark Wahlberg.  The OCEAN films are ensemble films.  He's been cast as a leading man but he's never been box office.  

He's trying to be sexy and it is annoying. 

How's Julia?

She's working without a script.  She's flooding each scene with her own personality.  She floats along and we like her despite what her character's doing.

She's probably doing a movie star turn.  That's probably the best way to describe it.  She's using her charisma and appeal to get through in an underwirtten role.

I have huge complaints about the script.  I have no complaints about Julia Roberts.

I think this is going to bomb.  It may not.  But there weren't a lot of people present in the theater we saw it in.  And most were griping when the film was over.

I feel sorry for Julia because if they'd tossed her opposite Richard Gere or Hugh Grant, this would have been box office gold.

I think George Clooney's inability to convey love or chemistry onscreen is because he's too in love with himself to notice an actress he shares a scene with.


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

Friday, October 21, 2022.  Litigious is not the same as truthful, the government of Turkey insists it would never, ever use chemical weapons in Iraq, the persecution of Julian Assange continues, BROS is out on streaming platforms in North America, and much more.

I saw a little lawyer on the tube
He said "It's so easy now anyone can sue"
"Let me show you how your petty aggravations can profit you!"
Call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh and deep in the night
Appetites find us
Release us and blind us
Deep in the night
While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They're gonna slam free choice behind us
-- "The Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her DOG EAT DOG

They have made it so easy and, yes, anyone can sue.  Even if they can't win.  The "they" includes idiots in the press.  For example, before you applaud a family of a dead person for pondering a lawsuit, you might want explain case law and how you can't defame the dead.

But, hey, facts, right?  What do they matter?

Anthony Rapp found out yesterday just how much they matter (see Marcia's "The jury didn't believe Anthony Rapp either" and Mike's "THE GOLDBERGS, Kevin Spacey is cleared by jury").  Funny how the malicious press is involved in that one too, right?

Turns out, you can't come forward with a story and get the jury to believe you when they find out that the 'reporter' who you shopped you tale to couldn't confirm your basic details so he advised you to avoid specifics.  

Turns out the unpopular press is even more unpopular with juries when they run a one-sided story that they know they can't verify. 

Turns out witnesses do matter especially when they contradict your claims.  

Turns out your bitterness over your failed life and career aren't seen as noble by a jury of your peers.

Maybe it's not a good idea to look like a greedy whore by suing for forty million dollars?

And to the 'resistance,' maybe take a lesson and learn not to pin your hopes on nut jobs.

For example, a woman suing for defamation for being called a liar and being said to be "not my type" by Donald Trump?  If she's crazy enough to sue someone for saying that she's not their type, she's probably not going to deliver you what you need to jizz all over one another as you high five and scream "F**k MAGA!"  And maybe the first clue there was when she went on CNN and told Anderson Cooper that rape was "sexy."

In the world of reality, Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden and a host of people who should be supporting him stay silent or heap scorn on him.

Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death. 

In an address to Australia’s National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Jennifer Robinson, one of Julian Assange’s lawyers, provided a powerful and unanswerable indictment of the protracted political persecution of her client.

Robinson’s speech, which was broadcast live on the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, contained a sharp warning on Assange’s plight and the implications of the US attempt to prosecute him. 

Assange, she said, would not survive years’ more incarceration and “persecution by process.” And if he were extradited from Britain to the US and hauled before a kangaroo court for publishing true information, it would be a dagger blow to freedom of the press and democratic rights.

The address was a rare breach in a wall of silence on the Assange case in Australia. His various court dates have been given cursory coverage, but there has scarcely been any television programming or substantive reporting on the persecution of an Australian citizen and journalist.

Robinson noted that many were shocked at Assange’s appearance when he was dragged from Ecuador’s London embassy by the British police in 2019. She said that she was not, because “for seven years I had seen his health decline.”

Similarly, some were surprised when the US unveiled an indictment of Assange, and an extradition request, as soon as he was arrested. Robinson noted, however, that this was what Assange, WikiLeaks and its defenders, including herself, had been warning of for years.

“For the past three and a half years Assange has been in a maximum security prison” dubbed “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay,” Robinson noted, where his health had further declined. At a court hearing last October, she recalled that while prosecutors for the US extradition were deriding medical evidence of Assange’s deteriorating condition, viewers of the proceeding watched him slump with his head in his hands. It was later confirmed that Assange was, at that moment or just before, suffering a minor stroke, which is often a prelude to a major stroke.

“Julian’s wife Stella anxiously waits for the phone call she dreads,” Robinson said. “He is suffering profoundly in prison and she does not know if he will survive it.”

Robinson provided a brief prĂ©cis of where Assange’s extradition case is up to. She explained that he had won in the first British hearings, with a District Court ruling early last year that extradition would be “oppressive” because of the conditions in which Assange would be held in the US prison system. He would be placed under “Special Administrative Measures (SAMs),” a draconian regime of complete isolation described by rights’ groups as the “darkest corner” of US penitentiaries. 

Assange remains in Belmarsh prison as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as diplomatic cables.

Last week the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, reiterated his view that the case against the Australian citizen had “gone on long enough” but cited private talks with the Biden administration as a reason for not commenting further.

Robinson, who has met several times with Dreyfus, said it was “encouraging” that the Albanese government was maintaining the position that it had adopted in opposition: that the case had dragged on too long and “enough is enough”.

Turning to Iraq, I24 notes:

Turkey on Thursday rejected allegations that the Turkish Armed Forces used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Media close to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group – which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, among others – published videos this week showing chemical weapons being used by Turkey’s army against them.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which represents thousands of doctors and campaigns to prevent armed violence, said it found indirect evidence of possible violations during a September mission to northern Iraq.
“The chemical weapons lie is a futile attempt by those who try to whitewash and airbrush terrorism. Our fight against terrorism will continue with resolve and determination,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.

Last July, the government of Turkey attacked a resort in northern Iraq killing 2 children and 7 adults with an additional 33 people left injured.  It's not that hard to picture them also using chemical weapons.


Iraq hit two anniversaries this month. Three years ago in October, Iraqis rose up to protest the failure of the Iraqi government and political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption and more. One of the outcomes of those protests was early elections, which were held on October 10, 2021, but have yet to yield a government. The last year witnessed crippling political gridlock, as the winner of the 2021 national parliamentary elections, Moqtada al-Sadr, eventually withdrew from the political process after failing to form a government.

Last week, Iraq’s parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as president, and he then named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister-designate. Al-Sudani, who now is tasked with forming a government, is the nominee of the Coordination Framework, al-Sadr’s chief rival. Amid a year of political turmoil and three years after the protests erupted, Iraqis’ grievances remain largely unaddressed.

USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed discusses how we got here, what comes next in the government formation process and where Iraq’s protest movement stands three years on. 

Iraq held national parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, but struggled with forming a government for a year. The election resulted in two broad coalitions that led to a state of gridlock over the forming of a government amid controversial litigation in the Federal Supreme Court, drone attacks on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's house, armed attacks on the offices and residence of various political actors, violence in Baghdad’s “Green Zone” and external pressure, particularly from Iran. Al-Sadr, whose bloc won the largest number of seats (73), sought to form a majoritarian government with Sunni Arabs, led by parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and Khamis al-Khanjar, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani. The Coordination Framework — considered to be Iran-backed — which includes the State of Law alliance of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Fatah Coalition and others, succeeded in blocking al-Sadr.

Over a year later on October 13, Iraq’s parliament voted Abdul Latif Rashid as the new president, who in turn designated Coordination Framework nominee Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister. Nine rockets hit the vicinity of the parliament and other parts of Baghdad as the voting occurred, but it did not stop the process. With 30 days to form a government and win a vote of confidence from the parliament, al-Sudani is negotiating with other political parties to form his government and projects confidence in his actions and messages. He has also welcomed the Sadrists’ participation in the government, but that’s unlikely to happen.

This breakthrough was made possible because al-Sadr gave up all his bloc’s parliamentary seats and his attempt of applying public pressure through the street — occupying the parliament building and judiciary headquarters — backfired. The Coordination Framework replaced al-Sadr’s MPs with their own, nominated al-Sudani to become prime minister, and reached agreement with Kurdish and Sunni Arab allies of al-Sadr — whom al-Sadr has freed from commitments they made to him — to support their candidate.

The Coordination Framework, which now holds the highest number of Shia seats in the parliament, has come together with most Kurdish and Sunni MPs under a new coalition called the State Administration Coalition (Itilaf Idarat al-Dawla). They have sufficient votes and seem to have established enough foundation for a government to finally form. Regional and international interlocutors, including the United States and European allies, have welcomed the government formation process moving forward. However, there continues to be apprehension about what al-Sadr might do next: Will he challenge the formation of the cabinet? Will he wait until a government is formed and then challenge it? Or will he move on and focus on the next elections?

In Iraq, the political stalemate has not ended.  With the naming of a prime minister-designate, it should be ending shortly.  But a prime minister-designate is not a prime minister.

That's not "What if he can't put together a full Cabinet!"  Despite that being in the Constitution, that measure has never been enforced and no one's ever met it.  But it is stating a prime minister-designate is not yet a prime minister.



A story we've noted earlier this week is a discovery in northern Iraq.  Hyder Abbasi and Khalid Razak (NBC NEWS) report;

Ancient rock carvings that are believed to be more than 2,700 years old have been unearthed by a team of archaeologists in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.

The marble slabs were found during restoration work on the Mashki Gate, an ancient monument that was partially destroyed by Islamic State militants when they captured the city in 2016.

The relief carvings show scenes of war from the rule of Assyrian kings, in the ancient city of Nineveh, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage said in a statement Wednesday.

And here's a video report.

In north America, you can stream the comedy classic BROS.

BROS is still in the theater (as of Wednesday, it's got $11 million in ticket sales in North America).  (Thursday's numbers are not out yet.)  AMAZON and YOUTUBE TV are just two of the platforms you can stream it on -- rental or purchase.  

BROS is a great film.  It's on my top ten.  Of the year?  No.  I think it's the best film of 2022.  It's on my top ten of all time favorites.  

The following sites updated:

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