Sunday, December 30, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Democracy in Iraq MT @prashantrao: 4.5 hours at checkpoint w media-Anbar protests have begun, reports of big crowds. Army keeping us here.

-- The Washington Post's Liz Sly and AFP's Prashant Rao.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

It's a two-fer: Liz Sly and Prashant Rao.

Nouri, Barack's tyrant that keeps on killing -- no wonder Barack backed him.
If you don't like the focus of this edition, blame Ava and C.I.  We were planning a roundtable.  We'd written the editorial and the Matt Damon piece and were wondering what else to do when Ava and C.i. finished this report on fall 2012.  As I (Jim) read it outloud to everyone, we were convinced that we needed to make it a 2012 year of edition.  So that's what we did.
At last, Barack wins an award he's earned!

Shonda Rhimes did bust her ass and Scandal has become a great show.

To clear something up, all involved in the writing of this edition had a vote on film of the year -- including Ann and Stan.  21 Jump Street was the obvious choice because it had something for everyone.

Betty's post needed to be amplified.  It says a great deal about science, about the press, about the country.

If Rita Moreno is not honored in 2013, people should egg Caroline Kennedy's home.

We were tossing around various books that came out this year when Ty said, "If we let our readers pick, it would be the Elizabeth Taylor book."  How come?  Their e-mails.  And Ty backed it up.  So this is the readers pick.
This was not a 2012 story.  It wasn't planned as one.  As we got our other pieces and were getting closer to publishing, I said, "Do we just toss aside the Damon piece?"  Donna said she could change the headline and make it work.  She did.
A repost of a press release from the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

We also thank Ava and C.I. for last week's amazing edition -- they handled that by themselves, the rest of us took off for the holiday.  So great job and thank you to Ava and C.I. for last week's edition.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Nouri is a tyrant

I see Ba'athists

As noted in Friday's "Iraq snapshot," protests took place throughout Iraq and Nouri worked really hard to keep journalists from covering the protests by using his military to prevent them from entering towns.  While Prashant Rao (AFP), Liz Sly (Washington Post) and the BBC News worked hard to get that news out, others were fine yet again ignoring what's taking place in Iraq.

So much that goes on in Iraq get ignored.  For example, the prison scandal, about women being tortured and raped in Iraqi prisons.  Or Nouri's efforts to strip Members of Parliament of the immunity the Constitution awards them.  Or Nouri's targeting of the Minister of Finance -- as usual when Nouri targets a politician, the politician is a member of Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the 2010 elections (beating Nouri's State of Law).

When that happened, US President Barack Obama had to piss on democracy, piss on Iraqi voters and piss on the Iraqi Constitution to keep his fellow Nouri al-Maliki on as prime minister.  To grant Nouri a second term after his second place showing, the White House created a contract (The Erbil Agreement).  It followed 8 months of Nouri refusing to step down as prime minister.  The contract got the leaders of the various political blocs to sign on by offering them things.  For example, the Constitution demands that Article 140 be implemented but it never was in Nouri's first term.  The Kurds wanted Nouri to obey the Constitution.  In the contract, they allow him to have a second term as prime minister in exchange for his promise that he will implement Article 140.

And then he used The Erbil Agreement to grab that second term and then he trashed it, refusing to honor his part of the deal.

The Kurds waited for the White House to step up (as they'd promised they would).  But the White House never made an issue out of the contract they brokered now being broken.

Is it any wonder that  David Romano (Rudaw) observed last week:
Average Iraqis increasingly lose faith with their government as the shell game continues.  As Nuri al-Maliki increasingly rides rough shod over the Constitution and the law of the land, the American State Department seems to forgive him all his transgressions.  Instead of demanding a better showing from Maliki, they pressure the Kurds, the Sunnis and non-Dawaa Party Shiites to make nice with Maliki.
As Barack has tied the US closer and closer to thug Nouri, the opinion of the US government in Iraq has sunk deeper and deeper.

As Elaine pointed out Friday:

Nouri is a threat and danger to the Iraqi people.
They voted for change and Barack went around their votes, the democracy, the Constitution to devise a contract (Erbil Agreement) to give Nouri a second term.
Again, gays are targeted, Sunnis are targeted, Nouri refused to even have one woman in his Cabinet until there was international outcry -- and this is who the US government backs.
Remember that the next time Barack wants to pretend to give a damn about human rights.

At Friday's protests, Iraqis chanted, "The people want to bring down the regime."   Ken Hanly (Digital Journal) observed, "This is the slogan protesters used in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere during the Arab Spring." May it have similar results in Iraq. 


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists" from December 25, 2011.

TV: The New Conformity

If there was a word for the fall 2012 television, it was "conformity."  Or maybe 'the new conformity'?

And, no, that's not a good thing.


For women, it especially wasn't a good thing.  The '00s are over and, apparently with them, the lone female fighter (someone warn Anna Silk in case the trend spreads to Canada and threatens Lost Girl).  No Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Garner, Patricia Arquette, Jill Hennessy, etc.  And while team Nikita continues on the CW, Fringe wraps up with three episodes next month and Fox's 'ideal' replacement for the Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson series appears to be The Following starring Kevin Bacon.  So low have expectations fallen that the idea of making the sidekick for  Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes a female Watson is seen as an "advancement."  (Miller and Lucy Liu work very well together and Elementary is the only promising drama CBS offered this fall.)

Sitcom women fared even worse.  Where was NPR?

Fall 2011, they were talking the 'trend' story that wasn't and how the season was all about men losing jobs and women having them.  Fall 2012 was all about women losing jobs.  While The Middle used the plot twist to illustrate the economy and not to demoralize Frankie (Patricia Heaton -- who continues to be amazing in this role), New Girl and Up All Night used unemployment to humiliate the female characters.

If that didn't make sense to you, your mistake apparently was expecting the shows to make sense.  For example, what kind of school waits until the start of the fall semester to tell a teacher she's laid off? Before you say "only on Fox!," hold on a moment.  Up All Night was just as ridiculous and demonstrated that there were no brains behind the sitcom.  Ava (Maya Rudolph) and Reagan (Christina Applegate) worked on Ava's daytime TV talk show last season, remember?  This season opens with the show cancelled.

How embarrassing.

Emily Spivey's a piece of trash out to damage women.  In the process, she can't stop revealing just how ignorant of her own industry she is.  You may remember Yvonne Encanto bought up the Ava talk show near the end of last season.  Why?  Because it was a hit.  So how did it get cancelled in the fall?

If most TV viewers don't get it, that's fine.  But Spivey's supposed to be in the industry and chose to write about a daytime TV talk show.  What we're getting at is Ava was syndicated daytime television.  It does not just vanish.  Remember Roseanne's ratings bomb of a daytime TV talk show.  Even though no one was watching, the show stayed on the air for two seasons.  That's because of contracts various stations signed to carry the show.  Near the end, some stations were burying it at 3:00 in the morning, but they still had to carry it.  Point being, Ava's show would have had to be in trouble in the ratings for some time (over a year) to go out of production.

The smart thing to do would have been to have had Ava's contract expire and she (wrongly) thinks she's got  a film career in the offing (because she's just done a bit part in an Adam Sandler movie).  So she walks out on the show which means the show ends.  But that would have required work and thought and Emily Spivey's capable of neither.

Thought would have informed her that this wasn't the time to mess with the show and it especially wasn't time to revamp the character of Chris.  But there's Emily Spivey deciding that Reagan will stay at home and Chris will go back to work.

A smart person would have realized you shouldn't juggle or jiggle Chris.  See, between seasons one and two, Will Arnett ended his marriage to Amy Poehler (and also began dousing himself in Man Tan For Douche Bags).  He's not really sympathetic.  You don't leave Amy (and the kids) and get to be sympathetic.  If he'd continued to play the Chris that the audience had seen in season one, they probably wouldn't have been as bothered.  But now he wasn't the Will they thought they knew offscreen nor was he the Chris they thought they knew onscreen.

Ava's become a blithering idiot -- the way so many male critics saw her last season.  She's lost all strength and her core.  Reagan's an idiot who can't handle anything and Christina Applegate isn't cute doing that crap.  Lucille Ball wouldn't be cute doing it today.

In addition to having the women unemployed and making Chris the 'manly' worker (though an attorney, he now works in construction), they added the hideous Luka Yovetich (because he'd stunk up Best Friends Forever?) as Applegate's brother and Chris' business partner.

While Up All Night is forever trying to figure out how to get Reagan into the kitchen (they apparently missed season one's Christmas episode), NBC's Whitney is bad in other ways.

In fact, maybe Whitney should be called "Whore"?

Season one ended with Whitney and Alex unable to get married due to a series of mishaps.  Season two opened with them in bed, thrilled with the tatoos they had gottten instead of getting married.  Fine, we don't believe marriage is the end-all, be-all for everyone.  By episode two, Whitney's getting a joint-checking account with Alex and his money and her 'money' suddenly becomes "their money."  And Alex tells her she should work on her photography.  Yet in all the episodes that follow, we see Whitney spending money, we just don't see her doing anything with her photography. We also see her fighting with Alex in every episode and, when she's in the wrong (more often than when she's in the right), she's offering sex as the make up.

Again, maybe it should be called Whore this season.

What happened to the independent woman of season one?

Or what happened to independent Liz Lemon.  Tina Fey was never a friend of women.  She thought she was pathetic when she was single, she thought her life was a waste before she had a baby.  She's decided these are biological laws and they must be imposed on all women.  And it's really destroyed 30 Rock.  This season was no exception as a Liz seemed determined -- on her wedding day -- to out-girly-girl season two's Whitney.  Each episode finds a new way to insult women.  Including "Stride of Pride," written by Fey herself.  That episode takes the claim by sexists like Jerry Lewis that women can't be funny.  You might think a show that stars a woman, was created by a woman, in an episode written by a woman would have no problem demonstrating that the claim was wrong.  Instead, Tina Fey chose to endorse sexism.  While Tracy thinks women are hysterical, it's because he completely misunderstood the (unfunny) skit Liz pulled out of mothballs for her and Jenna to do.  (In the skit, Liz plays a doctor -- Tracy thinks that's the joke: That a woman can be a doctor.)  It's as if 30 Rock's last gift is in ensuring that no one will miss it.  (Like Fringe, 30 Rock wraps up next month.)

The only real bright spot for women this fall came from The Mindy Project.  The Fox sitcom is honestly funny and Mindy Kaling has created a show that actually lives up to all the praise 30 Rock (wrongly) received.

If women had it bad this fall, gay men had it even worse.  Partners was a funny TV show and it was pulling in viewers on Monday nights -- a night CBS is starting to lose viewers on.  It revolved around two best friends, one gay (played by Michael Urie), one straight (played by David Krumholtz) and their love interests (Brandon Routh and Sophia Bush).  The actors were wonderful.  The show was funny.  Did the issue of gay marriage really lead to the show getting the axe?  After the suits viewed "My Best Friend's Wedding Ring," they got really nervous (there was no same sex marriage in the episode but it is talked of).  There were a series of meetings called and, the same week, CBS quickly announces the show is cancelled and off the schedule as of the announcement -- no more episodes will be broadcast.

Then there's NBC's The New Normal which sinks in the ratings almost every week and seems to exist to ask, "Would Will and Grace have been as funny a sitcom if the viewers couldn't stand Megan Mullally?"  Ellen Barkin is supposed to be the Karen of the show -- if Karen was angry, hateful and a bigot (as opposed to a smart mouth).  Overly preachy and not very funny, the sitcom plays like the worst Norman Lear-rip-off.  If Lear demonstrated anything during the seventies, it was that you have to be funny to address issues.  It's a lesson, The New Normal really needs to learn.

With CBS axing Partners, The New Normal forgetting the humor and NBC benching Smash (the same sex couple is played by Christian Borle and Leslie Odom Jr.), that really only left one show and one character.

But what a character.  Yes, we mean fan favorite Nolan Ross of ABC's Revenge.  But a funny thing happened on the way to season two, gay Nolan became bi-sexual Nolan and Gabriel Mann's character got a girlfriend.  Squint your eyes and Mann looks like Al Corely and it's as though we're watching Stephen Carrington struggle with being gay all over again on Dynasty.

As if that wasn't bad enough, they've added Barry Sloane to the cast this year.  Sloane's wonderful eye candy and probably the best male actor on the show but let's not pretend that the writers don't seem much more interested in him than they do in Emily VanCamp's character.  When you're sidelining the lead character, it means you're trying to parcel out a storyline.  Here's a suggestion for show runner Mike Kelley, get some new storylines and do so quickly or Revenge will get the axe in May. 

(For those wondering about Malibu Country, we've already covered the homophobia of that show.)

Characters of color?  Other than Mindy Kaling, did fall find any breakthroughs?  NeNe Leakes has great comedic talent and timing.  It's just a shame she's stuck in another 'sassy Black gal you work with' role that TV seems to forever put African-American women into.  (This time the role's on The New Normal.)  The CW's hit (yes, they really can call it that and be truthful) Arrow features David Ramsey as John Diggle, Green Arrow's sidekick.  That's certainly more than Smallville ever offered in all of its seasons on The WB and then The CW.  Guys With Kids has yet to hit its stride but Anthony Anderson and Tempestt Bledsoe are delivering strong co-lead performances.  (They play one of three couples on the show.)  The show is about similarities (in parenting) and so the two actors also get to offer something different than what TV traditionally allows an African-American performer on a sitcom.  If they're lucky, that will continue and they'll be able to do what Damon Wayans Jr. does on Happy Endings, play a multi-dimensional character each week and not a TV stereotype.  ABC also offers Toks Olagundoye on The Neighbors -- an African-American actress playing an alien from outer-space who has taken on human form and goes by the name of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  Though always hilarious in the role, her best moments yet were when she attempted to be a 'Real New Jersey Housewife' including turning to a (non-existent) camera to provide narration and commentary.  It also bears noting that ABC's  Last Resort provided Andre Braugher with the chance to carry an hour long drama.

While the audience dried up for Last Resort, there was a show that offered a lead character of color, that offered a strong gay couple as supporting characters and that actually managed to be a success in the ratings.  In fact, ABC's Scandal is the success story of fall 2012.

Kerry Washington is the first African-American actress to successfully carry an hour long show.  Scandal has a strong cast but Kerry is the star as surely as Ted Danson is the star of CSI.  In the seven episodes last season, a show was sketched in.  Season two, has been about deepening the stories, such as providing more details about the conspiracy that put Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) into the White House.

It's an ambitious show that constantly surprises.  Yes, with plot twists like implicating Huck (Guillermo Diaz) in the shooting of President Grant. (He's innocent but now a victim of the Patriot Act.)  But also with dialogue.  White House Chief of Staff Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is talking to Olivia (Washington) about how he knows his husband James (Dan Bucatinsky) is cheating on him, how James is younger and now James is going to leave him.  When Olivia tries to reassure him that's not the case, Cyrus declares he's right because "before he met me, he was a bit of a slut."  Then adding, "Which I found very sexy and I shouldn't have."  Cyrus is so straight-laced (and only recently out of the closet) that it's a very funny moment.

The show constantly surprises.  Shonda Rhimes is TV's person of the year for what she's doing with this show -- forget about the fact that she's also the show runner for Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.  She's also TV's person of the year because while everyone else goes for conformity, she's stretching and expanding and surprising and delighting viewers every week.  For those who don't remember, that's what TV is supposed to do.

2012 Killer of the Year

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall 
-- "The End," lyrics by Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, first recorded on The Doors' self-titled debut album

John Glaser ( reports this morning that a drone strike in Pakistan claimed 5 lives and left four people injured.

The Drone War.  US President Barack Obama decides where to strike.  He conducts his Drone War with all the democracy of a long ago king.  Translation, he does it by fiat, by royal whim.

He is answerable to no court (in his mind) and he is not answerable to the American citizens or anyone else.

He has been annoited by the hand of God to be Killer.  He decides who lives and who dies.

There's a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin' like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road
-- "Riders On The Storm," written by Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, first appears on The Doors' LA Woman.

As Isaiah noted last week in "Barry O's Favorite Topic," Barack loves to talk about himself but not about his Drone War.

barry os favorite topic

The little girl in the comic is 8-year-old Nabila who told the BBC about how she saw Barack kill her grandmother with a drone.

2012 TV Person of the Year


Shonda Rhimes is the show runner for three different shows on television.  She's not doing Grey's Anatomy and Grey's Anatomy NYC, Grey's Anatomy: Trial By Jury, Grey's Antaomy Miami and Grey's Anatomy: Special Victims Unit.  She's created three distinct and popular shows that are all airing right now.  And her latest show, Scandal, is riveting, is the success story of fall 2012, and provides the writing that finally gives Kerry Washington the opportunity to truly shine (she's amazing and should be Emmy nominated for Best Actress).  Shonda Rhimes has changed and is changing television.

We're quoting C.I. from last week.  But point taken.  Rebecca covers Scandal at her site (such as with "give it up for the amazing shonda rhimes") and Ava and C.I. elaborate on the above in their TV report this week.

2012 Movie of the Year

Ann and Stan's "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" and "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" went up Saturday night.  We love their picks.  But of their top ten, we say one movie holds up best for 2012.


21 Jump Street. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are hilarious in this film.  You have to see Hill as Peter Pan in the high school musical or the car chase where he's dressed as Peter Pan.  And one of the biggest treats of the film is when the two undercover cops are forced to take a new synthetic drug to protect their cover and the drug kicks in just as the high school coach (Rob Riggle) stops them for lack of hall passes.  In the screen snap above, they are in "Phase 02: TRIPPING MAJOR BALLSACK" of the drug and they see Riggle's head as a giant ice cream cone.

Other hilarious moments include Tatum trying to bluff his way through the Miranda rights with the police captain played by Nick Offerman, "Did you just say you have the right to be an attorney?"

2012 Person of the Year

Betty made a strong and impassioned case for the Person of the Year at her site on Friday.

Curiosity should have been Time's person of the year


That should have been Time magazine's person of the year: Curiosity, NASA's Mars land rover.

Caption for that photo:

 Again, that should have been the person of the year.

If we lived in a country that cared about science.  If we followed NASA with even 1/10th of the zeal we reserve for 'reality' TV stars.  If we gave a damn not only about the world around us but the galaxy and beyond.

Time could have made a statement, they could have encouraged a national discussion on science.

Instead, they went with an easy and embarrassing choice (Barack).  Just so they could ass kiss?

Probably so.  It's a real shame because we keep hearing how America needs to get better at the sciences.  We keep hearing how the sciences will determine our future -- and they mean our economic future.

But time and again, when the media has a chance to talk about science, they find something else to embrace.

And then they wonder why Americans are not stronger in the sciences?

Why bother if it's so meaningless?

If no one cares, why bother?

The media's going to have to get to work on their own little message and they're going to have to start accepting their part of the blame.

Curiosity should have been Time's person of the year.

Kennedy Trait of 2012: Racism

The Kennedy Center Honors is supposed to be prestigious.  It's a sign of just how tacky Caroline Kennedy is that she's allowed the awards to be seen as racist in their selection.

Last years these awards to honor the arts went out of their way to include the British but managed to -- yet again -- ignore Latinos and Latinas.  Did you know that there have been 186 honors and only two of them were Latino?  (Placido Domingo and Chita Rivera.)

It's becoming an annual outcry: Why is The Kennedy Center refusing to honor Hispanics?

And the outcry has turned into the accusation that they're racist.

When next year rolls around, Caroline and company better have found a more diverse group.

Since they appear to have trouble identifying Latinos, we'll help them out: Rita Moreno.

rita moreno

Moreno endeared herself to children with The Electric Company in the 70s.  She came to fame with the film West Side Story for which she won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.   Prior to that musical, she also had roles in Singin' in the Rain and The King and I.

She won the Tony for her performance in 1975's Broadway play The Ritz.  She's also won a Grammy and two Emmys.  Her TV work includes Sister Peter Marie Reimondo on 44 episodes of HBO's Oz and, at 81, she's currently playing Fran's mother on TV Land's Happily Divorced.

2012 Book of the Year

We let our readers decide this.  Following Rebecca's "book 'em friday: liz taylor" and Marcia's "Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like A Dame," we offered "The Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe rivalry."

And did the e-mails come in.  A slow trickle the first week, building to an avalanche in the weeks since as readers made clear that they were enjoying or had just enjoyed  Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like A Dame by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince.

Elizabeth Taylor

It's the book that's got it all, rivarlies, sex, jewels, sex, legends, sex and more sex.

2012 Trend: Bad attempts at make overs


Poor Matt Damon, he never really achieved.  The guy who got all the acting breaks in the 90s (Courage Under Fire, Good Will Hunting, The Rainmaker, Saving Private Ryan and The Talented Mr. Ripley) only managed to nail down one Best Actor Academy Award nomination and no win.  There have been no nominations for Best Actor since, certainly no wins.  And now there's the upcoming HBO movie with the love scenes with Matt Damon.

So it's understandable that he might feel the need to whine.

PLAYBOY: Liberace lived his life in the closet, and times have changed a bit. What was it like when you and Ben Affleck were constantly asked if you were gay, back when you were starting your careers?

DAMON: I never denied those rumors because I was offended and didn’t want to offend my friends who were gay—as if being gay were some kind of fucking disease. It put me in a weird position in that sense. The whole thing was just gross. But look, there have been great signs of progress—the fact that Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres can come out so beautifully and powerfully, and it’s a big fucking deal that it turns out nobody gives a shit. If Liberace were alive today, everybody would love his music and nobody would care what he did in his private life. Like with Elton John.

That's Damon sobbing to Playboy this month.  And thinking he can rewrite history.

He didn't deny the rumors because he "was offended" and because "the whole thing was gross."  So much for not offending "my friends who were gay." 

But setting aside that, does it even make sense?

If he was so angry and so traumatized would he, in October 2010 joked of Clint Eastwood, "We met in a bar, a gay bar.  I saw something in him through the eye slits of the Hannibal Lecter mask that he was wearing."?

How about July 2007?  "George [Clooney] is gay.  Everybody knows that.  But honestly, I never realized he was gay -- even when he was b***ing me."

And it's not like anyone twisted his arm to do 2002's "A Chorus Lie" on Will and Grace (written by Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally) which included the following scene between Damon's Owen and Sean Hayes' Jack:

Jack:  What gym do you go to? Why haven't I seen you in the clubs? And who have we slept with in common? 

Owen: I work out at home. I'm allergic to smoke. And I'm in a long-term relationship with my high school boyfriend. 

Jack: Name? 

Owen: Ben. 

In addition, there are all the jokes that he made in the 90s (and that Ben Affleck -- who is not whining -- made).  Now he wants to pretend to be offended by what 'other' people said?  When it was him saying it all along.

Next time Matt Damon wants to try a make over, we suggest he stick to his hair style.

Success in Iraq!

Friday, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a press release that had the effect of letting you know how bad things actually were in Iraq:

December 28, 2012
Threat information indicates that terrorist elements may target U.S. interests in Baghdad, including the United States Embassy, as well as churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk, on or around December 31, 2012.  The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad urges U.S. citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and to refer to the current travel warning on our website.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Iraq enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 
Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Iraq.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.
Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Danny Schechter and Media Channel want you back" -- most requested highlight of the week.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barry O's Favorite Topic" -- Isaiah on Mr. Vain.

"2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" and "2012 Best in Film (Ann and Stan)" -- Ann and Stan go to the movies.

"At what point do human rights matter?" -- Elaine asks the basic question.

"Fringe" and "Revolution" -- Mike and Marcia cover TV.

"Suckiest Christmas ever!" -- Stan serves up the Scrooge.

"Fontella Bass," "Charles Durning has passed" and "Oh, no, they killed Quincy!" -- Kat does the obit beat.

 "Trashy Glenn,"  "F**k Glenn Greenwald and Chucky Cheese Hagel,"  and "The Cabal behind Chuckie Cheese Hagel" and "THIS JUST IN! CHUCKY CHEESE WANTS DOD!"-- the disgusting right-wing Glenn always provides much to talk about.

 "Holiday Dip in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy recipe for a party dip.

"Benghazi" and "At least one lesson learned from Benghazi" -- Ruth continues to cover Benghazi.

"The trash life of Rihanna" -- Marcia on beat-me-please Rihanna.

"Telemarketer in Chief" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Seriously, Ed Markey?" -- Mike expresses his disappointment with state politics.

 "My cure for New Year's hangover"  -- Ann offers a tip or two.

 "Can't miss TV"  and "the bigoted kennedy center ignores rita moreno" -- Betty and Rebecca remind there is plenty of new funny still on TV.

"The distraction" -- Elaine on how they trick us.

"Curiosity should have been Time's person of the year"  -- Betty wisely makes the case.

"Dunham and Goldberg can't see Blacks" -- Marcia on the 'critics' and the 'arts.'

"THIS JUST IN! BARRY O'S IN LOVE!" and "Got his mind on his man" -- He really may be our first gay president!

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